The Log Book
Tales of an Artist Afloat
The Broughton Archipelago is a very special place. Tucked between the North East tip of Vancouver Island and the Coastal Range of mainland British Columbia, the area is a haven for wildlife from sea otters to orca and humpback whales. Wolves and black bears are abundant, whilst grizzlies maintain strongholds amongst the islands and mainland. It's an artist's paradise, and my watercolours and sketchbook were kept busy when we sailed around the region in the summer.
One of the most famous books about the area is called 'Following the Curve of Time'. Written by M. Wylie Blanchett, it tells of adventurous summers cruising with her five children on their 25' boat, 'Caprice'. Six people on a 25' vessel makes our life on 36' Island Prism seem capacious, especially during the summers when they added the family dog to the mix!
As we cruised during the summer of 2019, Jim and I dipped into Blanchett's book. Her gentle prose is captivating, and we often found ourselves in the same bays. When we called into Monday Harbour, we even followed her anchoring advice, using her description to track down the lovely, sheltered Tuesday Cove. Named by Blanchett, you won't find it marked on any maps, but we spent days snug and safe, visiting the white shell beach, exploring the forest and watching herons and harbour porpoise in the bay.
I began a series of large paintings in the summer, based on the sketches I was making as we cruised. The third in the series was of Tuesday Cove, and I titled it 'Following the Curve of Time' in honour of Blanchett, whose experiences ninety years ago still rang true with us.
Moored back in Victoria Inner Harbour for the winter, I knew I wanted to do something special with my trio of paintings. At 20" x 16", they were too large for the winter shows I was submitting to. Rereading the Curve of Time once again, lines from the book brought images from my sketchbook to mind. Inspiration hit- I wanted to create a series of paintings inspired by our cruising and Blanchett's writing. I felt a connection with the book- at the risk of sounding overly arty, it was as if the author and I were reaching across that curve of time and sharing experiences in the past and present. From experiences with cantankerous marine diesel engines to descriptions of shimmering schools of herring and wheeling flocks of sanderlings- a wading bird still common in the Broughton- our summers of exploration had a lot in common despite the ninety years that separated us.
Returning to my sketchbooks, I played with my paint to settle on a range of colours that could capture the warmth of a summer day or the mystery of rolling banks of fog. Pthalo Blue gave me the bright tones I needed and Indanthrone Blue was perfect for deep waters. Jadeite genuine, a watercolour paint made from the gemstone, created rich greens for trees. When mixed with Amethyst genuine, it made beautiful greys, perfect for mists and clouds. The tiny pieces of Amethyst adds a subtle lustre to some of the paintings, whilst others gain a gentle sparkle from blue-grey Kyanite genuine. Combined with natural siennas and umbers, I loved the idea of using earth and water to create my islands and seas.
After a summer of inspiration gathering and months of painting, I am delighted to launch the Curve of Time collection. The collection is on display as my solo show in the Cedar Hill Arts Centre Cafe Gallery in Victoria, BC, where it will hang until 17th February 2020. I shall be at the centre demonstrating from 9.30 - 3.00 on Wednesday 3rd, Saturday 8th, Wednesday 12th, and Thursday 13th February. I'll also be participating in the Family Day programme on Monday 17th.
The Curve of Time Collection is also available unframed online- please click here to view available paintings from the series.
An Artist Afloat- Painting the world one anchorage at a time.