Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Canoeing and Painting in the Wild - Day Two, August 16

Quiet Place on Sulphide Lake
6" x 6"
oil on board

 On The Shadow Side Of Pine
6" x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2013

We woke to a glorious morning at the Studer fishing camp on Day Two. We were a bit uncertain how things would look when we went outside because it stormed the entire night. Although I didn't sleep well, I listened to the storm and appreciated every board and beam that made the shelter that protected us. The immediate concern, again, was forest fires, but Vern was on top of it and was in constant contact with the RCMP. With that we began to plan our day. 

Randi and Jane
photo © Cliff Speer

Erica and me
photo © Cliff Speer

Cliff, our guide and the founder of CanoeSki Discovery Adventures, consulted with Vern who showed on the map a remote campsite location on Sulphide Lake just around the corner... and then some. We packed up our painting supplies, filtered some lake water for drinking (thank you Jane), got a picnic lunch sorted out (thanks Cliff and Lori), and set sail. 

Right off the bat my paddle buddy, Erica, and I spotted a little dead tree. Now she knows I have an affinity for these burnt-looking beauties, so what does she do? She steers me over so I can get a picture. Nice. 

I have spent a lot of time in the Boreal forest, spending my summers in Waskesiu. I never grow tired of seeing a beautiful moss bed or an elk or a breathtaking sunset. I am moved every time and I am usually more excited than my children. I feel honoured to experience these things and I feel like they are a gift. It is not unusual for me to be moved to tears by nature. The small catch is that Waskesiu is a town-site and even when you leave the most populated area you will likely be sharing the road or the forest with someone else. This is one of the things that struck me most about this trip and made it such an incredible experience. We had the forest and the waterways to ourselves; we passed no one else in a boat or canoe, we didn't have to share the base camp or any of the little picnic stops we found. It was somewhat surreal to be that alone in nature, but glorious and liberating too. It was quiet, so heavenly quiet. And for four days it was ours.

photo bomb!

On our way to the painting spot we hugged the left shore, but a section on the opposite bank was calling us, so Erica masterfully steered us over so we could have a look. We ended up discovering one of the most beautiful sights of the entire trip...

I've been asked if I will paint this, but I don't know if I can do it justice. This is exactly the thing that makes me want to cry, it is so beautiful.

 Seems like a good time to try to get a signal

 photo © Cliff Speer

After a lovely paddle we found the remote campsite that Vern had suggested would be a great spot to set up for the afternoon to paint. 

The weather was perfect, hot even, and we put the thought of any potential storms out of our minds, so we could get down to the business of art making.

my painting spot in the shade

photo © Erica Bird

 Erica and her excellent sketch
 Randi at her easel

 Jane working with water colours

The day was idyllic. I honestly don't know if it could have been improved upon. Oh wait... there was one thing. Remember I mentioned that it was hot? Well, why not go for a swim, Nicki? Seems like a simple solution, right? NO!!! No, it was NOT a simple solution for me. Why you ask? LEECHES!!! Even typing that word makes me want to cry. Nature can make me cry because it can be so utterly beautiful, but it can also make me cry because it occasionally involves leeches. I have a phobia of them and it is a legitimate phobia. I cannot deal with them. In my life I have bungy jumped, para-sailed, white water rafted, but I cannot deal with bloodsuckers. No can do.

 above two photos © Cliff Speer

So I stuck to the shade and the others enjoyed the refreshing lake and I didn't even have any regrets. I know my limits. You will notice in some photos that we wore whistles which is a safety guideline for canoeists in case of capsizing. Well, I informed everyone that I would be blowing that baby if I got a leech on me and they better come to my aid STAT! I am happy to report this was not necessary.


At some point in the afternoon we were treated to a fly-by! Vern took his airplane out for a spin and flew by our painting spot. I still can't get over the fact that he is eighty-eight.

Finally it was time to pack up and make our way back to base camp. The scenery on the way back was just as spectacular.

The creative mode would not let go, so while there was still sunlight we all kept working. 

 Olivia, Lori's daughter, created some beautiful work

 my two paintings from the afternoon

above three photos © Cliff Speer

Another delicious meal and a bit of wine finished the day on a high note, leaving us wanting more and looking forward to Day Three.

Moss and Rocks
6" x 6"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2013
(painted in the evening from my camera screen)

Note: all photos © Nicki Ault unless otherwise stated

5 comments: said...

What a great adventure! What a scary adventure! lol Beautiful forest paintings Nicki! : )


Nicki said...

It was a great adventure. So happy I went! Thanks Monika.

Kim Rempel said...

Hi Nicki, I just finished reading your posts about your canoe adventure. WOW!! You painted some gorgeous, sparkling gems...I can feel your inspiration all through them! I'm sure it was amazing - all that outdoor air, physical exertion and PAINTING. You accomplished much. Are you still feeling inspiration from that in your work now? And you know what you wrote about the scene that was so beautiful it could make you cry? Well, that is one gorgeous photo. I think something needs to be done. What about if you had your hand at it in the style of the painting I bought of yours? I really think you could do it justice!

Nicki said...

Thanks Kim, I'm glad you have enjoyed all the stories... it was a great trip. Yes, I may have to try to paint that beautiful scene, I haven't talked myself out of if yet. I'll let it simmer awhile. I am definitely feeling inspired by the entire experience and I want to paint, paint, paint!

Barbara Muir said...

Awesome. Although the thunder and lightning story confirmed that I am so not the type to take on such a trip, I am so grateful to you for doing so and describing it so well in words and paint. Beautiful.

XOXO Barbara