Cross-country road trip fuels artists' inspiration

In celebration of Canada's sesquicentennial, two artists are travelling across the country to capture images of Canada.

Taking their inspiration from the Group of Seven, who travelled across the country by train, friends Alison Grapes and Carol Loeb are driving the Trans-Canada Highway and stopping every 150 kilometres to take inspiration from their surroundings.

"We get out of the car, we have our cameras, we look at the landscape around us ... and try and find as many views as we can ... to inspire a painting," said Grapes. "Then we hop back in the car and we take off to our next location."

Art teachers driving from Victoria to St. John's

Grapes is an arts education teacher at Willowgrove School in Saskatoon, Sask. Loeb is a visual art teacher at Lower Canada College in Montréal, Qué. Both have, at one time, taught art to students in the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board.

Grapes lives in Sydney for part of the year.

The teachers are travelling from Victoria, B.C., to St. John's, N.L. Grapes said the pair did some travelling last year and took some pictures to see if it would work.

"We are very excited," she said.

Seeking a fresh perspective

The challenge for the pair is to avoid the monotony of so many kilometres of roadside and keep a fresh point of view. A stop just outside of Port Hawkesbury provided such a challenge.

"I walked down into the ditch. I stopped and I looked. There was nothing there but the thistles and the trees and trucks whipping past you," Grapes said.

The result was an acrylic painting on canvas called "km 1050 Thistles."

"Carol works in acrylic," Grapes said. "I do acrylic and tempera and India ink. That process is fun for me."

Cross-country exhibit planned

They plan to exhibit their 51 paintings coast to coast, beginning on Canada Day in Toronto. There will be a showing at the Colouratura Art Gallery in Indian Brook, Victoria County, at a future date. 

"We've got a terrific country that is very sparse, not a lot of people, so it is beautiful," Grapes said.

So far on her travels, Grapes has learned new things about her country.

"It's vast and it's very different from province to province. It's beautiful. The colours are gorgeous."

You can check out her project at http://transcan150xtwo.weebly.com.