Friday, October 11, 2019

Our Painting Retreat on Quadra Island

Watercolour painting for two weeks on Quadra Island, for two Kootenay artists, was a much anticipated 'work' venture. When plein air painting away from one's own community, one can face challenges along with the fun. Fellow artist, Karen Arrowsmith and I, Eileen Gidman turned those challenges into plusses with the help of the locals. Thank you Quadra Island people for your hospitality!

We had booked  NOODLES NOOK on Herriot Bay over a year ago having never been there. It turned out to be a perfect place to stay with a very scenic view of sailboats moored on the ocean. Being a dry lander I had no idea what coastal living was like, so in order for me to be able to paint authentically, I felt I needed to know more about the island. I talked to the locals while out painting, at the coffee shops and at the grocery stores which helped me, each time, to gain insight into their lives. How many times did I hear, I came here in 19_ _ and never left. 

I had never painted by the ocean before and never on a moving dock but that is just what I did some of those very first days. Winter was coming and boat owners were working feverously to get their boats in shape for the upcoming weather. Some people had been out sailing all summer and now it was time to get to work. In 'Shimmering at the Dock', you can just glimpse a fellow in the background bent over his work. 'The Skipper' painting depicts a beautiful wooden boat with a section of it's outer wood removed as it was being restored.

Another challenge we faced was a stretch of  rainy weather. There were some good things that came out of that though. If the weather looked iffy, I learnt to pare down my materials, sometimes working in India ink alone, so that I could quickly put things away should the rain start. Some of those paintings seemed to be people's favorites. Another fantastic thing that came out of wet weather was that our friend Margie, a local on the island, was able to secure a few places for us to paint from, that were undercover. People were most generous to let us paint from their patios. My goodness, everyone living on the island seems to have a 'million dollar' view!

Besides having a fantastic painting trip I am ever thankful, as a fellow Canadian, to meet some of the locals living in another part of our diverse country and gain a little understanding of their life by the ocean. 

Boats of Herriot Bay:

Watercolour by Eileen Gidman
'Shimmering at the Dock'

This wooden boat itself was painted with a rich burnt sienna colour. I depicted it a little brighter with burnt orange as it's paint just seemed to shine amongst the other boats. 

Watercolour by Eileen Gidman
'Living Aboard 22 Years'

I learnt that the green boat was a cement boat. I was told there is a lot more boat below the water and it was very stable for sailing. In the evening sun the light just made that wooden door glow golden against a light blue cabin. I was told the door was made of yellow cedar which is native to the area. The previous owner of this boat said he and his wife had lived aboard this boat for 22 years. When they sailed, they would meet up with friends up and down the BC coast, tying up at their dock and visiting for a few days. What a life!

Watercolour by Eileen Gidman
'The Skipper'

I admired this boat from the first day of walking along the dock at Herriot Bay. It took me a few times of being there to get the courage to sketch it in pen and ink. There was much to look at and I was there about 2 1/2 hours.  Thankfully, a thoughtful boat owner provided an umberella for shade.