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Famed resort artist James Neihues releases rare collection of mountain sketches

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James Niehues' black and white sketch of Lone Mountain. PHOTO COURTESY OF PALE MORNING MEDIA

PALE MORNING MEDIA

PARKER, CO – Famed landscape artist James Niehues, known as the “Rembrandt of snow,” and the Open Road Ski Company, which published his “Man Behind the Maps” book, are releasing a collection of sketches depicting 10 iconic mountains across the U.S. These black and white sketches are an important step in the creation of Niehues’s hand-painted maps that have become synonymous with skiing.

Included in the release are sketches of Breckenridge, Colorado; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Park City, Utah; Stowe, Vermont; Telluride, Colorado; Vail, Colorado; Alta, Utah; Alta and Snowbird, Utah; Big Sky, Montana and Mt. Bachelor, Oregon.

“The sketch is the cornerstone to providing the best configuration of a resort’s slopes, and it’s where the composition for the final painted view comes to life,” Niehues said. “A ski map is first and foremost an accurate representation to guide the skier around the mountain—but it’s also how the trees, rocks, slopes and topography all converge into a beautiful scene.”

When creating a map, Niehues photographs the mountain from all sides and perspectives including many taken from an airplane for a bird’s eye view. These photographs then act as a baseline to visualize how the different shapes, angles and aspects all fit onto a single piece of paper. 

As Niehues sketches, slopes are moved around, lifts and elements are manipulated, and angles are changed to find what best represents the terrain of the resort in a credible and visually accurate way. Once completed, the final sketch is a full-sized, comprehensive piece of art identical to how the finished product will be painted.

“We’ve always been amazed at the beauty and detail of the black and white sketches,” said Todd Bennet, co-founder of the Open Road Ski Company releasing the sketches. “It’s something we touch on in the Man Behind the Maps book, but they’re impressive enough to deserve their own prints. So that’s just what we’ve done.”

All ten sketches are available now in four different sizes on jamesniehues.com.

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