This August I embarked on an adventure – a rafting trip on the upper Alsek River with Canadian River Expeditions. I had saved for this trip for a few years as a 50th birthday present to myself but then Covid struck and everything was cancelled. However, on July 31st Yukon opened its borders to B.C. and NWT residents so the rafting company put together a custom trip for locals that stopped short of the Alaskan border. Within a couple of weeks I had to wrap my head around the fact I might actually do this.
We are currently in a historical moment, witnessing some large shifts in society that will affect our lives into the future. Even though sometimes I feel like I am watching from some far off distant corner of the world, separated by water and in my little art studio, I know that I am still part of it all.
As many of my students have told me, their lives seem richer because they are seeing better and seeing more. It’s helpful to remember that we don’t teach reading and writing to produce only poets and writers, but rather to improve thinking. Betty Edwards in Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.
This painting is loosely based on a view of the Comox Valley, perhaps from Cumberland or somewhere in the Beaufort Mountains. It describes the place in a mountainbike ride or a hike you enjoy after having done the hard work of getting there. Here you may have a snack, sketch, take a couple deep breaths or take a nap. You may be with others sharing light conversation or a meaningful moment.
Every time I visit the place I grew up – Pt. Holmes on the windy tip of the Comox Peninsula – I still feel very connected to the smells, sounds and sights. It feels like visiting an old friend or relative.
Sketches aren’t about making a perfect picture, it’s the act of looking that is important. By completely stopping to look and draw (a flower, a tree, person, building..) you start to notice things you didn’t before.
Daydreaming is a way of making connections in our life, finding meaning and coming up with new ideas. People value busyness and the resulting rewards of a productive life but I believe that time to just let our minds completely wander is underrated.
One thing I’ve learned about being an artist is that no one else will tell you that you must create. An artist needs to have their own belief in what they have been most equipped to do. This takes an incredible amount of courage and also: self-love. And not in a pumped up ego kind of way, but in a way that you truly believe that you are a worthy person and it is right to trust your inner voice.