On a quiet back country road, late last fall, just as the sun was setting, I drove past a stand of pines; their boughs laden with fresh snow. I pulled over and got out to take a few minutes to breath in the fresh air and experience the light show effect of the last stages of sundown with the orange sky creating a backdrop to the visual drama. I could feel the interaction of the orange and blue complimentary colours, pulsating from the cast shadows.
Within minutes the light was gone, like a final curtain, and I shivered as the temperature dropped. The fleeting image of the warming sun remained in my mind, like some forgotten adventure: could it be the time when, as a teenager, I walked home alone in the dark after pick-up hockey at an outdoor rink, or years later, stopping on the last run down the ski hill at Mont Tremblant, in awe of the sundown?
When I returned to my studio, I chose a 24x30 canvas and placed it in a portrait attitude on my easel. I squeezed out acrylic paint: phthalo and ultramarine blue, cadmium orange, yellow and white. Then, with a 2 inch brush and sweeping strokes, I roughly painted the colours that were registered in my mind’s eye, like some story from the past enfolding.
In the following weeks I continued to follow my instincts, modifying colours and minimizing detail, all the while purposefully taking time away from the canvas in order to reassess the progress. At some point, when I ventured back into my studio and re-examined my painting, my mind said “that’s it. You can stop now.”
While no painting is ever perfect to my mind, there comes a time when it feels that my story has unfolded and it's time to let others draw their own impressions.
When was the last time we paused to breath in the fresh air and savour the wonder of our natural world?
I have been asked about PAE recently. Unfortunately I have no news. I ask myself, are too many of us regulars just getting too senior? Charlie
Just thinking about it brings back memories. I recall the time when we came up with the idea of a painter’s weekend some 30 years ago. Andrew Lyall and Pierrette Dulude-Bohay (who are sadly not with us anymore) and I were having a coffee and chatting about art. We commiserated with each other that we had been painting (watercolours) for a number of years but hadn’t had the opportunity to teach; wouldn’t it be nice to go away with other artists for an extended weekend, where we could practice giving some lessons?
We found accomodation at Calaboge Peaks, chose dates and invited our artist friends to sign up. The weekend came around and much to our amazement, we were fully subscribed. Some of the 30 artists were more advanced artists than us! There were beginners too, eager to learn, so the three of us taught watercolour painting for three days. What we noticed, though, was euphoric artists returning from painting each day with stories of hilarious plein air experiences! So back we went to more coffee time! Next time, we decided, no more teaching, everyone should work on their own, including us. We called ourselves Artists Painting With Artists.
It was a great formula. We never advertised, just spread the news by word of mouth and recommendation. We travelled as far away as Charlevoix, QC (where we met and befriended nationally-renowned, Bruno Cote), Quebec City and the Eastern Townships, and Montebello and more.
We organized Spring and Fall trips for 10 years and then other artists took over the organization responsibilities. At some time, due to the fact that some of us brought musical instruments for a music night, the name got changed to Plein Air Ensemble.
What great memories,
The Art of Charles Spratt