A&E » Arts

Artists out in the open

Canada’s finest painters host weekend of painting demonstration and tutorial outdoors on Whistler Mountain



What: Painting on the Peak

When: Saturday, Aug. 11

Where: Whistler Mountain

Tickets: $129

Cameron Bird sets aside his paintbrush to talk about the second annual Painting on the Peak outdoor adventure weekend hosted by the Adele Campbell Fine Art Gallery Saturday on Whistler Mountain.

He is happy to rest from his easel at his home art studio in Lac La Hache, B.C. and paint into Whistler’s great outdoors in the company of art enthusiasts. Unlike the comfort of his studio, facing the elements forces him to barrel through thought to brush stroke.

“Painting outdoors forces you to simplify what you are doing,” he said. “It could be hot, rainy, sunny, windy: there is more pressure to speed things up a bit. It forces you to look at the main key elements and get it down faster… If you look at the Group of Seven, outside (crafted paintings) are quicker and have more power.”

For two days, half a dozen of Canada’s most outstanding painters — Bird, Rod Charlesworth, David Langevin, Mike Svob and new this year Nancy O’Toole — will scale with creativity and paint live for the benefit of onlookers who will watch paintings emerge; from inspiration to completion. All artists will paint from the same landscape on the Saturday, giving art enthusiasts the opportunity to witness the different styles each artist takes with their mountain muse. Lunch follows, along with a panel discussion.

“We will be looking at similar vistas and people will mingle and get to see the different styles emerge as well as see the different mediums being used and how artists approached it,” Bird said. “(Last year), collectors wanted to see how we came to our finished pieces and how we get our inspiration.”

Sunday, a new addition to this year’s event, a Painter’s Clinic presents the chance for participants to put the previous day’s teachings into action with one-on-one instruction from an artist of their choice.

All artists will engage in what is called plein air paintings. The term is derived from “en plein air” or “in the open air”; on-location painting that was popularized by impressionist painters such as Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir in the 19 th Century. The painting-from-life philosophy sprouting in Europe soon spread to Russia, the U.S. and Canada with the advent of portable paint in toothpaste-like tubes. Canada’s Group of Seven is most noted for their outdoor work, a style that demonstrates itself more often than not on a small canvas.

“I don’t often blow up what I do,” Bird said of his plein-air canvases. “I use them as finished pieces. Whatever happens out there, I just leave it… I think that is why it has become so popular. These little paintings have so much power to them. They can stand alone on a wall compared to a huge painting.”

Both artists and onlookers will breathe in inspiration for the event.

“It is more fun as an artist to get out and chat with people,” Bird said. “We are often in our studios and we are all busy and painting fulltime, like any job, it’s a business, and Painting on the Peak is a chance for us to get out and have fun and talk and laugh. It’s not a job when we are out there. It’s just a fun weekend.”

Painting on the Peak on Saturday is $129. The Painter’s Clinic on Sunday is $149. To register, call the gallery at 604-938-0887 or e-mail art@adelecampbell.com.