North Idaho's Arlon Rosenoff paints quickly - and thickly - to capture light and motion

Carrie Scozzaro photo

Paint and paintbrushes go hand in hand for artists, but Arlon Rosenoff's preferred tool is the palette knife, a small spatula often used for mixing paint, but also for applying and removing larger amounts of paint from a surface. Available in angled and rounded shapes, palette knives allow Rosenoff to engage with the paint in a tactile, even sculptural way to create somewhat impressionistic –— versus photorealistic — paintings.

"I love the very sensuous process of spreading color-rich oil paint with a palette knife," says Rosenoff, whose technique of starting and finishing a painting in one chunk of time is called alla prima.

Most of the time he paints "live" in front of his subject matter — a style called en plein air — but he also built a 400-square-foot studio on the top floor of his Rathdrum, Idaho, home. There he finishes, frames and packages 70 to 80 paintings a year.

"I've done about 900 paintings in the last 13 years and have sold most of them," says Rosenoff, who has been painting in earnest since 2008 — landscapes, cityscapes and nautical scenes, bicycles and old cars, people and the occasional still life.

The cozy space with the extraordinarily bright, north-facing skylights has enough room for a few artworks, including Rosenoff's 1994 painting of the first two gliders Rosenoff ever flew (at the former airstrip behind what is now Silverwood Theme Park).

Carrie Scozzaro photo

Although he was interested in art — drawing as a kid growing up in Mead, and doing odd jobs in the 1980s for Spokane Art School, where he picked up some painting techniques — Rosenoff liked flying more. He discovered flying as a 13-year-old, when he spent the summer on his uncle's farm in Colorado. Before he'd start a grueling, monotonous day on the tractor, Rosenoff and his uncle would go for a quick flight.

He attended Spokane Falls Community College and eventually moved to Arizona, where he attended Arizona State University and also taught gliding. Many pilots teach to gain experience, says Rosenoff, but for him it was more than that: He liked teaching.

Rosenoff has since done pilot training for Lufthansa, Alaska Airlines, Boeing and Hayden-based Empire Airlines.

When a new job meant relocating to Whidbey Island, he rediscovered another love: sailing, which he does now out of Bayview, Idaho. He recalls sailing on Lake Coeur d'Alene with a high school chum, and also fondly remembers their visit to Harold Balazs' MeadWorks studio.

"I watched him create art and also share with me the shop where he handbuilt two wooden sailboats, including a foundry where he cast his own bronze fittings," says Rosenoff. "I got reacquainted with him several years ago at Art Spirit Gallery in Coeur d'Alene, where we once again discussed sailing — to the delight of both of us."

Locally, Rosenoff is represented by Angel Gallery of Antiques and Fine Arts & Antiques in Coeur d'Alene and MacDonald's Resort in Bayview.

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