This gem of a painting packs a lot into a small space! It’s about the sky, the view, the elevation, the light and the rough terrain. The motivation for this painting was to capture the spaces where water finds its way between steep and dominant rock formations and my experience of overlooking such a scene as the sun was setting. It is painted in oil and wax on a cradled birch panel.
Why I painted it:
This painting was inspired by a canoe trip excursion into the Temagami wilderness region of the Canadian Shield in northeastern Ontario—a particularly rugged landscape that can be challenging to traverse and contains some of the province’s highest ridge lines and oldest stone.
I was portaging over a ridge on a day when the weather had been unsettled; the sun was low in the sky and splashing the top of the ridge with orange brilliance. Though we had a ways to go before darkness came (down the other side of the ridge and across the next lake), the view was absolutely spectacular and I had to stop to take it all in. There was a slight breeze at the summit which was great luck—it blew away the bugs! I only had a few moments as we were behind schedule and we wanted to be off the water as soon as possible to not set up camp at nightfall. But the view stopped me dead in my tracks. I put my pack down and sat on it for a while. It was a perfect few moments where I truly connected with the wilderness in complete peace with all that there is. Then…the breeze stopped.
The “bones” of this painting:
Though the ridge dominates the scene in this painting from both graphical and colour perspectives, the viewer’s eye is drawn to explore the distant cool coloured background and sky. The foreground competes with the background elements of the painting to hold the viewer’s attention. This creates a sense of space and entices one to explore the entire painting.
What I like about it:
Though this painting is physically small (12×16 inches), I feel it captures the majesty of the scene and the feeling of light by leveraging opposing colours, intricate textures and heavy layering and application of paint. It would have been easier to portray a sense of space by making a larger painting, but I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could create a “grand landscape on a small scale” that captured my experience of the scene…a little treasure. I was excited when working on this painting and quite pleased with how it turned out. For me, it fully captures those moments and feelings I experienced at the top of the ridge…minus the bugs.
If you found this article interesting, connect deeper by subscribing to my private mailing list to receive information on work, my creative process and status updates for new art releases.