A Matter of Scale
In July of 2006, I was fortunate to be part of Arctic Quest 2006 - an expedition of 25 artists that traveled to the Arctic in celebration of 100th anniversary of the Northwest Passage.
Most of us had never been that far north, and had no idea of what to expect. I had visions of a lot of ice and snow and hopefully the occasional glimpse of wildlife. Naturally, I packed a camera as essential gear for such a trip, but as a visual artist I still intended to capture as much as I could with the mediums that I was most familiar.
It soon became clear after we arrived, that it was going to be a challenge to adequately share our observations. I found that words such as "endless", "immense", "overwhelming" and sometimes "desolate" did not adequately explain the feelings and experiences we had. Each day was a blank page or canvas to be filled with notes, paintings, sketches and photographs.
One of the strongest surprises for us visitors to the Arctic was the expanses of land and water. With no trees or vegetation far north of the treeline, and without any man-made structures, the viewer was left with the disquieting sense of having no way to discern size or distance.
Beechey Island, Nunavut - The sheer magnitude of scale was hard to grasp.
This lack of scale can happen even in our own environment and the addition of a human or animate object in our painting is something that we should consider. I am showing a few examples of the addition of people and birds to help explain the scale to the painting viewers.
People in the foreground of this Moraine Lake painting help show the scale of the huge logs.
The birds help to show the size of the cliffs at Cape Hay Bird Sanctuary, Baffin Island.
I added the special type of wooden boat and the fly-fishermen floating down the Bow River near Canmore, Alberta. It was more than simply giving the feeling of scale but also to add a element of human interest and authenticity to the painting.
So, keep those brushes clean and ready to go!
Quote of the week:
"I try to be a truthful artist and show a level of courage. I enjoy that I'm a messenger."