Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Big Ones - The First One

Last week, Bill and I had a wonderful time staying with a recently, re-acquainted friend from our past.  In a lovingly restored log cabin Wendy lives right beneath the beautiful Livingstone Range in southwestern Alberta (see the photo essay here). Being there presented me with the opportunity to seek out the site of one of my large canvases; and that is what prompts me to tell the story of my Big Ones.

PEARY the CARIBOU   1993 oil   5 x 7 feet

At the time I was asked to do this prestigious commission I had never painted anything larger than 2 x 3 feet. The prospect had me somewhat terrified. I had to remind myself that I'd been painting for 25 years. Other than the fact that I didn't have a work space big enough, surely it couldn't be that much more difficult to go that big? 

Our then neighbours, Pat and Baiba Morrow, were generous in providing me with resource material from their extensive slide collections and their time spent with the caribou in Canada's north. 

Being that it was only open at weekends the Canmore Artists and Artisans Guild graciously permitted me to work, mid week, in the gallery space they occupied at that time.

Signing PEARY the CARIBOU, April 16th, 1993

Sadly, I painted over the original maquette.  It originally had a blue sky; I had painted the scale model in the way I envisioned Carl Runguis would have. To please the designer, I had to change that; he insisted that the sky match the colours of the lobby decor.

The maquette with a blue and then peach sky,   oil 15" x 21",   it remains in my collection 

PEARY the CARIBOU installed in the lobby of the Banff Caribou Lodge, April 26th, 1993

It amazed me that I completed the canvas in 21 days, And, other than working with the designer, it wasn't really difficult at all. In fact it was exhilarating! And thus was born my desire to create more, large canvases.

Less than a year later I would bite off the biggest painting I've ever done. Stay tuned for part two ... 


  1. What a wonderful story, Alice. I laughed at the blue sky change - just SO love working with designers!

    1. Thanks Win. Yeah, I've never met an artist who likes being what to do, let alone how to do it!

  2. That little plinth your maquette rests upon is still in the present (third) incarnation of the CAG gallery. Everyone of your CAG friends was so proud that you got that commission and the amazing result . I remember it well... especially how hard you worked in those three weeks.