Moutcha Bay Painting Trip

Andrew and I recently spent about a week up island at a somewhat remote campground on Moutcha Bay. This was our first real foray into the world of tent camping and it was a bit rocky with a few lessons learned about camping and painting. We discovered:

  • Camping is dirty business
  • Don’t forget your camp stove and if you do, make friends with the locals
  • The line between relaxing in the silence of nature and boredom is very thin
  • I’m not one of those people who want to paint 24/7. Sitting in silence at the campsite didn’t mean I wanted to fill that space with sketching the fern I was admiring. It just meant I was re-energizing for the next plein air session.
  • I need to sit in silence a bit before launching into a plein air painting so I can feel* the scene. *I don’t know any other word than “feel” for what happens when the right scene, colours, values occur to me and I know it’s the right moment to start. I discovered this when I had made a bad start to a painting, had wiped my canvas clean and just sat there in silence. Andrew had gone off to forage for something and I was alone with the rocking of the dock on the water. I started looking and my eyes rested on a colour and shape in the water and then it started to make sense. The result was my best painting of the trip:


Clear Cut off Moutcha Bay

Including the above painting, we had a couple fantastic painting sessions on the docks of Moutcha Bay Resort. The weather varied so we were able to capture different moods and colours.

Clouds over Moutcha Bay
Clouds Over Moutcha Bay, Plein air oil, 8 x 10
Out to Sea - Moutcha Bay
Out to Sea, Moutcha Bay. Plein air oil, 8 x 10

We also had the opportunity to experience a working fishing marina, which was a whole new world to me. This place is out there along a steep and windy dirt road and yet there they are; going about their business and pleasure, fishing and guiding and boating. We never felt like strange interlopers. Everyone was more than friendly and just a bit surprised when they found out we were there to paint, not fish. They silently noticed us and went about their business, carefully docking their boats out of our field of view and painting spots. So nice!

A secondary goal of the trip on top of painting was to take lots of reference photos for studio work. And we captured a few gems:

I suspect I will be posting more about this trip and other adventures as we move through our summer holidays. For now, here is what a plein air set-up looks like on the furthest West Coast of Canada:


Of Pain, Passion and Intent

On the weekend Andrew said something that has sat within me, thinking. He said something like What if we only made art to make art, not to show or sell it?

I’ve done this far in the past, but not intentionally or with forethought. Currently we have this cycle going where we mostly make art through the fall and winter months and spring means prepping and framing, having cards made and display details worked out in time for the summer shows and sales. Those sales keep us in supplies so we can start the process over.

Now, I would be embarrassed and even shocked myself to know how much cash I’ve spent on making art throughout my life. It would probably see me retiring soon if I hadn’t, but I am an artist and artist’s make art. I did have one 8 year period of not making art when my career was the focus but I was drawn back into it with even more passion. Being an adult means appreciating much more the time and ability it takes to make art or got to school than when I did it all the first time. I appreciate every moment.

But is it intentional or thoughtful?

Huh, funny. My sister said something a couple weeks ago about how driven or intentional I was in whatever I do (paraphrasing). And at the time, I said I didn’t see myself that way. I thought I was just living life and making the decisions that needed to be made along the way. But then I started thinking about that; going over my life and the major events or movements I made in certain directions and she is right!

I knew I wanted to go to art school when I was in high school. I was so confident that I only applied to the one school that I was accepted in to. After art school there were a few years of making art in a shared studio while working retail jobs and enjoying my youth (read, too much alcohol and too many boyfriends and many bad choices) until I stumbled into a very good job, which was kind of art related. After that job dried up, and I knew I wanted to live the way that very good job allowed me to (versus the starving artist path), I made a very intentional decision to return to school to get skills-based design training, which ended up being my career path. Within that career are a series of intentional jobs and moves to different cities and even an intentional leap of faith to move back to BC and Victoria.

Anyway, this is getting long and boring… What kind of art would I make if I did it purely for myself?

I need to think on this a bit more.

So, what about the title of this post?

I am in physical and emotional pain right now. My immune-system body is challenged once again by a severe allergic reaction (on top of the Alopecia). I’ve been through this before in Halifax when I reacted badly to the molds of that very moist city. So I know the frustration, embarrassment and pain of going through this but this time it is effecting my ability to work. And I have this crazy middle-class sense of morality where it is very, very difficult for me to not work. Even when I can’t work. The emotional fear it brings up is excruciating and yet I am forced, by my body to accept it. I don’t want to let myself or my colleagues down. I don’t want to risk the security of my job, even though in reality that is not very likely. I find it extremely difficult to accept being sick. This all causes stress, which in turn effects my immune system.

Sigh. A long and boring and not about art, post.

Since I have time right now to think, to be thoughtful and intentional… What kind of art would I make if purely for myself and for the art itself?

Untitled, Charcoal, 22″ x 30″