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Plein Air Painting  Workshops in Watercolor 


Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve | Alberta | Canada

Introduction & Meet the Team

Human culture is connected to local geologic landscapes. Deep connections are clear from cultural stories, art, songs, poems, traditions, and ceremonies that feature or celebrate landscapes. Significant geologic heritage sites add cultural value when they provide a scenic setting for celebrations, weddings, family reunions, vacations, spiritual reflection, and other shared experiences.

The aim of the "Tales of Old Limber Pine & Wilson Glacier" Plein Air watercolor painting workshops is to transform geological landscapes into cultural landscapes, so that rocks and landscapes can take on new meanings for people when viewed from a cultural perspective. The stories in the rocks and their cultural associations will provide opportunities for artists to reconnect with the local heritage and experience a renewed sense of wonder. Such an approach can help those artists who might have little interest in geological details to be linked with cultural roots and enhance sense of place and connections with the natural world. This means shifting the emphasis from appreciating landscape stories through geologists’ eyes to alternative storylines about the landscape.

Historically, Kootenay Plains commemorate the diversity of human experience and the legacy of thousands of years of human history and mark the tangible cultural remains of the lives and stories of the people who used this part of Alberta as an important trade and travel corridor linking thousands of years ago Bering Straits/Yukon area to the Southern Plains and during the colonization linking the  Eastern part of Canada with the interior of British Columbia.

Cultural heritage comprises tangible and intangible components. The former include movable (e.g., paintings, sculptures, manuscripts and fossils) and immovable (e.g., buildings, townscapes, monuments, archaeological sites and rural landscapes) constituents; the latter, oral traditions, performing arts, rituals, cuisine, traditional skills and technologies, religious ceremonies and storytelling.

Interpretation of cultural links can enhance the geological stories and offer alternative ways of attracting and engaging visitors and adding to their experiences. Artists, musicians, poets, writers, geoscientists and local people interpret the landscape in different ways. Exploring the landscape through these different cultural filters can provide memorable personal experiences for visitors and enable a more holistic view of the landscape. Such an approach to interpretation can help bring together the First Nation and all Settlers’ Cultural Traditions. 

My name is Francoise Croigny-Manier and I will be the Mentor Artist in Tales of...Old Limber Pine & Wilson Glacier Plein Air Watercolor Workshops.

From my earliest childhood I was inclined to paint in watercolor and it is the transparency that fascinates me in watercolor, and its ability to capture light.


​​​​I am a Founder of the Association "Les Peintres du Moulin" and organizer of the International Biennale of Coquelles and ​I am the recipient of the Silver Medal of the Salon of French Artists (Member) & Academic Painter of the Academy of Arts and Sciences of the Sea and Member of the Taylor Foundation, and the French Watercolor Society (SFA).

​​Today I participate in many charitable projects and I earn the gold medal of Merit and French Devotion, awarded by the French Senate in 2007.

Ecology  issues affect me deeply. The inevitable transformation of our environment, the melting of glaciers, and the disappearance of animal species and flora are subjects of the utmost importance.


In these workshops I would like to share my painting in watercolor experience because transmitting is essential for me: I have been teaching watercolor, oil, and pastel for more than twenty years, and I have practiced them for forty years.

​I am looking forward to meeting all workshop participants, visiting and painting all these beautiful places in Alberta.


My name is Jerzy Maslanka and I am Certified Guide to Canadian Rockies National Parks.

Responsible Geotourism mindset is what guides my philosophy. 


Worldwide, there is a growing interest in art-based science education and, more widely, a cultural turn towards geology as a source of artistic and literary creativity to contextualize life in the modern world and the role of humans in changing the planet.


Artists participating in these workshops will likely appreciate help with watercolor painting instructions supported by explicit stories that can make cultural and aesthetic connections and emotionally engage workshop participants with the landscape and its heritage of Northern Saskatchewan River Valley and the Kootenay Plains.


​The Plein Air Watercolor Workshop location  is rich and biodiverse. This location will tell you a distinctive, dramatic, and enthralling chapter of the story of First Nation people, First Fur Traders, Explorers and Settlers.


When painting you will listen the tales of how, from time’s dawn to present day – natural forces, landscape, people, culture, and ways of life continue to interweave to give physical shape, meaning and mystery to this sacred land  and how this apply in relation to current environmental issues, including climate change, water shortage, and other natural hazards that are already having an impact on communities along the North Saskatchewan River and processes in shaping the landscape.





Introduction to watercolor characteristics and color mixings.

First day workshop will cover topics such as: fundamental aspects of preparation, composition, sequencing, and watercolor painting techniques. Personalized guidance throughout the workshop will be provided. The first day will also cover topics such as basic colour theory, tone and value, how to layer watercolor, creating nuanced colour, and rendering beautiful, dark shadows. After introduction the students will start practice mixing colors and values for themselves their relationships with depth and perspective.



Painting the landscape

On this day, you will learn how to paint the landscape from direct observation while outdoors. The combination of Alberta blue skies and vibrant landscape of Northern Saskatchewan River Valley offers the perfect subject to learn landscape principles, watercolor techniques and how a three dimensional landscape is captured on a two dimensional surface. In this workshop you will benefit from seeing how composition is chosen and how the shapes, colors and values of the objects before them are simplified. 



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Painting an Old Pine Tree

Trees are a common watercolor subject. They can be the focal point of a painting, part of the background, or in the foreground, framing your scene. For each of these situations, there is an ideal way to treat the subject. During the workshop you'll use different colors, apply different edges, and include more or less detail depending on where your tree is in your watercolor scene.    



Painting Wilson Glacier

You are going to learn the steps how to make the Glacier painting. Using wet-into-wet, dry brush, positive and negative technique and balancing warm and cool colors to keep the painting lively. Francoise will share some watercolor painting tricks to darken some of the snow shadows to bring all the elements into the proper value relationships.



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What you need to know...

Plein Air Instructor: Francoise Croigny-Manier , France   

Date: Wednesday, August, 28 - Saturday, August 31, 2024
Time: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Cost: $100 CAD/per Day / $260 when booking all 4 Workshop Sessions


Fees Include:

  • Full Days of Outdoor Painting Instruction

  • Evening Socials (incl. refreshments).  Time to socialize with fellow artists/instructors and certified guide

  • Outdoor locations in and around Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve (10 minutes drive from the border to Banff National Park)



  • There are limited participants per instructor

  • Bring Your Own Supplies for Painting and Set Up - list will be provided in your Confirmation Letter

  • Children 12 years old up and beginners are welcome…there is no previous experience required

Accommodation Recommendation:

View Francoise Croigny-Manier Gallery

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