Inspiration for Creativity Through Skiing

- By: Liam Patterson

I have been competitively skiing for eight years now and I initially learned how to ski at the age of five.  Competitive skiing has brought me to many interesting places and has allowed me to learn a lot about who I am. For a few years now, I have been documenting my progression as an athlete, person, and travels. I record this not through writing, videos, or photos, but with paint, a canvas and a brush.

I became aware in grade nine when I took a high school art class, that I really enjoyed the alternate frame of mind that art puts you in. Using the right side of your brain is a fascinating experience and the further you explore it, the more you will surprise yourself with your final product. Proceeding with my new found passion for creativity, I dabbled in many mediums of art. As I progressed, I was given the opportunity to try painting with acrylic on canvas, and was assigned a project to create a master work reproduction of a piece by the Group of 7. To say the least I fell in love with paint.

Undoubtedly the best part of painting is colour. Without colour the world would be a very drab place to live. Colour is a way of expressing emotions. It sets the overall mood for a piece, and is ultimately a reflection of the artist. Most artists in fact develop a certain colour palette that they abide by. Having a colour palette for an artist is almost essential because it allows them to develop their style, and allows all their pieces to become harmonious with one another. For me, colour puts me into a positive frame of mind, and applying many varieties of colour gives me great joy.

I kept exploring painting, and fine tuning my style. Though I've experimented with many art styles I have always come back to a more impressionistic touch to my pieces and I am always very inspired by the members of the Group of 7. I in fact only like to paint landscapes, and mountains are my favorite. I began to like painting mountains so much because right around the time I learned how to paint, I started to travel out west for ski races and training camps. I was extremely impressed by the natural architecture of the mountains and the potential each one had to be turned  into something magical through a paint brush.

The more I started painting the more I realized that almost every piece I completed had something to do with skiing. This carried on through my work and still does. It brings a whole different dimension to what skiing is. Instead of training and racing skiing, I was painting skiing, which is much more relaxing, and it requires thought in to how to bring the piece to life. No matter how beautiful a piece is, if it has no meaning to the viewer and the artist especially, it's very hard to have a connection to the piece of art. Most of the world’s famous art pieces had a lot of meaning to them, and the artist put a lot of thought in to how to target a certain audience through the piece, to let it speak to the audience and allow them to take a more internal process of thinking and reflection. When an artist can accomplish that, they have made a successful piece. 

As I became older and more serious with skiing, it meant more traveling, which for myself also meant more painting. This eventually lead me to oil paints. When I completed my first oil painting I knew this was the medium that I would stick to. The most enticing thing with oil is how much richer the hues are. The oil collection I have is artist grade paints, which means that they are made from crushed minerals and are not synthetic like less expensive oils, or acrylics. The drying time for oil is also much longer, which is fantastic for blending colours. It allows you to give your piece so much more dimension and allows for a wide range of art styles from abstract to photorealism.

When I was 16, I decided to join a local group of artists to further enhance my skills as an artist and to allow myself to become more involved in the professional art community. The Consolidated Artist Group of 7's is the name of the northern Ontario group of artists which has now grown to 80 plus members, which I remain a part of still. I went to weekly art lessons and workshops which I continued to do right up until moving out west. Learning proper art techniques and the processes involved in creating art from professional artists really helped me as an artist. I was able to develop the basic skills I need to turn my ideas into finished pieces that had the basic elements of art within them.

Now being with the Callaghan Valley Training Centre and living in Whistler, there is constant inspiration for new pieces. I have visited many places so far and have snapped away for reference pictures.  It has been difficult to decide which one to paint first and with my busy schedule of training and traveling, I've only had the opportunity to work on one painting. I decided to pick a photograph I took from our recent trip to Park City, Utah, because it had some character to it that I had not yet come across. I could still see my style well represented in this piece but it has more of the Wild West type feel to it from the arid deserts that envelope Utah.

I hope to start working on some paintings of the Whistler area because the landscape here is incredible and has so much potential for some great pieces. I'm also looking forward to returning to the Haig glacier in a month because during my previous visit there, I was very inspired and produced many paintings.   Fortunately, I have lots of paint and many opportunities ahead to find further inspiration through skiing for my artwork.


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