En Plein Air – April 11, 2016 – Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary

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Today’s en plein air effort. A very quick 30 minute paint. When you have very little time to put a scene down in paint you really have to minimize the detail.

I am going to continue posting these quick en plein air paintings as it is interesting to look back on the progress.









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En Plein Air – a new website page

With the arrival of good weather I find myself painting en plein air on occasion.  It is a style of painting that has many challenges including weather, changing light, insects and onlookers, however it is a very rewarding endeavor as well. I have decided to add a dedicated En Plein Air page to the website ( www.debra-hunter.com ) that is linked to this blog as a way to see all this season’s works put together in one place. The page is En Plein Air Works and can be viewed by clicking HERE. For now it is just the one image, but as we progress through spring and summer I hope to see the collection of images grow.

Gaetz Lake april 10 2016

En Plein Air painting by Debra Hunter

“Autumn Walk, Dr. George Trail, Gaetz Lake Sanctuary” – New Painting of the Canadian Landscape (Red Deer, Alberta)

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“Autumn Walk, Dr. George Trail, Gaetz Lake Sanctuary”
11 inches by 14 inches
acrylic on panel

This painting captures a morning walk through fall leaves along the Dr. George Trail. The Dr. George Trail is a 1 km loop the runs through the Gaetz Lake Sanctuary located just behind Kerry Wood Nature Centre in Red Deer, AB, Canada. A mix of evergreen and deciduous trees plus wetlands and grasslands makes for an interesting stroll.

I have decided to work on a series of paintings based on this natural area. We frequent the area often and see it throughout the seasons;  the sanctuary has endless possibilities for paintings. So far I have completed three finished paintings and three in progress from this area.

For the last few months I have made the switch from painting on bigger canvases to painting on smaller panels. The switch has also included going from detailed up close subject matter to broader landscape views. I expected the switch to not make much of a difference in the way that I painted, however I was very wrong. The first challenge was paint seemed flatter on the panel, I eventually solved that problem with working in some glazes to build depth. The second challenge was working on a smaller scale. I thought the smaller scale would create stiffer contrived pieces, but strangely the smaller paintings ended up looser (well after the first painting or three that is!). The paintings look more like something out of my sketch books. At first it seemed odd, but after I thought about it, it made complete sense. The smaller size was like working in a sketchbook, as was the smooth surface. I also have sketched “landscapes” for years, but have only painted them on rare occasions. So the big decision now is whether I continue to paint like I sketch or do I tighten it up. The other option is to paint the same painting two different ways. This may seem a bit repetitive, but could also be very interesting in seeing the outcome. I’ll have to see if the right spot inspires me to try the two painting scenario.

Painting by Debra Hunter


New Canadian Painting – “Deep Snow in the Sanctuary” (2014)

Deep Snow in the Sanctuary -2014 (Kerry Wood Nature Centre)

“Deep Snow in the Sanctuary”
(Kerry Wood Nature Centre, Red Deer, Alberta)
medium : acrylic on canvas
dimensions: 16 inches by 20 inches

“Deep Snow in the Sanctuary” is a painting depicting an area I visit often in the sanctuary area behind Kerry Wood Nature Centre in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.

A few weeks ago I was snowshoeing past this spot and the trees caught my eye, perhaps because it is an interesting view, but also because it reminded me of a painting I had just completed, “Cabin Trees #1”. I took a quick iPhone shot and was on my way. A bit later I was looking at the image and thought it was worth a painting. This is literally the first landscape painting of Alberta I have done in years, with the last several years being focused on painting macro images of wild and garden flowers.

It was interesting working on a full view compared to working on macro subjects. It was refreshing really. When working up close every inch is filled with some detail, while on a landscape part of the story is the empty space. Viewing the canvas in person really gives the feeling of quiet winter space; an experience that an image on a computer, tablet or phone just can’t quite convey.

I’m quite pleased that I stopped to take the iPhone shot as it has made me expand my horizons. I am now thinking I should use the sanctuary as a basis for a theme for the next little while. It is an area close to home, an area I know very well, and it will give me the opportunity to mix landscape while still dabbling in a few wildflower macros. It also gives me a very good excuse to get out and snowshoe and walk more often…..and that is a very good thing!