From Slopes to Shirts: Art and Adrenaline

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  1. T shirt/2. Design by Arcteryx (Photoshopped as an exercise by me. Original artwork not mine.) 

Was it the bold colours, the strong shapes or the deceptively simple design? Something about this shirt snagged my increasingly short attention span even as I brushed passed it en route to the door with some friends. I dismissed the idea of buying it before the idea had even time to form. It hit me enough for me to pause, take out my camera, and commit it to memory. I don’t know what it was, but I felt an inner connection.

Such is the power of art.

Emotions, physical actions, things can only exist fleetingly. But creative representations of those tantalizing entities can allow you to revisit feelings again and again. For example, the feeling of drawing a clean line on cotton-like snow translates into a clean graphic; uncluttered feelings can be expressed via a limited palette. Ever looked at a piece of art and thought, “I know exactly how this painting feels?” Ever wonder why, even though artists come from diverse backgrounds and employ different techniques, they all seem to be able to say the same thing? Like different ways of communicating good pow, we know when a piece of art articulates how we feel when we see it.

“Pure” -One word can have so many meanings across senses. For example, pure can denote a lack of distractions (as in the case of distracting colours) or a purity of emotion (a lack of distracting emotions). In each case, we can zero into the idea of purity by focussing in on one colour, one emotion.

“Freedom”-Freedom of feeling, freedom of visual meandering. Lines that defy the borders of the page both visually represent the lines we create skiing or riding; they represent our line of sight disappearing into the otherworld, and pay tribute to the persistence of imagination. Seeing lines both remind of us physical sensations and motions and feeling free.

IMG_0050 Salomon Rental Centre

But let’s back up a bit. Communicating common emotions and ideas like that are not ski or snowboard specific. How can graphics depict more layered, nuanced emotions and movements? When our minds are free, ideas bounce willy nilly. Clashing colours and busy images also bounce off one another within the boundaries of a graphic, defying their captivity. The feeling of pushing and pulling the edge of your skis or board to create that perfect turn? Indicated by triangular graphics that allow us to relive that bodily motion via our eyes. Have a vivid yearning for snowcapped peaks? How about strong, etched photographs of mountains saturated in neons? Need to amp that up a notch?-why not use high contrasting, neon pairings of colours?

I left the store without buying the shirt. Within milliseconds I’d forgotten it but not lost it. The memory of the feeling it stirred within me gave the hue of a feel-good feeling to the rest of my night. And, four days later, I was nostalgic for the Whistler experience. Opening up the photo, I tried drawing it and was pleasantly surprised to realize it was not an abstract work of art after all but a clean, vivid depiction of snow falling onto trees.

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More Art in Whistler shops and streets.

Man, art is beautiful and good for the soul.

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