This past week I’ve been instructing a graduate soil-science/art cross-over course at the Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus of the University of Saskatchewan with Ken Van Rees and Allyson Glenn—and I don’t know the last time I had so much fun.
Over this past week, we spent our mornings working with mostly local materials, such as bones and soils, to put together a painting palette. We began by burning bones to create black; then moved onto colourful soils to create a series of ochres; and ended with experimenting with blues from azurite and indigo. In the afternoon, Ken took us to places like Clarine Forest, or Prince Albert National Park, or Fairy Island and showed us the range of forests and soils that exist in this part of Saskatewan. Among the trees were many species of orchids (and also the odd raven) making it a pretty magical experience. While among these different forests, the students painted with Allyson’s encouragement—and, they did so using the paint we had created that morning. After the evening critiques, worked continued at a more personal pace—either at the campfire or in the studio.
The students for this course really impressed me in their spirit, creativity and willingness to work hard. Regardless of their background, the paintings they created were amazing—especially given their material limitations (or maybe, because of them!). And, I think we all learned a lot over the week—I know I did.
Now, with the course wrapped up, I think I’ll sit here on the bank of Emma Lake a little longer as the sun slowly sets, enjoying the quiet as the wind ripples through the aspen trees and the birds hoot, and call, and sing.