J. Ian Ridpath --
Professional Oil Painter

Through the Eyes of the Artist Experience
at Mountsberg Conservation Area - August 2009

An article by Rose Marie Nicolucci

The songs of the birds, fresh air and peaceful quiet greeted me on my daily arrival at the conservation area during my 5 days with Through the Eyes of the Artist Program at Mountsberg Conservation Area.

This program is run by Halton Conservation Authority at this site as well as at the sister park Crawford Lake in mid-August; it has been popular event for several years.

Our working space was bright and open set-up in the upper meeting rooms assigned us by Brenna Bartley the Coordinator of the Program. She and all the staff were most accommodating and helpful to the participating artists.

The side doors were propped open to encourage easy access to visitors to observe the six artists at work. This also allowed us to hear the frequent bleating of the sheep and goats in their nearby pen. Often when I looked up from my working spot there were bunnies grazing outside the doors and a peahen that visited as well.

Outdoor excursions were made by the artists to photograph the animals, birds of prey as well as the flowers and landscapes throughout the park.(The use of camera was more expedient to avoid the bug bites.

It was interesting to see the original interpretations produced by the artists' experience of this specially preserved nature sanctuary.

ian ridpath at work at mountsberg

Ian Ridpath went out on site to photograph the lovely vistas, then printed them from his computer and painted them in oils on canvas.

rosemary simpson at work at mountsberg

Rosemary Simpson snapped pictures of the birds of prey from the Raptor Centre and animals in the fields then created beautiful pastels of bison, raptors and her favourite turkey vulture who seemed to think of herself as a performing diva.

nancy cuttle at work at mountsberg

Nancy Cuttle worked diligently all week on a sculpture of a goat character with attitude.

susan strickland at work at mountsberg

Susan Strickland produced beautiful realistic acrylics of the red winged blackbirds on bulrush stalks and attractive sunflowers.

jennifer osborne at work at mountsberg

Jennifer Osborne painted a mammoth symbolic owl canvas offsetting her bold colour scheme by adhering goldleaf to the large moon and sections of the owls talons, etc. She also facilitated an itinerant workshop on edible wild plants on Sunday.

rose marie nicolucci at work at mountsberg

I (Rose Marie Nicolucci) was at the sister park Crawford Lake last year with other participating artists and the experience was entirely different.

There are denser woodland trails with the inland lake as well as a reconstructed Iroquois Longhouse. The surroundings have a more mysterious and spiritual atmosphere. The art work produced reflected these qualities as well.

I had done a water colour and graphite sketch of an uprooted tree with its twisted trunk exposed. I worked on a acrylic of this as my contribution for the participating in the program.

This time was a creative growth and sharing experience for all the participating artists that was a highlight of our summer.

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