This painting called “Monarch Mountain” is inspired by a hike with a friend in Atlin, B.C. (near Whitehorse) last summer. Due to this being a south facing slope in a northern latitude in June, I witnessed the most wildflowers I had ever seen in one spot. We were surrounded by colour!
While painting this image I was reminded of Caspar David Friedrich’s painting, “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog” (see below), in which a man stands on the edge of a rocky cliff with his back to the viewer. There is a powerful feeling of independence, thoughtfulness or introspection in this painting, characteristic of the Romanticism period in Europe (1800-1850). Historians have stated, because of the fog obscuring the landscape below, that the hiker is “looking into an unknown future”. The figure plays an important role in Friedrich’s painting because it changes the image from a simply a landscape into a dramatic scene.
I think that in “Monarch Mountain” instead of the female figure looking into an “unknown future” that she is contemplating where she is now and how she got there. I think of each rock depicted in the painting as a different memory that over time takes shape and leads to the next moment – until they stack up and form a long line of experiences that lead to the present. The surrounding wildflowers symbolize growth and beauty in life that is fleeting or cyclical.
We come across viewpoints in our lives – times of introspection – usually after a big life event or as we pass through the stages of getting older. These moments give us a chance to see the pains and also joys we have experienced in the past from a new and different vantage. This may give us valuable insight into our strengths and also weaknesses as we continue to step lightly, or boldly into the future.
Above: “View: Monarch Mountain”, acrylic on canvas, 36″ x 45″, 2225.00**
**see this painting at Hot Chocolates, 5th Street downtown Courtenay, Summer 2019
Below: Wanderer in a Sea of Fog, Caspar David Friedrich, 1818