Sunday, January 19, 2014

"Emilie, Takhini North", and An Inaugural Snowshoeing

"We must let go of the life we have planned,
 so as to accept the one that is waiting for us."~Joseph Campbell

Even before darkening the doorway of The Yukon Territory I began making friends. Through past housesitting/hiking stints in the Territory, as well as via social media and friends in Ontario, I was excited to connect with people here. Emilie is one such friend. 

This painting resulted from a walk up in a subdivision of Whitehorse called Takhini North. It is amazing how our brains remember subtle topographies. In large urban areas we naturally remember buildings or man made structures to orientate ourselves within a space. Up here, there are a few buildings, yes, but natural structures vastly outweigh those built with human hands. Mountains have faces as well as people, and many folks have seen this painting and said "I know exactly where that is!"

Emilie had recently picked up this amazing blue coat at Unity Clothing here in Whitehorse. The intense, cobalt-blue hue was instantly appealing, especially in contrast with her amazing red hair. 

This was the first portrait I completed after moving to Whitehorse. It is 30"x40", a good size, oil on canvas. My gallery in Toronto, Abbozzo Gallery, has it now. It is on display currently if you wish to see it in person. Looking at images on a small scale is deceptive, especially when it comes to art. One needs to step closer to a painting to really see the "guts" of the thing, to see how an artist makes the work what it is. I paint very thinly, so I utilize directionality in brushwork to add structure and depth. Up close it is easier to see the subtleties. 

I have been in the Yukon Territory for four months now. Four months to let my bones settle into this place. The people are as warm as the temperatures are cold. There is community, and resiliency, and pride. I am proud to call The Yukon home. I can understand how city mice can be unhelmed by the quiet, by the space, by the solitude. It does force you to become better acquainted with the vagaries of your heart and mind. It does invite introspection...and it does so in spades. After living in a suburban environment up until now, with only periodic, bucolic adventures, it is a bit overwhelming at times. It is good. It is an opportunity to learn and find peace within the abundantly quiet moments. 

Recently I went snowshoeing here outside of town with some friends. I had never snowshoed before, and we did a 21km trek out near Fish Lake. It was great fun. Brisk, at -15ÂșC that day, but we kept moving and worked up a little sweat. Above, Greg takes off into the dawn. 

I took my trusty Arc'teryx Altra pack with me on this snowshoe. This pack has gone with me on treks in The Yukon, Iceland and The Faroe Islands. It's light, and a good size for an overnight hike or a long day hike. Here's a link: Arc'teryx Altra 48 L

The trek was a gradual uphill for the first 5km, then a slow but continuous descent for the majority of it. It made for some nice views. We passed a few cross country skiers and their dogs. People up here love to be out in the elements. And who wouldn't? 

The sun came out in the last half hour of the snowshoe. There is so little pollution up here that light is not hindered by anything. It is intense, and vibrant, and there are colours that practically glow in even the quietest shadows. The blues are so luminous it defies belief. I am fortunate to be here, to have no departure date, to dwell amongst the mountains, finally :) 

Have a beautiful day,


“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. . ."~Henry David Thoreau