Mackay woman ‘interprets’ area scenes

Courtesy of Ruth Sauerbreit
Ruth Sauerbreit shows a print of her watercolor portrait of Mackay-area farmer and rancher Johnny Powers and his big red barn. Sauerbreit paints Western, landscapes and flowers in oil and watercolors.

A little bit of Ruth Sauerbreit’s personality goes into every oil and watercolor painting she creates.

“I interpret a scene rather than copy each and everything into the painting,” she said. “How I view and paint a scene is as much about me as it is the scene.”

Sauerbreit’s favorite subjects are most often about the people and places around Mackay, a place she and her husband, Nolan, have called home since 2004. She paints Western themes, landscapes, portraits and figurative subject matter, she said.

One of her favorite paintings is of farmer and rancher Johnny Powers and his iconic red barn which anchors the town’s east side. Powers was a well-known farmer, rancher and Lost River Valley historian who authored the book, “The Mackay I remember.”

“Johnny would often stop by to chat awhile,” she said. “We were wonderful friends. He knew so much about the valley.”

Sauerbreit painted Powers while he visited with her husband. The result was a natural rendering of the giant of a man. Other favorite subjects area the rugged and raw landscapes of Pass Creek, the Iron Bog, Trail Creek and Mount Borah. The images are available on all-occasion cards which are sold through regional outlets, she said.

Her most recent request has been to paint all 12 of Idaho’s highest peaks, those that are taller than 12,000 feet.

“One of my biggest sellers is Mount Borah because when people come here to climb it, they want a memory of what they did,” she said.

Her paintings of the Craters of the Moon also are very popular. Prints of her paintings include the bright pink and white wildflowers found there, along with lava tubes and moonlit, moonlike landscapes.

“The spring wildflowers there are beautiful,” she said.

Recently, she and Dawn Bates McKnight, of Mackay, teamed up to write and illustrate a historical children’s book titled, “Treasure Quest in the Big Lost,” about the valley they love.

Art along with music have been her favorite endeavors which have sustained her since childhood.

“I was raised in a family of 10 children and I learned to entertain myself,” she said. “I found drawing was super entertaining. An older sister and I have been involved in art for years.”

Sauerbreit studied art at the University of Oklahoma. She’s continues to learn over the years by studying with other artists around the country, including Oliver Parsons, Robert Moore and Carlton Plummer.

”I’ve had a lifelong interest in painting and music, especially the piano, I compare painting to music - there’s rhythm, design, and beautiful notes of color,” she said.