THREE THINGS I’VE LEARNED:
By Tera Swanson
Mountains make the greatest teachers and provide us with countless opportunities to contemplate, question and learn. In this first installment of “Three Things I’ve Learned” we tap into the wisdom of Banff artist, Lynne Huras, to find out how the mountains have shaped her steps and her strokes.
Walking into Lynne Huras’ studio is immediately calming, as light pours through the window, and the sun soaks sketches and paintings that flood her walls and workspace. It’s easy to see why this Banff artist ends her never-typical workday here.
But her first brush with Banff occurred just before she began her journey as a professional artist. Prior to starting university, Huras embarked on a solo, cross-Canada train trip to Vancouver, which is when she gained her initial glimpse of the town she’s called home for the past twenty years.
After graduating from the Art and Art History programs at the University of Toronto and Sheridan College, in 1991 Huras headed westward again for a summer of hiking and sketching in the Bow Valley.
Ten years later, her family stopped asking when she would come home, and she realized Banff was where her roots had grown.
“I remember writing home saying, ‘you can go off the deep end in this town in any direction you want’,” said Huras. “You just never know who you’re sitting beside in a coffee shop, or what they’ve done. The number of people who’ve trekked the planet, climbed mountains or written theses on amazing topics – it’s unbelievable.”
The small town Ontario-native landed her first job at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, which she said provided her first real insight into the community, history and environment that have helped her develop as an artist.
“There is a lot of passion in this town. With the openness and encouragement of the community, people accepted me as an artist, and it became part of my identity living in Banff right away.”
Today, Huras is still painting and keeps busy through event planning and many areas of Collections work with local museums. With pieces showcased through such outlets as the Banff Public Art Project and the Calgary Stampede’s Western Art Gallery, Huras has come a long way from her first steps and strokes in the Canadian Rockies.
THREE THINGS I’VE LEARNED
1/ Every day is a good day when you can get outside.
The ski and sport enthusiasts have taught me that it’s not about finding the best powder or the best line. It’s just about being out there, doing it, and loving it every day. I wouldn’t consider myself to be athletic or anything hardcore. I like hiking, I like being outside. But even if I’m with people who can ski Delirium Dive, they’ll ski with me on simpler runs and not care. They’re just happy to be outdoors. I think that’s helped me in my work – to just get out and do it – whether you do one sketch in a day or twenty, it doesn’t matter.
2/ Mother Nature is in charge.
As much as some may think that we’re starting to control Mother Nature, when you go out in the backcountry, or do anything outside, really, a good day can go very wrong if you’re not prepared for it. It certainly has given me a greater respect for nature, and that’s something that I’m trying to convey in my artwork – this solitude. But, it’s not about being alone. It’s about communing with nature.
3/ Turn the page. It doesn’t have to be perfect every time.
Don’t let a presumed failure stop you from doing what you want to do. I don’t believe in failure because everything is a lesson. I have worked with the high school students through some art class projects with the Town of Banff. They’re so lovely and talented, and some are so nervous about trying to be an artist. I tell them to just keep sketching, drawing, doing something every day. You can’t be it if you don’t do it. You have to keep exercising those creative muscles to see progress.
Some of my paintings I struggle with, and some I don’t. But no matter where they’re at, something in one will help me figure out another. That can apply regardless of what you’re into. Whether you get to the top of that mountain or you finish that particular sketch, all of it helps to fulfill what you’re trying to get to in the end.
Whether she’s booting down trail runs, trekking up peaks or travelling the globe, Tera Swanson is never content idling for long. Pairing this with her love for writing came as natural as her Bow Valley backyard.
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