As a landscape artist, I can relate to the description of “placefulness” by Christian McEwen in his book, World Enough and Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down. I have experienced those moments of complete immersion, mindful of the perfection of the place and eager to capture the sights, values and forms for future paintings. One such hike was Plain of Six Glaciers this summer where the 7 mile, 1100 foot elevation gain to a max of 7000 feet up the valley at the head of Lake Louise presented flooded trail, ledges with chains, and avalanches thundering down. A trail like this employs all your senses- physical, mental and spiritual. If your subject doesn’t excite you in this way, you should ask yourself , why?
As an artist, in the Canadian Rockies, I frequently revisit favourite areas. I have been to Lake O’Hara every hiking season for the past 22 years, and I have been to Lake Agnes almost every year since arriving in 1976. Why? Because it is always different, or I see something- a view, shadows, weather, a flower, a colour- I had not seen before. On this special day, it was an avalanche across the area where I am standing as my son and I were halfway across the lake. Some artists like to get to know their subject intimately, O’Keeffe had the desert, Charlie Russell cowboys in Montana, Andrew Wyeth had Chadds Ford. An artist has to find their “angle of reponse”- the pace where they come to rest and makes them the best they can be.
Work from the Thursday Morning Advanced Class…
On the last day of the class, we looked at some of the completed works of the session.
A lot of work and thought went into these pieces and it shows! Each year they get better…
all who submitted had at least one piece accepted into the Whyte Museum Watermedia Show
opening January 19, Saturday, from 1-4pm, Banff. Music by Joy and Vlad Kaitman…..
Put it on your calendar! New classes begin January 9 and 10th, 2013…
Happy New Year…
We took a bus up 7 miles to the Sunshine Meadows Lodge and began hiking
-more up! White Mountain Adventures calls this “hiking on top of the world” and our view overlooking the mountains and Healy Meadows was spectacular. We painted surrounded by golden Larches. I am working on a large painting of this view for the Canada House Gallery “Joy” Show on Nov. 24th.
Historically, the cardinal direction points have been important in navigation, direction, mythology, religion and now…. art.
In class I was helping someone create a shadow under a log -but she was okay going from left to right with the brush in her hand but when she tried to go back over the shadow she couldn’t change direction. She was trying to keep her hand in the same position and still move from right to left over the top of the shadow giving it a lost and found edge- it wasn’t working. And the time she was taking trying to figure it out meant that the shadow color dried and she was unable to get that lovely transitional value.
Instead, when you get to the right-hand side of the page turn the top of the brush to face West- the opposite direction- your wrist will also turn…. now you can move the brush smoothly along the top of the shadow.
Practice moving your brush in the four directions…… point the top of the brush East, West, North and South…bend your wrist as you do this……..
Forrest Gump said life is like a box of chocolates. I think life is like a box of paints and in the class of art, life and art often overlap. If you’re going on a trip somewhere don’t you want directions, don’t you use your GPS or a roadmap or ask a friend how to get there? So, if you’re going to do a painting don’t you want to know where the lights and darks are going to be, where the center of interest is, how your eye is going to flow through the composition? In the advanced class I get people to do several eight and a half by 11 black-and-white copies of the resource material or photo they want to use. On one take a black magic marker and outline the main compositional features, try not to use more than four lines-for example, one for the edge of the outline of the mountain, one for the edge of the trees, one for the lake and rocks, the sky will appear above the edge of the mountain. This will help you simplify your composition. Take another black-and-white copy and actually cut out all of the main compositional features-the mountain, lake, mid-ground trees-and rearrange them on another sheet of paper. Perhaps the mountain should be more to the left, or change the point of view – take the mountain closer to the top of the paper, have more foreground. All things that can help you find your way around the composition of a painting, and don’t we all like good directions!
In this weekend workshop the participants painted mountains, light on the snow and, by request, we did an afternoon of mono prints. I had forgotten how immediate and exciting mono prints can be. It is a system I devised when I wanted the effect of mono prints but did not want to use oil paints. Painting on glass, pressing the paper, and lifting to see the effect are all very organic. Then, you have to find those images-trees, streams, rocks, lakes-on the pulled paper and add and subtract paint before the first wash dries! Needless to say, this process works best when you can do several at one sitting. The more you do the better you get-isn’t that the way with everything in life?