If you are in a museum and see a display of old paint tubes and brushes with a tiny bit of Scarlet Lake paint dried at the tip, you may also see someone nearby dabbing tears from their eyes. This person is an artist and part of their heart just broke, seeing tools left behind by an artist who passed away.
It never fails. Whenever I've visited the Whyte Museum in Banff, I have ended up in tears seeing the crushed tubes of paint and the palettes that my artistic heroes once used. The fact that I now paint where they once did moves me beyond reason. Peter and Catharine Robb Whyte, Mary Schaffer, Carl Rungius; they walked the same streets in Banff as I do, then headed out into the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains to paint. They were much more adventurous than I could ever be: I can't imagine hiking for hours and only then opening my pack to paint. That's why the scenes they painted make you sharply intake your breath, seeing the magnificence they captured.
My easel is a treasure that Yannick, my better half, found in a shop in Red Deer. It was from an estate sale, a leftover that hadn't sold. Yannick had no idea how special it was, he just thought I'd like it. Like it?! Try ADORE it!!! It is a French easel with brass fittings and is quite heavy, which is part of its magic. It is similar to ones carried by other heroes of mine: Van Gogh, Monet...you get the idea. They didn't have the option of lightweight easels with telescoping legs made from aluminum. They hauled a big, clunky box and created magic painting in fields.
My easel, inherited from a stranger, had treasures hidden inside. Chunky pieces of charcoal, willow charcoal, Conte crayons. I've kept the charcoal in the drawer as a reminder of the artist that travels with me in spirit. One of the most exciting things I discovered is that the canvas holder is warped...meaning that the former owner used it OUTSIDE. It makes me emotional that my practice is in part similar to the previous owner's.
Here is a photo of me plein air painting at Kootenay River in Kootenay National Park.
The day was overcast and the resulting study wasn't great, but what a wonderful way to spend part of an afternoon! My impatient dog made sure the painting took the minimum amount of time. Yannick, holding her leash, spent the time I was painting valiantly trying to keep the dog from plunging into the icy glacier fed water.
Art is about the journey. The amazing vista in front of you may not end up on the canvas the way you intended. Still, a day spent working on your craft, ignoring inclement weather, moving paint with a brush just because it makes your heart sing...what could be better?
Thank you for spending this time with me,