JEFF WEIR: Local Artist & Philanthropist
| December 26, 2020 1:00 AM
You can’t miss it: the giant bison head looming out of the wall in local oil painter Jeff Weir’s art studio at the Rockford Building in downtown Coeur d’Alene. The taxidermy, one of several unique features to this artist space, was a trade for one of Weir’s paintings. Artisan wood carved furniture, large canvases stacked up against the walls, and various tools found about the room give the studio both the sense of a workspace and an environment to sit and visit with Jeff. The 6’4” bearded painter picks up a piece of paper spotted with mixed brush strokes captioned with detailed cursive instructions.
“When my great grandmother passed away she left me this book,” Jeff says as he gently holds the heirloom. “It’s her life study of mixing colors together. She just mixed all of the pigments she had available at the time together and this is how I pick my color palette. This was my art school.” Jeff goes on to explain that it wasn’t easy starting out.
“I got all my grandma’s stuff right out of high school and started messing around with it. I didn’t know what mixing mediums were and I was a horrible artist. I sucked but I wasn’t afraid to make the 5OO shitty paintings before I finally made a good one. I think people are afraid to fail. The culture of perfection is upsetting. I wish I had documented the beginning now that I am where I am now. I want people to know I painted like shit for a long time. I still paint like shit sometimes and I rip it up and start over. I'm not hung up on being great every time. You can fall flat on your face and struggle and make mistakes; it's all part of the process.”
Jeff Weir lives in Coeur d’Alene with his wife and children who are all supported by the sales of his artwork.
“When my wife and I started dating it was just me hanging out in her apartment and painting cause she had more room than I did. So all of our dating was we’d just hang out while I painted and she’d read books and we’d chat. Then I started a tree service. It just wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing even though we were good at it and we were doing well it just wasn’t the thing.” Now he spends his hours in a lofted studio, painting what he loves. “I do oil on canvas and my wife does pottery-we just got her studio set up at home. And it’s all I do--I really love it. My style is contemporary western wildlife-that’s how I label it. I just want to paint Idaho/Montana culture, history, and wildlife. I love being outside and grew up reading Louie L’Amour books. I just love the Old West and the outdoors.” His passion has allowed himself and his family to live the life of their dreams, even during an unexpected year.
“To me success isn’t the brand new truck, boat, and mansion,” Jeff says. “It’s 2O2O--my wife and I are making it through, she can stay home and I can paint and drink beer all day if I want. All I want to do is tell people they can do whatever they want to do.”
If you want to chase after money you can find it--but I don’t think that’s happiness. We do very well and we sell out all our paintings by the end of the year. Then every winter I close down my studio, put paper over the windows and make new work for the rest of the year and I’ll paint throughout the year too but I close my studio for three months to the public and just make new work.”
While the Weir business has remained successful throughout the year, it experienced its share of loss this past spring when the lockdown was mandated.
“We’ve been fine this year but when the shutdown happened I had a big show in March that was in Montana. That was going to be my big break and it was cancelled.I had been closed for three months preparing work for that so I took all those paintings and from half the sales of all those I just bought gift cards from local businesses and gave them away on my Instagram. Now, I’m putting on a Christmas show with a list of local businesses you can pick from to receive a $25O gift card from when you buy a painting.” Jeff Weir’s commitment to his art, his family and his community is inspirational and exactly the sort of encouragement needed at the end of a difficult year for many.
“People love Coeur d’Alene because we take care of each other. My big takeaway from this year is love your neighbor and that’s it. I think small community is all you can really affect in your life and I think it has the strongest impact too. There’s no better year to love your neighbor than this year.”