Irrigation Ditch
By Aaron Schuerr

Mixed Media and Collage
Subject Matter
Reg. Number
70.5 x 77.5 cm

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The fresh and honest pastel work in this piece reflects the honesty of the subject matter. The irrigation ditch is at the centre of the landscape. It is a functional, uncomplicated and muddy mark left by mankind on the land. The curved lines of the ditch lead towards the sloped horizon, flanked on either side by rich moss-greens and softer peach hues of raised grasslands. Yet the piece is dominated by the foreboding darkness of the hedgerows. The density of the leafless mass overshadows the luminous grey of the ditch water, the mottled sky above and pinkish grasses below. Nevertheless, the ominous darkness of the hedge also contributes to the serenity of the landscape in which dappled light suggests a peaceful winter sunset.

Working en plein air to create this piece, Schuerr captures a sense of the wild and weather-beaten countryside. The curved lines of the composition illustrate the organic technique employed by the artist and the sharp lines of the hedgerows reveal the artist’s expressive working method.

Inspired by the Scottish countryside, "Irrigation Ditch" is an early example of Schuerr’s love of landscape and his awe for the natural world. Stating “the field is my reward”, his inspiration for this piece is unambiguous and prevailing. However, when compared with his broader body of work, this piece is atypical, in that it gives focus to man’s awkward mark on the land.

Aaron Schuerr was born in 1973 and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago before moving on to Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee. One day, whilst drawing at the beach, he looked towards Dundee, took in the sweep of the headlands and realised that his rough charcoal drawing felt fresh and honest like nothing he had created before. On that day, Schuerr packed up his ‘post-modern cleverness’ and became a landscape painter. During the final year of his studies, he looked to the countryside and mountains of the Highlands for his inspiration; taking buses and trains to reach his new and unbounded studio. At his graduate degree show in 1995, Schuerr’s charcoal and pastel landscapes nearly sold out; giving him enough money to travel home to Montana.

Scheurr now lives in Livingston, Montana with his wife and three sons. He is a dedicated plein air painter working in both oil and pastel to bring a quiet intimacy and sensitive rendering of light to the varied landscapes of the Rocky Mountain West. Though he now has a large studio to work out of, he still advocates painting directly from nature as much as possible. As well as continuing with his landscapes, he currently teaches plein air workshops, writes articles for pastel journals and enjoys performing on stage. Schuerr is currently the president of the Montana Painters Alliance (MPA) and also a signature member of both the Pastel Society of America and the Plein Air Painters of the West.

With thanks to The Highlands Art Gallery and The Laegacy Gallery for information about this artist.

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