I was in awe with a tinge of fear as the fourteen passenger helicopter dropped down onto the slippery rocks at the very top of a mountain at Crystal Creek in the Purcell Mountains. We land, the door opens, the loud roar of engine and the strong pull of blustery wind rush in at us. We each are helped out and down onto the ground in a blur. As previously coached, we take a few steps away and go down into the huddle, on knees with bent head, I hold my glasses from blowing away in the strong wind force created by blades that whirl above us. We stay put while our painting gear is unloaded. We are on top of a mountain, I feel like a cold mouse in a hurricane as the helicopter roars its engine to depart and leave our small group of eight artists and one guide huddled together. Then in a second, the helicopter lifts up, is gone and all that remains is silence and overwhelming beauty.
We stand up and look around at the mountain peaks that surround us, rocks and boulders of all colors and sizes are under foot sloping down into a distant valley with a small blue green lake. Eyes look up and out at distant layers of blue. For me, a landscape artist, it was like living in a brilliant dream. I have no words for the wonder that surrounds me, something deep inside is touched, from years of living in the mountains and then leaving them, my love for them swells up, my heart and soul swell up. Thoughts of regret for not having done this before now, happiness and joy at being here now, the sadness that comes with the loss of special people in your life. I have no words to explain the awesome beauty one beholds on such an occasion, all I could do was turn around looking everywhere at once, arms out stretched, palms turned up, saying oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. Tears sting my eyes, and start to cry… Liz looked at me and said, Linda, are you crying? As her arms came up, the dam burst and I cried on her shoulder. I wept for Robert, the beauty of the mountains, and for the loss of my artist self.
I had stopped painting with the move from Jasper East, Alberta to Vernon’s Okanagan Valley, BC. Paint supplies were in storage for four years while renovating an older home. Then with art studio complete I had no desire.
I spent a mystical, magical week last August 2013, at Hollyhock on Cortes Island with Robert and Sara Genn. His advise to me then was to join the FCA art group for interaction with like minded people. Between the amiable demeanour of father and the keen, mind of daughter, I came back to me. I found joy painting outback in the Emily Carr type forest at Hollyhock. With our departure hugs I said to Robert, next year I would like to go to the Bugaboos with you, as the trip had been on my bucket list to do for the pass four years.
Liz Wiltzen was a mountain guide before she became an artist, she was the clever one who initiated the idea of a Heli painting workshop on mountain tops and had made it a realization. She and Stephen Quiller, were our art instructors on this extraordinary art workshop. Thank you Liz, your comfort and understanding it will always remain with me. Thank you Stephen for stepping into Roberts shoes. Wonderful friends were made and the staff at CMH was superb. An unbelievable excitement that more days like this were yet to come.
All of us being serious artist, found a spot, set up easels, and squeezed out paints to capture the special moments that happen when on a mountaintop. What a privileged it was to be there in that space and time on that sunny day, thousands of feet above sea level. Some primeval spirit needed to be captured, and so we all set to work.
Do you have a moment, place or person that pulled you out of a painting ‘block’ and inspired you? If so share in the comments section!