There are multiple ways to see David McEown.
You could make an appointment to meet the acclaimed Canadian watercolourist and see his paintings in his Vancouver or Richmond Hill, Ont., home studio. Or you could attend one of his workshops. Perhaps you might catch him at a presentation or an exhibition opening. But the best way to see McEown (maybe the only way you should see him because everything else pales in comparison) is when he’s seated at his easel in the world’s last great wilderness: Antarctica.
McEown has worked in the region for 25 years, spending the last eight exclusively as an artist-in-residence with One Ocean Expeditions. Here, he discusses his work in the Antarctic and the once-in-a-lifetime experiences it offers.
On the art of getting people to “see”
It’s funny. I’ll be out on deck looking and painting, and passengers will say, “What are you looking at?” And I’ll say, “Well, what do you see?” At first, many of them will say there’s nothing out there, but it doesn’t take long for the colours and forms of Antarctica to hit them, and that’s what I want them to notice. What colour is that iceberg, really? Look at its incredible tones. Look at that mountain and really examine its shape, follow its lines.
I’m getting people to see those things but I’m also getting them to interact with the landscape. By slowing down and painting the shapes, light and colour, you get an enhanced awareness of where you are.