Brenda Bolton shows off her favourite of the paintings on display at the South Cariboo Business Centre. Brendan Kyle Jure photo.

Watercolour paintings intent on showcasing remote locations

Mahood Lake artist likes to create the illusion of realism through watercolour paintings

Loose watercolour paintings of landscapes on display at the South Cariboo Business Centre are the creation of Brenda Bolton from Mahood Lake.

Bolton, originally from Alberta, first got the itch to paint after seeing an ad in her then local paper, the Sherwood Park News, for a class in watercolour painting over 20 years ago.

“When I picked up the brush, I just fell in love with putting the brush to print and watching it flow and I thought I’m going to get into this,” said Bolton. “I don’t need to paint anything, just trying out a new colour is motivating.”

Though she admitted the hobby was on and off because”life dictates how busy you get,” she painted when she could, attending classes and workshops, some even a week long and in the United States.

“Week-long workshops were great because you really could immerse yourself into the full 9-4 painting,” Bolton said.

Bolton finds the workshop instructors very educational, including Alberta’s Francis Alty-Arscott, who Bolton tries to emulate.

The painter specializes in painting scenery and landscapes, where she would go with her husband to remote locations and sketch the scenery while he fished.

“At home, I try to recreate the feel of the pond, stream, lake, trees or mountain with colours that I think will enhance the painting,” she said.

Trying only to use a limited palette of two blues, two reds and two yellows, Bolton would use them to mix for additional colours finding it fun playing with the colours “without concern for the subject.”

The scenery and landscape she uses as her muse is subject to change though, adding a canoe or kayak as a point of interest to draw in the eyes of the viewer. An odd number of objects are also likely to be seen in the background of the painting, such as three birds.

“Rarely does the finished painting look like the reference and that makes me happy,” she explained. “My goal is to create the illusion of realism while leaning more towards the impressionistic.”

Bolton can come close to finishing a painting within three hours but would continuously come back to add or subtract things.

“I have to stand back because sometimes you’re too close,” she said. “I just hang it up somewhere in the house and stand back and watch it for a couple of weeks and decide what it needs.”

Painting for over 20 years, Bolton is bound to have many paintings sitting around the house. She joked many of them were used as fire starter but most of them are used as a learning tool, or she goes back to them and plays around with them even though she said it’s unlikely they will ever get to the framing stage.

Watercolour painting is considered one of the harder mediums of painting Bolton said but attributes titling the pieces as one of the hardest things about painting. She is talking about one of her paintings hanging up at the showcase, entitled “Illusion.”

“Lots of artists will tell you the same thing,” she said.”You look and look, something has to grab you about the painting and then the title comes.”

She has sold paintings and has been showcased before. This is the second time in 100 Mile, the first being three years ago, she said.

“I’ve sold paintings, in fact, I’ve sold paintings and regret that I’ve sold them,” said Bolton. “You love them so much and you put it up for sale and somebody buys it and you kind of miss, a little piece of you is gone.”

However, at the business centre visitors are free to talk about purchasing a painting. Some advice for people interested in painting is don’t stop, she said.

“Keep going to workshops, experimenting, join art groups and simply enjoy the process knowing there’s enough subject matter to last a lifetime,” said Bolton, who added she still has much more to learn about the medium of watercolour painting.

Bolton and her husband grew up in Alberta but moved to British Columbia for work, spending their working years in the Cariboo area where two of their daughters were born (one in Kamloops and the other in Quesnel) before being transferred back to Alberta. They decided they wanted to retire in British Columbia.

“We bought a cottage at Mahood Lake 17 years ago and retired here to live full time seven years ago,” said Bolton. “We love the remoteness of our location along with the amazing ever changing views of the sky, lake and forests.”

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