Girls Do Ski freeski camp is a leading program for women who want to take their ski skills to the next level, in the company of other amazing and supportive female skiers. I had the privilege of joining this years’ camp at Revelstoke Mountain Resort with GDS Director and badass skier, Leah Evans, and her tribe of talented female coaches. My role was to bring art into the mix by observing the camp groups, getting to know the women and sketching their experiences over the course of the 2-day camp.
Art and skiing…can you do both? Can you really be an athlete and artsy nerd? I believed the story that you can be one or the other, but not both...and certainly not at the same time. Leah set out to prove that yes .you. can. by inviting artists to join her camps and show that you can be a woman+skier+artist+anything! Skiing brought together this incredible community of supportive women, and art captured the experience that none of us could put words to. As a weird kid who loved to draw and stuck with skiing when everyone else was into snowboarding, I never thought these two worlds would meet…much less be celebrated together.
I skied with the first group on Saturday morning, watching them learn the basics of making a clean turn and holding their core strong in a ‘ready’ stance. Hold the basket, don’t squish the puppy, nose over downhill toes. The group found a soft panel of untouched powder at the side of the groomed run and our coach suggested they try some Revy pow. Many of the women in this group had never skied powder before. They were excited to try, but nervous about their own ability to ski deep freshies. Slowly they each ventured over into the panel, and their faces lit up with huge smiles as they picked up speed and confidence blasting through cold smoke, laughing and hollering “yeeeeewwww!!”
Push your boundaries and amazing things happen; you realize you’re better than you think you are. We’re holding ourselves back 99% of the time, but surround yourself with support and encouragement from a community that doesn’t judge, and suddenly it’s okay to try powder or drop a cliff or hit that jump. I headed straight to the warming hut with my pen and sketchbook to start on a piece to captured the moment. “Light the Way” was born, a sketch that celebrate pushing your boundaries and the pleasant surprise of realizing your full potential.
On the second day, I could tell something had shifted. There wasn’t much hesitation at the top of a steep run - instead of “maybe I shouldn’t” it was “this is going to be rad!”. Watching the women ski after learning to refine their technique and build confidence the first day, I saw so much improvement in not only the way they were skiing but in the shouts of encouragement and support for each other. They were pushing themselves further and having a blast doing it. My second sketch was inspired by a moment when the advanced group I was with decided to try a drop on one of the steeper, treed lines in North Bowl. The coach went first and scoped the landing from below, but it didn’t take long for every single woman to follow. No one stopped and said “I can’t” they just went for it and were cheered on by the rest of the group whether they landed it or not.
“Queen of Diamonds” is for the ladies who went for it, pushed past their comfort zone and left the camp proud as hell of what they achieved.
The camp isn’t just about women supporting women; behind the scenes at GDS, there were men supporting women too. Mike came with me on the trip, taking two days off work and driving 7 hours from North Vancouver to Revelstoke then skiing on his own while I was off at camp. He’d meet me at the B&B with a hug and a bubble bath ready for my tired muscles at the end of the day. My dad taught me to ski as soon as I could walk, and my brother is constantly promoting my artwork in his new restaurant. I spoke with many other ladies at the camp who also received incredible support from men in their lives. Their husbands were at the hotel looking after their baby while mom skied, or drove with their girlfriend from Calgary to keep her company or encouraged her to sign up for GDS in the first place. Women crave and thrive in a community, and community includes some extraordinary men and we are so grateful for them.
Photo Credit: Agathe Bernard
On the last day of camp, we gathered at the midstation lodge to swap stories over frosty Begbie pale ales while prizes were given away. Before the camp, I painted two oil on wood round pieces to give away and was so happy to present these to two smiling skier girls that afternoon. Everyone left with a smile, whether they won a prize or not. I’m so grateful to be a part of the Girls Do Ski community, to share my art with them, and for an experience I’ll never forget.
What do you do when it’s pouring rain outside, it’s the beginning of January and the freezing level has shot up to above tree line? Two things come to mind; art and indoor climbing. This weekend I had the rare luxury of a weekend at home and a chance to combine both. My collection of mountain paintings have been in at home for the summer and fall since the exhibition at Mount Currie Coffee last winter. It was awesome to see them everyday, but I would much rather share them with like minded adventures out in the world.
The Hive North Shore is a climbing gym that I fondly refer to as the ‘climber’s country club’. It's not pretentious in any way, but a beautifully designed, welcoming space that offers just about everything a climber could want. State-of-the-art bouldering walls, amazing weight training gym with loads of training equipment, an Arcteryx Beta Lounge to get some peace and quiet while you plan your next trip, and a stunning yoga studio to stretch out those tired muscles.
The Hive contacted me a few weeks ago to discuss displaying my art on the walls since they had lots of bare space and were looking to partner with some local artists. I said yes. OF COURSE! I love the idea that my work is hanging where someone may recognize the mountain or snow ghost from their own travels. A few years ago I was struggling to get my art in galleries around Vancouver, Whistler, or anywhere that would take me. I was frustrated when I spent so much time putting together exhibition proposals, only to hear crickets chirping in return. I contacted an artist in Whistler that I really admired and who had one of the most successful local art careers I knew of, and who was an icon in the adventure community. In 2013 I was part of the “Art for an Oil Free Coast” exhibition with Chili Thom, so I reached out to ask for his advice. He was kind enough to respond to my email with some wise words I’ll never forget. He told me that “picking an area that the bulk of the clientele would resonate with your work is a wise idea.” His suggestion for Mount Currie Coffee Co. was a huge success, and I’ve thought about his advice many times - thinking of his kind words and beautiful art, and wishing he was still with us.
These days, people are talking about planning your purpose around your “why” in business and personal life. I realized my “why” isn’t to have my art in fancy galleries for fame or fortune. My “why” is to share my art with the world to inspire others to get outside and explore. I’d forgotten that, but the mountain community has reminded me that if you do what you love with intention and purpose, it will shine through and you will reap the benefits.
I’m so thrilled for this new chapter of my winter series and can’t wait to see them again at my next climbing session. I hope there’s someone at the Hive right now, burning out their forearms and thinking they should ski that “Heartstrings” line someday…
I’ve passed by Nairn Falls dozens of times driving up to Pemberton from North Vancouver to ski or go camping. I always noticed the mist settling into the canyon but never paid much attention to the prominent rock face just on the other side of the river. A colleague noticed something about the rock face; the striking green lichen and scrubby evergreens perched on the edge of rock. There was something about that rock slab that spoke to him each time he made his way to the family cabin in Pemberton.
He commissioned a painting from me to capture the scene, and of course I loved the opportunity to work on so many green ‘bubble trees’. Soon after starting the painting, I realized how much I had to learn. Painting the misty haze and transitioning light with pops of wet lichen was something totally different from my usual snow ghosts and blue mountain scenes. I had to re-learn how to paint sap green and greys without looking too dark or flat. Each little green tree was a step forward, but there were many many steps back! The sky wasn’t right and the rock face wasn’t showing the right depth. I was about to give up and start all over at this point….
Then I stopped at Nairn Falls to take a closer look. All those times I’ve driven past, I’ve never stopped to really look at the falls and let nature tell me the story. I walked up to the falls, noticed the colour of the water spraying up onto the rocks, how it made the rock glisten and the trees brighten up in the sun. I smelled fresh cedar and moss. It made sense. The importance of this place made sense, and so did the colours, light and depth that I was looking for. I went home and started with a fresh perspective, slowly and intentionally piecing together the spirit of Nairn Falls.
Giclée (/ʒiːˈkleɪ/ zhee-KLAY or /dʒiːˈkleɪ/)
Giclee is a french term, meaning to ‘spray ink’. This is a uniquely artistic form of printmaking that uses a very specialized inkjet printer with a higher resolution and more dynamic colour range than typical printers. Giclee prints are regarded within the art world as rendering the highest quality reproduction of an original artwork, and often times are sold in small batches as collectible artwork themselves.
I finally took the leap this winter and invested in running my first batch of giclee prints with the lovely family-owned and operated shop, Zhee Clay in south Vancouver. The owners showed me around their incredible studio and I was so impressed with the range of materials they’re able to print on. Seeing that my art-heroes, Mark Hobson and the late Chili Thom were clients there certainly helped my decision to go with Zhee Clay for my prints of “Sundown at Cayoosh.”
I’d recently completed “Sundown” just before Christmas, which was perfect timing to replace “Last Ride” that sold at in my show at Mount Currie Coffee. I was really happy with how “Sundown” turned out, and thought it would be a perfect opportunity to create prints of the original in time for Christmas. As it turns out, the original sold within a few weeks of going up at the café – so it’s a good thing I have the prints!
Since it was my first time printing originals, I only ran four prints – a very, very low batch since 75-100 prints is an average run. I learned that the colour blue I predominantly used in the original (French Ultramarine) is an extremely hard blue to replicate in an inkjet printer. Yay! What a good choice! Nevertheless, ZheeClay were able to work their magic, and I cannot tell the difference between the ‘fake blue’ of the print and the real ultramarine of the original.
I’m so excited to now have prints to carry on the legacy of one of my favorite originals, and recently donated one to a charity event very close to my heart. There are now only two prints left of “Sundown at Cayoosh”, but this summer I’d love to add prints of more originals to the collection.
*The remaining prints of “Sundown at Cayoosh” are available for purchase. Contact me for more details.