Former Fulton artist Brian Mahieu recently moved to Washington state, a long-time dream, he said.
He's become a hunter of Dungeness crabs, patrolling the beaches with his brace of greyhounds and settling into a different life with his husband, Tom Harris.
But before Mahieu left Missouri, he donated his painting, "Winter Sunset Looking North — Cottonwood Grove," to the State Historical Society of Missouri.
"The location for the painting in the story is the Steedman bottoms, southern Callaway County, south of Steedman," he said. "It is my favorite grove of cottonwoods in the state, very archetypal."
Now, the Society has featured Mahieu, 52, and his painting in their August "Missouri Times" publication.
Mahieu said it's an honor as an artist to be noticed in such a way.
"People respond to my work, and I don't know why. The artist's job is to experience life at a heightened state and record it," he said. "It's the artistic trance. That's the place we're trying to get to. You turn off your left brain. You shut it down and go simply into the flow. Time and space go away, and you're in the flow. That's why I can't be around other people when I paint. It's addictive, that state; it's an endorphin rush."
The painting is displayed in the SHSM gallery through the fall. It's hanging in a space where visitors can request the lights be lowered so they can view the painting in light levels similar to those in which it was created, Mahieu said.
"For 30 years, I've been a twilight painter," he added. "The main thing was the (Missouri) heat, and I just found that time of day magical."
He said he tested a variety of paints, and some just show up better in darker conditions because they contain more luminescent materials. Other paints just look black in the dark, he added.
"If you want to see what I was painting, you have to look at it in low light," Mahieu explained. "They glow. People say they glow from the inside. It works. It clicks with people."
Frank Stack, professor emeritus of painting at the University of Missouri, said in the MT article he believes Mahieu's work — and his other donations — are wonderful additions to the state Historical Society's collection.
"I have known Brian Mahieu since he was a young painter and watched him develop over the years. I believe that he is now the finest landscape painter in Missouri; sensitive, energetic and prolific. (He is) one of the best painters working in the country at the present time," Stack said in the review.
Mahieu said when he read those words, he was overcome with emotion.
"I sat at my computer and cried for half an hour — tears of joy," he said. "The way I work, I'm a solitary painter. It's a dialogue with nature."
While many plein air artists go out to paint landscapes in groups, Mahieu said he can't get to that special inner place if he socializes while painting.
"So I'm bundled up in a remote field in 20-something degree weather, all alone, and I sometimes wonder, 'Is anybody going to care about this?'" he laughed. "But I paint to survive. I have to. I paint to survive on this planet.
"So it's kind of irrelevant if anybody cares because I have to do it. But it's nice when people care," he added.
Mahieu is dealing with tendinitis in his painting arm while settling into his new Whidbey Island home with Harris — but he's always looking for his next painting.
"I'm picking up a 5-pound bag of sugar, and I just wince," he said. "But this is like a whole new planet, and I'm doing mental planning every day. I'm scouting out locations. I'm trying to just be gentle on my body, but I'm dying to paint."
The landscapes and its colors are different and take some getting acquainted with.
"I have a real reverence for the landscape out here," he said. "It's all different and the sky — in Missouri, there's one kind of cloud — here, there's five different kinds of clouds. The colors, it's very pastel, very subtle like rainbow sherbet. It's a northern sunset, not a southwest sunset. It's not screaming."
So while he explores his new habitat, he's painting pictures in his head.
"There's this thing they say," Mahieu said. "Look until you see."
The State Historical Society of Missouri is at 1020 Lowry St. in Columbia. For more information, go to: shsmo.org.