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An Artist you Should know:  Rachel Pohl - Women in the Mountains

Editor's Note: For this week's Women in the Mountains column we are featuring Rachel Pohl.  She's an artist with a fabulous ability to capture our favorite mountain environments, she lives in Bozeman, Montana, and you need to know her.

Art by Rachel Pohl

It was a rest day. The team was halfway up Denali and Rachel couldn’t contain herself anymore. She abandoned the group of bundled climbers resting in the meal tent and wandered to a little spot where the light was resting magically on the ridge.

It was time to paint.

She propped up her canvas in snow and opened her small set of acrylic paints. In that moment, everything was right with the world, as the mountains around her poured from her brush to her painting. She felt elated and as the colors came together in a way that was meaningful—she couldn’t help but smile. 

Photo Credit: Emma Light Photography

Rachel started painting when she was five and never stopped. She used oil pastels to make obscure and colorful sceneries, like a penguin sitting in a field of flowers in the summer time. She would constantly get in trouble in school because she drew all day and ignored her multiplication homework, but her family was overwhelmingly supportive and encouraged her creatively. If you walked into her parent’s house today, you wouldn’t find a single piece of art on the wall that isn't Rachel’s.

Now, at 22-years-old, she's taking the skiing world by storm by doing what the photographers do, but with a paintbrush instead of a lens.  

Art by Rachel Pohl

Rachel's paintings are of mountain summits, faraway backcountry destinations, and untouched snow. She documents the places that are hard to get to, impossible to drive to.  Her work is energetic, heavily stylized, and dreamlike. “I love the vibrancy and the plasticity of it," Rachel said.  "Nothing can every truly capture the moment so I like to make things more graphic, I people to really feel that place when they see my work.”

Her goal is backcountry ski all around the USA and Canada and do paintings of meaningful places and make art prints for an affordable price.

"I want people to be able to bring something home from a mountain adventure that is beyond their IPhone photo.”

Rachel is a skier through and through. She’s been doing it since she was a toddler and she rips! She spends every free day she has in the winter skiing— but there are days where she’s just excited about painting as she is skiing—and that’s what makes her a great artist. 

That’s what sets her apart. 

Photo Credit: Emma Light Photography

When Rachel ventures into the mountains she has a similar mindset as a photographer in the sense that she has an inexplainable urge to capture a beautiful moment in time where people are doing what they love. 

“I’d love to be a good photographer but I’m not, I just need more time. So that’s why I have to paint.”

So she spends hours in her room after a big day in the mountains, neglecting hunger, friends, and family, so that she can get the memory of the day on paper.  "It could take me 20 hours to paint something just the way I want and when It’s done it could look super simple, but the color pallet has to match the feeling of that time and place." 

Art by Rachel Pohl

Lately, Rachel’s biggest inspiration when it comes to her work is the astounding support and positive feedback from others in the outdoor community. “Photographers, artists, skiers, climbers—many of us are struggling to make it professionally— but by sharing each other’s work and contacts, buying prints, and doing art trades we can still help each other out. I couldn’t do what I’m doing without the support of this community.”

Rachel’s still in school at MSU but her work is making a splash in Bozeman and the surrounding area. She’s currently working on a ski graphic, a Montana license plate, and some t-shirt designs for Bridger Bowl. She’s also been featured in BombSnow Magazine multiple times. Check out some more of her work on her Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Emma Light Photography

A Quote For The Road

“I recently went on a climbing trip to the desert to film an IMAX video with Conrad Anker and the whole time he kept talking about the metaphor of the spirit sponge. It’s this imaginary sponge that rings water out as you go out into the world and interact with people and the environment. The idea is, you have to find things that fill your sponge back up so you can keep spreading the good. For me those things are: being with my friends, eating lots of good food, and going into the mountains to paint. What fills your spirit sponge?”

Check out Rachel's work here!

From The Column: Women in the Mountains

This is some rad work - very cool. I love seeing some other parts of snow culture being highlighted on TGR.

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