Tuesday, December 8, 2009


This is one of the paintings from my first one-man show that opened at Elk Horn Gallery a few days ago. Elk Horn Gallery is located in Winter Park, Colorado. This painting I call Crescendo. It is the culmination of the body of work I did for this show. It was last painting I did and I felt like I had a reached a crescendo as the work was coming to the final painting. Deeper is the sign of hope. Through the ravage storms that we face there is a sunshine glimmering through, and the promise of the peace and joy that can lie within no matter how turbulant the storms may be.
12" x 16"
Oil on canvas

Thursday, July 23, 2009


The beauty of night has always intrigued me as far back as I can remember. I have always been a nocturnal person and find most of my creative energy and ideas come to me in the late evening hours when everything is hushed. The nocturne paintings of Frank Tenny Johnson and Frederick Remington have fascinated me and I study them continuously.
  Painting nocturnes is one of my favorite subjects, especially painting them on location. During full moon and with the help of good weather, clear skies, and calm winds I venture out into the evening and head up to Rocky Mountain National Park. It can be a bit daunting being up there all alone at one or two in the morning, but that's part of the adventure and atmosphere I am trying to capture in the mystery and unknown the evening hours provide. I use a small book light that transmits a cool light, and I attach it to my easel which to see my pallet and my panel. I don't always keep it on either. I need to turn it off so I can take in the scene before me in it's natural light. I like painting by the light of the moon when I can and with that I paint almost by instinct. I get just enough information I need to capture that mystery of the dark and luminous moonlit landscape. I really never know what I end up with until I get home and see the painting in the light of day. It surprises me how very close I get to the accuracy of the colors and light.
  There is something about the beauty of a lodgepole pine silhouetted against the evening sky with stars dancing round it; or the contrast of a snowfield blanketed on a mountainside describing the shape of the crags and illuminating it's majesty; or the moon reflecting off a mountain lake interrupted by the wake of marauding beavers swimming only a few yards away. It can be intoxicating to me at times. I most enjoy feeling so alive when most of the population are tucked cozy in their sleep.
  These are a few of my studies I did during the July full moon. Perfect conditions and memorable experiences.

"Moon Shadow" 8 x 10
"Moonlight Serenade " (Sprague Lake) 8 x 10

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Seasons Greeting

I found this beaver pond tucked away off from the main trail going up to Storm Pass in Rocky Mountain National Park. I came across this large snowbank melting into the pond. Dappled light from the shade was creating a fantastic light pattern on the white snow. I couldn't resist getting this down on canvas. One of the main elements of painting I was taught that makes for intersting paintings is "transition". The more transitions in your painting the more intersting it becomes. Near to far. Large to small. Warm to cool. Hard to soft. Winter to Spring. So on and so on. Just as our lives are in constant transition from day to day and season to season as we learn and grow and change, so nature is in a constant state of transitions. Here the snow melts into the beaver pond supplying it's water, and the last bit of snow that remains in the cool dark shadow is greeted by the warm grass glistening in the sun as the transition from winter to spring continues. The cold of winter gives way to the warmth of spring and the warm summer days ahead.

I love painting off trail. There is always so many intersting things to discover that the average hiker is missing out on. Plus, I am not bothered by passing hikers as I am painting. I don't mind the onlookers, mind you. I just need to focus when I paint, with as few distractions as possible. Also, the serenity of being alone with other living things surrounding me inspires me more than anyone can know.

The photo of the painting didn't turn out as well as I would have liked. It's a little too bright, but I think you get the idea.

"Seasons Greeting" 8 x 10 oil on canvas

Monday, March 30, 2009

Late Winter

We finally got some decent snow last week. It arrived late, but we'll take it nonetheless. I almost forgot how beautiful snow is. It's been a while since I have seen it. It's like meeting an old friend again. You remember all the great things about it....you also remember a few of the not-so-good things as well. Snow is one of my favorite subjects to paint. It is so filled with so many colors and it can create a variety of moods.....from sullen and melancholy to bright and exuberant. I was able to get out and get at least one painting in before it all melted, though. Trouble with Spring snow...... it melts fast and one must play carpe diem before it vanishes before our eyes. This is a scene I painted from some ponds on an open space not far from where I live. I brought the foothills a little closer to give a feeling of intimacy. The warm colors of the willows against the cools of the mountains made for an interesting and soothing relationship. Most of all was the reflection of the snow banks on the water. They were so soft and absolutely gorgeous. It stopped me in my tracks, and there you have it.

"Late Winter" 9 x 12 field study oil on canvas

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Greater Than Us

Nature, in all of God's creation, can bring us to such humility. With all our pragmatic and calculating minds, and with all the man-made towers and bridges, transportation, and technical advances that makes us feel so mighty, we need only to look around us and see how much greater is that that surrounds us. Not that we should feel insignificant, because of all of God's creation, we are His masterpiece. There lies the rub.......the responsibility to use His wisdom that has been planted within us to care for and transcend the easy road, to a higher calling. This is one of my more spiritual paintings that reflects God's mighty and gentle beauty and perfectness. This scene is located just outside the humble mountain hamlet of Allenspark, Colorado. It's a very quaint and rustic location where Heaven and Earth meet.

"Greater Than Us" 32" x 26" Oil on canvas

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mill's Lake

"Mills Lake" 28" x 22" oil on canvas copyright 2010 Jake Gaedtke
One of my favorite lakes located in Rocky Mountain National Park is Mill's Lake. It's a good solid hour long hike. Sometimes longer, depending on the weather and season. It's one of the larger lakes in the Park. It is so pristine and with the backdrop of the cathedral-like mountains that surround it, it is simply spectacular. I make it up there at least a couple times a year. It's a place where I can paint and be alone and absorb all that's there. It's a popular destination for the average tourist, so I see quite a few people up there in the summer from all over the world. The one thing that strikes me is how universal this creation effects everyone the same way. Like music, we can all understand this beauty that is beyond us, no matter where we are from or what our life's experience may be. If you have the oportunity to witness this miracle........if you can experience the handiwork of God in this place first hand and not come away from it changed, or at the very least humbled, you have no soul. I recently made an attempt to express the reason I go to this place so often on canvas. It is a painting I intend to put in the upcoming Colorado Governor's Art Show. Like many artists, I am never completely satisfied with my work, and this one is no exception. I know it may be a "postcard" type scene of a magnificent place, but I really don't know how else to describe it. Besides what's wrong with telling the truth? It is a picture-postcard place.


Saturday, February 28, 2009


Most mornings I run the country backroads close to where I live. I like running during that time of morning right before the sun comes up. It's still dark, but the eastern horizon is showing just a glimpse of the start of a new day. There is something quiet and peaceful during that time of day. A time when I can be alone with God and myself. He's the best running partner I could have. As I watch the sun come up over the horizon, I am always amazed at the beauty. Every morning it's like I am seeing it for the first time. It reveals itself in so many ways. No two mornings are ever the same. There is always something different whether it be the clouds, or the wind, or the chilling cold that nips at more than my nose. My favorite mornings are those when it's partly cloudy and the oranges and reds and yellows of the sunrise are trying to peek through those clouds and announce their presence. It is so beautiful that I am always asking myself what am I doing running when I should be out here painting this incredibly beautiful miracle before me. So I imposed an excercise on myself. I decided to try to paint the scene from memory. To remember everything I could about it, but mostly to remember only those things that are important to me. After getting myself showered and cleaned up, I went to my studio and did this small painting of what made the biggest impression on me. To His glory!

"Glorious Sunrise" 6" x 8" oil on canvas panel

Friday, February 27, 2009


Day one of my first blog. Puttin' it out there. The ramblings of a full-time artist and I do some instructing as well.

I live in Colorado. I've lived here for some 30 years. It's a great place to be if you love painting the landscape. There's plenty here to explore and paint. The opportunities I get when I am alone in the wilderness with my canvas and paints and the sound of the raven cawing and a trout jumping for a bite breaks the silence of the wind echoing through the mountain terrain. It is heaven on earth. The senses are full. Sometimes even on overload. Everything is absorbed. The sun blazing on the back of my neck. The piney smell of juniper trees. The taste of the sweet atmosphere rising from the cool luscious lake. The beauty in every glance. The sound of birds chattering and singing from their tree-top perch. Get that down on canvas. Channel it all through the brush. Share it for all to enjoy and experience.
"Traffic Jam" 12" x 16" oil on canvas