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Montana Dreams — The Western Art of Tobias Sauer

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Big Sky Mustangs, capturing the old west and the new, by oil painter Tobias Sauer. Sauer’s childhood dreams, while growing up in Montana, were to be a full time painter, and he is turning this dream into reality.

Dreams. Goals. Aspirations.

All humans have these, born within our childhood when we don’t realize how impossible what we want to do actually is. Some people abandon these dreams entirely, citing the need to be “realistic,” but others, who combine realism with hope, hard work, and a stubborn tenacity to get up when they’re knocked down, keep chipping away, moving forward, walking steadily toward that dream.

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All Night to Ogalala, oil painting by Coeur d’Alene artist Tobias Sauer, who is turning his childhood dreams into a very realistic art career.

Tobias Sauer is one of these people. As a child, raised in the Montana outdoors, he and his father biked, hunted, kayaked, and hiked; evenings, he joined his artist mother in trying to paint what he had experienced that day, frequently getting frustrated when what he saw in his mind did not make it successfully onto canvas.

“These are 40-year-old artist’s hands,” his mother would tell him. “You have little 5-year-old hands. When you have 40-year-old artist’s hands, you’ll be able to make it look just right, too.”

Dreams Die before They Live

Long before those hands could be 40, however, it looked like the dream had died.

“I started off as an art major in college, but quickly became disillusioned with the emphasis of abstract expressionism and the lack of instruction in form and technique,” the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, oil painter says. “I graduated in environmental science and worked in that field for years.”

Though he tried to continue painting, an injury followed by surgery and a series of painful life events drove him into what he calls a personal “wilderness,” one that drained him of time and energy, of dreams and the desire to create.

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Herdsire, embracing the rancher’s dreams of the future herd. Oil painting by Coeur d’Alene oil painter Tobias Sauer

But he kept chipping away, continuing to get up each time he was knocked down. After a long hiatus from painting, Sauer found an old watercolor set while going through his storage unit, and gave it a try.

“I wondered if I could still paint, or if I had lost it all . . . but you know, after all that time of not painting, I had somehow gotten better. It was the weirdest thing, and I still can’t figure it out — I don’t know if it was that suffering or just age had made me a more mature artist, or just a more patient person.”

Visions of Montana

Whatever it was, it impelled him forward, and Sauer found that his hands — still not yet 40 — were capable of making things look just right. Bison, elk, moose, cowboys, mountains, meadows — Sauer draws, literally, upon the scenes of his Montana childhood in celebrating both the Old West and the New.

“I grew up in Charlie Russell country, and I grew up wanting to ranch,” Sauer says. “My heroes were cowboys. I loved rodeo, ranching, and outdoors, and since I couldn’t live the life of a cowboy, I like to paint it.”

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Intense, a moment of big cat reflection and dreams by western artist Tobias Sauer.

As paintings began to sell, Sauer gained confidence along with skill, and he soon entered the world of major juried and invitational shows: The Cowboy Classics Western Art Show in Phoenix, Arizona; Heart of the West in Bozeman, Montana; Miniatures by the Lake in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; The Oldfield Art Show in Puyallup, Washington; and, appropriately, The Russell Exhibition and Sale in Great Falls, Montana.

Because he is gregarious and enjoys connecting with clients and art lovers, Sauer attends many of these shows in person, traveling back to back from March through September with his wife in a camper trailer.

The Reality of Living Dreams, In and out of Montana

“I see new places, go to places I never thought I’d go to,” Sauer says.

“I like the personal connection with the collectors and the feeling that the collector is buying a part of me.

“I also travel to workshops because I want to seek out the best artist to study from for the kind of work I want to do, and the artist who will most likely help me with specific goals I am trying to achieve.”

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Office Space, embracing the dreams of office workers everywhere, by western artist Tobias Sauer of Coeur d’Alene, ID.

And then, when he isn’t traveling, Sauer is painting, marketing, blogging, connecting with collectors and galleries who are increasingly noticing his work. He presently sends his art to galleries in Sedona, Arizona; Coeur d’Alene and Moscow, Idaho; Whitefish and Billings, Montana; and, most recently, Jackson, Wyoming, resulting in his paintings residing in homes throughout the nation, west and east, north and south.

Dreams Achieved

It’s a lot of work for those not quite yet 40-year-old hands, but Sauer delights in the busy schedule, in the challenge, in the fulfillment of dreams that are very much imbued with reality. Because achieving dreams is not necessarily unrealistic:

“I thought an art career would be like the closing credits of Little House on the Prairie, with Laura Ingalls running through a beautiful field without a care in the world, but it’s not like that,” Sauer observes.

“It’s hard, stressful, nerve-wracking, self-esteem killing, and filled with deadlines and insecurity.

“But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s the most rewarding thing in my life outside of my marriage and my daughter.”

Wenaha Gallery

Tobias Sauer is the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, August 27, 2018, through Saturday, September 22, 2018.  

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.