I was born in Edmonton, but I spent twenty-six-ish years growing up in Red Deer, about an hour and a half south of Edmonton (if you are not familiar with Alberta). My favourite thing about Red Deer was the fantastic trail system in the river valley and I knew it by heart. I cycled, walked and ran those trails so much that I knew how to bypass most of the residential streets and major roadways to get to where I needed to go. Before I left Red Deer and moved to Edmonton (with a brief four month stint in Lethbridge first), I was renting a most adorable basement suite in my favourite neighbourhood (Waskasoo). It was a quick ten minute bike ride down the road and across the bridge to my full time job, and a ten minute walk down the bike path with my first golden retriever (Gershwin) to my second job at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre on the weekends. My job there was to man the information desk, handout maps, sometimes run children's programs on the weekend and be the key holder for various community groups that had meetings there during the evenings after regular operating hours. I spent my days there painting in my watercolour sketchbook, and chatting with people who had walked through the bird sanctuary about trail conditions and bird sightings. It was the fucking best! When I had enough of the city and people, I would get Gershwin and meander down the trail by the river or lace up my running shoes and run up the bike trail that climbed a steep hill behind a farm just beside 67th street before all the land was annexed and turned into suburbia. It didn't really feel like living in a city because I knew all the places and paths to go to avoid it.
Edmonton also has a lovely river valley trail system too, and I would love to be able to tell you that I have gotten to know it as well, but that would be a lie. I have gotten to know parts of it well. I was too busy with finding a new job and then promoting my artwork to take the time to get to know it better when I first moved here. Nearly 7 years later, I am getting back into the habit of really exploring the river valley and all of the lovely parks here in Edmonton.
Sometimes I am a slow fucking learner.
One of our favourite parks is the Terwillegar dog park. It's gorgeous in winter, and has handy river access in the summer so the dogs can mud bog on the trail, rinse off in the river and repeat this cycle at least 9 times before we get back to the car. Like any place I frequent or grow particularly fond of, eventually I bring out my camera or phone and start taking photos of my favourite parts to paint. I've shared some of these paintings on other blog posts already, but since I just completed a few more these past few weeks that are currently hanging in my show at the High Level Diner , I wanted to see them grouped together in the order that I painted them. My painting style morphs a little bit every year, so it's neat to see the progression from 2014 to now.
It's so good to explore where you live. It can serve as both a respite and an infinite source of creative inspiration. We need these reminders, or we get whiny and complacent about our surroundings. Or at least I do.
I've also painted two (maybe three?) autumn scenes, but the purpose of this post was to view all the winter ones in the same place.