Artist Carol Hartman: Defying the Odds

Artist mines eastern Montana history in new series of paintings, on display through August

Art Beat

Large and colorful oil landscape paintings by Carol Hartman, on display through August at MonDak Heritage Center in Sidney, depict the overland and waterway trails taken by settlers of the MonDak region of Eastern Montana.

“I am quite proud of the early history of the region and of the many pioneers involved in its development,” says Hartman, who was born and raised in Sidney. “This exhibition is created to honor that history and that incredibly beautiful and remote landscape.”

Grasping the Land by artist Carol Hartman
Grasping the Land by artist Carol Hartman is part of her series exploring early settlers in eastern Montana.Photo © Carol Hartman

The artist received her formal art training from Montana State University in Bozeman and California State University, Fresno. After teaching at CSU Fresno and exhibiting both nationally and internationally for many years, she returned to Montana 10 years ago to paint full time.

“We are but passing pages in the history of this land,” says Hartman. “Pockets of memories made while growing up in rural Montana provide a critical connection to the past.”

She’s spent the last few years searching for the various overland and steamboat trails that Montana settlers used more than a century ago. She took a painting excursion in May and June along the Oregon Trail from western Wyoming to Independence, MO, where she attended the Paul Artspace artist residency. She returned along the Missouri River to Fort Union.

Hartman says her recent purchase and retrofitting of a camper trailer enables her to camp next to significant markers along the route, wake up early in the morning, and paint as the sun spreads across the landscape.

She’s taken to finger painting, instead of using brushes, which allows the artist to maintain an even closer relationship to her work.

“I believe an interaction with the spiritual elements of nature continually expresses who we are as a people,” she days.

Future solo exhibitions also include “Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Moments,” October and November at Honey’s Gallery in Red Lodge, and “Red Cliffs” Bighorn Canyon, January 2020 at Casper College, Casper, WY. She offers a workshop in Tuscany May 24-31 titled “Applying Significance of the Past to Plein Air of Today.”