Monday, July 22, 2019

Plein Air Painters of the Bay of Fundy – Annual Paintout

Spot the painter!
Theresa MacKnight (oil)

The Bay of Fundy—50 miles wide, 150 miles long.  That's a lot of coastline.  And it's so knotted with tiny coves and peninsulas that, were you to straighten it out, it'd reach almost to the moon.  Well, I'm making that up, but I bet it would be a long distance.   Snuggled up against the bay are two Canadian provinces—New Brunswick and Nova Scotia—and one US state, Maine.  Thanks to the bay, getting from here to there can take more time than you think.

This weekend, members of my painting group, Plein Air Painters of the Bay of Fundy, met for our 13th annual paintout.  We're scattered all around the bay, so I never quite know how many will show up, especially this year, since the paintout was on Campobello Island, which requires two ferry hops from mainland Canada or a long drive around Passamaquoddy Bay and the St Croix River.  Despite that, I think we had a record group—nine painters, plus a number of spouses.  The ones who lived closer by came for the day; those from further afield spent a night or two here, camping at Herring Cove Provincial Park or lodging elsewhere.  Members came from both Maine and New Brunswick; sadly, no one from Nova Scotia was able to attend.

Saturday was the hottest—and muggiest—day of the summer yet.  Much of eastern Canada and the US was experiencing record-breaking heat.  (The heat index for New York City was a life-threatening 106.)   But fortunately for us, we were on Campobello Island, and I can usually find a cool spot to paint in, no matter how hot it gets.  I led our group down to the southern tip of the island, which juts out into the deep, cold waters of the Grand Manan Channel, where we had a nice breeze off the water.  Some of us even wore jackets at the start.  By mid-afternoon, my car thermometer read a cool 70°F (21°C); however, at my studio, which sits on the west side of the island and doesn't get the benefit of those deep, cold waters, the temperature was 87°F (31°C).  That's a full seventeen degrees difference!

After the Fog 11x14 Oil - Available
The first of my two paintings.  Although the fog had departed,
there was a thick haze in the air that weakened the darks. 

Behind the Barrier Beach 11x14 Oil - Available
My second painting.  I loved that little beach rose bush in
front of all that driftwood.  Can you feel the heat?

I worked in oil, as did most of the others, but we also had a couple of watercolor painters and pastellists.  Most of us did two paintings, breaking the day with lunch or a walk along the beach.  When we arrived at our location, it was low tide, and at this particular place, the sea bed has a very shallow angle, so the 26-foot tidal change revealed a vast swath of sand, seaweed and rocky cliffs.  This is one of my favorite times to paint, because the low tide reveals so much.  After lunch, as the tide was coming in, I moved and walked  along the barrier beach—a long, wide, natural dike of cobbles the size of my fist—to paint a view of the lagoon behind it.

But it got hot on that beach.  Despite the breeze, the cobbles reflected heat like a solar cooker, and I ended up drinking an entire bottle of water and sweating it out in an hour.  After that, it was getting late in the afternoon, and I'd promised a tour of my new barn studio, so I packed up and headed home.

After the studio tour, a large group of us headed to a local restaurant (with air-conditioning) for dinner.  We had a fine a view of Passamaquoddy Bay to the west as the sun lowered.  Once dinner was over, a few of us decided to visit the nearby Head Harbour lighthouse to look for whales.  When I got into my car, which was sitting in full sun on pavement, the gauge read 110°F.  That reading was exaggerated, of course, by the oven-like conditions in the parking lot, but I'm sure it was in the 90s.  There wasn't much of a breeze at the lighthouse, so it was hot there, too.  I envied the whales—we saw a couple of minke whales and a few we couldn't identify that blew tall spouts into the air before sounding again—and the life they enjoyed in the cold waters of the Bay of Fundy.

We try to have an exhibition each year, but we didn't arrange one this time.  In the past, we've had exhibitions at venues in either Canada or the US.  Next year, I'm hoping to have an exhibition in St Andrews-by-the-Sea in New Brunswick, with a paintout there just prior to the opening.  Once plans are finalized, I'll announce it on both our website ( and on our Facebook page (

Here are a few photos from the weekend.

Me on the beach
Bruce Newman (oil)

Joyce Morrell (watercolor)

Ann Oliver-Nickerson (pastel)

Simone Ritter (watercolor)

Helen Stephenson (pastel), Carla Perkins (oil)

Joyce Morrell (watercolor), Ann Oliver-Nickerson (pastel)

1 comment:

PleinAirGal said...

Wonderful! I can smell that salt air. Wishing I was there!