Five Fathom Hole (oil on canvas, 8 x 16 in.)

7 July finds me teaching a plein air painting workshop on the fishing wharf at Five Fathom Hole, near Prince of Wales, New Brunswick. This is my demonstration piece, painted on a ground or underpainting of dark brown. Six people turned out in spite of the scorching sun and record high temperatures, and here we are, beamed down on by the noonday sun, the weathered boards of the wharf becoming hotter by the minute. The end of the wharf, large and square so that vehicles can drive out and turn around, works well as an outdoor classroom. There is a diversity of subject matter for painting in every direction and we are all within speaking distance of each other.

Because of external constraints this workshop is being held in the most unfavorable time of day for plein air painting. When we first arrived I discussed the direction of sun and shade and how this would be changing over the course of the workshop, from just before noon until late afternoon, and then guided each participant in selection of subject and planning of composition. 

Now they're all working diligently on their underpaintings and I must get started on mine - the painting that I'd planned to complete as a demonstration before anyone began on their own.... I didn't have the heart to make them wait, so let them get started, and I find bits of time between monitoring and advising my students to work on mine, drawing their attention when I do. Two people are sketching anchored fishing boats. One looks at forest and rocks across the narrows where the rushing tides have dug the Five Fathom Hole. One looks along the near shore, seaward, and one has chosen the point on the far shore, as I did. 

I am looking southward, the direction in which the lighting will be maximally stable and the forested point will remain in shadow through most of the afternoon. Toward the left on the horizon of my painting you can see hydro transmission towers (the stacks are just off the canvas) of an installation that we're told depended on a particular kind of coal from Venezuela and closed down when the fuel ceased to be available.

Suddenly, just before noon, a breeze springs up, carrying cool air inland from the sea - the tide must have turned. If I had a sweater I'd be putting it on! Now as it turns out, our sunbaked wharf is nicely air conditioned. 

Around 4:00 the breeze dies and the heat returns, just as Fred and Owen arrive, supposing that we must have been baking here on the wharf through the whole day!  We all work hard now to finish our paintings, not neglecting to drink water, share fruit, and take breaks to see what each is doing. 

Packing up now to hike the shady trail until evening, I'm happy that my students all worked hard and were pleased with their paintings - a thoroughly enjoyable workshop!

Dear supporters and patrons of my art,

This 8 x 16 inch oil painting is available, framed, for $475 from Art Etc at the Art Gallery of Burlington.   
For more information, contact Rhonda Bullock,
Art Sales and Rental Coordinator, (905) 632-7796 #301

Sales of my paintings support our research and conservation work,


  1. So interesting to read, Aleta, although I felt sorry for all of you until the breeze sprang up!
    I've only visited the east coast once, but spent many, many years on the west coast, and will always love tidal waters.

  2. One look at this painting and I felt such peace.


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