Every 5 Miles: Painting The Way of Saint James
Hi, I'm Sharon Bamber, an artist living in British Columbia. I'm a Signature Member of the Artists for Conservation and of the Federation of Canadian Artists and an Associate Member of the Society of Animal Artists. My work has been recognised internationally, with awards including first place in the Pastel Journal’s International Pastel 100 Competition, Pastels USA and BBC International Wildlife Artist of the Year. It can be found in private and corporate collections in Canada, UK, France and USA. Please go to my website for more information.
Thank you for taking a look at my project!
Join me and my donkey, Midas, as we walk 1000 miles along the Way of Saint James, connecting with its unique sense of place through plein air painting (painting outside, from life).
I'm planning to walk and paint The Way of Saint James from Le Puy en Velay in France (along the section of The Way of St James known as the Via Podiensis), over the Pyrenees and across Spain (along the section of the Way of St James known as the Camino de Santiago de Compostela) through Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre.
I'll be walking the 1000 miles alongside my donkey, Midas, stopping to do a plein air painting every 5 miles along the entire route.
This journey will take us 4 months, starting in September and ending before Christmas 2018. This takes into account the number of miles we can do per day at donkey and painting pace, plus donkey rest days as needed.
By the end of the journey I'll have created a body of work consisting of a series of 200 plein air paintings that tells the story of this ancient and powerful route as it is today.
For my backers, it's an opportunity to acquire unique paintings from this historically & culturally significant part of the world.
For over 25 years I've been fascinated by the concept of Sense of Place and how it arises from the intertwining of culture and nature, connecting us to the land. The project gives me an irresistible opportunity to walk and paint this ancient pilgrimage route that's been an integral part of the landscape since 950AD. Donkeys have been walking this route alongside pilgrims since the beginning, so Midas seems to be a perfect companion.
Combining plein air painting with walking will slow down today's hectic pace of life. It will let the story of the landscape gradually unfold, allowing me to really engage with all the elements that create a sense of place. This work will reflect both the fleeting nature of the moment and the timelessness of this ancient route.
Let me lead you down this historic path over mountains, across stone bridges, through old coppiced woodland, alongside stone walls and past sacred springs and churches and share my conversation with the landscape with you. It's an ambitious journey, but can be possible with your help! All donations big and small make a difference. Please do anything you can to help me reach my goal!
This is Me
A wonderful childhood spent playing in woods, meadows and heaths has made me an artist and explorer and for that I'm grateful. I fell in love with outdoor painting when I moved from England to Canada and have been painting the wild landscapes and seascapes of Western America and Canada ever since.
Plein air painting forces me to engage in the moment, frees me to leave the studio and fully experience nature; to look rather than copy, to feel rather than analyse. Painting from life, responding directly to the subject, is an addictive and exhilarating way of working and allows the emotion and connection to be reflected in my art.
This is Midas
Midas loves cuddles. He especially loves having his withers scratched and the inside of those beautiful ears rubbed. He also loves eating, so is delighted that I'll be stopping regularly to paint so that he can indulge in his favourite past-time.
A Bit About The Rewards
All donations big and small make a difference, as does sharing on all social media. Please do anything you can to help me reach my goal!
Original Plein Air Paintings - Patron Rewards
Every 5 miles along this 1000 mile walk, I'll be stopping to paint en plein air. When you have pledged for this reward, AND the project is successfully funded, I will contact you by email (via Kickstarter) and you can choose a number from 1 to 200 which represents a 5-mile stretch on the map (see link below) and back the painting from that part of the walk.
Whoever pledges first gets first choice of a number and so on.
At the end of the trip, this unique and original plein air painting will be yours! No, you won't know what the painting will be – how exciting! It could be a wonderful stone building or bridge, a stunning vista or an ancient tree. Whatever it is, it will be a beautiful painting that captures the heart of The Way of Saint James.
The Whole Collection 'Every 5 Miles: Painting the Way of Saint James'
At the end of the journey, the entire body of work will be exhibited in a hard cover book, so that you can hold the whole collection in your hands and feel the spirit of place of this ancient route. The book will feature all 200 plein air paintings, as well as some information about each painting or short anecdote from the day. The co-ordinates of each painting will also be shown.
I'll also be making a series of original studio paintings in response to the journey and pre-selling them here for much less than their gallery prices. For the studio pieces, you can choose the subject! You can commission a piece based on photographs that I'll take on my walk, or I can develop a studio piece based on one of the plein air works that I painted.
I have won awards internationally for painting animals as well as landscapes, so if donkeys are your passion, you can always commission a painting of Midas!
If you have walked The Way, I understand that you'll have significant emotional connections and memories. If you have a photograph of your own that you wish me to paint, please feel free to let me know. Original artwork is a wonderful way to celebrate and share a special memory.
Before committing to a studio painting as a backer reward, please make sure you like the style of my painting as I don't paint photo-realism or copy photographs exactly.
These studio paintings will be completed after the journey is finished.
Follow Along and Other Rewards
For any donation over $10 you'll be given insider online access and be able to follow along and see my art as soon as it's painted. I'll also upload a photo from where I stood while painting, so you can see how I've interpreted each scene. I'll also include short video snippets and anecdotes.
Other rewards include giclee prints (on medium weight 350gsm white pure cotton artist canvas, rolled with 2 inch white border) and also studies - miniature 3 inch x 4 inch original pastel paintings (on archival pastelmat paper mounted to acid free foam core for easy framing).
Where Does the Money Go?
As the chart shows, the biggest expense is the accommodation and food on the walk. Even though we'll be doing it as cheaply as possible by camping and staying in the Pilgrim Refuges, just the cost of this will be $9560 because of the length of time that we will be walking : 4 months. Adding everything else, I'll need your help to raise CAN$28,710.
I can't make this journey and this body of work without your backing. Thank you for taking the time to look at my project and many thanks for your donations and purchases! Please share on social media for me!
Risks and challenges
As with any travel, there are risks and challenges involved. Add the physical challenge of walking for 1000 miles and the 'donkey factor' for a period of 4 months and there's certainly a risk of something going wrong.
Organisation, logistics and safety:
My husband, a project manager with 30 years experience, will be accompanying me to handle all organisational and logistical factors and problems that may arise and also to help with the care of Midas while I paint. His presence is also a safety factor as we'll be crossing the Pyrenees at the end of autumn/start of winter and could experience sudden changes in weather conditions.
The health and welfare of Midas is my first priority. I have factored in rest days and both my husband and I have taken hands-on instruction with regards to good equine management and care. If there is the slightest concern about his health, I have already put in place transportation to take Midas safely to veterinary care and back to his home. I have also organised a replacement donkey should Midas be unable to continue the walk, so the project will be completed but there may be a short delay. Replacement donkeys are also available to me should Midas be ill or injured between now and the start of the project. Backers will be kept fully informed.
Delay due to Injury:
I have been training for this project, so am confident that I am currently physically able to complete it. However accidents happen. Should I be taken ill or injured during the walk and be temporarily unable to continue, I have family in France who will rescue me and I can stay in the area until well enough to get back to where I left off and continue the project. This will mean a delay in the receipt of rewards. All backers will be kept informed.
I've planned my trip to coincide with the most suitable weather conditions for Midas. Unfortunately, it seems that the weather is getting less predictable nowadays. Should winter conditions become too severe, part of the trip may be delayed until conditions improve. This will mean a delay in the receipt of rewards. All backers will be kept informed.
I have experience in painting outdoors in difficult weather conditions (freezing temperatures, snow, rain, 45 mile an hour winds) but sometimes the weather really doesn't cooperate. For example a combination of heavy rain in high wind is a problem. If I'm not able to paint outside I'll do my best to find a sheltered location in which to paint, possibly an interior of a church or old farm building. If necessary, I'll do an extra painting another day. This may mean that a backer may get a painting from a different 5 mile section than they selected. Any backers affected will be notified of the change.
Shipping of Rewards:
I have successfully shipped many paintings internationally. However, the shipping is obviously reliant on third parties and sometimes errors occur. This will be rectified as necessary. Backers should ensure they keep us informed of any change of address.
Lastly, internet should be good along most of the route but there are areas of patchy access and problems may be experienced. I'll do my best to update online information once a day, but if there are internet problems it might be late.
- (30 days)