2013/10/29

Part One: Encounters with Creatures, Banff



Google has an analytics system that shows what countries blog readers are from and one such visitor, a woman from Spain, asked if besides the sherry-sipping mouse (see Oct 5 post below), whether we had encounters with other creatures.  Well, amiga, there have been several.  Over the next few posts, we’ll begin to share some of these experiences. Let’s put them in chronological order, starting with this one. 

Henri van Bentum painting 'en plein air', Banff National Park 1959
In 1959 I was based in Banff, Alberta in the Rocky Mountains from early spring through late summer.  I was painting landscapes ‘en plein air’.  During these memorable months, I had at least three close encounters. One morning very early while hiking at Vermilion Lake, looking for a good spot to paint the mountains, beaver pond and lake, I met a black bear head-on. I stopped and stood still like a statue. 
The bear got on his hind legs, looked, sniffed – then lumbered back onto its four legs and disappeared into the bush. He was only 10 metres away. 

Beaver Pond, Vermilion Lake, Banff oil on masonite, Henri van Bentum 1959 (artist's collection) where I encountered the bear and a strange creature (see below)
That same morning, while painting in this relatively untouched area (there were few tourists at that time in Banff National Park), a strange-looking creature appeared, arising out of the lake. It had big, flat antlers, a long snout, and bits of green were drooping out of his mouth. Later, back in the town of Banff at my rooming house, I described this strange animal to my landlady.
Oh! , she exclaimed, “that’s a Moose!” 
At my rooming house on Otter Street in Banff (known as "Mrs. Parkin's House"), early one morning in the bathroom I was surprised to see a BAT, huffing and puffing on the window sill, its wings spread out, staring at me. It fluttered a bit when I opened the window, and took off into the dark.  
 Must have come down the chimney. That same summer I was painting high up near Petyo Lake, looking down onto its beautifully, milky-turquoise waters. 

Peyto Lake, Oil Pastel by Henri van Bentum, 1959 

I was working with oil pastels. Suddenly, I heard a rustle right behind me. Oh Oh, I thought, another bear, maybe a Grizzly! I turned around and much to my amazement and amusement, I noticed a chipmunk eagerly nibbling away at one of those oil-pastels. The rustling I heard was the sound of the Pika unwrapping the paper covering of the oil-pastel!
Pika, Banff National Park - I didn't have a camera with me so couldn't capture
the Pika eating my oil pastel stick, but this gives you the idea.


End of Part One

Henri van Bentum






1 comment:

Kaleema Khan said...

How wonderful! Love the paintings as well. Everything about being in nature is so magical. Thanks for sharing :-)