I've always loved tiny, miniature things. This spring, while on a bike ride, I came up with an idea to do a series of plein air (french for "in the open air" - so basically a fancy way to say that you paint outside) paintings. I had the specific intention of doing them on a small scale. Although I have been occupied with work for my solo exhibit in February, I knew that this project would help me in the long-run. I have a tendency to become project orientated, which can become problematic when I don't ever come up to breathe! So, this idea was birthed out of a need to take breathers in my day - to step outside and regroup. I knew that I could easily transport watercolour materials around with me, whether that was on foot, by bike, or driving to a destination. The first piece began on a hillside in Borealis Park, overlooking a perfect reflection of the Syne, a sandwich in hand.
This lovely plein air "palette" cleanser has become part of my routine as of late and it is quite rejuvenating! Plus, my love and appreciation for watercolour has been reignited. Win, win! There's something about getting outside that makes me breathe a little deeper and slower - it gives me perspective. Paying attention to our surroundings and perhaps even considering how all things work together can only be done when we actually stop and give heed to what's around us.
I took along my supplies and painted away while we camped in Waterton National Park - letting the prairie-to-the-mountain landscape, as well as the mood of the weather, guide me along. I was finding inspiration around everywhere!
I've been experimenting with a variety of watercolour tools, combining them with both water-soluble and waterproof ink. Incorporating different techniques has been refreshing as well - and I found myself brainstorming how I could later recreate some of the effects that organically happened simply by working outside (like strong, gusty, warm winds blowing across the page!)
I arrived home with quite a number of finished work to add to the pile of plein air pieces and happily arranged them into white mats and frames. I'm keeping a number of them under wraps for just a little while before I make them available for purchase. Now I'm off to find the subject of my next miniature painting!
When we traveled to Waterton, earlier than usual this summer, I hoped to find the Mountain Bluebird. I knew where they were but had always missed them. And when I saw "Blue Bird Sky" on the menu for the Waterton Wildflower Festival, I was all over it. I was over the moon to finally see the brilliant blue birdie sitting on the fence and I loved to learn more about them (as well as other birds and all about the fescue grassland they were surrounded by) from our lovely presenter, Kim Pearson.
A couple of days later we took in "Early Bird Chorus", waking up with the early summer sunrise to go birdwatching with David Musto. I was in absolute awe of his bird knowledge, in particular his ear for deciphering the intricacies of each bird's song. We'd be standing quietly on location and he'd pick out a bird song, identify it based on its musical qualities and then magically show us its location. Truly, it was inspiring.
We saw so many birds that morning but most of them were a great challenge to photograph considering their distance from us. I cooed, oohed and aahed at the House Wren, which I find completely adorable. And one woman from our group had a Lazuli Bunting sighting on her wishlist, so David took us to another location and found her one. What a stunning bird. I hope to see one again at a closer distance. I was sure happy to have our binoculars in hand and the early morning rise was more than worth it. The world is quiet and peaceful as the sun comes up, and the chorus of bird song made my heart happy.
We made our way on our own to observe the Mountain Bluebirds two more times in the evening light and they delighted us by taking turns watching over their nest. Thank you, my fine feathered friends.