In the ‘40s, celebrated painter and sketcher André Lapine wandered Minden’s backroads, forests and lakeside trails for days; rarely without paper, a pencil or a portable paint kit close at hand.

Many of his sketches of Haliburton County now hang in Minden Hills’ Agnes Jamieson Gallery.

“He always sketched. That was fundamental to whatever art he would produce,” said curator Laurie Carmount.

The gallery launched Sketch Out this year, a series of three outdoor art-making sessions where professional painters guide people through crafting art “en plein air” around the County. Gary Blundell met up with eager sketchers and painters at the Irondale Church, Sept. 18, to practice depicting the building in all its splendour. Carnarvon-based artist Harvey Walker will be hosting a session on Sept. 25 at the Gull River, where he invites any level of artist to join him as he paints the rushing rapids.

“You feel the emotion, you hear the noise,” Walker said.

For Walker, whose work has been exhibited in multiple group and solo shows, crafting art outside is fundamental to his practice. He paints spring blooms and flowers, sunny days at the beach midsummer, or beside frozen ice fishing huts during the deep freeze of winter.

“When you’re painting on location, you’re more connected to what you’re looking at,” Walker said.

He likens it to reading a police report of a situation, as opposed to hearing from an eye witness. If you just paint or draw from a picture, you miss some of the nuance, emotion and scale of the scene you’re creating.

But it can be hard to do, Walker adds. You don’t have the comfort of a living room chair or art studio. However, it’s a challenge artists of all levels have risen to for centuries.

“It’s a major step,” Walker said of creating outdoor art, “but it’s a lot of fun.” It’s also a way to appreciate the wonder of Haliburton County, he said.

Both Carmount and Walker said the program is tailor-made for both experienced artists and newcomers to art.

“You can just go out and do your thing. It’s really a sense of getting what nature has to offer at the time,” said Carmount. Those without equipment such as paints or pencils can buy a $20 drawing kit to bring along, and seasoned plein air artists are invited to bring their own supplies.

Walker said he encourages everyone to recognize art can be a “viable, life-changing hobby.” Sketching outdoors, he said “is the extreme sport version of painting.” He invites everyone to give it a try.

To register for Walker’s workshop, email gallery@mindenhills.ca or call 705-286- 3763.

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