Aloha, this is Wendy, Wendell’s daughter. Artists often return to paint what they love over and over again. I have been thinking about this lately as I begin yet another painting of the Koolau Mountains, Oahu’s gorgeous volcanic shield mountains that are one of my most favorite subjects to paint. Wendell’s muse was Maple Mountain.
Unlike me, Wendell grew up with his inspiration mountains. Whereas I first hiked the Koolaus in my thirties, he hiked the mountains as a boy before his accident and saw Maple Mountain as the dominant feature of the landscape from every home he lived in. It was his favorite mountain among the stunning Uintah mountain range. Its face is nearly symmetrical from the viewing angle of Mapleton, and since it is due east, the sunrise over the mountain is a beautiful sight! Maple Mountain was not only a boyhood home for Wendell. Visually, it was an inspiration. He loved Maple Mountain way I love the vivid crags of the Koolaus. Every triangular mound forming overall sculptural beauty. I remember him talking about it multiple times when I was a child. Maple Mountain is unique because it has such a pleasing shape and balanced form. Painting it is both easy and hard because it is so close to symmetrical that the foreground must contain some type of surprising interruption to the harmony of the mountain’s rounded form or else it can get be too perfect for our eyes that love a little surprise. In the example below, Wendell added horses in carefully designed asymmetrical groupings to provide the necessary counterbalance to the perfection of the mountains even triangular forms. I also particularly love the clouds and how they bring emphasis to the mountain’s highest peak in this piece.
This mountain to him was a symbol of home and the main feature of the beautiful land in which we live. According to Wikipedia, it is apparently it is technically named “Spanish Fork Peak” by the Forest Service, but even that academic-sounding entry for Mapleton, Utah confesses that Mapleton residents call it “Maple Mountain”. Perhaps it will change over time since Spanish Fork has a larger population, but “Maple Mountain” was the local name throughout Mapleton when Wendell was painting it. The name seems lot more fitting to my ears since it is named not for early European arrivals who “discovered” the area (The Ute people had been living there already for countless years), but for the beauty of the mountain itself. The leaves of the maple trees that make up a large number of the trees on the mountain, light up the mountain with beautiful flame-like colors every autumn, as seen in “Ute Encampment” below. Thus, it will always be “Maple Mountain” to me!
Wendell has painted the mountain in all the seasons and with various types of lighting and weather. He took footage of the mountain with his 8mm film, wrote about it in his “History of Mapleton”, and painted it many times. He has a few landscapes that are close-ups of various parts of the mountain, and features Maple Mountain present in the background of some of his historical scenes.
I would love to include other painting images. I will hopefully have a chance to scan his catalog, which, though the images are not qreat, at least has some of the paintings that were commissions that are now scattered. If you are lucky, you might have a painting of the mountain by Wendell as a souvenir of home, and if so, please contact me (wendy at wendyrobertsfineart.com -please add the @ symbol in the correct place and take out the spaces – I am happy to share my email but trying to shield myself from spambots) if you would be willing to take a photo and share it with me for the site.