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It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.

Henry David Thoreau


Joan Mason grew up in upstate New York where her family lived out the winters in Rochester, and spent the summers at 'the farm' 120 acres in the foothills of the Alleghany Mountains. The farm was Joan's treasured spot where she and her younger sister spent hot summer days building forts in the woods or bringing salamanders and tadpoles from the creek as surprises for their mother.
Early she was enamored by horses and begged to have one. So for her 10th birthday her dad broke down and bought a green broke mare. Horses especially have always played a large part of her life...but all animals were nurtured and studied. Snakes were collected, birds were fed, and once when the cat brought a dead mouse she did a mouse autopsy and carefully tanned the hide afterward. She was always lobbying for baby ducks, chickens and puppies and kittens.
One winter the basement of the Rochester house was full of Easter chicks and ducks, the playhouse was home to a weaned calf, and there was a bunny in a cage... all waiting for summer vacation to go live at the farm. The Willys Jeep transported them all through downtown Rochester to cheers and waves from bystanders! 
Eventually the family sold the house in Rochester and moved to the farm.  Joan spent the last two years of high school there and then to college. She eventually received a bachelors degree in Fine Art from Michigan State University and met a fellow who graduated with a degree in Forestry. A whirlwind romance of 2 months and separation of 6 more months (he to Elk City, Idaho Ranger Station..and she home to New York) resulted in marriage in 1962. They started their married life in Elk City. 
Elk City, Idaho in the 60's was a pretty primitive phones, minus 50 degrees in the winters, frequent power outages, 60 miles over bad road to Grangeville and 'civilization'! But fast friends were forged, wonderful memories were made, and art blossomed even in their 8 x 35 foot trailer. Joan painted, drew and did a series of palette knife and printer ink work while there. Also the first of three daughters was born while they were living in 'the wild'! 
Joan and her husband have resided in the west since 1962, being stationed with the USFS at Ft. Howes RS on the Custer Forest of Eastern Montana, on the Nez Perce Forest in Riggins, Idaho, and the Lolo Forest in Western Montana. She has taught painting and drawing and has had many solo and group shows over the years. Teaching is a joy in her life as she loves to see the 'light' go on in the eyes of a person who didn't think they could be creative. 
She currently resides 2 miles out of  St. Ignatius on the Mission Falls Ranch where she and her husband retired and for the last 27 years have ranched...growing horses, cattle, sheep, hay, and raising and training Border Collies. Horses also remain in her life and are the focus of her paintings. Many paintings are the result of Joan's photos of her two Arabian geldings, and of her friends' horses. The beauty of a horse is one of the best things God ever created....and breathing into their nostrils on a warm summer evening is close to Joan's idea of Heaven!      

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