The temperatures, smells, blooms and pollen of an early summer have arrived with sunshine stretching out into the week. This is the time of year when I am preparing for summer and fall art show submissions, which means not much art gets made. However this year is particularly slow in the “create” mode. It’s been and continues to be a full spring of life’s surprises. I wish I could say they were all welcome.
Something which is welcome is the upcoming Al Frescoes plein air painting show at the Coast Collective, which opens tomorrow (Opening night is Thursday, May 17). Both Andrew and I have 2 pieces in the show. Mine were both painted in Jasper last summer. I rarely get the chance to paint with the group due to my work schedule so I’m grateful they still let me show with them. Andrew helped put the show up yesterday and I’m looking forward to seeing it on Thursday night. I hope to see everyone there!
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s Summer Small Works show opens Thursday, June 7. I have 3 of my favourite small character portraits in the show. This is always a great chance to pick up a lovely little piece at a reasonable price. I hope to see you there as well!
So, even though it feels like not much has been happening in the studio, the shows are ramping up. Submissions into the Sooke Fine Arts show have been done and I am preparing for what will be submitted into the Sidney Fine Arts show. This is another busy exhibiting summer and I intend to spend the majority of my month-long summer vacation either outside painting en plein air or inside enjoying the studio. Sigh. I can’t wait!
When I was visiting Maui one time, I discovered that some of the best views of the landscape and oceans beyond can be found on golf course properties (not because I’m a golfer, but… ah, it’s a long story). In Jasper the same goes for resort properties. Because we were traveling on a budget, Andrew and I opted to camp for the majority of our Jasper trip. No resorts for us! So one morning as we wandered looking for a new painting location, we took a quick spin through the private resort property of Tekarra Lodge. We found an incredible painting spot on their property and the front desk was nice enough to allow us to paint then and there.
A storm was passing in the distance and the sun broke through intermittently – as go the normal challenges of plein air painting. I opted to try and capture a broad view by lining up two 6″ x 8″ panels side-by-side – a diptych!
In this particular piece you can see the reddish-brown colour of the trees which have been devastated by the pine beetle infestation. It was extremely distressing to see and to also understand how much it increases the wildfire risk.
Of course having the opportunity to paint from the lodge grounds made me want to stay there so we could just walk out of our quaint cabin to see that view all day long – and to join other guests at the fire pit – and enjoy a glass of wine listening to the live band at the on-site restaurant… ah well, at least we had a chance to paint!
I often daydream about attending one of the very popular plein air events such as the Plein Air Convention which is run by Plein Air Magazine. The one in 2018 would be especially sweet because it will be in New Mexico – the light, the culture, the memories! However the cost is prohibitive. Therefore next year we will likely stay closer to home and keep our eyes out for a more local plein air event(s) to feed our need for both painting opportunities as well as art socializing.
Back to Jasper… our passes in hand, we headed up one morning to the stunning Mt. Edith Cavell and Angel Glacier. Our memories failed us this time because neither of us remembered that there was a rather steep 1km-ish hike to get to the best spot to view Angel Glacier. Normally this would be just fine but with the amount of painting equipment we choose to take with us, it was quite a slow-going trek! Determination to paint in front of the glacier pushed us on and once we were set up above and behind the place where most of the tourists would be standing to view the glacier, we were happier than we could ever be. More than once on the Jasper trip I said `There is no where I would rather be right now.` in my outside voice!
We spent 4 hours painting, smiling and chit-chatting with interested people, watching the chipmunks and listening to the cracks and groans of the glacier. There really is nothing as in-the-moment as trying to capture in paint the stunning views of a living and moving glacier. This was THE moment of the trip which we dreamed of and it was better than either of us could have imagined. It was exhilarating, humbling, exciting and exhausting all at once, for 4 hours! The resulting paintings for both of us were not what we would consider gallery quality but for me at least, it captured the intensity of the colour, size, shape and energy of the place. I do intend to use this painting as a reference for later works:
Overall, the weather cooperated when we were in Jasper, with only a day or so of rain and a couple days of smokey haze. We used the new Best Brella when the rain threatened or sunshine was prohibitive. I’m still learning that even if the sun is behind me, it’s important to put the brella up because my piece will end up being too dark since a palette and canvas in full sunshine is way brighter than you think it is when you take it inside.
Another challenge to painting outside is having to chase the light; On one scattered clouds afternoon, there were moments where the mountain in front of us had these incredible bursts of light and then in the next moment, they were gone. This is usually a frustrating experience but this one afternoon I relaxed and used speed and memory to capture the light I wanted (as I listened to Andrew swear under his breath as his highlight disappeared). My resulting painting ended up being one of my favourites:
I have a few more pages of my trip diary to go through to bring more stories to these pages. My holidays are coming to a close, so I want to capture the highlights for you and for myself so that when I am getting comfy in the studio, I will remember how much I LOVE painting outside. So, more to come…