Saturday, June 28, 2014

Montague, Prince Edward Island, Plein Air Festival - Day 4

Cape Bear Lighthouse

And the rain...stopped!

Low, scudding clouds accompanied the sunrise, promising a great day.  It was such a nice start that I celebrated by taking a long walk down the Confederation Trail, which runs right past my hotel.  This rail-to-trail project runs the entire length of Prince Edward Island with several spurs here and there.  The gravelled path promises no roots, no stumbles - it's a great for walking fast and clearing the mind, plus it takes you past some pretty nice scenery.

After breakfast I drove over to Murray Harbour.  I'd used Google Earth earlier to take a look at the possibilities for the day; one thing I like about this tool is that it lets users share photographs and locate them on the map.  I found some nice shots of the nearby Cape Bear lighthouse, and wanted to check it out.

At the canvas-stamping, I heard that the lighthouse was closed because of bank erosion, but I found I was able to drive right up to it.  The lighthouse is indeed perched about ten or twelve meters from the edge, and a volunteer who came later to open it up for tourists told me that the group responsible for the structure had purchased 120 acres nearby, and that later this year it would be moved onto that parcel, safely away from the banks, which are eroding about one meter a year.

It's definitely a structure worth saving.  Built in 1881, it housed a Marconi wireless station that was the first to receive a distress call from the sinking Titanic.  Although the station has since been moved to a different part of the island and turned into a private home, the lighthouse itself has that historic association and now contans a Marconi museum.

I backed my car up to the best view point and set up.  Except for a few tourists who arrived to take photos, I had the lighthouse to myself the whole morning.  I didn't have much sun, though, but I actually preferred it that way.  Fog offshore and low clouds shed a moody light over the scene.  The few times the sun came out, it bathed the lighthouse in a strong, shadowless light and made for a less interesting moment.  Also, the overcast gave me more consistent lighting and allowed me to complete the 12x24 panel before lunch.

Here is the painting as it progressed.  You'll note that the panel is toned bright yellow; I toned all my panels this way for my "Fifty Paintings for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Roosevelt Park" project and liked the effect, so I decided to do it for this one, too.

How close to the edge should one set up?

Cape Bear Lighthouse, 12x24 oil

None of the other painters showed up at this very paintable lighthouse, which surprised me.  After a quick sandwich, I headed over to Murray Harbour - and there they were.  The boats and waterfront had won out.  I still had some time before Poppy Balser's two o'clock demonstration, so I decided to  paint a boat, too.  Usually, after painting a 12x24 I'm tuckered out, and if it turned out well I don't feel I need to paint anything else that day.  But I set up to do a boat, anyway.

This was a mistake.  When I got to "rendering" the boats - well, let's stop right there, because that's actually two mistakes.  "Rendering" is always a mistake, because for me it means I'm putting in more detail than I should.  The second mistake is boats plural.  For a 9x12, focusing on one boat is plenty.

Poppy Balser Starting Her Demonstration

As I found myself wrestling with the painting, I suddenly realized it was time for Poppy's demonstration.  Poppy is a very accomplished watercolorist, and I always enjoy seeing a demonstration in a medium for which I consider myself an amateur.  But my painting of the boat kept gnawing at my mind, and after an hour I sneaked away and went back to it.

My first act was to scrape out both boats.  Next, I redrew my main boat with a brush, paying special attention to proportions, and blocked it in with the same tool.  Then I moved on to my knife.  You can't "render" with a knife.  I was much happier with the outcome, and I felt free to enjoy the rest of the day.

Murray Harbour Boat, 9x12 oil

That night, we all met for a lobster feast at a local restaurant.  Bruce Newman, who would be judging the show and presenting awards Saturday evening, also arrived and joined us.

Now it's Saturday morning and our last day.  Today's events include an art material demonstration in the morning and a "Quick Draw" event in the afternoon.  For the Quick Draw event, artists will be given a 5x7 panel or paper to create a piece for a charity auction.  The auction, exhibit sale and awards ceremony will be at 5:30 at the Riverhouse Inn.

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