Plein Air (On Location) Painting In BC

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Vancouver to pick up a painting from the Federation Gallery.  I decided to turn it into a painting/camping  trip so I took 7 days to go to Vancouver and back.  I camped in my van and dedicated each day to painting.  I did 9 paintings and it was one of the most satisfying and productive plein air experiences I have had.

One thing that I really concentrated on was composition.  When we paint on location one challenge is that any subject we see is usually surrounded by so much extra stuff that we can become distracted and try to include too much.  Simplification is the answer.  For most of the paintings I was able to identify the subject and then visualize on my piece of paper where I wanted the subject to be and how large I wanted it to be.  So I started by placing my subject and only added extra details that served my subject.

The first 2 paintings were from the Takakkaw Falls Campground just near the Alberta/BC border.

Rex Beanland, Mountains At Takakkaw Falls Campground 1, watercolour, 8 x 10

Mountains At Takakkaw Falls Campground 1

Rex Beanland, Mountains At Takakkaw Falls Campground 2, watercolour, 9 x 12

Mountains At Takakkaw Falls Campground 2






















I was particularly happy with the foreground trees.  I don’t paint a lot of these so I haven’t really mastered a technique.  I thought that these ones turned out very nicely.

Moving along, just before Salmon Arm, I stopped at a little rest area and did these two pieces.

Rex Beanland, Salmon Arm Still Life, watercolour, 9 x 12

Salmon Arm Still Life











This second painting was one of the first times I’ve used masking fluid in a plein air situation.

Rex Beanland, Salmon Arm Fall Colours, watercolour, 9 x 12

Salmon Arm Fall Colours













In Hope, BC I was looking for a waterfalls that I read about when I passed this little side road that had beautiful bits of bright sunlight hitting all the yellow and orange leaves.  There were 5 or 6 very interesting buildings, very old and all boarded up.  This one was nestled right under a massive rock face and was completely in shadow except for some of the leaves in the foreground.  This was one that was a challenge to leave out the details.  It was such a fascinating and evocative sight to see this old homestead almost buried in the rock face. I wanted to include so much of the background but it didn’t serve the subject so I had to leave it out.  Again I used a little mask to preserve the light yellow leaves.

Rex Beanland, Honestead At Hope BC, watercolour, 9 x 12

Homestead At Hope













On the way back I took the old Trans Canada Highway instead of the Coquihalla Highway.  I stopped at Lytton and this subject caught my attention right away.

Rex Beanland, Lytton BC, watercolour, 9 x 12

Lytton, BC













From Lytton I took another even less used road that hugged the very impressive Fraser River.  I stopped at Lillooet and did this painting.  It was a challenge because of the really dark shapes right in the foreground.  This is one I plan to try again to try to capture the majesty and power of the Fraser River. Just as a note of interest the structures made of poles at the bottom right are, I believe, Indian summer fishing camps.  The area had a lot of them.

Rex Beanland, Fraser River At Lillooet, watercolour, 9 x 12

Fraser River At Lillooet












So all in all it was a great trip that inspired me greatly.  It was particularly neat that my focus each day was strictly on painting.  I look forward to having more of these experiences.

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