By Treena Mielke
Rimbey, when seen through the eyes of renowned artist Elizabeth Verhagen, has a natural charm and simplistic beauty that she loves to capture with her pen and pencil drawings.
Verhagen, who spent a day in Rimbey this summer, drew several buildings including the Rimbey & District Tire Shop, the Tack & Feed Shop and Rimbey Elementary School.
“I love doing the buildings,” she said. “And I love the location (of Rimbey).”
Verhagen said she struggled with her drawing of the tire shop, but finally, after much perseverance, the drawing came together.
“It was difficult but something came over me and I was able to do it,” she said. “And I also did the school. I love schools because of the lines; the simplicity.”
Verhagen, who came to Canada from the Netherlands with her parents and siblings in 1954 at the age of 10, bicycles all over Alberta in the summer, stopping at towns and villages along the way to soak in their culture and capture their uniqueness with her drawings.
The seasoned artist, who decided, at the tender age of 20, to dedicate her life to art said she loves to bicycle along Alberta roads, exploring new routes and being inspired by the vibrant intensity of the province’s countryside.
“Alberta is beautiful; so diversified and there is a purity and balance of colors,” she said.
Verhagen uses her paintings to express the pure colors of the landscape and brilliant hues of the sky.
However, as much as Verhagen loves to recreate the vivid scenes Alberta’s landscape has to offer and as much as she enjoys capturing small town imagery with her pen and pencil drawings, her talent lies in other areas of art as well.
A major part of her artistic activity consists of creating constructions, innovative works that combine painting with pasted and mounted objects and materials.
She also creates paintings of faces based on her drawings of people sketched in public places.
Now a senior who has achieved success in the art world with paintings, drawings and photographs in collections all over the world, Verhagen continues to travel around Alberta on her 18-speed touring bike. She is content with this mode of travel, often overnighting in hotels along the way, so she has ample time to pursue her art.
Her humble and simple lifestyle lends itself well to Alberta summers, but the harsh winters experienced here means Verhagen must retreat to her Edmonton studio where she devotes her time to painting indoors. Her canvas paintings, done in her studio, are often taken from her photographs or sketches she has captured during her summer jaunts.
But, once winter is over and the seasons change, Verhagen will, no doubt, set off on her trusty touring bike, and, perhaps she will stop in Rimbey again, taking the time to sketch another picture, explore another road, or capture a landscape yet to be discovered.