This long weekend I was among around 60 artists who enjoyed three days of painting and fun in and around Wilberforce in the Highlands in Ontario. We were participating in the first annual "A brush with the Highlands". An event that was very well planned and executed by a devoted group of artists from the area.
Day 1 Friday:
The drive to Wilberforce was long but leisurely. I enjoyed the scenery along the way and stopped for a fish and chips lunch at a stand next to a stream in the highlands. I arrived at the property of Daryl Sands and Tracey Lee Green in the late afternoon. I pitched my tent and went up to meet everyone who was roughing it and staying in a tent or trailer. The evening was wonderful. Drinks, guitar, and all around good fun. Sleeping in the tent was weird. I had not slept in a tent since I was a boyscout many many moons ago. [Note: Thank god for Deet!]
Day 2 Saturday:
I woke up at 5am with day break. I got out of the tent and walked down to the lake to wash up. The morning mist was breath taking as I walked towards the water. I managed to wash my face and throw a bit of water on my head when I noticed that I was being eaten up alive. I had walked into a veritable mosquito breakfast trap. I managed a quick retreat and was greeted by my neighbour camper Ron Murdoch. Ron is a wonderful man who owns the Spruce Bog Studio and the Northart's Art Gallery in Dwight, Ontario. He invited me to a great breakfast of fresh eggs and bacon and we talked about were we wanted to go on the first day of painting. Eventually 4 of us headed to the outskirts of Algonquin Park. Nothing really inspiring here unless if we wanted to go into the park which would have been a longer drive and we were not prepared for that. We headed back. 2 of us decided to stop along the way and the other two got lost and drove for miles in the wrong direction. Eventually We made it back to camp and decided to paint close to home to avoid wasting any more time. [Note: Having driven over 3 hrs to get to Wilberforce, why did I have to find the furthest spot to go to on the first day?]. I did two paintings on Saturday. I climbed down from a bridge and settled near to the river. There I painted one view and then turned to the other side of the bridge and did a loose watercolour before evening. A shower later and back to the festive mood around a camp fire. This time with a great dinner, wine and fellowship of lovely people all around.
Brigadoon, 9"x12" Oil on canvas boardDay 3 Sunday:
A bunch of us headed to a close by property called Brigadoon. A scenic property with a lake and river enclosed in it. It used to be a girl's camp site, but eventually was abandoned and the owner is hoping to turn it to an art hub. I interrupted my first painting as he took me on a tour of the property and we agreed to talk again. Along the way, I learned that Gerry Wigg was a successful insurance man and we spent some time talking about the business. By noon I had finished the first painting and after a break for lunch, I started another one on the same property that took me to late afternoon in a leisurely pace. The evening was much tamer with only the hardy folks around. After being warned that a family of bears was close by, I decided to skip sleeping in the tent (Basically a blind trap) and slept instead in the car.
Day 4 Monday:
I didn't tell you that on day one we each entered three art works in a juried show and sale. Monday was the show. We took our time breaking down our camp, taking pictures in the area for future reference and paintings and just resting in general. At 10am we went to Town and walked through the exhibit. The show started at 11:00 and at noon the results of the juried show were announced. I was shocked when my name was announced as the winner of The Hawk River Log Award. That placed me in fourth place among a hoard of excellent works. I was so proud and bewildered. Moi? A winner? heheee! What a way to end a fantastic long weekend.
I bid farewell to good friends and headed back home through a long but traffic free route stopping many times on the road for photos. I got home late that night laden with many works and many more in mind to paint as well. A brush with the Highlands was a great success and the Hosts were delightful and full of generosity and love for art and fellow artists. I couldn't have asked for a better experience.