Getting to the Point

TM8172 To the End of the Point 20×36 oil on panel

The common phrase …get to the point!!!…  often implies a certain frustration with too much description or detailed narration, but sometimes the journey is the point. My preparations for this painting started years ago during my first glimpse of the Con Robinson point on Campobello Island in New Brunswick. Glimpse, because it was the end of the day, high tide, and I was approaching from the wrong place. I took pictures from a distance and vowed to return. Three years of returning, finding a better route, taking photos in rain and sun, high and low tide, and studying the stone and debris led to this first depiction of this amazing textural feast leading to the (part-time) island.

The stony beach is an important part of the subject of the painting. Getting to the island is not an easy stroll, but rather a journey that takes planning and some work, both in terms of distance and one’s choice of footware. Understanding what one sees takes longer. The recurring fogs make each view precious, isolating the view, and place, from its context. The geologic history of plate tectonics squeezing the ocean’s floor to create sandstone uplifts and convoluted volcanic intrusions provides the gorgeous variegated color of the rock, and reminds one of how much time went into the creation of this place. With so much to see, and even more to learn, I hope to be painting various parts of this point for years. Sometimes the experience of getting to the point is a long one.
Detail from To the End of the Point

Technical painting notes: I chose a clearing gray day because the subtle color of the stone glows in those conditions. A hint of fog in the distance stands in for all the fog that keeps rolling over the island, and also implies that we never know what’s really coming toward us. The stone-laden shingle was a special challenge – how to create the feel of innumerable stones and pebbles without losing the rugged quality of this wild place. The solution was loose underpainting with lots of alkyd medium and transparent colors (iron oxide, dioxazine violet, burnt umber, permanent alizarine) using a bristle brush. When the underpainting was dry, I painted the upper surfaces and planes of the stones with somewhat more opaque pigment, but tried to keep a very light touch so that the striations in the undercolor would show through. A soft, nylon, chisel-ended brush helped me to achieve the angles. A similar treatment was used on the island’s granite walls.

My new show opens officially at Arden Gallery July 1.

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