During my yearly visits to Canmore, Alberta for my solo show at Elevation Gallery I have always enjoyed the wonderful mountain views. The drive from the Calgary airport to Canmore is a winding route along the base of these majestic natural monuments. I catch myself often looking upon nature’s snow capped sculptures in awe. Over this past winter I was asked by Cheryl Baxter of Elevation Gallery to produce a mountain commission for one of her clients who has admired my work. I have never attempted this subject matter in wax, and with some hesitation I agreed to produce a few sketches in wax. In the end the client was thrilled with the results and a larger commission followed. Subsequently I have fallen in love with the mountain as my muse. My approach to encaustic process requires a more sculptural and textured technique. Although I use a brush to get the wax onto the board initially, once it has been applied I manipulate it by carving, scratching, gouging and ironing the surface with a variety of irons I have collected over the years, sealing all with my trusty blow torch. The results is a new series called “Ascension”, that was on display for the 1st time at my solo show this May at Elevation Gallery in Canmore, Alberta called “Traversing the Land”.
Solo Show opens in Canmore
I had a fantastic show opening this past Saturday at beautiful Elevation Gallery in Canmore, Alberta. If you have never been to Canmore you have no idea what you are missing. Canmore is located in Alberta's Rocky Mountains, at the base of the majestic Three Sister Mountain range, just west of Calgary and 25 minutes from Banff.
Canmore was named in 1884. Its name originates from a town on the northwest shores of Scotland named in honor of King Malcolm III of Canmore. Historically Canmore was a mining town from 1887 up and to 1979. Canmore later gained international attention as it was the location for the Nordic events of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games which in turn heralded a new era for this small town.
I started exhibiting my work in Canmore in 2007 and as a result, I have seen a lot of changes to this small historic mining town. The people of Canmore have a very strong sense of community and with its plethora of wonderful restaurants and shops, the town has become a cultural hub for great wine, food, theatre and the arts. My current show, Into the Woods that opened to a wonderful response, explores the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood.
Like many little girls of my generation, I grew up reading the classic fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood”. I’ve realized through an absolutely full life that we all encounter those wolves in the forest, and like Little Red, we find our way through.
These paintings explore the evolution of Little Red as an analogy of us all. From the naïve girl skipping through the woods to Grandma’s house with basketin hand, to the adolescent, reflective and hesitant in anticipation of the arrival of the wolf.
As the series draws to a close, Little Red is a mature woman dressed in a flowing cloak, who instead of being the pursued, appears to be the pursuer. She moves confidently forward into the woods, unafraid. I see my Little Red as a celebration of experience and grace.....the one who has triumphed over both her internal and external wolves.
My beloved Canadian landscape is the perfect backdrop for this dramatic tale, holding both a supporting and lead role in this tale of self-discovery.
The Gentle Approach
I must admit, I do have a hard time sometimes letting go of some of my paintings. And such was the case with this piece. The Gentle Approach is part of a new series that explores the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. It was recently shipped out to Elevation Gallery in beautiful Canmore, Alberta in time for my solo show Into the Woods opening on May 5th.
I love the scale, (24" x 72"), the composition and palette of this work. It just came together and flowed so easily from my brush. It also continues my love affair with the sky that is so lusciously translated onto the board by the molten wax. In this work, I have set the small Red Riding Hood figure in a diminished perspective amid an expansive landscape.
It's a romantic piece — an homage to one of my favourite painters; Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840). He was a German Romantic painter who is best known for his mid-period allegorical landscapes that depicted contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists and barren trees.
I’m looking forward to seeing this painting again when I arrive in Canmore later this week for my opening. It's a gentle piece, hence the title and it evokes a sense of peacefulness in me along with a pride in its execution.
Click here to see all the paintings in this new series titled Little Red.
– Susan Wallis
All images copyright Susan Wallis 2018