Thursday, August 21, 2008

Notes from the Road: St Andrews, NB

This is a two-workshop week for me. How is that possible? you may ask. Well, I taught a separate, one-day, "paint-along" workshop on Sunday in advance of my annual weeklong workshop at Sunbury Shores Art & Nature Centre in St Andrews, NB, which is going on now. The Sunday workshop took place on Minister's Island, just outside of town.

Minister's Island is a very special place. At low tide, you may drive across a gravel bar to reach it; at other times, you must go by boat. We drove over in the morning just minutes before the tide swept in and covered the bar. (It's an unsettling feeling to see your escape route vanish!) We had the island nearly all to ourselves after that; very few visitors came over when the boat began making runs two hours later. By late afternoon, when the tide went out again, a horde of cars was lined up at the other end, ready to invade the island. I send my thanks to Mark Clark of the Van Horne Estate of Minister's Island, Inc., who kindly gave us permission to arrive early and allowed us to paint all day undisturbed.

There's no lack of subject matter on Minister's Island. Around 1790, St Andrew's first Anglican priest built a stone cottage there. A hundred years later, in 1891, Sir William Van Horne, the General Manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway, bought some land on it. Over 25 years, he built and enlarged an estate that became a model of late Victorian farming methods. The farm, which raised Dutch Belted cattle and exotic vegetables, was entirely self-sufficient. The estate features a complex of buildings, including greenhouses, a carriage barn and guest house, a huge barn for the Dutch Belteds, a bathhouse shaped like a turret and "Covenhoven," which was Van Horne's home. The grounds make for some great painting scenery. Van Horne, himself a painter, enjoyed painting in the bathhouse, which sports a panoramic view of the Passamaquoddy Bay.

I had the opportunity to do two paintings that day, one of the early morning light raking across the roof of Covenhoven, and the other of a corner of the minister's stone cottage with a view of Chamcook Mountain in the distance.

8x10, oil, en plein air

"Minister's View"
9x12, pastel, en plein air

Painting by the Minister's Cottage

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