By Christina Deubel
As an artist and Spokane native, I am endlessly inspired by the beauty of our local landscapes. To sit beside an alpine lake and watch the sunbeams kiss the mountains, to slumber amongst giants in an old growth forest . . . such places, just beyond our doorstep, are breathtaking.
I was raised on the trails, mountains, and lakes of our surrounding area and took my son for his first backpacking trip at the age of seven. After my son graduated this year, being an empty-nester and not even 40 got my wheels turning. There’s a big old beautiful world out there waiting for me to explore and paint!
I converted an old Chevy van into an art studio on wheels and decided to immerse myself in the wild places that offer me such inspiration. I set out to explore every inch of the Northwest.
Admittedly, that’s an impossible task. With millions of acres of public lands, from state parks, national forests, and wilderness areas to BLM, DNR, and county and city park land, I feel like a kid in a candy store. The Northwest has it all: vibrant colors, moody atmosphere, rich textures, and curious wildlife. The opportunities for adventure and beauty are endless.
I strive to create works of art that capture the places I visit and people I meet. But my deepest goal is to capture that feeling of love for the great outdoors with my paintings.
I paint not with brushes like most artists but instead by using my fingers and hands. You will often find mountain landscapes, vibrant sunsets, hikers, bikers, paddleboarders, and wildlife in my paintings. These works, in which I’m literally elbow deep in paint, are expressions of pure love, passion, and admiration for the outdoors.
The trails and public lands I’ve been visiting offer me such inspiration that I decided it was time to give something back. I began doing volunteer trail work with Washington Trails Association, and then after riding the trails at Beacon/Camp Sekani, I knew I wanted to paint a mural there.
I worked with Evergreen East and Spokane Parks & Rec to get permission for the painting, which ended up being on the garage door at the entrance to the park. Inspired by an image by Spokane photographer Aaron Theisen, I painted a vibrant, explosive piece depicting one of our local riders, Alex Anderson, sending it into the sunset. [Editor’s note: Theisen is also an OTO contributor.]
The mural at Beacon was my first public work of art, and while there painting, I was inspired by all of the people out enjoying the trails. This 46-mile trail system is one of the largest in the state and has rides for all abilities.
Unfortunately, much of Beacon’s epic trail system is still on privately owned land. Evergreen East Mountain Bike Alliance has been working with the public lands agencies that manage the land as well as some private land owners to raise the funds needed to acquire some of the properties that many of the trails pass through.
If they succeed, their efforts will combine what are now four separate chunks of park land into one large park and trail system that will be protected for generations of riders and trail users.
To learn more about Evergreen’s efforts to make Beacon public or to make a donation, visit www.evergreeneast.org/trails/campsekanibeaconhill.
The author’s backpacking gear, new mural at Camp Sekani, and mobile art studio. // Photos courtesy Christina Deubel.
Christina Deubel is a Spokane artist currently traveling around the Northwest in her van. You can find more of her work by following her on social media at @mnttidings or on her website Mountaintidings.com.