Sunday, 1 September 2013


My Canadian nephew Thomas was marrying Allison, from a Ukranian Orthodox family.  Five of us went over to Edmonton in late July to join in.  Pat Galbraith, who is the founding president of the Alberta Society of Sculptors, offered to put us up.  It would be hard to think of anyone kinder than Pat.  She lives in the Belgravia part of Old Strathcona - across the North Saskatchewan River from downtown Edmonton. Her house is huge and like an art gallery inside so we were very happy there!

In between all the wedding events, including a fascinating Orthodox wedding (I had never witnessed one before) I would sneak up to 82nd Avenue and paint small oil sketches.  82nd - or Whyte - Avenue is the oldest and most 'alternative' district, with very different shops and restaurants from the steel and glass monstrosities of downtown.  I did half a dozen paintings there and here are 2 of them:

 'Divine' 82nd Avenue 
10x7 inches

Sidewalk Closed, 104th Street

The river divides Edmonton so is always a presence:

The North Saskatchewan River at Edmonton
5x7 inches

The back alley at Pat's house also provided the subject for a couple of quick sketches.  This is one of them: 

Back Alley, 72nd Ave, Edmonton
10x7 inches

 On 29th July, after the last wedding social was over, we headed out to the Rockies, to Lake Louise - me, Maddy, Ben, Fran and Robert.  We did a lot of walking and climbing in the following two weeks, including climbing Mt Niblock and Eiffel Peak and a great day's rock-climbing on the huge crag at the back of Lake Louise.  Leading the last climb I did actually wonder if I should still be risking my neck in that way (I nearly took a long fall on the final 20 feet) but I get such a buzz from it and the rock there is perfect.  We also toured around doing all the usual touristy things, including revisiting our favourite restaurant in Banff - The Coyote - and going to an exhibition entitled 'Pleinairism' in Banff's Walter Phillips Gallery.  Anything less to do with our idea of en plein air would be hard to imagine - I was deeply underwhelmed except for the token presence of three superb Walter Phillips watercolours.

When I was not brewing water on the Kelly Kettle (my camp job) or sitting sipping coffee in Laggans Bakery I painted.  I did 15 small oils in the Lake Louise area so here is a selection.  First the inevitable ones of the Lake itself.

Lake Louise From The Boathouse
11x7 inches

While I was painting this and Maddy relaxed in the sun we met Bruce Bembridge, a heritage guide who is a bit of a legend in these parts and happened also to be a friend of Pat.

This one was done after a day on the rock.  You can see the 'Back-Of-The-Lake' crag on the right.  On a good day it is swarming with climbers.

Mt Aberdeen and BOL Crag
11x7 inches

The official photographer for the Boathouse very kindly took a picture of me painting there.  I used an old fashioned tripod with swivel head and yet another homemade 'palette-easel' with 7 inch wide boards.  The boards were stored in two foamboard-balsawood-gaffer tape boxes copied from a Mike Richardson design.  The tripod-easel assembly weighed just over a kilo and all my kit fitted easily into a small rucksac.  The boards were rag board, triple-primed front back and sides and light enough to be stuck to the easel with double-sided tape (actually masking tape wrapped round itself):

Down at the camp ground, regularly visited by a pair of young Grizzlies so we had to keep a lookout, I did several sketches of the Bow River:

Bow River from beneath the Campground Bridge 

Bow River from the Campground Bridge

Including this tiny one:

Fishing The Bow River
5x7 inches

One morning I got up early and caught Mount Temple in sunshine - a rare sight at the start of our stay although on the last few days we had brilliant weather:

Mt Temple from Lake Louise Village
7x10 inches

Mt Temple is a big beast (11,200 feet a.s.l) that Fran and I climbed 4 years ago but like most Rockies peaks it is incredibly loose and the vertical interval from Moraine Lake (15,000 feet up and down) makes it a very long day.  Some of my best efforts were the tiny ones.  This one of the railway tracks near the campground was done in minutes and with just a few strokes but I think I caught the scene better than many of the more 'finished' sketches: 

Railway Tracks, Lake Louise Village
5x7 inches

Well, that is probably enough to give you an idea of what we did.  I also filled a sketchbook and  took photographs so I hope to work up some of the sketches into larger studio paintings in due course.  The Edmonton Bookstore sold me enough books on Fred Varley, AY Jackson and the rest of the Group of Seven to warrant buying an extra baggage allowance on the flight home so I have a lot of reading to do too!  We returned on 15th August.

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