Bright Ideas: Sending a Wilderness Message

Last year, we shared a Bright Idea from the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness (FSPW) about plein air art events. We are happy to report that FSPW has continued to develop innovative projects based around these art events, and they earn this month's Bright Idea for their wilderness-themed greeting cards.

Plein air art events—inspired by the French expression en plein air—involve artists coming together “in the open air” to paint a common outdoor scene. FSPW has been hosting outdoor art events like these in various locations in the Scotchman Peaks since 2008 and works both to showcase and sell the artwork produced. This past spring, when the organization was in need of new greeting cards to send to donors and other supporters, they didn't head out to the card aisle at the local pharmacy. Instead, FSPW decided to further showcase four of the best paintings from these art events by printing them on greeting cards.

In its first print run, FSPW ordered 2,000 greeting cards from a local printing service. In addition to featuring a painted scene of the Scotchmans, the back of the card includes a detailed explanation of the outdoors area depicted on the card, the artist and information about FSPW. Sandy Compton, the group's program coordinator, estimates that about a quarter of all the cards will be bundled up in sets of four and sold for eight dollars, but he also underscores that the organization's primary motivation for these cards is not fundraising.

Instead, this project is rooted in the group's hope to foster deeper relationships with community members. Most of the cards will be sent to generous donors and friends of the organization who Compton hopes are fond of “snail-mail correspondence.” His vision is that these cards will “travel around the world with stamps on them and people will see them and want to know more about where they come from and the places they feature.”

Compton insists that regardless of an organization's ultimate goal, reaching out to artists may be the key. After several years of events, he has observed that art and wild country can have a significant and mutually beneficial connection. “[The artists] will paint your place and put it out there as part of their art. They love it. The camaraderie that is expressed during these events is amazing.” Inspiring passion and appreciation for the Scotchmans will, in turn, help FSPW with its advocacy work.

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness has continued to develop its relationships with artists in 2011. The organization's third annual Extreme Plein Air event was held in July, and its Plein Air Paintout will be held the last weekend in September. We can't wait to hear about the next Bright Ideas that come out of these events!