Find your artistic muse at the Radium Colours Artists’ Retreat

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From the golden larch trees to the wetlands, Columbia Valley a palette of colours in autumn


Come October, the larches will be in a blaze of gold, making perfect subjects
for painters and photographers. 

Photos by Chris Conway

LISA MONFORTON

RADIUM HOT SPRINGS — It takes the keen eye of an artist or a photographer to appreciate the fine details of a landscape — the way the light shimmers on a lake, the mist hangs over a narrow mountain ridge or the reflection of blazing golden larches on a crystal clear lake.

Since moving to the East Kootenay region several years ago, Invermere-based photographer Chris Conway has become smitten with the Columbia Valley landscape from Radium Hot Springs to Invermere and beyond in the East Kootenay Region. The Purcell mountain range, massive wetlands, creeks, canyons and lakes and rivers have become his muses.

"It's spectacular. There are surprises around every corner. It’s a constant discovery," Conway says. Tweet This!


The peaks and ridges of the Purcell mountain range is a dramatic backdrop for artists.

Conway, along with a plein air painter Lynne Grillmair and sketch artist Angelique Gillespie will host workshops from Oct. 2 to 4 at the Radium Colours Artists’ Retreat. The new event is designed to inspire people who already have a love of painting, sketching or photograpy to discover this region and hone their creative instincts during fall when nature’s colours are at their most spectacular.

Each artist will take participants to several of their favourite locations for the day on Oct. 3, to sketch, paint or take photos.

“It’s just a fantastic time for colour,” says Conway. “There’s such a wide variety of locations, from down in the wetlands to the mountains; there’s a lot of variety. I just want people to get out there with their cameras and shoot.”


The wetlands are one of the largest in the world at more than 150 kms long. 

One of largest wetlands in the world

Conway has so many favourite places he’s hard-pressed to name them all. They include the Toby Bench, Sinclair Canyon — that famous natural arch gateway to Radium — as well the Columbia wetlands, one of the larges contiguous wetlands in the world that stretches over 150 kilometres.

They are all prime spots for photographers and artists who want to hone their skills in a fun, small group of like-minded people, says Conway.

That’s the spirit of this intimate festival, says organizer Patrick Tolchard, who wants to raise the profile of Radium Hot Springs as an artistic hub.

Looking to take your photography skills to the next level?  Here is a slideshow of what’s possible by Radium retreat faculty member Chris Conway.

“There are a lot of artists in the area. The art scene is there, but we want to make it more visible with this festival,” he says.

“We want to keep it small so people get one on one with the artists,” said Tolchard.

They’re hoping to keep the workshops to around 10 or so people and attract visitors from outside of the region, from Alberta, Saskatchewan, B.C.’s Okanagan and even Montana.


The Radium area has plenty of natural beauty, from marshes to mountains. 

“The main focus is to bring people out to see the beauty of the region and to have them be inspired by the local geography,” which includes the resident big horn sheep and the wildlife and serenity of the wetlands.

“The fall is phenomenal out here,” says Tolchard. "The larch trees will be showing their colours, which is unbelievable at a time of year when it’s still nice enough to be outside.”

Line-up of events

The weekend kicks of on Friday, with a meet and greet with the artists, featuring wine and tapas from local wine bar CasaVino and held at the cosy Village Country Inn.

Participants will start the day on Saturday with breakfast at La Cabina Ristorante followed by a full day of painting, sketching or taking photographs around the area. Participants in each of the workshops can then spend the evening exploring the town. Sunday morning there will be get-together for participants and the artists at the Radium Golf Groups' Radium Course (formerly Radium Resort), with a photo display of the weekend events and artist Gillespie will talk about her work, influenced by Emily Carr.

Weekend retreat package

Cost is $250 including taxes with the early bird rate until Sept. 1, and then $300 after that date. 

The price includes:

Oct. 2 - Meet and greet – Wine and tapas 
Oct. 3 - Breakfast buffet – La Cabinas
Workshop with lunch, provided by Meet On Higher Ground Coffee Shop 
Oct. 4 - Interpretive Walk at Sinclair Creek
Farewell Brunch – Radium Golf Club

  • Welcome Packages will have a variety of information books for the valley and a pool pass.
  • There is a variety of accommodation in the area, including the Best Western, which is offering a special $99 rate for the weekend.

Go to the Radium Colours Artists’ Retreat to register.

Get more details about the retreat on our festival overview.

Start planning your retreat to the gorgeous town of Radium!

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