Bay of Fundy Studies

 

The Bay of Fundy is an amazing phenomenon and place. The enormous changes in sea level leave one continuously startled. Land comes and goes, along with the weather and the fog. As a subject for painting, I can’t think of a more satisfying challenge. The stark, stony northern environment, the vast space, and the intricacies of the shallow bays and tidal pools, plus the muted colors – everything I love!  Enjoy.

Technical painting notes: I used mostly a palette knife on the first study, with plenty of Winsor Newton Liquin medium to make the  paint feel slippery, like the condition I was painting. I also used a pencil to scrape and draw into the wet paint. The second view began the same way, but I decided to try rolling across the sky, then used the paint on the roller to drag the sky reflections down to shallows. A bit of scraping livened the foreground, where various seaweeds formed desultory patterns on the coarse sand.

Getting to the Point

nc web TM8583 Getting to the Point 18x36 oil on panel

TM8583 Getting to the Point 18×36 oil on panel

There’s a spot near the tip of Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada that I have visited regularly for a decade. It’s a remnant of mountain, buried up to its neck in the stony debris that has eroded from it over the millennia. I make the trek because it feels like a sacred place. The sharply faceted and eroded ledge separates two long stretches of shingle. It is possible to stand at the tip and look out on (what could be) a prehistoric world. There are seldom signs of humanity. I know that native people once fished near here. My own family history, as handed down by my grandmother, leads me to believe those fishermen might be among my long-lost ancestors. In the solitude at this spot, I can almost imagine them. Detail below.

nc web TM8583 Getting to the Point - detail

TM8583 Getting to the Point – detail

From Here to There

nc web TM8700 Between Here and There 36x40 oil on panel

TM8700 From Here to There 36×40 oil on panel

Simple can be best. I started this painting with thoughts of a complex sky over the stark, low tide, Lubec Channel on the coast of Maine. As I worked, the focus changed. I saw the interesting subtleties of the land, and decided to subdue the sky, while maintaining some of the original cloud forms and fog bank. The contrast of the truly dark mud and channel bottom with the bright white of the incoming fog sets up enough drama. At the same time, the drama is soothing – perhaps due to the quiet tones and strong horizontals interspersed with sliding angles. The dark band of channel bottom was a great place to experiment with the use of impasto medium and some knife work, along with using a silicone scraper to “dig” into the paint. Spatter layers set the gravelly foreground, especially after I added some broken brushstrokes. Details below. Enjoy.

nc web TM8700 Between Here and There  - detail from middle left showing Grand Manon across the low tide Lubec Channel with exposed granite outcrop, fog rolling in

TM8700 Between Here and There – detail from middle left showing Grand Manon across the low tide Lubec Channel

nc web TM8700 From Here to There - detail from foreground showing outcrop and exposed marine vegetation

TM8700 From Here to There – detail from foreground showing outcrop and exposed marine vegetation

The Fog Withdraws

nc web TM8697 The Fog Withdraws 36x54 oil on panel

TM8697 The Fog Withdraws 36×54 oil on panel

It’s a mysterious presence based on absence. A vague cloud that roams across the sea and engulfs whatever it meets, causes even the strongest land forms to blink out. I love watching the action – the way fog sends out fingers of white, rolls in banks of gray. The way the air feels dense and moist. The drips. The smells. Sometimes it wavers – as if it were trying to make up its mind – advance, retreat, or both. The Fog Withdraws is about that presence and moment, when the fog is indeterminate, wavering, before finally beginning its retreat. Enjoy. Details below.

nc web TM8697 The Fog Withdraws  - detail showing second headland enshrouded

TM8697 The Fog Withdraws – detail showing second headland enshrouded

nc web TM8697 THe Fog Withdraws - detail  from right side looking to far shoreline

TM8697 The Fog Withdraws – detail from right side looking to far shoreline

nc web TM8697 The Fog Withdraws - close-up from lower left showing low tide flats

TM8697 The Fog Withdraws – close-up from lower left showing low tide flats

 

 

Long Way Out

TM8696 Long Way Out 36x48 oil on panel

TM8696 Long Way Out 36×48 oil on panel

A slippery subject – shifting tides and clouds sliding through blue, nothing firm for a foot – it’s all in motion. Based on a view near the lower end of the Bay of Fundy, the painting is about space, clean air, and change. The tides are always shifting, land comes and goes dramatically, the skies are always changing. I love the way one form slips into another. It’s easy to forget what’s water and what’s sky, or where land begins and ends. That slipperiness leaves room for anticipation – a wonderment about what will happen next. And a delight in discovery. Enjoy.

TM8696 Long Way Out - detail from right of center

TM8696 Long Way Out – detail from right of center

Quiet Morning

TM8692 Quiet Morning 36x48 oil on panel

TM8692 Quiet Morning 36×48 oil on panel

The sea comes and goes, and in Lubec, Maine it can ebb a long way. This view across Lubec’s low tide flats toward Grand Manon in New Brunswick, Canada  makes one think about walking on water. Or maybe not. I walked a similar area off Campobello Island once. Most of the beach was shingled (covered with stones), but when I accidentally placed my foot on what looked like a bit of mud, I sank up to my knee – surprise! A walking stick is a good idea. Those mud flats do still attract me, however. Here’s so much marine life. There’s also something more profound – a quality of being scraped clean, and seeing simple sky, water, and land. Complicated and simple at the same time – stark and subtle. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8692 Quiet Morning - close-up of headland

TM8692 Quiet Morning – close-up of headland

TM8692 Quiet Morning - detail across the tidal flats

TM8692 Quiet Morning – detail across the tidal flats

TM8692 Quiet Morning - detail

TM8692 Quiet Morning – detail

Technical painting notes: With Quiet Morning, I wanted to emphasize the stark simplicity of the the bands of sky, receding water, and land. I also liked the idea of a slice of cerulean blue sky  bounded by bright gray, with the only other colors being a tiny bit of green and muted orange, dusty grayed red, plus lots of subdued gray/blue/browns. Lubec can feel like a black and white photograph, the colors are so subtle and the atmospherics so quietly intense. The challenge of how to bring the shine of wet mud up to the foreground plants was resolved with repeated glazes and manipulation of shadow. I pressed textures into the wet glaze, waited for it to dry, and glazed again. It gives the impression of wet mud seen beneath a film of water.