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End of plein air painter Christy Smith’s 12-year odyssey in sight

Nickel City artist’s goal of painting in the open air for a total of 365 days nears its end

My journey nears its end as I now prepare to enter into the last leg of my 12-year plan to paint Sudbury for 365 days ‘en plein air’. 

I have now proudly and successfully completed 333 paintings to date. I have equally solo camped and concentrated on my artistic growth and learning over those 333 days. 

What a wonderful and amazing and beautiful learning experience it has been for me. Nature gave me it's all and I absorbed and observed and recorded it in paint, and in my spirit the best I could.

My my recent solo art retreat trip was this past February. It was a wonderful month, but who's fooling who — it was freezing! The trip before that was in August 2020 and it was lovely beyond words. As were all nine other months that preceded these solo retreats, really.

What a journey it has been. I have grown and learned more than I would have thought possible in these 11 years. I have matured artistically and biologically. Both have gone very well. 

My greatest moments were the extremely quiet times, with nature, whether the weather was 35 below or 30 above. Sudbury's landscape was ever-changing, growing, moving and displaying constantly her beauty. 

I was fortunate enough to participate as an artist, to record Mother Natures wonders and the myriad beauties of the four seasons.

I am extremely grateful to have this gift and to be able to observe and be in harmony with nature all on my own for 30 days at a time. Each of the previous 11, 30-day solo art retreat trips afforded me many moments of learning and enjoying the world around me — oh, the solitude. To paint it gives me pure joy.

I am all packed for my final trip. Most of the camping, art and living gear has been carried out to the "Herald's Hut". The water jugs wait to be filled and the wood is ready for the woodstove this September. I leave Aug. 31 with my month’s supply of food, not to return until Oct. 1. 

I am beyond pumped and excited about this last trip. It will mean the completion of a life-long goal, to paint outside for a year. I believe I am the only Canadian to have achieved this 365-day plein air goal. 

My heroes, Tom Thomson and Emily Carr, I hope would be proud of me. I know my family is. I’m proud of myself. 

The public has been equally supportive of this venture. I have had 10 solo art exhibitions over the past years, with many of the paintings/sketches/works from this project. Many paintings have sold. COVID-19, unfortunately, has put a temporary hold on exhibitions, but I plan to have my next one in the spring of 2022. I will have numerous paintings from this sojourn display then.

I will have had the opportunity to observe and learn from Mother Nature as an artist and a human being. What a privilege. I have produced, to date, 325 paintings over these 11 years, only 31 more to go.

Christy A. Smith is an artist in Greater Sudbury.