Creating a great work of art, begins long before the physical act of painting.
Artwork is defined as the production of artistic work, such as painting or sculpture, but the work behind making an artwork begins long before the physical production. I just returned from a nine day journey across Western Canada, from Prairies to Salish Sea. The last time I spent a significant amount of time exploring Canada was in 2016, working up to solo exhibitions of my work in 2017. At that time I was fortunate enough to explore the Northwest Territories, BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. As this pandemic year of 2020 has us quarantined to our homes and socially distancing from other humans for the Spring, the recent opening up of the provinces to travel put me in a position to take off and recharge my batteries. On this tour rather than spend time with different art friends in each province, I joined forces with a friend from film-making days. The last time we worked together was way back in 1994 on a live feed satellite TV series for the Royal BC Museum, called SAFARI. With Mrs. Rogers now retired from the film industry and working as a photographer and photojournalist, and with me working as a full-time self-representing visual artist; now is the perfect time to re-connect on a epic journey across Western Canada.
Mid-July we boarded a Westjet flight in Victoria BC and flew into Brandon , Manitoba. Over the course of the next nine days we would make our way across the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC. We plotted a course that would take us through some of the most stunningly unique landscapes Canada has to offer. This journey did not come without challenges, as in the year of COVID-19 our attention to details must be sharp, in order to stay healthy. As we boarded our 6am flight from Victoria, we prepared ourselves with masks, hand sanitizer and a pep talk. From the moment we entered the airport, to the moment we arrived at our destination, we were encouraged by our flight crew and the cleanliness of the plane. On the flight there were a variety moods witnessed by flight crew and fellow passengers, the air was tense but also positive. A young woman boarded the plane with baby and multiple bags, she was visibly upset and those around her, even in this pandemic year, were offering comfort and help with baggage. With sun up and mostly clear skies we settled in to enjoy the summer views of the rocky mountains, and the prairie crops of canola yellow, flax blue and early wheat green.
Landing in Brandon we were met with muggy heat and drowned canola fields from the recent flooding, which means LOTS of bugs that like to dine on human flesh and blood. The skies were overcast shades of payne’s grey against canola yellow and cutouts of sky blue, the light was changing rapidly, the perfect set-up for two artists with Nikon camera’s in tow. Nature was busy painting and we were busy capturing.
With three days in Brandon to pick up and pack a car, say a quick hello, and explore a few sites our choices were diverse, giving us a broad overview of the Wheat City. Beginning in Gladstone, we then branched out to Souris, Oak Island, Griswold and the canola and wheat fields around the city. With the wheat still green, the canola neon yellow against dramatic skies of blue to grey; it was a feast for a painter’s and photographers eyes.
Day 4 we set out to Saskatchewan. Stops included; Indian Head, Moose Jaw, and Swift Current. My first time in this prairie province, I was romanced by the vast fields and skies that go on forever. Canola yellow, early wheat green, big sky and flax flower blues. A feast for a painter’s eyes, and information for future palettes.
Day 5 we were off to Alberta. Stops included Medicine Hat, Bow Island & Waterton Lakes. Now we are getting hilly as we head into the mountains, not so flat and many more people to be found heading into Waterton.
Day 6 found us Waterton Lakes bound, this was the BIG stop on the tour, tucked in for two nights to explore the flora and fauna of the area, hike a mountain and take a boat tour of Waterton Lake, crossing over the border momentarily into the USA.
Day 8 we hit Creston and explored the old town.
Day 9 Osoyoos met us with heat, Indigenous lands, abundant orchards and vineyards, and desert-like vistas.
Day 10 homeward bound on BC Ferries vessel, Coastal Celebration from Tswassen terminal to Swartz Bay terminal.
While the tour is over, the work is just beginning. For Penny Rogers it will be editing, cataloguing, writing and posting photos to Getty Images. For me it will be downloading, editing and compiling photos, followed by sketching out ideas, developing colour schemes or palettes, mixing paints, and then painting. Later on process videos and recorded video from the landscapes and trip will follow. While on this tour I was posting daily to my Instagram page – hashtag for this trip is #gowestroadtrip2020 . More to come!
This is the WORK behind the making of artwork. Whether it be film, video, writing, photography, or painting. This process takes time, and the payoff? Something original, one-of-a-kind, this is something enduring and worth investing in, something that will be enjoyed and exist for generations to come.
The photos in this story were shot by Brandy Saturley on iPhone and Nikon D810, Both photographers were shooting using Nikon cameras D750 and D810 – full portfolio of both photographers will be available to view in the coming months.