Search This Blog

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Algonquin Park Painting Finished

I've finally finished my Algonquin Park painting. All I have left to do is varnish it, take it to the framer and decide what to call it. Below are the progressions to the finished work which measures 24"X 36" and is one of the biggest paintings I've done yet. It was painted with acrylic paint on canvas.


As you know I am always also working continuously on fabric cards to give away. When I was in the Yukon, my daughter and I went to a really cute coffee shop in the middle of the woods on one of the surrounding mountains. The place is called Bean North Coffee Roasting Company Ltd. They sell certified organic fair trade coffee which they purchase from places like the Caribbean, Central America, Indonesia, and Africa and roast themselves. The coffee was delicious and we even got a homebaked banana nut loaf. When we had finished our coffee, I asked if I might have one of their coffee sacks and they said that I could for a donation. So I brought back a burlap coffee sack to use when making fabric cards. I love to bring back unique fabrics from far away places.

The first fabric card made with the sack that I'll send to my daughter to pass on to Bean North

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Artists of the Yukon

While on my trip to the Yukon, I visited many galleries to see what kind of art is created there. The Yukon has a very thriving artist community which also includes many first nations artists whose art reflects their heritage and culture. It is no surprise that art is thriving in the Yukon due to the area's unique beauty. In winter the sun always hangs low in the sky, if you see it at all. This contributes to the beautiful and coloured light that illuminates everything. In the summer the sun doesn't set and so there is that much more daylight to produce art. The scenery and landscape is so inspiring with mountains that spread across every view and the arrow straight tamarack trees so dark green in winter against the snow. In the fall, I understand there is so much colour from the yellows of the aspens and the rust red of the small bushes and grasses in the valleys along the blue rivers among the blue and purple mountains. I would love to see the landscape at that time of year.

There are a few artists that stood out for me and that I admire.

The first is a man by the name of Ted Harrison who was born in Britain and came to the Yukon as a teacher. He had travelled and taught in several different places in the world. When he came to the Yukon he taught in the village of Carcross just outside Whitehorse. What he found was a land of abundance and beauty, the Source for the Aboriginal people who'd inhabited it for many years. Ted Harrison paints with oil on canvas and his subjects are very simple in style, painted with flat colours but very colourful. He became a very popular artist in Canada due to his style, however, the hierarchy of art in Canada did not consider him an artist at all. They considered him an illustrator. His work depicts the landscape of the Yukon as well as the first nations culture and life. He has published many children's books that serve as a means to teach children about the Yukon. He is still living but now at 86 years of age is residing in British Columbia.

Ted Harrison
Another artist that caught my eye was Emma Barr. Emma lives and works in Whitehorse and her art is similar to Ted Harrison's in that it is very colourful and simplistic. Her art is brightly coloured, soft and geometric; meant to please the eye and the emotions. I've been told that Emma also works as a cancan dancer in one of the local establishments.

An artist that also stood out was Jim Robb. He has called the Yukon his home for over 45 years. He specializes in documenting the "Colourful Five Per Cent", a phrase he coined to describe the colourful and unusual characters and historical buildings of the north. He does this using his camera, ink and watercolour. Robb has a passion for collecting and promoting the Yukon's past and present.

A final artist that I admire is Nancy Dawson who is an accomplished jewellery designer/producer and wood carver. She was born in Alert Bay on Vancouver Island. Her mother was a first nations woman from the Mamaleleqala-qwe-qwa-sot-enox nation and her father was of German descent. She learned her wood carving from her father who was a talented wood and metal worker. Dawson's mother gave her a sound understanding of her native culture. Nancy has been carving poles and masks since 1980 and has now expanded her portfolio to include designing and producing gold and silver jewellry. I was able to purchase one of her bracelets which is carved with designs signifying the Wolf symbolic of "family".

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Art Completed while in the Yukon

I have been so inspired by being in the Yukon and have had plenty of time to be creative. My daughter has also caught the bug and created some of her own art which I think she'll be blogging about. If you care to catch her blog it's at
Most of the pieces I've created are basically impressions of what I've seen here and perhaps I'll use these sketches when I'm home to create more finished pieces.

Watercolour sketch of Canyon City overlooking Yukon River

My rendition of the Northern Lights which we saw only briefly one night and very faintly.

A zentangle of  the Yukon landscape

An acrylic painting on canvas I did from one of my photographs.

Amy and I set up at her kitchen table being creative.
A graphite drawing also done from one of my photographs.
My interpretation of the Yukon using Ted Harrison's style of painting. Mine was done on Gessoed paper with watercolours while Ted paints with oil on Canvas so mine has a completely different look.

Anticipating Valentine's Day (Zentangle)
Watercolour sketch of the mountains in sunlight beyond Whitehorse.

My next blog will be coming to you from Ontario once again as my time here in the Yukon is sadly coming to the end. Hope you enjoyed a little taste of the Yukon Territories through my creative inspirations. In a future blog I will highlight some of the artists here in the Yukon and their unique manner of painting.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Finding Inspiration in North Western Canada

As promised, this blog comes to you from Whitehorse, Yukon Territories. I have always wanted to visit the Yukon and now with my daughter and her husband living here that has become a reality. My plan is to visit it in different seasons and this was my chance to see it in winter. Although the temperatures are frigid, it is a dry cold so it doesn't feel at all like the cold in Ontario. You do, however, always have to have long underwear, good coat, hat, scarf and mittens on when venturing out, even to go to the store.
I have found lots of inspiration here and there is quite an artist's community. One artist that I admire is Ted Harrison who was born in Britain and moved to the Yukon in 1968 working as a teacher. In 1979 he began to work as a full-time artist. His work is simple and very colourful but really give you the feeling of the Yukon. I am going to see a film about him and his work at the "Available Light Film Festival" currently underway here in Whitehorse.
I have had the chance to do some sketching and will spend the rest of this day producing some art that will remind me of this beautiful place.
A Haida design I sketched in my journal during my layover in Vancouver
from a wooden medallion in an installation at the airport.

Another page in my journal
My son-in-law is a journalist and is covering the Yukon Quest while I am here. The Quest is a 1000 mile dog sled race that started here in Whitehorse and ends in Fairbanks, Alaska sometime next week. This year is it's 30th Anniversary and so it is a special year. The Whitehorse Star is full of articles he wrote on different aspects of the Quest and I'm finding it very inspiring.
And of course the landscape here is inspiring. Below are some photos I've taken which could also become paintings when I return home. As I've said before, sketching outdoors is out of the question due to the cold.

Overlooking Schwatka Lake which was formed over the Whithorse Rapids
when the Yukon River was dammed south of Whitehorse
The Yukon River between Canyon City and Miles Canyon just
south of Whitehorse
A prospector's cabin

Sorry about the above photos being on their side, I still don't know how to turn them in blogger.