My purpose in getting out of doors to paint is always to learn. I find that being in the place, dialling in the shapes, colour and quick light one of the best things that a painter can do to learn about the world around them.
I admit being a workaholic. The creation of images fascinates me and borders on obsession. What does it mean to produce really great work, in a prolific manner? I think the answer to that lies in a concentrated residency period that allows experimentation. Quantifiable data can help flesh out part of the picture, but not all of it. Here was my short experience at The Banff Centre.
When I came back from Gwaii Haanas National Park in June, my head was filled with so many images, experiences and thoughts that I needed some time to sort through them before picking up a paintbrush. I'm still going through that, with over 5000 photographs, a full sketchbook, sound files and video. One of the things I'm starting to do now is to thumbnail sketch out in "storyboard" form, my trip through the park itself which took 5 days. I'm looking at every photograph, recalling the experience and picking a few moments that interest me. One of the greatest tools any artist can use is the thumbnail to do this, and it's a great tool that I learned way back in my college days as a graphic designer.
Getting an idea out of my heart and head is not always easy. Sometimes it comes together, and sometimes it doesn't. I wanted to try a different approach to my work and underpaintings on this group, which are slated for exhibition from my Gwaii Haanas Artist In Residence experience. The colours on the underpainting are different from how I generally combine the subject and technique. I've taken an approach to combine the quick onsite plein-air experience with the more academic figurative approach. So far, it's coming along, and I anticipate that it will provide the results that I'm looking for.
"When you've got friends to wish you well...you'll find a point when you will exhale" And with that, I've begun my residency. What a blessing to see folks that have been participants and co-workers in both arts and administrative capacities, from all corners of the world. It was a flurry of activity, and also quite strange - almost like being transported back into a space that I'd long ago left.
An artist needs to be prepared for just about anything. When the creative spirit strikes, don't be caught with your canvas down!
Choices are one and the same. Through the process of creation, we destroy. Through destruction, we create. Through imagery of Haida Gwaii, contemplate your choices as an artist.
There is a big difference in working on site, with all of the sensory input of the moment. Sound, light, colour, smells...they all ADD to the moment of rapture when creating the work, and for me as an artist, there is nothing quite like that pure energy of creating the "feeling" of what you have in that one moment and place.
Nothing quite so exciting than starting your trip by getting this close to a bear. I had a great day on the road, experiencing every form of weather from snow to sunshine. In one day, I spotted two black bears, a huge male elk, bighorn sheep, deer, loons, bald eagles. It's made me realize once again, how privileged I am to live in this part of the world, and that so much is right in my own backyard.