Lance Weisser was cooking mountaintop meals in the Interior for the Vancouver Natural History Society when he first laid eyes on Kamloops.
Two thoughts — desert and trains — stuck in his mind. It wasn’t a case of love at first sight.
“This is not where I wanted to end up, and yet now I’d never leave for anywhere in the world,” Weisser said.
To his own surprise, Weisser grew attached to the surroundings after his partner found work here two years ago. A painter for the past 45 years, Weisser learned to appreciate the distinctive beauty of the landscape, flora and fauna, an appreciation reflected in his traditional watercolours.
“Living in Kamloops, I like the mountains particularly. They are not mountains like any others.”
He compares the effect of the setting sun on local mountains to the look of Jerusalem in the setting sun.
“That’s why they call it the Golden City. When the evening lights hits it, there is nothing more beautiful in the world.”
At the Courthouse Gallery, where he’s the featured artist of the month during April, Weisser’s miniature watercolours of local landscapes first catch the eye.
“I’ve always liked very, very fine and tiny pieces, and they’re not always that easy to find. I had to find the miniature frames in Maryland.”
He was born in North Dakota to Albertan parents and was one of the first Canadians granted dual citizenship, a credential that paid off when he came to Canada to evade the draft during the Vietnam War.
He studied art first in Vermont in the mid-’60s before obtaining a fine arts degree in Missouri, worked as a stage actor for the groundbreaking Creation 2 in Toronto in the ’70s and later studied French cooking, which ultimately led him to the Interior for the first time.
An ordained Presbyterian minister, Weisser was raised as the son of German Baptist minister. He recalled the flower designs German women would paint on blown eggs. These decorated forsythia branches to herald spring and new life. As a painter, he developed a specialty painting on eggs, which have a surface that readily accepts watercolour.
“I like the extremes — really large watercolours and, to offset that, very, very tiny ones. I usually work on both at the same time. One feeds off the other.”
One of Weisser’s larger watercolour works is part of the third annual open show of the Federation of Canadian Artists (FCA). The show opens Friday upstairs at the Old Courthouse and continues until April 25. He has remained a watercolourist after all these years because of some sage advice he received early on. A well-known Vermont painter/instructor told him to choose one medium and master it.
“I absolutely loved the power of watercolour’s way of being able to bring to paper the illusive feeling and atmosphere of a moment caught in time. And it was then I wanted to devote my efforts to watercolour alone. Its transparency and instantaneousness demand great planning — and then, once into it — mental agility and calm daringness.”