RAWSON LAKE – Our hike to Rawson Lake started at Surrail Falls, which is a short distance from Upper Kananaskis Lake. We had hiked there with another couple, and while our husbands climbed higher, to the top of Rawson Ridge, we sat on the shoreline, and painted small watercolours. The first thing I do in a new location is to take some time to think about a concept I might want to express. This was a place of complete and utter silence. There were no intrusions of any kind. It calmed the spirit. I looked for compositional opportunities, taking several digital photos for references. I thought I could contain the area at the top, compact the shapes near the horizon, and expand the lower part. I needed to invent a foreground, perhaps some large rocks or additional trees.
It was peaceful, looking across the lake; at the purity of the snow on the glacier, then gazing into the smooth water, with all of its reflections and patterns. I knew that I would need to leave out all of the extraneous details, and that simplifying the subject was the best way of preserving the quietude. The colours needed to be cool, analogous, and elegant, so they would be consoling. And there needed to be just the right amount of textures in the rock, to create interest without distraction.
When back in the studio, I selected a large canvas, as I wanted to magnify the feeling of solitude. After contouring an outline of the biggest shapes, I began an underpainting in shades of grey gesso. I paid attention to the placement of lights and darks, and after this layer dried, began to apply layers of warm and cool, transparent glazes. I kept building up the layers, alternating with layers of more opaque paint, until I felt I had achieved the desired result. The textures in the rock were created by gently pressing tissue, foil, and other types of paper into the wet glazes, then carefully lifting them. I was sensitive as to how I wanted them placed, adding and removing as required, until it was completed. My process is one of addition and subtraction until there is just the right amount of information to make a statement. – Lorna Dockstader