Dec. 5, 2017

Painter Linda Wilder turns her brush on Jasper’s mountains


Jasper’s newest artist-in-residence is creating three giant paintings inspired by Jasper’s landscapes during a retreat with Mountain Galleries

'Colour My Mood' - Linda Wilder

'Autumn High' - Linda Wilder

'Autumn Surprise' - Linda Wilder

Artists have been finding inspiration in the mountains for as long as they’ve been able to haul in art supplies. Linda Wilder is one of the latest painters to commit beautiful mountainscapes to canvas, following a long line of esteemed fellows, from gentle, lovable Bob Ross to Group of Seven member J.E.H. Macdonald.

Wilder, who works in acrylics, is visiting Jasper as an Artist-in-Residence with Mountain Galleries from Nov. 30 to Dec. 6. During her time here, she’s been creating multiple paintings that feature the national park, donating pieces for local charity fundraisers, and engaging the public through a live installations at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. The majority of her time, however, has been spent working her magic at the private studio of Wendy Wacko, the founder of Mountain Galleries (although usually closed to the public, the gallery is welcoming people to call and set up a viewing appointment with Linda at the studio before she returns to her home in Calgary, in partial celebration of its 25th anniversary.)

Here, the two artists talk about art, Jasper, and why the two go together so nicely.

What’s special about Mountain Galleries’ artist in residence program?

Linda: It’s fantastic. It’s nice that the gallery and artists can work together as partners. When I’m painting in public, everyone gathers around to watch and it’s a great conversation icebreaker.

Wendy: Linda has so much experience that she can handle people coming by and just watching her paint. It’s very entertaining. But although there is a public engagement element, the program in Jasper is more of a retreat for the artist. It validates my life’s work when I’m able to work with artists like Linda and those like her. I honestly don’t feel like I’ve worked a day in my life, and I’ve been doing this for forty years.

Linda Wilder & Wendy Wacko in Jasper

How would you describe your painting style?

Linda: Fast and furious at the beginning. I use a lot of pallet knife, and try to cover the entire canvas at the beginning. Being a painter also involves a lot of exploring, hiking, and getting a feel for the place. I also take pictures, which I use it as a jumping off point later.

Wendy: The more experienced you are, the faster you can paint. Each stroke is deliberate. Linda’s such an explosive painter, so it’s extra fascinating to watch her work. Everything about every brushstroke is intuitive, but it’s because of the miles on her brush.

Linda: It took 30 years to paint this fast. [laughs]. It also helps to conquer my fear, to paint so fast at the beginning. Standing in front of a blank canvas is terrifying but once you start putting marks all over it you start to loosen up a bit

How do you choose the scenes you paint?

Linda: When I go to these places, that inspires me, but it’s also just the energy I get while I’m out there walking. I like to explore the textures and convey the feeling I get. Sometimes I take a mountain or a tree from a place, but change the placement of something else. I don’t know if the particular place I paint will exist in reality when I'm done, because I change the scene so much. I just want to capture the freshness, and for people to pretend that they’re there.

Why do you love painting Jasper?

Linda: Well just look around. It’s such a beautiful area, and so nice and quiet. It’s not as touristy as some of the other mountain towns, and the sunrises and sunsets are extraordinary.

Mountain Galleries

Mountain Galleries Mission is to support and promote living Canadian Artists.

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