What is the draw of the land that lured coveted artist, Ken Christopher, back to the hills around Wymark and Lac Pellitier?
What substance permeates his very being and escapes through his fingers to the canvas, creating a landscape painting that appears so familiar and inviting that you feel you can dive into the picture and be a part of it? Whether it is gazing at a rodeo horse and rider and transporting that image to a 9' X 12ʼ canvas that speaks to you; or creating an abstract that is so magnetic it draws you into its field, these are the gifts that Ken has brought back to South West Saskatchewan.
When meeting Christopher, one is drawn to the peaceful presence, and unassuming nature of this gifted artist, who paints, writes music and lyrics, sings and writes both poetry and prose. When creative arts gifts were handed out Ken was at the front of the line and left with both arms full!
Christopher is not just someone who is able to paint; he is a coveted Canadian artist who is collected both nationally and internationally. With humility and grace he suggests one check out his website knowing perhaps that the viewer will sit in amazement totally mesmerized by the caliber of work displayed on the screen. Time stands still for the viewer, and if the time is taken to read the impressive list of collectors at the left of the page, you realize the magnitude of his talent and the scope of his career. The question for the viewer becomes, “why is an artist of his caliber hidden in the hills of South West Saskatchewan?"
It was a short time after graduating from art school (SFU) that Christopher discovered he could make a living with his painting, and shortly thereafter he was living off of his sales. In his words he has "not had to work since." He has had a very successful career as an artist in Calgary and has traveled both nationally and internationally showing and selling his art. In 1992 after coming home to help his brother with harvest, Christopher was awakened again to the spiritual aspect of the space he calls home and he did a series of fall landscapes. Shortly thereafter Ken suffered the trauma of a car accident that left him unable to paint and ended both his marriage and his flourishing painting career. In the midst of that trauma of course he felt the pull of the prairies, his connection to life itself, and again he returned to his roots.
Returning to the prairies Christopher eventually reconnected with his childhood sweetheart and spent the next 10 years traveling with his art, writing his autobiography and writing and recording an album entitled "Spring Run Off" in 2001. Christopher has been part of the South West Country Music Association's South West tour and has been perfuming selections in tour venues for the past two years. Many of you that are familiar with country music will be familiar with his lyrics and his amazing guitar skills, and have no doubt found yourself humming some of his songs as they swirl around in your head and linger there long after you have heard the song.
After spending years as a resident artist in Calgary and traveling both nationally and internationally showing and selling his work, Christopher has chosen to return to South West Saskatchewan to live and to paint. He is passionate about how he is drawn to the land and why he will not leave. He says with conviction "there is nowhere else I would rather be, this is home, these are my roots, my spirit roams the hills and valleys of this area and I am at one with the earth".
He is at one with the earth in more ways than one. Visiting his acreage it would not be uncommon to find him roaming around in bare feet, feeling the warmth of the soil and the scratchy prairie grass beneath his feet. He roams the hills with his beloved dog, Chester, and he hears, tastes, smells and absorbs nature in its rawest form into his cellular structure. He is nature personified in some ways; standing in the sun, feeling the wind catch the flow of his billowy shirt or the loose hairs of his now grey pony tail.
Vines cover the entrance to his 'hobbit house' his humble abode on his beloved prairie, and not far from the entrance he has a sacred circle, a place to meditate, to pray, to sit in gratitude. Before entering the sacred space you would be asked to stop and be silent for a moment appreciating the existence of the space itself. To appreciate the sacredness and quiet peace of a designated area, to pay homage to spirit, to nature, to life is a common practice for Christopher. Silent prayers of gratitude must come easy in this space of divine light and energy.
Roaming around the land you would encounter a small building where he often sits to write. It is old and upon entering it is as though the words of his book come alive. One could perhaps even see the words forming in the air above the desk and imagine them all lining up to take their place on the designated page in his novel.
There is an old wood stove he refers to in his manuscript, and it looks as he describes it. An old writing desk invokes a feeling of privilege to be standing it its presence, to be able to touch the wood. The walls of the building hold old pictures of family and friends and paintings and sketches that are beautiful. They make you want to linger and look longer. It is peaceful there, it is art and inspiration and it pulls you in.