Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Big Ones - Part Six

A short hike above the town of Canmore, Alberta are twin jewels; Grassi Lakes. There, in September 1991, I painted my first ever plein air painting. Nowadays the trail is heavily traveled and the lakes are always crowded but in the summer of 1993, when I made a daily practice of meditating there early every morning, I had the lakes all to myself. A part of me will always be there just as the beauty and peace of this sacred place is always in my heart.  

FIREWEED AT GRASSI LAKES   1994 watercolour 7" x 10"  Collection of Mary Shillabeer and Tom Matier
Painting at Grassi Lakes August 2nd, 1992

Back in the 1990s spring kicked off our seasonal, reproduction business and all summer long, when it was in full swing, we kept a hectic pace. Using the above watercolour as a study and over four weeks in April and May of 1995 I managed only eight random paintings days before bringing the big oil home, where it sat, unfinished, for two years.

The large oil in progress at the Canmore Artists and Artisans Guild's gallery, April and May, 1995

FIREWEED AT GRASSI LAKES   1997 oil 4 x 6 feet   Collection of Gordon and Carol Godfrey

In order to include it in my solo show at Whyte Museum, Banff, I finished it at home, in August 1997. Saltiel; Routes Without Limits was a milestone for me. The curator and I were like oil and water.  Gathering together 39 paintings from over a 25 year period was epic. But the joy of seeing them installed, side by side, in the large gallery (September 13th to November 30th, 1997) made it all so very worth while.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Back in Winderland

I was thrilled when Win offered to teach me how to make painted papers.  Oh look it involves finger painting!

July 12th to 16th; Bill and I were delighted to be welcomed back at Win and John's home in Creston, B.C. John's passion for gardening meant gorging ourselves on fresh raspberries, strawberries, peas and tomatoes. 




And naturally, there were many hours spent in Winderland, although this visit Win and I were more moderate over the time we spent in her studio. This enabled us to take in some of the local offerings, including visiting the above winery and Creston's Saturday Market. We also drove north along the east side of Kootenay Lake to Crawford Bay where we had a fabulous lunch and toured the amazing and assorted artisan's studios there.


Our combined efforts after three, part-days in Winderland

There is excessive laughter while we work side by side (or when we're just gadding about).  I wish everyone could know the joy this brings. It spills out in the colourful work we produce ... 


Win's LOVE LETTER TO GAIA (her real title)

FLY AWAY   8" x 6"   (mine)
Multiple palette paper transfers, rubber stamp and feather on Stonehenge paper

WINE SONG   6" x 6"   (mine)   Palette paper transfer, rubber stamps, hand painting, Japanese Maple "keys"

Win's ALIEN PARTY TREES

Win's SENTINELS GUARD SECRETS KEPT BEHIND THE DOOR


In her pieces, Win will need to explain what techniques and materials she used and their real titles! 


WE'LL SING IN THE SUNSHINE   12" x 9"   fiber paper, metallic leafing, rubber stamps
and dried flowers 

I suggested we interpret the same subject. Without any discussion this happened quite randomly; guess who did what!

We experimented with distressing photographs and playing with copper!  Ah, copper ... since we are in the very early stages of learning how best to employ it, I'll save talk of that for another day!

To see the complete photo essay of our Creston visit please click here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Big Ones - Part Five

In October 1996, Bill and I had the good fortune of trekking, with 17 others, in the Khumbu region, Nepal.  We were "support hikers" for a Canadian climbing team making a bid for the summit of Mount Ama Dablam (elevation 22,494 feet). After assembling in Kathmandu and a short helicopter flight to Lukla we began a 12 day trek on the Everest trail; Ama Dablam's base camp our destination.

After such a rich cultural experience and seeing the magnificence of the Himalayas, I was eager to paint my impressions. For the month of February 1997, Bill and I had a residency at the live-in the Gushul Studio, in Blairmore, Alberta, a former photographer's studio now administered by the University of Lethbridge. There I created the work for our first exhibition together - The Alice & Bill Show.  


PRAYER FIRES   oil 3.5 x 4.5 feet   completed February 11th, 1997   Collection of Laura Koebel, Canmore

Beside us at base camp (elevation 15,100 feet) there were groups from Holland, Austria, Britain and Ecuador; each focused on their turn to attempt the summit.  There didn't appear to be any interaction between the teams. On the morning which I depicted in Prayer Fires our Canadians were the first team on the mountain making for the summit.  Folks in all camps were diligently tending fires. Unaware of the tradition, I queried our lead Sherpa who explained that the fires carry prayers of safety to the climbers; I was so impacted I burst into tears. This painting may have sold countless times but it was one I insisted on keeping ... until Laura signed on with Adam as co-owner of their Canmore home.


AMA DABLAM    oil 3.5 x 4.5 feet   completed February 18th, 1997   Collection of John McIsaac and Cathy Ann David

Ama means mother and Dablam (the snowy bulge just below the summit - a hanging glacier) means charm box; the ornament Sherpa women wear around their necks. I painted the stand alone mountain as I first saw it with her glorious, sweeping arms dripping in brilliant, lacy snow and ice patterns against a crystal clear blue sky.

After the trek, we spent a week resting in Bali.  Our joint show featured Bill's photographs, my artwork plus artifacts we'd collected from both places. We were thrilled with how well the show displayed in the then new gallery space which the Canmore Artists and Artisans still maintain at the Canmore Public Library.

THE ALICE and BILL SHOW; Impressions of Nepal and Bali, at the CAAG Gallery March 14th to 23rd, 1997
Speaking at the opening reception, March 14th

Our hearts swelled at the response from the community, our trekker pals who traveled from afar and the support of friends who turned out for the opening and the show throughout it's duration.

Husband and wife climbers, whom we never did see on the mountain because they were at advance camps, honoured me when they purchased three of the paintings from the show including ...


AMA DABLAM installed at Cathy Ann's and John's home, March 31st, 1997.
Snaps shots from the trek

October 7th, 1996, hiking in a skirt along side a mani stone wall on the Kunde trail. Mount Tramserku

October 10th, me and Bill with yaks at base camp. Mount Taboche

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Big Ones - Part Four

THE CAVELL POND (at the foot of Mount Edith Cavell , Jasper)   oil 12" x 24"   June 19th, 1995   My collection 

Forced to work in the tiny art room at the Icefield on yet another rainy day my painter pals were all irate with cabin fever. I tuned out their bickering and created the painting above which I instantly fell madly for and still love. Not wanting to part with it, it has only ever left home once; to hang alongside the large studio piece of it as part of my retrospective show, in 1997, at The Whyte Museum, Banff.

With no large studio prospects on the horizon and itching to paint another big one, I took the legs off of the dining room table and stashed the lot under our bed. I found room for the chairs in the third bedroom, which was my small, home studio, and set up shop in the dining area of our Canmore house.

Working on THE CAVELL POND, April  17th, 1996

April 24th, 1996 the completed CAVELL POND   oil 3 x 6 feet   Collection of George Irwin, Edmonton  

With the above finished, full of ambition and good intentions, I launched into this 4 x 6 foot oil of Lake Louise ...


The living/dining room turned studio, April 29th, 1996

With summer coming on, and the pending trip to Ontario, I opted to put our home back together and the above was shelved until late in 1997.

Although this story is somewhat off topic I simply cannot resist. The family went to Toronto specifically to go to Central Technical School's annual open house and exhibition of student's work. Denise was attending the post secondary art program there and ... as I did in my time ... she had Canadian icon, Doris McCarthy, as one of her instructors. A week later we all went to Doris' for dinner. I was so proud of my family for their silence (although the look in their eyes did not escape me) when they watched to see just what I would do when the baked Spam was placed before me. I ate it. How could I not? And I washed it down with the Grand Dame's excellent, home-made dandelion wine!

My first visit to Fool's Paradise (the home Doris McCarthy built herself) May 16th, 1996  


Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Big Ones - Part Three

My application for a second Leighton Artist's Colony studio resulted in a six week residency, early in 1995. Much of my time was spent creating commissioned serigraphs for The Gallery at Jasper Park Lodge, now Mountain Galleries; two editions of 200 prints, 11 colours each, but that is a story in itself for another day.

Standing on the summit of Mount Athabasca presented an entirely new painting perspective. Looking down to valleys below and out across to other peaks gives a God-like sensation which spurred a summit series of small watercolour paintings. I brought these two to the Banff Centre as studies for large oils ...


1994, 7" x 10", watercolours with the same titles as the 4 x 6 foot oils, below.  Both in my own collection 

THE ATHABASCA - ANDROMEDA COL oil   4 x 6 feet   sold through Wallace Galleries, collector unknown 

THE CURVE OF THE SUMMIT (from the Silverhorn)   oil   4 X 6 feet   Collection of Denise Scammell

The Curve of the Summit is somewhat abstract and perhaps a difficult view for folks to comprehend. It did the gallery rounds and was never sold. In July 1997 a guide, whom Denise was dating then, took us and Bill up the face of the Silverhorn (the meringue shaped peak to the right of the actual summit). Standing on the vantage point of the painting I pointed out this perspective to Denise and she understood it completely. After such an expedition together I gave the large oil to her.

The day before I moved out of the studio I had a most unexpected visitor. He'd been in Banff, unaware that I was, and had driven on to seek me out at the Mountain Avens Gallery. Owner, Arlene Curry, explained the situation and when he departed (supposedly for Calgary) she telephoned me. I remember willing him to turn back; to return to Banff. When he arrived at my Leighton studio he told me that he felt I had put a hex on him; he'd accidentally turned west, not east, after leaving Canmore. His flight back to Toronto was late that night and so we were able to spend the remainder of the afternoon and evening together.


With former Central Tech art teacher, Paul Summerskill, February 28th, 1995

This was the first time we'd seen each other since our art class' 20 year reunion in 1986.  He wrote these precious lines in my journal: Thanks for the happy visit. After all these years you have become the teacher and I have become your student and for this I am thankful. A decade later Bill and I would join him and his wife, Tina, at their retreat in Newfoundland.  A 100+ year old fisherman's house, at Twillingate.

Athabasca expedition snap shots

With Bill the first time I stood on the summit of Mount Athabasca, July 25th, 1994

Bill and me climbing the Silverhorn of Mount Athabasca, August 25th, 1997 ... I 'm somewhat terrified, does it show?

With Denise on the Silverhorn, the curve of the summit behind us, August 25th, 1997