Outdoor artist Kevan Crouse finds inspiration today, yesterday

Self-taught Ohio artist Kevan Crouse describes a “memory art” piece that collects the parts of a perfect canoe trip and displays them as a perfectly enjoyable original work of art. (Mike Tontimonia photo)

Award-winning artist Kevan Crouse never wants for inspiration.

A morning person by nature, Crouse wakes each day with a mind full of ideas, images, and colors, each with a story, each with a focus, and each with a life ahead of it. And with that ,and a cup of coffee, the image in his mind finds its way to his fingertips, skilled digits that lightly grip the smallest of ink pens.

Soon after, that fish from 40 years ago or the blue bird that raided the backyard feeder just hours before or maybe, just maybe, another person’s favorite memory, begins to grow on canvas.

Line by line, curves and sweeps, fins and feathers, it grows. Tiny details hide themselves while larger features spring forward. Eyes and ears, wings and tails. Oh man, there it is. So clear and so perfect.

But it isn’t done. Not done enough for Crouse, anyway.

And so he reaches for his watercolors and with the care of a surgeon, this artist, a man with no art school and no instructor, and nothing but desire and a self-taught steady hand, puts the color of life into the image.

Now he is done. Finished with another unique original Kevan Crouse painting, one of a kind, and one more in a career of creation, of something so special that becomes a treasure in the hands and in the eye of the lucky one who sees it.

Loves birds

Crouse, a Manchester, Ohio, retiree was recently honored as artist of the month by Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources and, as such, his work was displayed for all to see in the ODNR office complex in Columbus.

His favorite, but not exclusive, subjects are birds and fish, but he’ll also turn to his passion for Civil War history and soon after will appear a detailed, color washed painting of a significant period event.

Color wash media

Since retiring in 1994, Crouse has perfected his own style of painting, a mix of pen and ink and water colors. He calls it a color wash. Others simply call it beautiful.

The mix is all about Crouse, who says he loves detail and that by combining detail and color he is able to bring a painting to life.

“I get a tremendous amount of pleasure by creating an original piece of art,” he said, adding that with 599 pieces completed, he is near, real near, his lifetime goal of 600.

At this time however, he doesn’t know what the painting will look like.

Memory art

Interestingly, Crouse has let his creative side steer a crooked course that can sometimes turn other people’s memories into art. Of course, he calls it memory art, but it is so much more than a stack of photos and so much more than a verbal recollection.

Memory art is, well, a great day, a great place, and a great fish over and over and over.

Crouse’s first memory piece came about after a canoe trip in Ontario, something that his wife and kids enjoyed. Crouse has the original painting and it is a trip alright. A cleverly arranged sandwich of maps and memories, all good with canoes, and campfires, best catches and forgotten sights, a framed piece on the wall that is all the words and all the images that are now part of family history.

Always on the hunt for more, Crouse’s art has also delved into the Amish way of life, city skyscapes, and more.

But given that spread of interest, Crouse still refers to himself as “an outdoors guy” a fisher and a hunter who has countless images of fish and birds stacked in his mind, just waiting their turn to step onto a canvas.




Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!

Previous articleRenovation junkie
Next article'Getting Word' project preserves history
Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.



We are glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated according to our comment policy.

Receive emails as this discussion progresses.