A good friend and wonderful photographer commented on an article that I ran across, about travelling to new places to paint. “The only thing that I find limiting in this article is the apparent need to travel to find subjects to interpret. I find Nature so full of magic that there really is no need to travel to discover awesome subjects, they are already right where you happen to be, paint and brushes in hand”.
I replied that a very cool artist named Monet said exactly the same thing a while back. I do think most artists need an occasional change of venue in order to charge batteries and crank up the inspiration. However, when I have travelled with plein air painting friends, it was more about the time away to paint, the sharing of knowledge and experiences with other artists, that re-energized me. And further, I have been reluctant to join painting trips to Europe or the Rockies because I would feel handicapped by the artistic vision of a tourist, and I can't stand cute pictures.
When I look back on some of the more exotic places where I have painted, it is the people that I met that come to mind first; Artists like Bruno Cote who befriended our group in Charlevoix and painted with us on numerous occasions when we returned to the Region; Robert Genn, who parked his truck behind my car in Banff, and stayed to watch me work and chat while I painted; Charles Movalli and Betty lou Schlem, workshops in Greenville NY and Gloucester, Mass. All of them helped me to be a better painter, but the locations were definitely secondary. And, in fact, I was discouraged with my plein-air efforts to paint mountains and seascapes, because I felt like a visitor, and that it would take years to get to feel at home with the subject matter.
And so, I still travel to paint; to the Lanark Highlands, Algonquin Park and Ottawa Valley - places that I have known from childhood. Where memories, friendships and familiarity fill my paintings.
Guess I agree with Monet and my friend,
The Art of Charles Spratt