Klondike Letters Project

Translating experience into memory through inspired creation.

Tag: artwork

Chilkoot Pass – Then and Now

when I stood on top of Chilkoot Pass, the vast, empty stretch of Canadian wilderness before me, it was hard to imagine a bustling, fluctuation community of thousands occupying the small saddle. Having a pencil in my hand, makes imagining easier! Here’s a look at some scenes from the first animated postcard from Chilkoot Pass. Soon I’ll have the entire animation up, but for now, scroll down and read some of the postcards travelers wrote on the top of the pass.

Chilkoot Pass then

Top of the Pass on a busy day in 1898.

Chilkoot Pass now

A wild, lonely day on top of Chilkoot Pass, 2012.

 

Photo Essay!

The winter edition of Mountain Outlaw Magazine just hit the stands here in Montana. If you manage to get your hands on a copy, turn to page 52. You might see someone you recognize – me! I’ve contributed a photo essay about my 2 weeks as Artist-in Residence on the Chilkoot Trail. It’s full of interesting historical facts and some of the artwork I created on the trail.

If you aren’t passing through Montana anytime soon, you can read the full article online here: Postcard from Chilkoot Pass  And you can flip through the entire magazine, an excellent read, at  explorebigsky.com

Capturing the footsteps of the past

I’ve begun editing and selecting photos for an upcoming photo essay in Mountain Outlaw magazine. Beyond documenting the beautiful landscapes of the Chilkoot Trail, I am also attempting to capture the undercurrents of history that have settled into the trail over the centuries.  Below is an excerpt from my artist’s statement on how I approach photography:

Landscapes, both internal and external, affect me. The emotional experience of a place is a human mystery which fluctuates with each visitation. While geology and architecture do not get up and run away from the camera, a moment can be just as reticent to be photographed as a shy child. I bring the eye of an animator to the stillness of the page with the hope of entering into an alternate perspective: What would it be like to see as the mountains do, with eyes that span the seasons for centuries? In photography, time is a tangible substance for artistic manipulation and when time stops and continues simultaneously we find ourselves in a new dimension.

More photos to come.

Day 11 – Alohas and reflections at Bare Loon Lake

Day 11
 
5 July
Bare Loon Lake
A perfectly calm and magical evening.

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I spent the morning around Lindeman catching up on my journal and painting the sunny lakeshore. Then the Parks Canada crowd showed up – three rangers with a crew of forestry guys ready for chainsaw safety workshop. Time for me to head out, but not before Rene showed me his map. It’s a passion project, meticulous research to find the exact route of the historic Dead Horse Trail over White Pass. He unrolls a large sheet of vellum with careful pencil lines marking the topography, possible routes and certain artifacts he’s found while wandering in the 1 mile stretch or Porcupine Hill. Hand draw from memory by candlelight – the way it was done back in the days when they piled corduroy road over the bodies of horses that dropped dead from exhaustion on the trail. It is a work of art.

A quick lunch and then I pick up my pack – my HEAVY pack! Having shared the load with my sister from Sheep Camp to Lindeman, I’m once again the sole pack horse for camera and camping gear and my remaining food. But it’s the home stretch.

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The walk to Bare Loon reminded me so much of hiking in the Sierra. Pines widely spaced dropping their needles between granite boulders, views of blue lakes through the trees, sunshine and warmth! Maybe that was the trigger. The first day of legitimate sun-basking! I arrive at camp sweaty and seek out a private bay to dunk myself. Not as cold as Lower Dewey – still I was happy to get out of the water and tingle my way to warmth while the animals stared at me…

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36 people! A full camp and I’m glad I met them all yesterday. After dinner I read them postcards and show off my paintings. Everyone seems so excited about the postcards. Maybe it’s the infectious enthusiasm of the high school girls (who shared their no-bake chocolate-PB cookies with me!), or maybe it’s because a shower and a beer are just a day away, but the mood in camp is buoyant. The wind dies down, cooperating for once, so I pull out Donald and we chat on the record. It is tiring work, being on the record, but I am excited to see how all these puzzle pieces will fit together into film language in the coming year.

One man came up to me after my little presentation and asked if he could write a postcard to someone else, because he knew he would not be alive in a year. I didn’t ask for details, but just took his postcard and placed it with the others. I have become a keeper of secrets, I hold in my hands a stack of confessions, fears, joys and sorrows. Such lovely people, even the grumpy family on their first ever backpacking trip, suffering together.

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After everyone has gone to bed I climb up to the helipad and am rewarded with something like a sunset – pink clouds high in the sky at 11:30pm. I had worried that doing this residency might be a bad career move. I am stepping away from my nearly finished film and potential commercial projects knocking at my studio door to chase a vague new project that will probably consume a lot of my time with sorting, blogging and creating. But talking to everyone tonight, I do know that for the handful of postcard writers and talkers, the world is now a slightly more vibrant place. Their trek is a tad more meaningful, their lives a wee bit enriched. So, I guess that makes it all worth it? I’m still a poor artist who doesn’t make enough money to support myself. But there is something new and good in the world because of my existence on the trail. I think I’m glad that whatever it is, it doesn’t entirely belong to me.

Read More: Trail Journal Day 12

Day 4 – Art-making on Long Hill

Day 4

28 June
A Day of No Obligations

trailart006Only 6 people going over the pass, 4 from the Czech Republic and not much English in their repertoire so I slept in until 6:45. After morning call-in and bfast with Kyle at the Ranger Station I head up the pass for a day of “art making”. Above the mosquito zone there is nothing for me to do but paint, photograph, draw and sit. The sun is out in the morning turning the lush valley brilliantly green. Waterfalls and flowers. Today is a flower day.

Read More: Trail Journal Day 5
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The Chilkoot Trail, an artist’s journey

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Photos and drawings from 13 days on the Chilkoot Trail in Klondike-Goldrush National Historic Park

Off the Trail

Greetings from Canada! I’ve made it Whitehorse after 13 days on the trail and a gorgeous train ride along Lake Bennett. There is so much to tell I don’t really know where to start. I’ll be consolidating all the artwork, postcards, interviews and inspiration I found on the trail in the coming weeks, but for now, if you happen to be in Whitehorse, you can get a head start on all the stories and see some of my artwork in person. I’ll be giving an artist’s talk tonight, so come by if you are in town.

7:30 pm

Sunday, July 8, 2012

at the S.S. Klondike tent by the Yukon River

Painting Postcards

With 3 days to go before I head North, the packing has begun! I think my pack will be quite a bit different than most travelers on the Chilkoot Trail. More on that later. At the moment, I’m sorting through art supplies and trying to decide how much of my studio to bring.

my arsenal of color

Since a big part of this project will be letting other people create artistic memories on the KLP postcards, either through writing or drawing, I want to have a nice array of options. This afternoon I sat down on the back porch and made my first KLP postcards. the recycled kraft paper takes prismacolor pencils really well, and the sharpies and felt pens look brilliant, but I was also surprised how nicely the watercolor sat on the paper.

And interesting bit of personal history: My grandmother is a watercolor painter and as I was growing up, we often would hike out to some beautiful lake or meadow around Lake Tahoe and as the energetic kids scrambled up granite and swam in snow melt, Omi would be painting wildflowers and mountains. A great traveler, she would send us painted postcards from her trips around the world. When I went off to college, Omi gave me a little Windsor-Newton watercolor kit and a set of watercolor postcards, and I have carried on the tradition. This little trusty set of paints has seen a lot of the world and I think it will be happy to help me capture the road to the Klondike.

I interviewed Omi about painting outdoors when she turned 89 and turned the interview into an animated mini-documentary. You can watch En Plein Air on my website and see some of Omi’s paintings on her website. She is such a tech-savvy granny!

I’ve got 250 of these babies, so I will certainly be making more along the way, perhaps even using them as my own personal journal. And, of course, I can’t wait to see what other people will put in that blank space!