Monday, August 18, 2008

Finding Subject Matter - in Canada

Blustery Day 16 x 20 pastel on panel

Every summer, for the last 6 years, I have accompanied teenagers into the Canadian Wilderness. We take high school students into Quetico Provincial Wilderness through an ecotour outfitter Voyageur Wilderness Programme. The Savoie family in charge does an amazing job of educating youngsters in environmental stewardship by example, teaching, and practice. For 7 days and 6 nights, we travel through the wilderness practicing no trace camping in an area where motorized anything is banned. What an exhilirating experience for me and a life-altering experience for them!

With so much beautiful scenery, it's hard not to be inspired to paint. This last July when we were there, we went along a mile-long portage (where you have to carry all your gear from one lake to the next) that bordered some amazing rapids. Since I usually miss all the scenery on a portage with my head stuck in a canoe, I had to make a trip back sans gear to catch some of views. The painting above was done from a photo taken along the portage. The energy experienced in the rapids along the ground and in the clouds flying by in the sky was overwhelming on one level, and quite peaceful on another. One minute I felt very small and insignificant, yet the next I felt as though I was a part of the vastness - the oneness - and that I could just sit and close my eyes...

All that is what I tried to capture in this painting. I started the sky and the spruce trees in my grandmother's basement in Montana, and then finished it here at home in Illinois. Yet every time I make a painting from a place I know, it takes me back, and that's just one of the great things about art.

I just hope that other people make a similar connection. I realize it won't be the same, but perhaps they have experienced something similar in a completely different location. Or maybe this scene just reminds them of a place, or perhaps they just connect to the energy.

Peace, and keep doing what you love,


1 comment:

magicmyst said...

Hi Matthew,I've just come acrosss your site and I love your work. I love the colors and motion in your pastels. Very interesting to read your inspirations for blogging and behind your art work. Good luck with your show.