Inspirations from the road


Our family traveled over 4,000 kilometres through myriad communities in Saskatchewan and Alberta.  Along the way, I had my trusty camera with me, ready to respond to whatever popped up of interest.  The trip to the zoo provided lots of material for future paintings, as did our walks in the Crowsnest Pass area.  Here are a few of my favourites.

MANITOU TREE

My brother and his wife took the kids on a rock hunting expedition at a sand pit/rock quarry near Manitou Lake, the famous salt-water body of water southeast of Saskatoon.  It is legendary for its natural buoyancy, mineral-rich properties, and curative powers.  My eye kept returning to this one tree up on the ridge.  I tried to capture it from different angles, but in the end, I found a ridge of rocks piled up just high enough to let me snap these three photos.


I asked all my family members which one drew them in the most, and all of them, young and old, gave the same answer.  What would be your pick?

THE GORILLA

I knew the Calgary Zoo would offer up a few surprises and great source material for future paintings.  I wasn't disappointed. It was quite tough to get good photos of the marquee animals like the tiger, pandas and gorillas.  We were there on a rather hot day, and a lot of the big animals were staying in the shade.  I was about to give up on the gorillas when I noticed a few small children glancing down through a glass wall to a deep spot at the edge of the gorilla enclosure.  I leaned over the edge and saw this fella in a peaceful state, right between sleep and wake.  The jury is out on whether I will do a portrait of him with his eyes open or closed.  Perhaps I'll do both.

 

IN SITU ROCKS

In the Crowsnest Pass area, Heather and I went on a number of hikes in behind the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre.  As we walked along, I would see something that would grab my artistic attention and photograph it.  This one rock was standing up tall along the trail, as if begging to get its picture taken.  It sparked a new idea of doing a series of paintings of rock in situ (in place, undisturbed).  The ones that I captured all have animal or human characteristics that drew me in.


REMARKABLE TREES

We saw a lot of trees on our walks. I could pretend to tell you they were poplar and spruce, but I'm not proficient enough in my plant identification skills to say for certain. I loved seeing:

Patterns


Personality


Texture


SPLASHES OF COLOUR

I was often captured by splashes of colour and visual intrigue offered up by various plants that pepper the alpine region that we were exploring.  Here are a few that really resonate with me as I look at them back home in Fort McMurray on my computer.




LITTLE COW ON THE PRAIRIE

Heather and I were starting our long journey home, driving on Highway 22 (The Cowboy Trail), when I pulled over to grab a few pictures of some cows grazing in the field.  They were rather shy and retreated from the fence line as soon as I approached.  I only took a few pictures, but this one is rather fun.  It's like she's staring right though to my soul.



FINAL REFLECTIONS

I brought a bunch of projects with me on our holiday trip, but ended up only doing three.  I allowed myself time to visit with family, go for leisurely walks, and enjoy the relaxed pace of our main family vacation for the summer.  I feel energized and inspired to head back out into the studio and see what comes next.  When time allows, I will respond to some of the ideas that popped up on our travels, and turn them into new paintings.

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