The author shows his just-completed winter painting of Cluxewe River before packing up the canvas and supplies.

The author shows his just-completed winter painting of Cluxewe River before packing up the canvas and supplies.

Mild winter provides outdoor opportunity

Artist Gordon Henschel takes a trip to Cluxewe Resort with his easel.

I was humming the song, “Oh, Oh, Oh Beautiful Sunday. This is My, My, My beautiful day” as I headed out the door with my easel and lunch box in hand. Although the temperature was hovering around zero, the January sun was calling me. Because I hadn’t been painting outdoors for a long time, the freedom to go out there was disconcerting.

I had lost touch with some of my old haunts and the fast-fleeting sun this time of year didn’t allow me to wander and dally too long before it sank behind the mountains. Because of the temperature, it was also important to choose a painting spot that would be in the sun and out of the wind. When Cluxewe Resort came to mind as a good, sunny spot, my van automatically turned into the site. (Is that what they call “Cruise Control”?)

I had envisioned going to my usual painting spots at the far end of the campsites on the spit, but the road was blocked by a huge timber. Upon investigating the immediate sites nearby, the north wind coming off the ocean changed my mind about setting up there.

I needed a sheltered spot, sunny but away from the wind. I found it a few minutes later by retreating back to the Western Main and turning right to the Cluxewe River bridge. Decades of fisherman had seen to it that there was a nice pull-off down to the river. In fifteen minutes I was painting; two hours later I took this photo of the easel and what I had done.

Usually, in this column, I include a finished painting with my story; but in this case I’m going to “let it all hang out”. Because of the short daylight, I chose a scene that followed the KISS rule, “Keep it simple, stupid”! Here it is on my easel in front of the subject, a Cluxewe pool and some alders. I may work this up into a finished painting without changing the composition very much or I may use it as part of a larger painting. If it never comes to fruition, that’s OK, too, because it will have been a joy to be out there as well as a great exercise; one that I would encourage every landscape painter to do.

Gordon Henschel owns an art gallery in Nimpkish Heights. www.henschel.ca.