Grant McLean - Mt. Cheam

A quick look through the past 25 years of my paintings will reveal a fascination with the shape and context of this monolith.

Mt. Cheam - Early Summer 18"x24" Acrylic

Everyone has an experience connected to Mt Cheam, or so the reactions I get from my paintings seem to indicate this.

Like Mt. Baker, on clear days, there is almost no vantage point that excludes Cheam. Surprisingly, most of us don’t really know where it really is, and I thinks its high visibility fools the viewer as to its home. It is in Chilliwack, and is surprisingly less impressive the closer to it you get…I mean this only in the sense that up close you see that the fabulous geometry seen from a distance is a trick. The 2 left-sided shapes are a combination of the sharper peak of Cheam, beside the scrappy cliffs of Lady Peak.

Depending on your vantage point, the shapes can change dramatically. Perhaps that explains why I am forever being told “I know where that is” …then am given insights that include Abbotsford, anywhere in the Fraser Valley, Hope, somewhere on Vancouver Island. If you connected with image, it is where you saw it.


Mt Cheam - Late Summer 18x24 giclee

Over the past 20 years, my sister has lived in Deroche, so there were endless possibilities for photos along the way while driving from our place in Abbotsford.

Having just returned from a driving trip through the Rockies, my daughters were in no way interested in coming with me one late-August evening, to “chase a stupid sunset.”I’m thinking bonding, they’re thinking “Boring”. With a Dairy Queen bribe tacked onto the end, off we went.

I started taking photos of the 2 spectacular shapes that make up what we generally think of as Cheam—it is actually a combination of the sharp peak of Cheam to the left, and Lady Peak, the more angular, boxy shape to the right. Over a period of an hour, I moved up to the location of this scene, about 15 minutes east of Hatzic Lake, along Highway #7.

The girls got their ice cream and I got my painting…but I still miss that barn.


© 2009 Grant McLean