Sunday, 15 September 2019

Art Retreat

View from Helby Island near Bamfield, BC. Painters' paradise!

Last week, I spent five days at an annual art retreat with the Federation of Canadian Artists. This year, the chosen location was the stunning Marine Sciences Centre in Bamfield on the western coast of Vancouver Island. This is a gorgeous, pristine area facing the Pacific ocean.

Nestled between the dense rainforest and stunning beaches, we decompressed, marveled, and created. Each person did according to her needs and priorities but the overall feeling was of artistic comradery and sisterhood. Critiques were non-existent and encouragement flourished.

Kristine and Tatjana enjoying a happy moment
between painting and beachcombing
on Brady's Beach

But here's a problem. Going in, I had a burning desire to immerse myself in the landscape and train my plein air painting skills. My target was to create three small pieces per day. This was probably a mistake because goals and numbers don't do places like Bamfield justice. While painting, I felt rushed and conscious of the passing time. But, I learned a valuable lesson from this experience.

Less is more.

Somehow, my eye tends to catch overly complex patterns and compositions that require a long and thoughtful process of the studio work. Next time I set up my easel on the beach, I pledge to paint a single pebble or a piece of driftwood!

One thing I did do right was letting myself experiment and play with paint and mark making. I swished my brush every which way, I scumbled, scratched, and let sand stick to the paint. This was truly a lesson in joy!

Red House, Bamfield Boardwalk
original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Big and Small, Brady's Beach, Bamfield
original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Back in the studio, I am keeping up this playful momentum and allowing my sketches to inspiring new ideas. I feel something new emerging in my art-making and that's thrilling even more than nocking out a landmark piece. Somehow, a promise of future growth feels better than achieving one small victory.

Sea Stack on Helby Island
original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Sea Stack on Brady's Beach
original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

On a separate note, my exhibit Good Land in Nakusp is beautifully displayed at the Studio Connexion Gallery for another week. It will end with a bang, a reception on Friday, Sep 21, 2019, followed by a two-day workshop. As I am writing this post, there is still one or two more spaces available if you know someone who'd like to attend.

On this rainy September day, let's be grateful that we still have a week of summer left. May this Fall will be kind to plein air painters!

Pachena Beach, Bamfield