One of the tricky things about painting is finding not only a unique style, but a unique perspective. Most of the scenery we tend to see is from a car, looking out the window. While there is plenty of beauty to be seen on the highway, I feel like these scenes are often ‘tired’ in a way because hundreds of people see them from that perspective every day. Finding a fresh angle is just as important as finding a fresh ‘voice’ for your subject.
On that topic, there is a particular spot that I’ve wanted to paint for a long time now, but the problem is that the view-point I wanted to paint from is right in the middle of a lake. It is tricky, for most of the year, to get either a camera, or an easel out there to find the angle.
If you turn south off of highway 3 onto the Haha Creek Road just past Wardner, BC., you’ll head up a winding road, past a historic school house, and end up in the Mayook Valley: one of my favourite places on the planet. Rounding the last corner before Haha lake, you’ll see a century-old log house on a little rise overlooking the lake. This is Doug’s house. Doug was one of those rare people that made everyone feel like a special friend. He had a way of including others in his life that literally built a community around him, and around his house. Annually he and his community hold what is called ‘Mayook Mania’ on his property there; an invitation only music festival and giant potluck that was the highlight of everyone’s year. My wife and I were married on this property almost 10 years ago, the day after Mayook Mania.
Tragically, on May 15th, 2006 Doug was killed in a freak mine accident that claimed the lives of four people in Kimberley, BC. After his untimely death, Doug’s closest friend Van bought the place and has carried on precisely where Doug left off. The community survived, and this place continues to hold a significance in the lives of everyone in the community.
A couple of weeks ago Van invited us out to his place for a skating party. “I’ve cleared the lake, we can skate there today” he said. When we arrived we found he’d cleared an NHL sized space on the lake. It was a cold, hazy day; the light on the house and trees was beautiful. Luckily I had my trusty iPhone and snapped a few photos of the house from the middle of the lake. A couple weeks later, Thursday evening (painting night!) rolled around, and the canvas seemed to call for this scene. The colours I chose speak of the bright, significance of the spot, without forgetting the sadness associated with the loss of Doug, who’s ashes are scattered on the lake, and buried on the hill just North of the house.
I am glad to have finally captured this scene, not just for the unique ‘angle’, but for the unique perspective being part of the Mayook community has given me in my life.