Into the Arctic: The Plan

19 Nov 2012
Zooming in and out of the Canadian North like a hummingbird on a flower, my mouse was beginning to heat up. An armchair explorer’s best friend, Google Earth was helping me understand the massive scale of the Arctic (here's my video all about it). Trying to figure out where to plan my plein air painting journeys in this huge landscape was making my head start to spin.

The few photos posted on the interactive globe were helping me to visualize what I might encounter up there, though in most places there were no images to be found. The ruler tool allowed me to gauge distance, and see if I had any hope of even getting from one place to another.

Cory working on "Arctic Sentinel-study" en plein air. Ivvavik National Park, Yukon, Canada.
Cory working on "Arctic Sentinel-study" en plein air.
Ivvavik National Park, Yukon, Canada.

"Arctic Sentinel-study", 12" x 8", oil on linen. Where Alaska meets the Yukon meets the Arctic Ocean. Ivvavik National Park, Yukon, Canada.
"Arctic Sentinel-study", 12" x 8", oil on linen. Where Alaska meets the Yukon
meets the Arctic Ocean. Ivvavik National Park, Yukon, Canada.

With the first step of my project completed - the dreaming part - I was now beginning to plan in earnest my project to paint the Canadian Arctic. But I was getting ahead of myself...I didn’t even have a name for this undertaking.

As an artist I wanted to create a significant body of plein air art oil paintings from the north, but also wanted to share the experience of doing so with others. Many of these places had never been painted before, and are so seldom traveled, that my journeys could also serve to connect other artists and appreciators with this vast wilderness. After writing down innumerable word combinations, I came up with Into The Arctic: An Artist Journey To The North. That would have to do.

Next on the list was determining how long this extreme outdoor painting and exploration project should take. My original vision of 40 plein air paintings, which grew to 50 paintings over the course of the project, would have to take me across the Canadian Arctic to have any chance of doing justice to the many different faces of the land. My research was driving home that this would not be easily accomplished. With the shape of the north forming a kind of huge triangle from the Arctic Circle onward, I determined that three expeditions, one to each corner of the Arctic could allow me access to an immense variety of geography. And no less than a month on each of these journeys would be needed to really get a taste of these lands.

Cory plein air painting Tanquary Fiord at the top of the world. Quittinirpaaq National Park, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada.
Cory plein air painting Tanquary Fiord at the top of the world.
Quittinirpaaq National Park, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada.

"Tanquary Vista- study", 16" x 6.75", oil on linen. Quittinirpaaq National Park, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada.
"Tanquary Vista- study", 16" x 6.75", oil on linen.
Quittinirpaaq National Park, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada.

After numerous calls to Parks Canada staff in each region, outfitters, and anyone I came across that had traveled the north, and weeks of scouring the internet, books and magazines, it started to come together. I had figured out routes that could lead me to an incredible variety of remote wilderness vistas.

But there was one major thing missing...money.

Traveling the north is not cheap. I could fly my entire family, and even my wife’s family - and she has 12 brothers and sisters - from Toronto to Florida for what it would cost for me to get to Ellesmere Island by myself!

So what’s an artist to do when his passions exceed the size of his wallet? I mean not just by a little, but by a factor of “there’s no way on earth I could ever afford to do this!

I held by breath and took my next big step…which I will share in the next post. And if you missed my first post on my Arctic exploration, read it here.

--Cory

Cory Trepanier is an artist/with a passion for capturing remote wilderness regions on canvas. His current Into The Arctic project has seen him undertake three extensive excursions to the Canadian Arctic to develop a collection of 50 oil paintings and create 2 films. He shares his unique artistic and adventurous explorations on television, through film touring, writing, photography and through public speaking. Cory is also a proud member of the Explorer’s Club. Visit Cory's fine art website, Into the Arctic website, and join him on Facebook for more info.


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