Family photos: inspiration for my art

LINDA COTE - Climbing Sunshine Village

I am one of those lucky artists who can draw on stacks of family photographs for inspiration. That is because I am the designated family historian and many of my family have happily (for both of us) delegated to me the task of storing and organizing these treasures.

As an artist, I am fed by these lovely photos. Whenever I need some new inspiration, I can paw through my pile of old photographs and soon I am off down a path of creation.

In 2012, I participated in an artist book project in Canmore, and found many photos of my family enjoying the Canadian Rockies back one and two generations.

Among the different envelopes, I came across several photos of my father’s family skiing in what is now my backyard. I knew my dad grew up an avid skier, but I didn’t know that the whole Cote family would regularly hit the slopes around Banff to ski as well.

LINDA COTE- Grampa Sunshine VIllage

My grandfather skiing Sunshine Village in the 1940s, before there were lifts and you walked up the hill to reach the higher slopes.

My father reminisces about the days when Sunshine was accessed by a snow cat up a rudimentary  road, then you were dropped at the base of the Strawberry run where there was a small cabin on the site of the present day Old Sunshine Lodge.

A rope tow would pull you a little way up the Strawberry run, but if you wanted to ski higher up, the other option was to put animal skins on the bottom of your skis and walk to the top of the Wawa Bowl. From there, you would ski down once, stop for lunch, then take one more walk up the hill in the afternoon, ski down a second time, then call it a day. My kids groan when they hear about skiing the Rockies before the high-speed quad chairs entered the picture!

LINDA COTE-Vintage Sunshine Village

A family outing: skiing at Sunshine Village in the mid-940s. That short fellow in front in the hat is my dad at around age nine.

Although we had many lovely photos of the family up at Sunshine Village and Norquay ski areas (Banff), I also found a happy photo of my aunt in the 1940s skiing in Calgary. That’s when I knew there was a handmade card calling to me.

LINDA COTE - Aunt skiing

I hear my Aunt also loved to ski: my father says she would find a park in Calgary with a hill if she couldn’t get to the mountains.

So, I gathered my tools, and set out to create my “Rockies Girl” greeting card. Here are a few photos in my studio, and also (at the end of the blog) a video on my Linda Cote Studio YouTube Channel for you to enjoy.

LINDA COTE-Sketch of Rockies Girl

The illustration is completed, and drawn on my printmaking block, ready to carve.

LINDA COTE-Printmaking Rockies Girl

With my ink and small card press, I am ready to begin printing the greeting cards in my studio.

LINDA COTE-Rockies Girl Cards

The greeting cards “Rockies Girl” hang to dry in my studio for several days.

LINDA COTE-Rockies Girl

The final greeting card: “Rockies Girl.

This video is one of several on my new YouTube Channel that shows the process behind my printmaking art.

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4 responses to “Family photos: inspiration for my art

  1. It was funny reading your post about family and photos. I too am the holder of the family photos. I have my grandparents and great aunts photos, and my mum has handed all the old photos she had over to me to look after as well. The old photos and stories I grew up with inspired me to start tracing my family history back when I was 16.

    I love the way you have used the photos to inspire your art. I use photos that I take but I haven’t gone back and used the old family photos. I will have to revisit them (and introduce them to my daughter at the same time) and see what happens. 🙂

    • That is lovely, Elaine! Interesting…I got interested in family history in Grade 10 (about 16 years old, too) because of a project we did in social studies. Too funny! My grandmother on my mom’s side had all these amazing photos, and tons of stories that set me on the path of family discovery, too. I wish I had more time to trace it down even now. Then, like you, everyone just started giving me the photos, and I loved them. There is a year’s worth of work getting them organized, but I know I will get to it some time. until then, I poke through them, but love them every time I do! Have fun going through yours, and I’m sure your daughter will love them!

  2. Pingback: Kidnapped for a day | Musings From The Studio·

  3. Pingback: Everything old is, well, new | Musings From The Studio·

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