July - September, 2018: A selection of my artwork is now available for the summer season at Evrgreen, a charming coffee shop in the townsite of Waskesiu in Prince Albert National Park!

Representation: I am honoured to have my work represented by these well-respected professional galleries:
Darrell Bell Gallery located in the Canada Building in downtown Saskatoon
Assiniboia Gallery in Regina, 2266 Smith Street- a vibrant, bustling part of town.

November 10, 2016: I was interviewed by Daily Paintworks as their Spotlight Artist for a week! Read my interview on the DPW News blog!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Last Evening, Emma Lake

Last Evening, Emma Lake
8 x 8"
oil on cradled panel
© Nicki Ault, 2012
available exclusively at Lifestyles by Darrell Bell Gallery

It is going to be difficult to write this without crying. If this blog entry was written on paper you can be sure there would be tear stains all over it.

As I was looking in my file to decide which of my 8 x 8" paintings to show you today, I saw this one... and then I looked at the title, "Last Evening, Emma Lake". I got chills and now I feel sick. I painted this on August 17th, the last evening of the week-long class I took on Abstract Expressionism this past summer at the Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus. And now the title "Last Evening, Emma Lake" has taken on a whole new meaning.

Will this honestly be the last painting I ever paint at this campus? Will that actually have been the last evening I ever spend there? Ever again? Honestly, I can hardly stand the thought, but with the November 15th announcement by the University of Saskatchewan to close the campus for three years and review its future, it just may be. And if I knew at the time it might be my last evening, what would I have done differently? Thankfully, as I look back, I am not sure there is anything I would change.

The final day had been a good one- finishing up projects in the studio and then the two classes, painting and sculpture, took tours of each others' spaces. What inspiration! The two groups got along famously; twenty-one people had come together to learn, grow, share, inspire and encourage. And it didn't stop there. The two instructors, Alicia Popoff (abstract painting) and Les Potter (sculpture), offered so much knowledge, insight and support the entire week, and then during the tour they were like proud parents! They honestly wanted to brag about each one of their students work; their enthusiasm was genuine and touching. 

That evening was the weekly Friday Fish Fry where the kitchen offered an open invitation to the lake community to come to the campus for a delicious supper at a great price. This was one of the succsessful and creative initiatives established by the Director to bring some revenue to the campus. It was busy and wonderful to see members of the wider community enjoy and appreciate the historic Kenderdine Campus. But I digress. My new friends and I had a lovely, fishy supper together and afterwards I decided to grab my paint box and head to the beach to do one more plein air painting. I joined some others around the unlit fire-pit and settled in an Adirondack chair to paint a view of the Point. This is perhaps the most painted spot in all of Saskatchewan- the tip of Fairy Island that can be seen from the campus. As I painted we chatted, some read, others sat quietly and listened to the fish jump... and we all watched the sky dramatically change as the sun set. It was perfect- except for the fact that I knocked my camera lens-down off the arm of my chair into the sand. But again, I digress. 

Eventually the sun went behind the island and the air got cooler. We dispersed to clean-up, re-group and find warmer clothes. It didn't take long before people began wandering back down to the beach and this time a fire was lit- a spectacular, crackling glow in the dark, northern night. Picture this: twenty-one friends (not just students anymore) sharing benches and chairs, laughing, chatting, watching the fire... some wandering down to the dock to lay on their backs and observe the stars and satellites travel the night sky. Each-and-every-one-of-them gloriously exhausted, yet completely rejuvenated and inspired. The next day these people would go back to their "real worlds" as lawyers, teachers, stay-at-home-moms, graphic designers, city planners, artists and counselors to name a few. And when you think about it, the spin-off from this experience is huge. Immeasurable, really. It is not just the twenty-one students that reap the rewards of their week at the Kenderdine Campus, but their families and workplaces do as well, for they are getting back a person who is filled up. A person who is excited, happy and can envision possibilities. In a world that is moving so quickly, that is so focused on money, technology and the next-best-thing, what a powerful gift to offer your population... the gift of a quiet, accessible place where spirits and imaginations can grow and be nurtured.

And now it might be gone.

You or someone you love might never have a chance to experience this place. Or a stranger. Does it matter? I might not know you, but I wish you could experience this place.

I wouldn't change that night, but I would like the opportunity to have another.

But that might have been our last evening at Emma.


Please sign and share the petition: Stop the closure of the Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Nicki,

What a moving post. A beautiful painting, and such excellent writing. I signed the petition and will keep my fingers crossed that this was not your last night, and last vivid memory of a wonderful adventure in art at this location.

XO Barbara

Nicki said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this post, Barbara. It was hard to write as the reality settled in that it truly could be my last evening at Emma.

Thank you so much for signing the petition. My fingers and toes are crossed tightly that it is a small step in the right direction.

Hug, kiss.