A View from the Blue Pumpkin Cafe

Moody red skies with tumultuous waves crash against a rocky cliff. Bright, luscious cherry blossoms bloom in Central Park.

Anna Schmidt, former Yukoner, takes us on a journey, one she has taken many times both physically and through her paintbrush.

“I tried to approach this show with an eye towards showing viewers places that really resonated with me,” she says.

They resonated with her for a reason. Each oil painting captures the essence of a place in which Anna left memories.

The icy blue and white skyscape of the imposing Rocky Mountains, the eerily futuristic reflection of the New Jersey skyline reflected from the water across Battery Park. These places called out to Schmidt, and in turn, call out to us.

“I like experimenting with the abstract, and I have to say I lean towards that when I am painting,” says Schmidt.

This show features primarily landscape pieces with Schmidt’s favourite, a more abstract piece, displaying a view from the Blue Pumpkin Café in Cambodia.

Her pieces are all in oils, a time-consuming medium considering Schmidt also enjoys layering her pieces to evoke sensations of light and dark.

“My one piece of the New Jersey skyline has eight layers of oils on it. Guess how long that took to dry!” she laughs.

She’s not joking as she mentions, later, waiting a month or more to continue certain pieces, even now remarking how some black paint rubbed off on her fingers while she hung them.

Schmidt is a Yukoner now living in Calgary, although she visits Whitehorse often and is pleased to display her work in her hometown. She is a renaissance woman, working on a PhD in Cardiology and stretching her creative expressions in her spare time, as an outlet.

“I don’t work as a professional artist, but I have trained professionally,” she says. “I enjoy working with techniques, variety, and I find I use art as a method of personal reflection, and create pieces primarily for friends and family.”

A particular piece reflects a certain haunting beauty, a stand of dark trees disappearing into a misty landscape. The oils used are blended to experiment with perspective, to show us the rapidly dissolving tree-lined road. The effect is ethereal and mysterious.

Not all of Schmidt’s pieces are done this way, but she uses perspective and colour effectively, to really ‘show’ viewers the emotions and strength of skill behind each painstaking piece.

Schmidt laughs about some of her earlier work, in which she light-heartedly emulated the masters, such as Chagall.

“Yes, I experimented with copying brushstrokes of famous artists. It’s a great way to learn, and now some people have a Schmidt Chagall hanging in their living rooms,” she says.

The Blue Pumpkin opened at the Chocolate Claim Thursday, October 7 and runs until the end of October.

Because Schmidt is also the director of Operation: Smile’s Calgary branch, a portion of the proceeds of her show will go towards funding cleft-palate surgeries as part of Operation: Smile’s mandate.

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