Owens Valley and the High Sierras: 1917
In 1917, an opportunity came that would greatly expand Conrad Buff's ideas about how to approach landscape painting. California Impressionist Edgar Payne enlisted Buff’s help with a massive mural project for all eleven floors of the new Congress Hotel in Chicago. Working on the project, Buff gained valuable experience which served as a precedent for his extensive mural work later in life. The experience also cemented a friendship with Payne.
After the project’s completion, Payne invited Buff on a trip to California's Eastern Sierras along with fellow California Impressionist Franz Bischoff. The shadowed mountains set against the deep blue sky made a strong impression on the artists. Buff would continue making trips to the Sierras, embracing a life-long challenge of portraying the contrast and harmony between sky and landscape.