Driving up Jasper Parkway
So the funeral is over and done with. Plus most of the paperwork required to make an orderly transition. Not much fun to be handling these things right now. Those that know us, can guess that my wife Laurel did it all.
These recent days, I find myself keenly aware of our finite life span. I felt every ticking second being wasted in meetings with funeral directors. It’s been a reminder to me to get my own affairs in order. I’m leaving a directive telling those vultures exactly what they can do with their satin lined boxes.
I’m sure everyone wants to say what they’re thinking to those guys. I think I’ll pay in advance, so I can say it in person. I don’t get how anyone can do that job in good conscience. There needs to be a website for ugly brass urns so nobody has to be the sales person.
But. Enough about that.
We had a day before the flight home. So we took a drive up north, past Lake Louise and towards the Saskatchewan River Crossing. The same route we took this summer in fact – but this time, suitably shrouded in ice and fog.
Seemed like it fit the occasion well enough.
We chose to ignore the fact our rental didn’t come with snow tires. It mostly worked out. Got stuck briefly. Had to get a snow plow driver to loan us a shovel and some gravel. You should probably respect the posted warnings about tires. Don’t do what we did. There’s no phone signal up here.
There were people that we probably should have visited in town, but I felt we should take a day to recharge, see some nature, make some art. I expect nobody will mind all that much. Who wants to sit around talking about funerals.
These are quick sketches, captured from the car while Laurel was walking up and down the roadside taking photos. Perhaps 5-10 minutes at a go. They’re done in a mix of water-soluble and water-proof line – two fountain pens, alternating – planning ahead which lines I wanted to stay, which I wanted to melt. Color is the usual W&N pan watercolors, sketched in rapidly – a page of three sketches painted over in another 10 minutes, probably less.
This last one is Vermilion Lakes near the town of Banff. The lakes are surround by marshy areas full of twiggy willow bushes with clouds of bright red branches. Quite a remarkable sight.
I had a pad of TerraSkin paper lying about, grabbed that when we flew out the door. Had just been given to me to test out recently. A tradesmen we had around the house turns out to be married to the Canadian distributor. So, I can say – it works exactly as advertised. The plastic-y paper is mostly waterproof – not rippling in the slightest when wet. Watercolor pools on the surface, but eventually dries down, and can be painted over without any lifting. As opposed to YUPO – which seems similar at first, but is really quite different in practice. If you’re going out in the field, on a sketching trip where you want to pack light – a pad of TerraSkin will definitely allow you to paint without taping your paper down. On the other hand, you will have to wait for it to dry before you can close the book.
Did you notice the margin notes – the small letters and numbers? Those are color and value notes (on a 5 value scale). I did all the sketches as time allowed – working quickly, being ready to move when Laurel was done shooting. I ended up painting in the car during the long drive, but in the past I’ve come back for color in the evenings. If I don’t do it the same day, I rarely get back to it.
So the notes, GR1 for ‘grey. value 1’ or G4 – for ‘green, value 4’ (pine trees), are to help me remember the colors. They’re a bit vague. You should probably note actual pigments you’d use. But they only needed to assist my memory for a few hours at most. I knew by context if I meant (G)rey or (G)reen. Also, I didn’t stick entirely to the plan. Many greys became blues or purples. Didn’t want to be depressing.
So in any case – there’s a trick for drawing fast and coloring later. Try it out, see if it helps? It’s an option when you don’t want to stop to take a reference photo. I’m drawing too fast in this case to be switching between pens and camera. Besides, the colors I see are not always visible to a cheap camera. Sometimes they’re not even there at all.