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Loon Lake or Tsiko Lake — that is the question

By Gord Henschel, North Island Eagle, March 17 2023

Since we live in one of the most beautiful areas in the world, I usually don’t have any trouble finding something to paint in my excursions around the North Island. I do like to paint from life; that is, from the actual scene.

Although I do use photographs, I don’t like to depend on them except for reference to the quickly changing light and shadows. 

Thus, when I’m painting on site I like to get these down as soon as possible before the light changes too much. 

After the initial sketch and nailing down the darks and lights (in artist’s lingo called “values”), I then have to decide how far I want to go with the painting on the spot. 

If the weather is nice and if it’s a small piece, I often finish it there. Otherwise, if the weather has deteriorated, I polish it off in the studio at home.

On one of last spring’s sunny days, I decided to explore and paint a lake some friends had been excited about called Loon Lake near Pinder Peak, on the Zeballos road.

To make sure I was on the right track I checked it out on my old Regional District map as well as some of the forest company maps. Each time I found the lake in question it was labelled Tsiko Lake. 

This had to be “Loon Lake” since there was no other lake nearby.

I found the lake easily. It was at the end of a narrow, short road; on one of the few that were not de-activated. 

It took off to the left from the Zeballos road just before the Atluk Lake turnoff.  Riding the ridge carefully with my Jeep, I arrived at about ten in the morning to find a small, gorgeous lake that reflected Pinder Peak and its accompanying range of mountains in its placid waters.

Finding the small parking area deserted, I looked forward to an uninterrupted day of painting in the sunshine amidst the wildflowers and hummingbirds that abounded. 

I immediately settled down with my painting paraphernalia spread about me and in no time the hummers were investigating the colours in my palette. I was somewhat dismayed, therefore, when I heard a vehicle coming down the road into the lake. 

It turned out to be a small wagon with a kayak strapped to its roof.

After introductions, I found that the driver was looking for some places to do a little gold-panning and thought that the far shore of Tsiko, with its small creek, had possibilities. 

I accepted this into my day, since a kayak, after all, was a benign, un-intrusive sort of thing.

We hadn’t been talking for five minutes when the sound of a larger vehicle drifted in. It appeared as a pickup dragging a motorboat on a trailer. 

They were from Sayward and soon had their trailer to the water’s edge, dispatched their motorboat and were barrelling, full bore, down the kilometre-long lake.  The chap with the kayak decided to disappear back down the road.

I sat down amid my paints. Try it again. Then I heard the third vehicle and began to pack up. 

I had all my shadows and sunlight down on paper; enough to finish elsewhere, probably in my studio.

“Oh, you’re painting!” the lone figure commented. “I want to camp here for a few days, but don’t let me disturb you.”

“Oh, no, that’s fine,” I replied, “I was just packing up.”

I came to the conclusion that beautiful spots are popular and are not exclusive to painters!

                                                                                                                                    Artwork By Gord Henschel

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