Flying U Ranch Art Retreat

by lesley // posted on Oct 9, 2017

The retreat, well organized by the Federation of Canadian Artists, involved receiving instruction from 4 master painters while we worked from life in the field.  Each day we moved to a new location, set up our gear, then following a demonstration by the instructor, began painting.  

It occurred to me that to retreat not only involves placing your body in another location but also checking out of your conditioned thinking patterns. Leaving all  judgments, expectations and knee jerk reactions behind, you are then open to fully realizing the experience.

Plein air work is difficult - that's what makes it so worthwhile.  It has helped me in the following ways:

  1. improved my design skills - while sitting within the landscape there is so much information before you -  difficult editing decisions must be made
  2. I see colour and value relationships more easily 

  3. strengthened concentration

  4. studio work has become more authentic from a better understanding of the deficiencies of photographs                 

 Instructor, Gaye Adams - on site demo


 Instructor, Mike Svob - on site demo


Instructor, Doug Levitt - interior demo in the Saloon
(pouring rain that morning)


Mid-week the instructors participated in a "paint-off".  They had one and a half hours to complete a painting in the medium of their choice.  They all painted from the same photographic reference, a waterfall.  You can see in the two examples below, the final results were extremely different despite the shared reference.

                   Gaye Adams                                 Mike Svob
                          (oil)                                       (acrylic)

Next blog I'll post a few more photos including a couple of 8x10's I completed while there.  I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a break as much as I did this one.  Weird that I call it a "break" since it's what I do all the time but with the conditions and circumstances changing so dramatically, it actually seemed like I was doing something extremely different.




I debated how this event was going to turn out. With all the fires that happened in the region. I would have loved to have come it's my favorite thing that is plein air painting, however we are in the process of selling the ranch and building a new house. So glad you went and had a good time and learned lots that you share with us.

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