Kyle Paliotto has a studio behind the Hayden, Idaho, house where he's lived for 15 years. But that's not the only place he goes to paint. Often, Paliotto heads outdoors. His mobile studio consists of a large backpack stocked with a tripod and a box that holds his paint and brushes. The slim wooden box unfolds to create a vertical surface which he can clamp onto the tripod and use to hold a 9-by-12-inch canvas board. He grabs his mud cup — a lidded cup filled with turpentine thick with paint from past sessions. And, sticking a roll of paper towels under his arm, in less than two minutes, he's ready to go.
As for what to paint, Paliotto is particular.
"I'm a firm believer in knowing your subject matter," says Paliotto, who has been featured in Southwest Art magazine, has exhibited in Coeur d'Alene, and is represented in Colorado, Montana, California and South Carolina.
So he makes a circuit along roads within a 10-minute drive from his house: a lake inlet adjacent to the golf course, a barn and surrounding fields where he and his family keep pigs. If it's wintertime, he might be at Hayden Creek, although he also does travel farther afield to teach workshops or just to paint.
How much time does he spend painting outdoors every year? "Not enough," he quips.
For all the time outside, though, Paliotto rarely sells the smallish paintings that result from one to two hours in front of the canvas. Rather, these paintings become the foundation for other paintings, which he develops in his home studio.
What he's interested in, says Paliotto, is translating the experience of having been to a barn or creek or even milling around the chickens he raises. "You're not painting the image; you're painting the sense of place."
Once Paliotto has settled on a direction for a painting, he sets up a canvas inside his home studio, which is within shouting distance of the house he shares with his wife and two young children. On warm days, the double-doors are likely thrown open; in colder months, Paliotto stokes the wood stove.
The 14-by-24-foot foot space is multifunctional. One area includes Paliotto's experiments in sculpting, bookshelves bulging with art magazines, and a computer. In the main room, Paliotto has a piano, which he plays occasionally. It doubles as a table, on top of which are sketches, a book open to watercolorist Andrew Wyeth, whom Paliotto admires, a digital camera, a vase of long-dried-out flowers, and a bronze head of a girl by artist Harley Brown, whom Paliotto also admires.
Nearby Paliotto has a painting palette similar to his mobile painting setup and a large wooden easel. He can look up at the computer image he sometimes references — he takes his own photos — or behind him in the mirror, which he does to gain perspective, he explains. Sometimes he takes photos of a certain area in the painting, then puts his phone on the floor and looks at the image with a critical eye. "Objective perspective is one of the most important things you can have," says Paliotto.