Whistler Plein Air Workshop

Notes from the intrepid plein air painter in Whistler, BC.
by Sheree Jones

The Federation of Canadian Artists (FCA) hosted it’s annual Plein Air Workshop in Whistler this September. This is a six day event with four instructors, 50 students and a number of our well known signature members joining in to paint along, do demos and share in the fun and laughter. There were four teams of about twelve students, four instructors and four locations. Each team painted with a different instructor each day. The fifth day was for everyone to paint out with their new found friends wherever they wished.

I was on the “Green Team” lead by Andrea Moore, an acrylic painter from Whistler. On the first day we all headed up the mountain by gondola to breathtaking views of the higher peaks. On the top, our first instructor Camille Przewodek battled swirling clouds weaving in and out of elusive peaks. As a true colourist, her demo in oils was an incredible feat of deft brushwork and colour mixing. Braving the cold mountain air and challenging visibility, the team worked through the day with true plein air grit and determination.

On the second day we were at North Arm Farm, an organic produce farm in Pemberton. There, spread out on sweeping fields of grass and rows of growing produce we stood at the base of towering blue mountains. Michael Workman was our instructor, and his demo in oils, of his direct and indirect painting style was mesmerizing. He was truly generous in sharing his knowledge and showing his techniques. This day was much warmer, and everyone began to relax a little and get to know each other a bit more.

Day three dawned sunny and warm, and we gathered in one of the town squares to work with our Canadian instructor Brent Lynch. Brent is a very funny and affable fellow. His demo was peppered with anecdotes and hilarious plein air “war stories”. Some of us tried to nestle our easels into corners and behind foliage, to avoid the gaze and queries of passersby. Some of us stood out in the open sun, so engrossed in our work, that we forgot to put on sunscreen. There were some pink faces that evening, but all in all, it was another challenging, yet worthwhile day of painting.

Day four brought us to Green Lake, with our instructor Michael Reardon. Michael is an incredible watercolourist from California. His demo was truly inspiring, even for those of us painting in oil. He spent an enormous amount of time encouraging each one of us throughout the day. The steel turquoise water of the lake, and stunning backdrop of glacial mountains gave everyone a grand view to paint.

Beautiful View

Day five, everyone had a chance to take advantage of our free lift passes, and head up the mountain to paint or capture the views with their cameras one last time. Many new found friends grouped together to have lunch or coffee and share in the week’s stories. That afternoon we all gathered to show and sell our works and to share in the telling of our tales from “out in the field”. It was incredible to have over sixty painters in one room, from all levels of experience and diversity of style. It was really quite intoxicating. The evening ended with a gala dinner that topped off the week perfectly.

The beauty of Whistler is the small town feel, and I would bump into fellow hardy plein air painters everywhere I went throughout the week. The best part of this event was the opportunity to meet and paint with so many like minded individuals. The whole experience had me come away with new found techniques and new ways to “see”. My new found friends and peers are now a part of my larger “tribe”, a word often used by Brent Lynch.

Hats off to Susie Cipolla for her major part in the organizing of this event. And hats off to her tireless team of volunteers for their unbridled enthusiasm, and their fearless ability to lend a hand at any moment.

The Federation of Canadian Artists has, once again made their annual plein air workshop a super success.

In a valley

Photos courtesy of: Olga Rybalko, Susie Cipolla, Lainey Benson, Charlotte Mougeot and Sheree Jones


4 replies
  1. Ann Timmins says:

    Thanks for sharing your plein air experience in Whistler. I was captivated by an amazing adventure also painting en plein air in Ivvavik National Park in the Richardson Mtns in northern NT and the Yukon.

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