Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Nova Scotia Painting Retreat, Part 1

Spot the Painters!
Once a year, I like to get together with some good painting friends for a plein air painting retreat.  This fall, we are in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, enjoying a part of the Canadian Maritimes that is all new to me.  Having seen photos of other Nova Scotia scenery – Cape Breton's dramatic coastline, Peggy's Cove's rustic fish houses – I thought it might be something like one of those.  But it's not.  Instead, it's an agricultural but yet equally beautiful landscape.

Annapolis Royal was the first permanent European settlement in the New World north of St Augustine, Florida.  (Here's a cosmic coincidence for you – in just a few weeks, I'll be teaching a workshop in that other early settlement.)  Fort Royal, which was the village's first name, was established in 1605.  Since that time, agriculture has been very important.  We are staying out in Granville Ferry, and my morning walk takes me through fields dotted with sprawling apple trees, and my thoughts are punctuated with the occasional moo from a Holstein.  There is fishing in Annapolis Royal too, of course, and boats to paint.

Our first day saw a threat of rain.  We got out to historic St George Street in town and painted some of the wooden scallop draggers that were tied up at the boatyard.  After lunch, the first sprinkles came, so Trina and I went exploring for painting spots for later.  With our all-weather coats in tow, we took a hike on the Delaps Cove Wilderness Trail.  There's some spectacular scenery there, but I decided it'd be too much of a hike with our painting gear.

Nightfall came with gusty winds.  By morning, the temperature had dropped to 46 degrees.  I was glad I'd brought my down vest.  One of our group had to buy a thick jacket at the local outfitters'.  I thought we could find some protection from the wind at Fort Anne – this national historic site sports huge embankments to protect soldiers from gunfire and painters from wind – and so I did.  I had a nice view of what is called the "tidelands".  Two hundred years ago or so, the settlers built dikes along the tidal Annapolis River to protect their lowlying fields from high tides.

The Tidelands, 9x12 oil
In the afternoon, we went out to Port Royal (not to be confused with Fort Royal) at low tide to paint the view from a small lighthouse there.  Low tide revealed some nice boulders decorated with shaggy manes of seaweed.  I always enjoy painting rocks like these with a distant view behind them.

Port  Royal Rocks, 9x12 oil
Tomorrow, the weather is supposed to warm up a bit.  Our current plan is to head down to Digby to see what treasures await us there.  Stay tuned!

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