Yesterday, I drove across the Province of British Columbia. A trip literally from the shoreline of Georgia Straight to the Great Divide at the Alberta border, and then I continued to Calgary. It took 13+ hours for the journey including stops for fuel, road coffee and a bowl of chilli.

Darkness at the beginning and darkness at the end brought definition to full grey tones of a day filled with slush, compact snow and clouds of dirty road spray on the windshield. Only once did the sky open, allowing sunshine to touch the earth as a breathless whisper of light at the summit of Rogers Pass.

The moment seems so very paintable. But painting isn’t possible. There is nowhere to park: nowhere to open the paint box. Not enough time either.

The alternative is to stop to take a photo. A quick shot with my phone camera as I stand beside the car. “Click”, and at once the moment spoils: I get back into my car just as a large truck passes spraying a monsoon over everything.

The grandeur, simply the grandeur, makes the camera image: snow white brilliance with blue sky showcasing magnificence. Dazzling.
Don’t know if the mountain has a name. Certainly, the mountain won’t know my name. Simply a connection during a flash of sunshine.

Tomorrow, at 4am, I leave Calgary for a drive across the Canadian Prairies to Manitoba. Done this many times over the years and each time I can’t wait to start heading toward the sunrise. The time I spend in Saskatchewan will be stage lights bright. And the sun will be low in the western when I arrive in Winnipeg. Lots of road coffee on this journey.

Driving across the prairies brings place names that in themselves seem adventures. Moose Jaw, Portage la Praire, Medicine Hat, Indian Head, Swift Current and many, many more places like this chart the journey. When I’m in Brandon it always feels to me I’m mid-point between the west coast and the east coast of Canada. One things is for sure, arriving at Brandon, Manitoba, means two hours remain to Winnipeg after a long day on the highway.

On the prairies it seems you can see off to the edge of the earth as you drive. The hush of the vastness is compelling. Spirit seems everywhere.
I’m going to Manitoba to seek out some paintings, so canvas and paints are my travelling companions. A couple cameras will do the trip too. Will also meet up with some gallery friends in Winnipeg and Gimli.
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Jim Pescott is an international contemporary artist: he lives and creates in Calgary, Alberta. Email is info@jimpescott.com Phone 403-870-0591. Website http://www.jimpescott.com

Reading Italian

May 13, 2011

I’ve been in Ferrara, Italy, for over a week (also managed a day in Florence). The primary reason for being here has been to follow my paintings to the successful “Here Now” exhibition that ends today. Then again, any reason to be in Italy is a good reason.

Otherwise, I’ve been walking the city streets: buildings, people and art and everywhere I see something to paint. I’ve also been absorbing the Italian language but as I’m mostly a visual person, a painter, the written word holds better with me (at least for now). Today I met up with some sculpture that allowed me to read over a shoulder. Much fun. Ciao!

Downtown streets are busy places: people with agendas, people with destinations and energies that seem to absorb everything. I watch a man walking across the street. He was jaywalking and seemed simply intent on getting somewhere. The day was warm and he was carrying his suit jacket. Just as he’d appeared from the sidewalk across the way he melted into the scene on the other side when he reached the curb.

The air always seems cleaner downtown when its cold. At least this is how it seems to me. Not sure why. Maybe it is because the shadows are more blue on a clear day in colder temperatures. Then again I’m not sure why. This is just how it seems to me.

As a landscape painter there”s a lot to take in as I walk around. For example, I’m always watching how shadows change the colour of things. Bright, unobstructed sunlight does this too. And I very much enjoy how shadows reach out from their source compared to how sunlight simply spreads as it gains strength. In painting “Shady Street Downtown” the shadows are winning at this point in the day: the sunlight could only seep through a very few locations across the pavement.

Of course this is not how it ended. As the day moved on the sunlight gained strength and the shadows receded as the colours to evolve. This, of course, would be another painting.