Yoho National Park – Field, British Columbia
One of the best things about climbing mountains is when you take a moment to look back and see just how far you have come. Often in art we see mountains as solid pillars, sentinels rendered against a quiet sky. I like to combine strengths, so for this piece I have painted both the sky and the mountain below with equality. The mountains lend their strength to all around them and the sky envelopes all with its power. The effect is luminous and full of changing light, which I like to call a gathering of elements. This is not just any mountain.
In choosing a place to paint, geography and history are very important. It is not enough to say that I was inspired here. There is always a story which I am adding to. With an elevation of 3,159 m this landmark on the west side of the Lake O’Hara valley stands tall and impressive. Odaray comes from the Stoney First Nation Nakoda expression for “many waterfalls.” The name Odaray was given by Joseph James McArthur in 1887 when he was a Dominion Land Surveyor working in the Canadian Rockies, mapping the terrain on either side of the Canadian Pacific Railway line. He was the “First Canadian Mountaineer.” One can only imagine the challenges J.J encountered.
To focus on this challenge of painting mountains, I begin with a simple line that will traverse the landscape and become more defined. This is the path and a route upon which the eye visually travels. One might look into the studio and see me painting the ascent and descent with just air on my brushes. Something like a conductor waving a baton, and all according to a plan. It is in this arrangement that I visualize the presence and scale of the landscape. For me mountains are more than shapes of elevation. Odaray Mountain is unique. It is calm, stable and unmoving like a sleeping giant with nature stirring all around. My brushes are so busy capturing these sensations. It begins to sound more like I am drumming than painting. This amuses me and the dance begins.
When a painting explores a good fluidity of style it creates its own atmosphere of living breathing colour. One looks upwards to feel the cool mountain air and finds the wind ready to change. Upon lowering one’s gaze there is the sharp smell of fresh yet invisible snow, a clear message. Tiny snowflakes melt high up in the sky and barely make it down to the ground. Here in the middle of autumn the changes are magical. All the layers of this landscape float naturally with very little definition or boundary to give that last lingering feeling of summer. Great art collections grow in moments like these! This is the passion of being an artist and mastering creativity.
Every painting needs a resting space for the eye. Often the sky is the most natural area to create more of an opening with looser brushwork or a bare minimum of colour. Areas of shade can also create that visual rest. In the case of Odaray Mountain with its great height, I have chosen the centre of the painting. Here a valley will slope gently to create that nice reprieve. I will also allow the underpainting to show through a bit more in the top edges. Quinacridone Burnt Orange is the base that warms the sky on this sweet September day. This is a happy time where several seasons blend into one.
Mapping the Great Divide
Mapping the Great Divide is a collection of landscapes painted with acrylics onto gallery canvas. Paintings are 24×24″ and 16×20″ with a depth of 1.5″ and a painted edge, ready for hanging. These paintings explore some of Canada’s most beautiful national parks and Unesco world heritage sites. Each mountain image explores the Canadian Rockies from Revelstoke and Yoho National Parks, in British Columbia… to Banff National Park, Alberta. This series by Canadian artist and designer Tina Monod is about mountain culture, elevation and the beauty of mountains in Canada.