I do not consider myself a creative person. I don’t draw, do photography, play an instrument nor write in a creative manner such as poetry. So you can imagine that I was quite concerned to discover that, for our final assignment in IASK 107, we were tasked to assemble and present a remix—i.e., a work of art that would convey aspects of the observable natural world. Did I mention I’m not much of an outdoorsman either?
However, motivated by a previous assignment, I did spend some time in nature this semester. Primarily hiking around the UNBC campus and doing some very amateur photography with my camera phone. First, with my friend Yuyang and later by myself. I figured I would try and do a photo presentation, but it soon became evident that my cracked and dented camera phone could not produce the quality of picture that anyone could consider “art”. It was at this point I decided I would disregard my sense of pride and go all in on a mode of artistic expression I have never attempted: painting. And so, my remix project consists of five watercolour paintings I made (not including the ones I tossed), primarily based off of photos I had taken of the natural environment around UNBC—representing my journey from an atrociously amateur painter, to a not-so atrocious amateur painter.
The photo above, on the top, is of my very first attempt at painting—at least since kindergarten—so I decided not to toss it. I won’t pretend there’s much art in it. But, it does represent the beginning of this journey. The “defining features” being the tree, skyline, pole, and leaves (or lack thereof). The photo below it is the reference photo I took, near the Northeast side of the UNBC campus, past the parking lot.
After my first attempt, I wanted to focus especially on trees. In hindsight, trying to recreate the reference photo—taken on the UNBC trail just to the Northeast—was a bit of a fools errand at this point. But, of all my photos this was one of my favorite. You’ll likely notice first that my trees aren’t green explosions anymore; there’s a bit of shape and structure to them, there’s a sky now and the painting has a lot of colour in it. There’s still a lot left wanting, however.
The reference photo for my third painting is not from UNBC, or Prince George. I took it at Seton Lake, West of Lillooet, this summer. I used this photo specifically, because I wanted to focus on landscape and depth for my next painting. Also, it looks quite nice with the deep blue colour. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to paint bushes or leaves yet, and so the bottom lacks those details. I also finally achieved a successful horizon, thanks to Frank Clarke.
For my fourth painting I attempted to recreate the Prince George Rotary Club’s Centennial Gazebo at UNBC. To paint the gazebo, I lightly traced the outline and finer details of the structure onto the paper first. At this point, I felt like I could finally illustrate horizons, distance and trees. Although, I still still can’t illustrate height differences in the foreground.
My final painting is also from UNBC—on the same trail as the second picture. I believe this to be my best painting. Partly because of its simplicity. I did not try to recreate the reference photo exactly, but simply used it as an idea. I like the trees in this painting the best, especially when comparing them to my first painting. I think by not attempting to copy the photo exactly, I freed myself up a lot to paint in more natural movements. I had also practiced my strokes on quite a lot of blank paper at this point. I would not quite consider it a masterpiece of any sort, but I am happy with it. When comparing this painting to my first few, it illustrates the beginning of my painting journey—something I never expected to do. The skill of mixing paint, in colour and water, is what I’ve identified for improvement going forward. Although this is my final painting for this project, I expect I’ll do more.