It has been awhile since I updated the blog with some painting progress. Here is a sneak preview of sections of a 30 x 40" canvas depicting Sugar Island on the St. John River. These images show the beginnings of the water and its reflections:
In mid August, I just happened to be passing through Chance Harbour with a friend on a perfect day. We had lunch at the end of Crow Harbour Road overlooking the Little Dipper Harbour. This was immediately next to the peninsula section of the Thompson Marsh Nature Preserve. I was able to get a perfect view of this part of the preserve just by walking along the side of Crow Harbour Road. Minutes later, back on Route 790, I caught a low lying fog coming in from the harbour and spreading over the salt marsh portion of the preserve. There is no doubt that I would like to capture this moment in a final painting.
Later in the afternoon, on our way out of Chance Harbour, I had just enough time to make a quick visit to Belding's Reef Nature Preserve before we needed to head back home. This was a great little hike with lots of interesting coastal rock features (a favorite to paint). It reminded me a bit of the Thomas B. Munro trail in Grand Manan only shorter and less steep. By the time of my visit, the tide had come in considerably. I would like to revisit this site again sometime in a morning light at low tide.
On Saturday, August 23rd, The Nature Trust of New Brunswick officially opened the Green Island Nature Preserve in Florenceville-Bristol. About 50 paddlers made their way onto the island along with NTNB staff who interpreted the ecology of the site. There were two trips to the island (morning and afternoon) with most participants traveling in large 10-person canoes. I visited the island with the morning group since I would be offering a printmaking art workshop in the afternoon. This was my first visit on the island and this event was a great opportunity to share that experience with many others. We combed the beach in search of the elusive cobblestone tiger beetle -- a rare and endangered species. Although we were unsuccessful in the morning, the afternoon group found one!
After some celebratory speeches and a delicious barbecue (with McCain cakes for dessert!), about 15 participants of all ages joined me at the village gazebo for an afternoon printmaking art workshop. I introduced the group to relief and collagraph printmaking using a variety of found materials. The theme of the prints was insects in honour of the cobblestone tiger beetle on Green Island. The participants made some beautiful prints! Thank you Andrew and Laura McCain Art Gallery for partnering with us on this event!
On August 12th, Bridgette and I had the opportunity to see Grindstone Island Nature Preserve by fishing boat. This trip was organized by the Nature Trust and approximately 50 people took part in the event. We climbed aboard a boat at the Alma Wharf late morning and headed out past Cape Enrage and just past Mary's Point into Shepody Bay. The trip took about an hour and a half each way. We couldn't venture onto the island this time of year because it might disrupt the bird populations during their nesting season, which runs from May to August. However, the trip still provided a close up view as the boat circled the island. Apparently the tides also had us pressed for time as we only got to complete one loop before heading back. Seeing the island this close did offer a good sense of the scale and key features of the island. We managed to spot a number of shorebirds and birds of prey, but I wasn't quick enough to capture any in detail. I know some others were able to capture beautiful photos of eagles and other birds that we can hopefully see posted on the NTNB website in the future.
Although I did view several scenes from the boat that I would enjoy painting, this is a site that I would like to visit again. The island is attainable by sea kayak, and I wouldn't mind paddling to the island during a season that does not disrupt the nesting birds. It would also be interesting to see the island up close in lower tide.
When we arrived back in Alma, David Christie, a NTNB steward and a well-known naturalist, spoke to us briefly about the bird species on the island. Also, Betty Weston, the daughter of the island's last lighthouse keeper, offered some stories about what it was like to live on the island. It was certainly a great way to spend such a gorgeous day! Thanks NTNB!
St. Andrews Day Three -- On the final day of our vacation, my brother-in-law's aunt Mary decided that she would like to row over to Navy Island, and she kindly invited me and four of my nieces to join her! We set out early afternoon as the tide was moving out. Once ashore, Mary and the girls went beach combing and I decided to walk a loop around the perimeter of the island. It was my first visit on the island, and the first time that I had even seen the opposite side. It was very peaceful on the other side, and I was fortunate to spot a blue heron and a couple of seals. It was quite devoid of human presence except for a brief time when a few kayakers paddled by. The complete loop took me about an hour and a half, but I met Mary and the girls about three quarters of the way around. When we arrived back at the boat, the tide had moved further out again, so we had to use a log to help roll the rowboat back to water where we all climbed in and made the return trip.
There are at least a dozen paintings in my head from this one walk. I am quite certain that the painting I create for this site will feature the red shale rock. The images above only represent a fraction of the many photos I was fortunate enough to capture on my walk -- many of which focus on the many textures and shades of various rock features. It was a real treat to walk around this island on such a peaceful, gorgeous day!
St. Andrews Day Two -- The second day of vacation started with an overcast day. I made my way to Bocabec to meet Walter Emrich mid-morning at Holts Point where we planned to set out by sea kayak to visit Dick's Island Nature Preserve. Walter is a Nature Trust board member and he is also the land steward of Dick's Island. We readied the kayaks by the shore and were keen to set out when we heard a few claps of thunder. This led to a 45 minute wait for the thunder and a downpour to subside. Once we finally got to set out, Dick's Island was only a short paddle from Holts Point. It is a small island with literally a few trees and lots of interesting rock features. We reached the island from the east side, then paddled around to the south end where you can spot many bird nests along the rock face. However, the birds were off somewhere else at that time.
We decided to paddle a little further south out to Hardwood Island to try to determine if there were seals nearby and to stretch our arms a little. On our way back to Dick's Island we came around the west side to the north end. It was here that we found a herd of seals. In fact, there were at least a dozen of them that formed a semi-circle around our kayaks. They seemed very curious and not too shy. One surfaced just to the left side of Walter's kayak within a paddle's reach. After visiting with the seals, we came ashore of the island and walked around the northwest end.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable kayak expedition! The overcast weather was actually great for observing a lot of the bright colours on the island. I have many ideas for capturing this beautiful site in a painting. Again, the greatest challenge will be to choose just one scene to paint for this project. Thanks again Walter for bringing me out to visit this site!
New Brunswick Artist and Art Educator