CMH's heli-hiking guides come to us from all walks of life and each have a common passion of sharing the mountains with guests. In addition, many of our guests have specific interests that make them ‘requested guides' by many of our repeat Heli-Hikers. One such guide is Liz Wiltzen who has stepped back from guiding to focus on her painting career but still remains an important member of the CMH family. A long-time lover of watercolours, Liz has recently made the switch to oil paintings and has truly found her groove. Liz has been teaching painting workshops for artists of all levels and will be doing so again this coming August on a Painting Retreat in the Bugaboos for CMH Summer Adventures guests.
I finally caught up with Liz last week, after she returned from a trip to Arizona where she was taking a workshop, and working on her own personal challenge of 100 plein air paintings in 100 days.
Here's where our conversation lead:
JC: Liz, you travel quite a bit to immerse yourself in new landscapes for your work. Where have you been lately?
LW: My latest painting trip was in Scottsdale, Arizona. Last September I was on the West Coast for two weeks painting on Gabriola, Denman and Hornby Islands. I also spent a month in Peru last year, mostly gathering photo reference for paintings.
JC: Do you have a favourite place in the world to paint?
LW: Wherever the light is interesting. So pretty much everywhere!
JC: That's pretty broad! Does your approach, technique or style changes depending on where and what you paint?
LW: My style and approach change depending on if I am studio painting or plein air painting. I use a much faster, looser approach in the field as time is very limited before the light has created an entirely different scene in front of me.
JC: Liz, how are you furthering your career as an artist?
LW: I am doing a lot more working from life, either setting up still life in the studio, painting live models or getting out painting plein air. I am currently into a self-created project to do 100 plein air paintings in 100 days. This is about working on discipline, and skill building, and also is motivated by curiosity to see what I will have learned by the end of it. The concentrated time period requires greater focus than just doing it when the mood strikes, and causes me to do things like pull the car over on the side of the highway spontaneously to do a quick sketch of something interesting rather than just noticing it and driving on by.
JC: And how do you approach your teaching?
LW: In painting as an instructor, I am not trying to do a completed painting with all the problems worked out, but rather a quick sketch that gives students an idea of all the basic elements of applying paint and what to think about as you approach a painting. Often in demo-ing I will speak about what I am thinking about as I apply paint, which is always curious because with a studio painting that process is deeper in my consciousness, not verbalized out loud.
JC: You've described this upcoming workshop in the Bugaboos as a very special treat. What makes the Bugaboos so special to you?
The Bugaboos has a very special energy that I have experienced only very occasionally in the natural world. I think this energy is everywhere, but it is turned up to full volume in the Bugaboos. It is simply a magical place to spend time in.
JC: Is the workshop open to artists of all levels?
LW: Students should have some painting experience, and if they are new to plein air, they should try to do 2 or 3 outdoor paintings prior to the workshop (even just in their backyard) to get used to their outdoor gear and sort out any kinks.
To learn more about the Bugaboo Painting Retreat, contact CMH Reservations at 1.800.661.0252 or e-mail Liz. Space is limited.