While last weekends sunny weather brought out bikers, hikers and even windsurfers, a small group of enthusiasts on the shore of Alta Lake were engaged in an entirely different outdoor pursuit: painting. Sixteen aspiring artists from Vancouver and Whistler set up their easels at various positions around the Whistler Hostel on the west side of Alta Lake. And no matter which way they faced, inspiring lake and mountain views were theirs to render in paint.
The painting workshop was taught by internationally acclaimed artist, Alan Wylie, who currently lives in Fort Langley, B.C. Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, Wylies extremely detailed and realistic watercolours and oils have won gold medals at exhibitions in New York and San Francisco, among others, and his work is shown throughout the world. His subjects range anywhere from a man on a patio chair in Cuba to the rocks and sea of Peggys Cove in the province of Nova Scotia where Wylie spent seven years before moving to B.C.
"Theres a difference working outdoors," Wylie says. "Its obviously a lot looser you get more of the atmosphere of the area youre in." He explained to the participants that one of the difficulties of painting outdoors is that the light is constantly changing. In his own work, he uses photographs to reference a certain lighting situation, but likes to do a working sketch to capture the mood of a place while being surrounded by it. "As a painter, you spend all your life in a room by yourself. Its nice to get together outside like this and the venue is lovely."
After a wine and cheese gathering and a slide presentation on Friday evening, the workshop participants worked on their paintings throughout the weekend. Wylie demonstrated various techniques from underpainting and over-glazing to different uses of gesso. He ended the course on Sunday afternoon with a slide show of some of his works, showing them at various stages towards completion.
"I think what you learn from Alan is to be patient and work on details," says local painter and interior decorated Deana White, who was both the organizer as well as a participant of the workshop. "Hes a really good instructor. While youre painting hell demonstrate on your work and it gives you hope. Youre learning good skills that you can apply on future paintings."
White and another of the participants had previously taken a course with Wylie in Vancouver put on by the Federation of Canadian Artists. Tired of driving to Vancouver for artistic instruction, she invited Wylie to Whistler and he graciously accepted.
"I wanted it to be about landscape to learn how to paint that," White says, gesturing at the mountains around us.
One of her biggest challenges was finding a suitable venue for the workshop.
"Theres a real need in Whistler for venues that are inspiring," she says. "Once I thought of the hostel, and Kerri the manager was conducive to the idea, I knew wed have a great workshop."