Friday, July 16, 2010

Notan and Herring Weirs

"Fixing the Weir"
9x12, oil - SOLD

My workshop students were lucky enough today to see an old herring weir being resurrected over by the Head Harbour Lighthouse. As the herring industry diminished over the years, traditional herring weirs were abandoned. There are still some on Campobello Island, but very few. One of my favorites is the one by the lighthouse. It has stood unused for the last two years, and the winter storms have not been kind to it. I was delighted to see that the owners had a pile driver out and were pounding in new stakes. It won't be long before they string up the net and start catching fish.

For those of you unfamiliar with weirs, here's a good article on them: Here's a picture I took some time ago of the lighthouse weir in all its unbroken, unbattered glory, but without the net. It's quite a difference between what it looked like then and what it looks like today!

We had fog, and that made for a very light sky and very light water, putting the weir and its attendant boat and pile driver into silhouette. If you squint, the scene is basically two values, a light and a dark. I like the abstract pattern the old weir made against the water. It reminded me of Arthur Wesley Dow's book, Composition: Understanding Line, Notan and Color. He makes a big deal of notan, which is a Japanese design concept dealing with light and dark patterns. If you haven't read the book, I recommend it.


Tee Are said...

i like the picture you made. that's wonderfull

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thanks, Tee!

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael...Oh, I like your Weirs! I certainly learned a lesson. that day...dont try to put too much in ones' painting. You didnt try for the boat, but rather something more stationary!
I will work on that painting though and thanks again for sharing your Weirs! Kathleen H S

Anonymous said...

Loved your Notan and Herring Weirs!
I wish the boat had been more stationary for my painting. Wise to focus on something safe, ie. Weirs!:)

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thanks, Kathleen!