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From the Prairies to the Rockies


ELAINE SELL PREFONTAINE


"The "Paha Sapa" Sentinel
Artist:  Elaine Sell Prefontaine

 

GROWING UP ON THE PRAIRIES

I was born on the prairies in the farming and ranching big sky country of southern Saskatchewan, 35 miles north of the Montana border (North of  49), a product of "The Dirty Thirties".  This area is unique geologically as it is one of the four areas in North America unaffected by glaciation. 

Mine was an interesting childhood exploring the rolling hills and coulees on horseback and collecting petrified wood, fossils and interesting stones, as well as sketching, painting and writing poetry.  This area "where the dear and the antelope play"  was  the true west, and brings back nostalgic memories of growing up there and riding horseback to that "little one room school house on the prairie".

"Bison Memories Engraved on Stone"

 

The area is also steeped in important Canadian history.  Notably, in 1876 following "The Battle of the Little Big Horn" ("Custer's Last Stand"), the legendary Leader of the Sioux Nation "Sitting Bull"  (Tatanka Yotanka), and his Tribe fled to the Wood Mountain area located 40 miles northwest of where I grew up, "as the crow flies".   He remained on the Canadian side of the border for four years, and today a small band consisting of the remnants of his followers reside in the area on the only Lakota Sioux First Nations Reserve in Saskatchewan.   

Summer's Glory Personified


FROM THE OIL PATCH TO SLATE STONE ART

I spent  37 interesting years in the business world (mostly in the "Oil Patch"Calgary, Alberta), before I moved to the Columbia Valley of British Columbia. 

While in the oil patch I worked for:
- Whitehall Canadian Oils  
- Francana Oil & Gas Ltd. which closed doors and went back to Saskatchewan
- Supertest Petroleum Ltd., which was bought out by British Petroleum (now Talisman) where I spent many years
- San Antonio Explorations which was then bought out by Wellore Energy where I remained till 1992 when I moved to the Columbia Valley.  

As a secretary in the oil patch one had to do, and did, it all --- I worked for engineers, geologists, landmen, personnel, lawyers, and accountants -- but for the most part I was secretary to petroleum engineers and that is where I had my major petroleum experience.  Those were the days!   Flowers on my desk and a paid for parking spot.   My bosses treated me like family --  inviting me home for Christmas and joining me in skiing Banff, Sunshine and Lake Louise.   I still exchange Christmas cards and have special friendships with some of those San Antonio and BP (now Talisman) people.   

Being the sole supporter of my two children I was fortunate to find long term work with such fine old companies in the oil patch.  I was also blessed in that I had my youth, eternal optimism, a zest for learning and a hard working Saskatchewan farm background  with a "never say die" attitude to see me through those many challenging and ultimately rewarding years.      


SAN ANTONIO EXPLORATIONS LTD.,  RE-UNION
 
December 2003 -  13 Years Later

My last job in the oil patch was with San Antonio Explorations Ltd., which later merged with Wellore Energy.  San Antonio was a small closely knit drilling and exploration company with four staff members -- the President, the Engineer, the Accountant and myself as Secretary.  In  December 2003 I drove from the Valley to Calgary to attend a  re-union celebration of San Antonio at the Calgary Petroleum Club hosted by San Antonio's President  Don Jepson and Mrs. Joanne Jepson.   Seeing everyone again was like old times and we all had a wonderful time. 

San Antonio Staff and Spouses -- left to right
V. Freeman Maxwell (Engineer), Elaine Prefontaine (Secretary), Donald R. Jepson (President), Mrs. Joanne Jepson, Mrs. Marg Maxwell, Janet Gale (Accountant), Mike Gale.


The Columbia Valley is very inspirational.  Here the beauty and abundance of  the  wildlife and my affinity for Purcell Mountain Slate Stone inspired me to combine the two into an art form ----  "Slate Stone Art,  the home of modern day petroglyphs and pictographs".  

Having a "Free Miners Certificate" I hand pick the slate stone from the Mineral Claims I staked in the Findlay Creek Area of the Purcell Mountains ----"Up the Findlay",  as we locals say.

 

...

"They Call it a Creek " - Findlay Creek



HOME IN THE COLUMBIA VALLEY

The beautiful Columbia Valley, endearingly called "The Valley" is a visual paradise. My home is near  picturesque Columbia Lake  from whence the mighty Columbia River has its source.  It is here that I experience stimulating creative energies and the feeling of belonging.  

"Columbia Lake in April"

 


The picture below looks southeast upon the tranquil beauty that is Columbia Lake.

"Blue Tranquility" - Columbia Lake

 


On the east side of "The Valley" are the Canadian Rocky Mountains and on the west  are the Purcell Mountains.  The Purcells boast large populations of big game ---  bear, big horn sheep, dear, elk, moose and mountain lions. 

"Purcell Mountain Monarch" 

 

On some evenings one can hear a chorus of coyotes and wolves howling to the moon.  So truly, there is much inspiration in  this magnificent  area ---"My Last Stop".



THE  SLATE  STONE  ART  PROCESS

 

"The Golden Fleece" 

"Slate Stone Art" is an excellent example of a true cottage industry as I do everything myself.

As a registered prospector holding a BC Free Miner's Certificate (FMC) , in the late 1980's I staked, and still maintain, mineral claims in the Purcell Mountains ( hour drive from home) where I select and  hand pick the slate stone.  I then take the slate home to split and clean each selected piece and drill holes for hanging.  Next comes the creative process to bring out that "special creature" waiting there.  This is done by individual and/or combined processes of engraving, relief sculpture and oil.  I also engrave the reverse side with Title, Latin name if applicable, my name and signature, creation date and Fairmont BC Canada.  The surface is lastly sprayed with preservative, when required, and the piece is hung with matching leather lacing.  After this I take pictures of each piece with my digital camera and/or scanner to make individual business cards, studio portfolio pictures, art records, and website images.  The new Slate Stone Art pieces are then displayed in my cottage studio.

"The Guardian" 

MY  OWN  DOMAIN -  Slate Stone Art dot ca 

Finally and happily appropriate pieces are inserted on this website which I created from scratch and maintain in it's entirety.   I was fortunately able to register a domain, www.slatestoneart.cawhich displays both my Business Name and Country.....Canada (.ca) of course.  More precisely beautiful British Columbia, Canada.   As my brother "Montana" wrote:

"Beautiful British Columbia
Skies of red and blue
Beautiful British Columbia
I am coming home to you."


CFDC SELF EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM

"The Feathered Fisher"

 

I was also an enthusiastic participant in the "Community Futures (CFDC) Self Employment Program", which provided me with the initial encouragement needed to see my dreams into successful fruition.  The word is:
"Small Business is Big Business in the Kootenays!"

 

WATER COLORS  FROM THE PAST


I Worked in Watercolors  Decades before I found my calling in:
"SLATE  STONE  ART
 
The Home of Modern Day
 PETROGLYPHS  &  PICTOGRAPHS

The  Vintage Watercolor below was created  in 1958.

 

Watercolor - 1958  
Artist: Elaine Sell Prefontaine



 

A  BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION !

 


On September 16, 2005, I celebrated my birthday at home with friends and neighbors of the Columere Park Community Association (CPCA*). 

It all started at 4:30 p.m. with Bison Burgers,  corn-on-the-cob,  and all the trimmings.  At midnight as we all stood around a blazing campfire  we were awed by a low flying V-formation of migratory honking geese flying directly over us, silhouetted under the picturesque full moon, on their way to nearby Columbia Lake.   A good omen for a great Happy Birthday Year!

Every time I returned to the campfire, the guests sang another:   "Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you!...."

Commencing at 4:30 p.m. and lasting till 1:30 a.m., the nine hours of that birthday party are ones I will always treasure!. 

 

  Elaine  Sell  Prefontaine:

Born 6:20 a.m., September 16 
  Location: 49.167 North Latitude, 105.933 West Longitude 
 In the Astrological Sign of Virgo,
 in the Chinese Year of the Tiger (Earth+). 


 The Tiger is compatible with both the Horse and the Dog.  

 

 

MEMBERSHIP AND PARTICIPATION

COLUMERE PARK COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION (CPCA) Volunteer
*(CPCA) Director, 2002 - 2008,  Webmaster (Website Photography, Administration & Maintenance) 
http://www.columerepark.ca/homepage.php?code+home

Columere Park,
Fairmont Hot Springs,  British Columbia



I am a sincere member of Wildsight, which works locally, regionally and globally to protect biodiversity and encourage
 sustainable communities in Canada's Columbia and Southern Rocky Mountain Region. 
 This area is internationally recognized as a keystone to conservation in Western North America. 
 Wildsight received the 2005 Canadian Environmental Award for Conservation in recognition 
of its successful work to protect the region's wildlife and wild life values.  

Visit this site for news our very own "Columbia Valley Wetlands", Columbia Lake Provincial Park, Lot 48, and much more! 


BC WILDLIFE FEDERATION FEDERATION  (BCWF)
via. Lake Windermere District Rod and Gun Club




COLUMBIA VALLEY ARTS COUNCIL
Invermere, British Columbia




CRANBROOK AND DISTRICT ARTS COUNCIL
Cranbrook,  British Columbia 
http://www.theartscouncil.ca


WINGS OVER THE ROCKIES
http://www.wingsovertherockies.org



Artists in Canada Directory
A comprehensive directory of Canadian Artists and arts activities
http://www.artistsincanada.com

 


  BTO - BEYOND THE ORDINARY "KRSE" INTERNET RADIO
 http://beyondtheordinary.net

 

 


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SLATE  STONE  ART
The Home of Modern Day
 Petroglyphs  &  Pictographs

Art, Poetry & Photography Copyright Elaine Sell Prefontaine
 Website Created & Maintained by Elaine Sell Prefontaine
  All Rights Reserved.

"Art purely created, and nakedly witnessed, frees the soul"
                                                                                                Elaine