? An evening with Bobbie Burgers, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 7: 30-9 p.m. at the Ferry Building Gallery, 1414 Argyle Ave., West Vancouver. Admission: $8, includes a glass of wine. Call 604925-7270 to register and quote course #8844017.
BOBBIE Burgers is sitting in a delivery van parked at the curb of her West Vancouver home, rain pelting on the windshield.
The van is loaded with canvases destined for exhibition and she's stolen a moment to chat by phone about her latest book, Bobbie Burgers Arriving at a Landscape.
Colour is the artist's trademark and in this Vancouver drizzle it's hard not to long for the sun-washed palette of Provence, the raison d'etre for this book and the
subject of her appearance next Tuesday at West Vancouver's Ferry Building Gallery.
"I'm sure this rain is good for our skin," Burgers says with a laugh, the conversation turning to her family's six-month sojourn in France, where she painted and toured the countryside with her husband, Billy, and four children.
"It was definitely the best experience of my life," she says, recalling the artistic and personal journey.
"Every day was a little bit like a vacation," she says of the adventure, which began in January 2011 in Paris and ended that summer in the south of France. "We had no social obligations. ... There weren't the same responsibilities of upkeep of homes and things like that. It just seemed simpler over there," she says, adding with a laugh that her French language skills may have played a part. "Maybe I wasn't understanding half of it!"
The coffee-table book she put together upon returning from her visit is filled with her gorgeous landscapes and accompanied by family photos, letters home and the artist's musings on art and daily life in France.
Arriving at a Landscape is a departure from her two previous books, Bobbie Burgers (2006) and Force of Nature (2009), which primarily showcase her artwork. "This is more an autobiography," says Burgers. "The idea was to make it more of a travel journal, an artist's journal and a study of painting en plein air."
Painting en plain air - a French expression meaning "in the open air" - is a sensory delight, she writes. "Capturing the smells, the dry winds, the sunshine, the warmth, the rustling of grasses, all of these terribly romantic scenes . . . it funnels down to my fingers and reappears as a gesture and a colour."
In France, Burgers created 20 or 30 small canvases, which she shipped home completed, and produced several larger works on what she calls "onion canvases," layers of canvases on a large stretcher that could be rolled off and worked on again later. "I would do a quick impression in the field and finish them at home."
Most of the paintings sold at exhibit at Toronto's Bau-Xi Gallery, but the artist kept one canvas as a souvenir of her visit: the book's aptly titled cover art A Loose Collection of Emotions.
"It's hanging in our kitchen. I remember the day of painting." A little piece of Provence to brighten those dreary winter days. "I just got it back from the gallery. I'm really glad I did."