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

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