Stephen Lyman was an explorer who specialized in painting the most elusive moments in nature. His inspiring work was inspired, in turn, by the writing and teachings of famous naturalist John Muir. “Muir wrote, ‘Climb the mountains and get their good tidings,’” Lyman said. “I know exactly what he meant.” Lyman’s love of the great outdoors stemmed from a childhood spent in the Pacific Northwest, where hiking in Snake River country was a regular family ritual. Lyman’s desire to share his admiration for the outdoors was strong, but he enrolled in the Art Center School of Design in Pasadena, California, to learn more about the commercial art field. He started his career as a commercial illustrator in Los Angeles and soon realized that the call of the wild was stronger than the lure of the city. Returning to Idaho, he spent two years exploring and developing his own style of painting. He continued to discover the wonders of the natural world and of living a natural lifestyle. “All my paintings have their origins in my experience and perception of beauty in the wilderness,” he said. Lyman’s first limited edition print was published by The Greenwich Workshop in 1983. In subsequent years, he was a frequent participant in the prestigious international “Birds in Art” show at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. He was invited to be “Artist of the Year” at the 1991 Pacific Rim Wildlife Art Show and then received the rare honor of being invited back as an “Encore Artist” at the 1995 event. Stephen Lyman actively shared the wonder of the natural world with a legion of collectors until his untimely death in 1996. He had been recently named one of the top artists in the country by U.S. Art magazine and his book, Into the Wilderness: An Artist’s Journey, was published to unanimous acclaim in the autumn of 1995.
"I´ve never seen a really good painting of a campfire... I think I´ll paint one!" These were Steve´s words, shared with us by Andrea Lyman, as he began A Mountain Campfire. As saying the goes, and the rest is history."
The bulk and majesty of a solitary bull (male) moose moves deliberately through a forest of aspen. He appears and disappears as he weaves through the trees in deep snow. The mating season completed, this bull will drop his antlers soon in order to conserve energy for the winter. A new set of antlers will grow in the spring. The moose and the American aspen are native to much of the same North American territory. A Walk in the Woods is an iconic Stephen Lyman image: a spectacular wildlife subject, ensconced in its habitat.
A quiet place, far from the crowd with a stunning view; who says we are the only species capable of enjoying such moments? Would the feline see the beauty of the rich color and texture of his perch as well? “Steve,” Andrea Lyman says, “chose painting the lynx from this perspective because at all levels, it is something few get to experience first hand.”
The Yosemite people called Yosemite Valley Awooni or Owwo for (gaping) “mouth,” referring to the appearance of the valley’s walls from the village of Ahwahnee, the largest and most powerful Indian village in the valley. The natives also called themselves Ah-wah-ne-chee, or “dwellers of Ahwahnee.”
Chief Tenaya tried to explain the meaning of “Ahwahnee” to white men by using sign language, but was mistakingly interpreted as saying “deep grassy valley.” In his own language Tenaya was trying to sign “gaping mouth.” In 1851, the US government tried to drive the natives out of Ahwahnee, but Chief Tenaya never submitted and never signed a treaty.
Naturalist and Sierra Club founder, John Muir, described Yosemite as “a place of rest, a refuge from the roar and dust in which one gains the advantages of solitude. This one noble park is big enough and rich enough for a whole life of study and aesthetic enjoyment, as none can escape its charms of natural beauty.” Muir’s sentiment is vividly portrayed in artist’s Stephen Lyman’s masterful Ahwahnee.