wake up at the lake

Last year I had the great privilege of being the first participant in the artist-in-residence program at Falcon Trails Resort. But, as with all gateway drugs (cabins, quiet, lakeside dwelling, long forest walks, afternoon wine by the wood burning stove, etc...) I was hooked and needed another fix. So, as you do when jonesing for another fix, you figure out ways to get back to that happy place. Emily wanted drawings of the eco cabins on High Lake, and the Bearded Dude and I wanted another taste of forest seclusion in the wilderness of Manitoba.

So I made drawings...

 juniper,  watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper,   9x12(in), 2017

juniper, watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper, 9x12(in), 2017

 highline,  watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper,   9x12(in), 2017

highline, watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper, 9x12(in), 2017

 mahigan,  watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper,   9x12(in), 2017

mahigan, watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper, 9x12(in), 2017

 kingfisher,  watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper,   9x12(in), 2017

kingfisher, watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper, 9x12(in), 2017

 whiskey jack,  watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper,   9x12(in), 2017

whiskey jack, watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper, 9x12(in), 2017

 sandpiper,  watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper,   9x12(in), 2017

sandpiper, watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper, 9x12(in), 2017

 falcon lake cabins,  watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper,   9x12(in), 2017

falcon lake cabins, watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper, 9x12(in), 2017

...and then we got to go and hide in the woods with High Lake all to ourselves for four gloriously snowy days! There was no snow in Alberta when we left, and as we drove east the temperature kept dropping and the snow started coming. By the time we arrived at Falcon Lake, it was definitely winter. I brought along my oil paints and sketching supplies, but I put no pressure on myself to be productive. This was supposed to be a vacation. The BD had been in Calgary all week and I had been hard at work in the studio working on PETraits for the SCARS fundraiser, prepping a new series of drawings to send of to the Bluerock Gallery, distributing Christmas cards to various clients and venues and gearing up to teach my last set of workshops at the Paint Spot in Edmonton for the year.

We napped by the wood burning stove, took long walks in the snow covered pine woods with the dogs, drank copious amounts of strong tea and whiskey in the afternoon, sipped wine in the evenings, ate incredibly well, put together a puzzle, read books, took photos, and just rested.

But of course I always find things to paint and draw...

 interior of the Mahigan cabin were we made our cozy home during our visit

interior of the Mahigan cabin were we made our cozy home during our visit

 a drawing of the main mood of High Lake during our stay, inspired by the view of the lake from the bathroom window,  watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper,   8x8(in), 2017,  $80 + GST

a drawing of the main mood of High Lake during our stay, inspired by the view of the lake from the bathroom window, watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper, 8x8(in), 2017, $80 + GST

 when the sun came out and shone on High Lake for about 10 minutes one morning,  watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on hot pressed paper,   7x10(in), 2017,  $90 + GST

when the sun came out and shone on High Lake for about 10 minutes one morning, watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on hot pressed paper, 7x10(in), 2017, $90 + GST

 detail of a drawing about the colorful layers of grass frozen in a puddle in the ditch alongside the road to High Lake,  watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper,   8x8(in), 2017,  $80 + GST

detail of a drawing about the colorful layers of grass frozen in a puddle in the ditch alongside the road to High Lake, watercolor, pen, soft pencil crayon & acrylic paint marker on cold pressed paper, 8x8(in), 2017, $80 + GST

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This was the view of High Lake from the kitchen table where I set up to make some sketches in oil, so I made this...

 high lake, late october,  oil on masonite, 9x12(in), 2017

high lake, late october, oil on masonite, 9x12(in), 2017

...and I left it behind on the kitchen table of the cabin as an additional show of gratitude.

On a walk with the dogs along the road leading back to Falcon Lake one snowy afternoon I came upon this wonderful stand of birches in the loveliest ranges of pink I've ever seen on this species of tree...

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...and sketched out this the following afternoon when I needed a break from that damn puzzle we'd been working on for a day and a half...

 pinkish birch,  oil on masonite, 9x12(in), 2017,  $150 + GST

pinkish birch, oil on masonite, 9x12(in), 2017, $150 + GST

My goal is to make a yearly pilgrimage to Falcon Trails Resort to rest, make new friends and create art in the woods. What they have going on there is so great, and the Christie family and their friends that run the resort and ski hill are just the nicest folks. Plus, MANITOBA! How fucking gorgeous is your province? Seriously! And to spend time with folks that are excited about winter and embrace all that the season has to offer both indoors and out is really intoxicating. Check out their website and if you can, plan a visit. Any time of year. You won't be sorry for a minute!

Thanks again to Emily Christie for inviting me out last year, and asking me to make cabin illustrations this year. Thank you to the Christie Family and all the other staff we met that were so helpful during our stay this time, and to Emily again, for trusting me to take over the Falcon Trails Resort Instagram account for the few days we were there. I kept my promise and kept the swears to my own IG account, even though she blatantly said I could post whatever the fuck I wanted. Falcon Trails Resort is a family run business with a ski resort in winter and cabins open year round for your wilderness enjoyment in the beautiful Whiteshell Provincial Park in Manitoba. I posted most of the pictures from our trip on my Instagram account (justinabsmith) and on the Falcon Trails Resort Instagram account (falcontrails) during my three day take over, so you can view them there if you haven't seen them already.