A new way to capture memories 

New travel art program combines guided nature walks with sketching/painting lessons

"I paint instead of using a camera. I see more and meet more people." Photo by Nicole Fitzgerald
  • "I paint instead of using a camera. I see more and meet more people." Photo by Nicole
    Fitzgerald

Some people flip through a photo book to recall their travels. Artist Carol Roberts instead sits back to pages of paintings. The pages illustrate nothing resembling a Raphael floor-to-ceiling fresco; instead paint and ink images are recorded on sketchbook pages no bigger than a 4X6 photograph.

Instead of capturing a memory in the split second of a clicked shutter, the memory lingers on in the time it takes to sketch or paint a scene, person or event. It’s an experience that enriches as an artist notes the five different greens in a meadow or the laugh lines around a hardened woman’s face.

Capturing time slows as does time itself.

"I paint instead of using a camera," Roberts shares. "I see more and meet more people."

She flips to a small painting of Thai people harvesting papayas on Koh Samui in her painting travel log. She then points to another painting depicting a pregnant woman cooking in Borneo. The picture along with others now hangs in the Vancouver Integrated Health Centre.

Roberts has captured her travels in this fashion for years, from sailing the Polynesia Islands to trekking the Coast Mountains. She now wants to share what she calls travel art with others. Whistler, with all its travelers, couldn’t be a better fit. She will host an annual summer program called Art in the Wild where she escorts people on guided nature walks to sketch and paint, starting Saturday, July 1.

"I want to introduce people to the area through drawing and painting because you draw a deep appreciation for nature, people," she says.

She points to a painting of the Dali Lama she created.

"I was that close to paint him," she says of the portrait. "What a memory. We are creating memories."

If finger painting was your last artistic adventure, Roberts says no matter. What makes travel art so appealing is that no pre-artistic experience is necessary, a series of paintings can be created in a two and a half hour class and because paintings are no bigger than the hand of an adult, the medium is neither intimidating nor pretentious.

"A friend took the course and said it helped her make larger paintings," Roberts says. "By starting small, it helps to build confidence to make larger works."

Roberts recently returned to Whistler; the West Vancouver resident now calls Whistler her summer home. Her love affair with the town dates back to the late 1960s when she traveled by train to a town that had one ski mountain. She and her former husband Dai Roberts operated a construction company in Whistler. Projects to their credit include the Nancy Greene Lodge, Delta Hotel and Peak Chair as well as the original underground parking lot and the Roundhouse.

The University of B.C. graduate, who studied art education, went on to teach art in both public and private schools in the Lower Mainland as well as private classes for adults. She now turns to Whistler’s outdoors for her classroom.

Art in the Wild students are given a list of art supplies to purchase – a portable art kit no bigger than a Ziploc bag and no more expensive than $15.

"It’s small and portable so it is always with you," Roberts says. "There is no need to be lonely when you are an artist. You get involved with the flora and fauna. You become very approachable when you are painting. It gives purpose to the day. It helps you to get to know the natural world and people."

Half day art walks run 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays. Full-day art walks run 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Half days are $50 for visitors and $25 for locals and children. Full days are $150, which includes a gondola lift ticket.

To book a tour, call Expressions Art Studio at 604-932-2822 or contact Carol at carol3sc@hotmail.com.

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