Île d’Orléans

Vacations are the perfect place for exploring my artistic side. I make sure to pack my travel easel and bag of supplies into the car with everything else. I’ve had a lot of wonderful experiences with just my paints, paper and easel.

My family visited Quebec City, Canada in 2015. It was an exciting week of immersing ourselves in a new culture. I loved the vibrancy of the large city. It is a beautiful area along the Saint Lawrence River. On the river is Île d’Orléans. It was one of my favorite places. We explored it multiple times as a group, and each time I scouted out potential landscapes as we drove along. It was a lovely place full of pretty vineyards, barns and open fields that look out to the river. After our first drive around I knew it was a great place to come back on my own.

I packed up my easel early one morning. My husband and I had decided that it was a good day for me to slip away and find a painting spot. Having scoped out the location days before, I knew exactly where I was going. I drove over the bridge and down to the edge of the island. There was a road dotted with quaint homes that went all the way to the rocky shore. The road was quiet as I parked and began to unload my car. I gathered my things and made my way up the sloping hill. I loved how the morning haze and hush accompanied me as I painted. It was a cloudy sky, but I didn’t mind.

I saw my subject of interest nestled among the trees by the water. It was a white and grey house that matched the grey skies above it. I found the setting to be so calming as I pulled my brushes from the bag. I set up my art space along the stone wall that separated the road from the water. It was my temporary table. I wanted to challenge myself with a new color palette and this was the perfect spot. I choose purples, blues and whites—only a bit of green and a dash of red. It takes time to prepare everything I need, but that is when I prepare my mind to create. I slow my thinking down and focus on the canvas before me. No music needed. On this day it was just the waves and my thoughts.

I worked quietly for an hour. No one passed by and I could keep my attention on the paint. I mapped out the composition with loose paint strokes. I brought my collage materials along as well. I keep three medium-sized folders with flaps that have all the colors of the rainbow in them. I try to keep a variety of textures, tones and paper weight. I started digging through my cool color travel folder for just the right paper. I wanted to add a little texture to the surface while on doing plein air. I love to experiment with the collage format outside my studio. I found a piece of blue, then a piece of white. I don’t rush the search. I stuff a lot of materials into those folders! I also had to be careful to not let the wind blow my scraps away.

Finally I had the house painted in. The green trees surround the grey roof. The river’s icy blue flows so well against my brown island edge. I didn’t add a lot of paper because I knew I could work on it at home. It was a great start to a new collage. I smiled with contentment and cleaned up my mess. The cleanup takes a lot less time. I check my space for litter. Leave it cleaner than I found it! Place the brushes, palette and scraps inside the easel then lock it up. I gently placed everything back into the car and climbed in. A morning well spent!

Photos from the plein air experience

Click to see the finished collage

Escape by Katherine Horst

Additional plein air blog posts

Sign up for the Horst Arts newsletter!

(You will receive one email per month)