Ed Andress, Master Wooden Boat Maker's Craft Still Lives in Rockport
Oil on canvas 24x20 inches - Gifted to the Andress Family
Work Tug Ishpeming - Captained by Eugene Johnston
Oil on canvas 24x20 inches - SOLD to Ishpeming's Master, Captain Eugene Johnston
The 1st International Plein Air Artists Paint Out held over the past weekend in Rockport, Ontario... in the very heart of the famous and very beautiful Thousand Islands was a smashing success! Not only were we blessed with "picture" perfect weather on all three days... but the planning and hospitality of the organizers... The Rockport Development Association and the warm reception and hospitality of all Rockport village residents at large went far beyond expectation... contributing greatly to both the level of comfort and the painting enjoyment and success of the twenty-three participating artists.
Not only did we have a carte blanche welcome to paint anywhere within this quaint and historic village itself... we were offered ridiculously low priced water taxi access to outlying, privately owned island retreats that are normally not open to visitors. My second painting was made on Pine Island... the personal retreat for John Keats, an American columnist/writer best known and much-loved "Of time and An Island"... a book which nostalgically chronicles island life and life along The St Lawrence River... as many of us have been blessed to enjoy.
For my second painting site... I water taxied out to Pine Island with several other members to explore possibilities on the island. I chose to paint the boat houses of the mansion-covered Zavicon Island located a scant two hundred feet south of Pine Island... looking eastward down the River. I was joined by Phillip Chadwick, a recently retired meteorologist for Environment Canada in Toronto. Phil and I have an early connection dating back to 1967 to Brockville, Ontario... our shared home town. He was a student in my very first class... a grade seven class at Toniata School.
Phillip was a very gifted and exceptional art talent even then and has grown to become a recognized and very successful plein air painter in his own right. He offers lectures... as "Phil the Forecaster" which tie together his observations and thesis that the plein air works of the Canadian painting legend Tom Thomson record very accurate meteorological data of specific weather in time in Algonquin Park. His after dinner talks on both Friday and Saturday nights kept all of us attending rapt and riveted by the combination of his quick and lively humor... as well as the very demonstrably plausible evidence he provided about Thomson's skill as a meteorologist! I take great pride in having taken Phil on his very first plein air outing. I "fore casted" great things for him in this school of painting... and he has done us both proud! I was very proud of him on those evenings!
The entire group of participants welded together instantly as a common family. No one was left out of the circle. No one dominated or stood off by themselves. We shared every moment of the three days... in harmony... good cheer and encouragement. Everywhere one went... you would find others who were sharing common subjects without reserve or petty jealousy. How good it felt to be in the company of such sharing individuals... brought together under their common passion for painting and this beautiful natural kingdom.
The meals were both wonderfully and tastefully prepared... and again efficiently... and with reasonable costs. And after a long day out in the fresh air... no one was left wanting for more food. The portions were excellently prepared... and very filling!
The Rockport area is a place very familiar to me. My family had a summer cottage... no a home really located at The Narrows where the mainland nearly touches Tar Island. Our family use it in all four seasons for fifty-four years. I worked in Rockport as a teen at Ed Huck Marine and Caiger's Fishing Lodge... the very site of our first evening meal! The whole experience was a home coming for me... a blessing... a catalyst of renewal.
To be able to share my knowledge of the history of the area with the other artists was so gratifying for me personally. I met so many people, old friends of our family... and saw so many faces from as far back as fifty years... fellow cottagers that I had chummed with. How gratifying to know and feel that we shared more than wrinkles and years. We shared lasting common memories and a common joy that our presence still had meaning in the minds and memories of others. I felt so blessed.... to reconnect!
On Sunday morning... we headed out for one last painting foray of choice... for one final go at this pristine painting paradise. I remained on Front Street and painted the entrance and alley that led to The Cornwall's Restaurant and Grill. The Rockport Boat Line loads its passengers from tour buses... en route to a Thousand Island cruise nearby. People came and went for lunch at The Cornwallis and Boathouse Restaurants. There was a continual stream of passersby during the course of the painting session. Due to the many questions and reunions that kept coming and going... I was unable to completely finish the painting. I'll take it from the lay in stage to finish tomorrow... from memory
I was deeply embedded in my painting thought... you know the feeling, when I recognized a familiar woman's voice behind me. That voice belonged to a woman, Janet... from"way back when" who came up from Cleveland, Ohio each summer with her family to their haunt on Tar Island. She now lives with her husband Don Pedersen and lovely family in Oregon. I had not seen her in at least twenty years.
How joyous the reunion for us both! Our now..."ancient history" could be better classed as "a crush"for us both... as opposed to a "squeeze"... in nature. We were simply friends... and common members of a cottage family/community that water skied... swam... danced... wiener roasted and hung out incessantly each summer during our teen years. Romance bloomed momentarily... and I might say was more often than not... was the result of "cross-pollination"... and sharing. Another blessing delivered!...
The greatest blessing occurred at the final scheduled event of this Paint Out event at the Boat line Patio. All artists were invited to exhibit their paintings to the public at an informal wine and cheese social under the auspices of the RDA. The event was well attended by citizens from all around... local dignitaries and press reps from local newspapers.
None of the works displayed against the surrounding benches were signed. Each had a numeral assigned directly below. Artists were not permitted a vote. Votes were democratically cast on a small ballot given each person... no matter their age entering the one entrance to the patio. They were given the two hour period to view all of the works and them they were asked to submit a single vote for their favourite painting of the lot - a difficult decision... given that each of us submitted at least four or more paintings. The ballots were then placed with the official on the door and were then tallied to determine the three favourite paintings in the exhibition. There were many very different... yet equally beautiful paintings presented.
How surprised I was... to learn that two of my five paintings were awarded First and Second place. I have never painted expecting awards and really have not followed the competition and juried shows route... except on a few occasions. I have always painted for myself and for pleasure. To be awarded two awards by people from my own heritage community really touched me. It will be a memory I will always cherish fondly.
This entire event... from start to close reflected a very unique situation... a situation totally governed by generosity and sharing. I wish to thank all of my fellow participating artists... now all friends... Wendy Merkley, her husband Art and her hard working Rockport Development Association team... The Rockport Boat Line, Andress Boatworks for the excellent water taxi service, Rockport and Island residents who permitted us to share their truly magical properties .. and our fabulous dining hosts at Caiger's Fishing Lodge and The Cornwall's Restaurant for their fine food and impeccable service and hospitality during our most enjoyable stay. Be assured that we will each carry the "Good News" about Rockport... and share it wherever we go!
Until the 2nd Annual Rockport IPAP Paint Out next September... a HUGE Thank You ... ALL for this incredible painting experience!
Stay tuned for Part Two and more pix and details... and Good Painting to ALL!