A brush with the great outdoors
The pieces in the upcoming En Plein Air exhibit at the Fort Gallery have a couple of things in common.
For one, they are all painted live and on location. For another, their subject matter is, by necessity, somewhat limited.
But even if you spot the same scene — be it storefront, streetscape or barn — several times over, you’ll be treated to as many interpretations as there are paintings hanging on the wall of the tiny artist-run gallery on Glover Road.
Of the Fort Gallery’s 20 members, a number spent the past couple of weekends bundled up at the side of the road or scattered throughout Fort Langley, putting brush to canvas as they prepare for the show which will be made up entirely of paintings completed by the artists on site.
Among them, Kristin Krimmel, who was drawn to the Fort Langley collective because of the high quality of its artists and the contemporary focus of the gallery.
The Maple Ridge artist divides her time between her studio and the great outdoors.
“I consider my plein air work to be sketching,” she said. “It’s time connecting with nature and the world around me.
“I take an enormous number of photos,” she added. Those pictures, she takes back to her studio and uses as inspiration, never worrying about trying to re-create a single image.
The plein air pieces she has created for the exhibition, which runs from June 20 to July 8, are “traditional, but whimsical,” she explained. “I hope people will like them.”
They’re a bit of a departure from the construction equipment and power poles, that have been providing the artist with much of her inspiration lately.
“It’s quite different for me to go back and do nature work.”
And plein air brings its own set of challenges she acknowledged — from being outdoors in less-than-ideal weather conditions to rushing to get paint on the canvas before the light changes too dramatically.
“Every artist, as they paint en plein air, has the feeling it’s not working.It’s part of the process,” said Krimmel.
“When you see it a week later, it looks better. You have to step away and get perspective.”
The Fort Gallery artists settled on the concept of a plein air exhibit featuring Fort Langley scenes as a way to connect with the village, explained Krimmel, who moved to Maple Ridge from Vancouver about five years ago.
“Originally, the collective was (made up of) all Fort Langley artists, but it’s grown, expanded and changed,” she said.
“A number of us are not so much connected as if we were living in the village.”
While Krimmel focused on a few heritage buildings along a section of Glover Road at the south end of town, including the Fort Gallery, the old grocery and the Birthplace of B.C. Gallery, others ventured a little further afield, painting farm life along Telegraph Trail.
Originally intended to feature only Fort Langley area scenes, the scope of the exhibit was later expanded to include other plein air pieces that some of the artists may have done.
The majority of the pieces in the final will be relatively small — in the 11” x 14” range. The idea was to lend the show a sense of uniformity and to allow the participating artists to complete as many works as possible in the time allotted, Krimmel explained.
The official opening for the show, will be on June 22, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Fort Gallery is located at 9048 Glover Rd. It’s open from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday.