The Beauty of Nature Sliced 19 Ways

Rows of evergreens, crystal blue lakes, majestic mountains, and an abundance of wildlife are all found along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.

The road is an alternative to the Alaska Highway for those travelling south through B.C. from the Yukon/B.C. border, just west of Watson Lake. For Jackie Ziehe, the Stewart-Cassiar served as inspiration for her latest collection.

The B.C. resident, who lives part time in the Yukon, has been painting professionally since 1983. Although the impressionist artist mostly uses acrylic paint, she has ventured into the world of watercolours and abstract styles.

“For me, it’s all about how the light captures certain elements in nature,” she says. “Something as simple as a blade of grass or a rock can look completely different once a ray of sunlight touches it.”

Ziehe will be launching her new art collection called Moments on the Cassiar Stewart, October 3 at the North End Gallery in Whitehorse. Nineteen pieces of original artwork will be showcased.

But what inspired this artist to paint scenes from the 874 kilometer-long road?

A few years back, B.C. Hydro decided to build the Northwest Transmission Line, which runs along 344 kilometers of the Stewart-Cassiar, and was completed this summer. In order to build such a large project, a lot of clear-cutting had to be done. When Ziehe got wind of this, she thought she should move quickly and capture the beauty of the scenic highway before construction was complete.

“I took loads of photos and many sketches,” she says.

Ziehe has traveled the highway many times, so she knew the ideal spots to capture. However, the overall task was not simple.

“Sometimes I could copy a painting from a basic sketch. Other times I have to take photos capturing a 180-degree view, and then go back to look at them and decide what specifically I want to paint.”

Luckily Ziehe has an eye for detail and knows exactly what to look for.

The bulk of Ziehe’s paintings are nature-based, and she admits to having a soft spot for the Yukon.

“I have a fondness for painting the North. I love the atmosphere, especially the fall,” she says.

However, Ziehe also likes to paint coastal scenes with watercolours. Capturing the essence of the atmosphere is what Ziehe enjoys best.

“I feel the watercolours help create a realistic element to coastal scenes.”

One place Ziehe has not been able to apply her watercolour technique is Labrador. It is a far stretch from the west coast and Northern wilderness, but for Ziehe it would be a dream come true to paint the eastern seas.

The reception for Moments on the Cassiar Stewart takes place between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. on Oct. 3, coinciding with North End Gallery’s 15th anniversary.

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