I was the water-wrinkled child pulled unwillingly from the seashore, teeth chattering with cold but still unwilling to let go of the water. I was the child unwilling to be removed from the cocoon of a warm bath, as the water had much more appeal than a towel and bed. I was the child scouring streams and rivers, 'rescuing' tadpoles and frogs and lugging them home in jam jars.
Living on this rocky island in the Atlantic, I'm surrounded by many forms of water. The landscape is dotted with ponds, lakes, rivers and streams and the ocean holds it all together. There are 29,000 kilometres of coastline in this province - enough to cross the continent four times and back.
Less than five minutes from my house I can stand at the foot of the ocean. I drive past the Atlantic every day, close enough to see it, hear it and smell it. Its funny how being surrounded by it, I take it for granted and it becomes part of my landscape without me realizing it.
I lived previously in a house in Pouch Cove that was overlooked the water, almost on the cliff edge. I could watch whales from my kitchen window or deck. On stormy nights, the sound of the waves hitting the rocky shoreline would vibrate the house gently and I always found it soothing while it worried others.
I still look to the sea to predict the weather and watch the changing light on the water and cliffs. I watch small and large boats come and go and marvel at sea life from tiny capelin to giant whales. Even the work I do is related directly to water, so something is telling me to stop resisting it and 'go with the flow'. My Piscean nature can be blamed for moving up and down stream at the same time - or at least trying to.
My background in art pushes me towards dry media as a first love, however, oils and watercolours are playing a more prominent role and often waterscapes beg for colour. Water is conducive to being reproduced in many forms from quick sketches to complex paintings, all of which capture the movement, transparency and life that makes it such a unique element.
The oil painting at the left shows an outcrop of jagged rocks in Logy Bay that are synonymous with Newfoundland's coastline and that have spelled disaster for many ships whose navigational ability was inadequate in either equipment, skills or being unable to manhandle a ship through severe weather conditions.
The movement of water around rocks is one of its most compelling features. Without the relentless waves and tides brushing against the shore, how else could we measure the ocean's strength? The ripples and light reflections created by skipping stones on ponds and lakes is measured only through the effect the stone has on the water.
I have threatened for some time to capture some of the island's watery charms and Watermarks is the push for me to do so. Newfoundland's coast and inlands are ancient, pure and full of secrets to be revealed through my eyes and hands. The pieces that I will undertake will be as much my discovery as that of those who follow me.
While my work will predominantly be based in Newfoundland my travels pull me to capturing other waters such as this sea arch in Laguna Beach, California where I visited last year. The sea arch here is similar to those found in Newfoundland and many other parts of the world. It will be interesting to compare the geological makeup and colour changes from the Pacific to the Atlantic ocean.
I have been bound to detail, being a realist, and that may come across in some pieces when I choose to intimately examine a small part of ocean life. I also want to explore the painterly side of me that will work on larger, looser pieces, perhaps finding a new style or niche as I explore the water around me in colour.
A lot of the water around me will be in a frozen lockdown for the winter, depending on how the weather decides to treat the island, so I'll be almost like a diviner, searching for pockets of open water. Or I will be exploring ice and how to capture water's frozen essence.
Spring provides crops of icebergs that float by or come to rest in bays and coves, grounded on the ocean floor. Sometimes, depending on the direction of the wind, sheets of pack ice push into the same coves and bays and bring with it seals who surface and bask in the sun. There are so many possibilities.
My blog, Illustrated Life, gives a sampling of my art, my thoughts and my life in rural Newfoundland. The creation of Watermarks and its talented members will provide room for exploration and learning.
Many thanks to its founders Vivien Blackburn, Lindsay Olsen and Katherine Tyrrell, who made this possible and invited me to join in.
There is something hypnotic about the ocean and its ceaseless movement. It is vast and cold and ever changing in terms of light and colour.
I want each piece to tell its own story, from 16th century shipwrecks to modern waterways.
I want to show you the seasons as they are reflected in the water.
I want to introduce you to other local artists who also share a love for the seascapes and coastline of this rocky place.
I want to take you to places with names that link the sea and history. Names such as Tickle Cove, Heart's Delight and Cupids conjure images of happy times while Wreck Cove, Bleak Island, Famine Point or Mistaken Point tell a different story of hardship and death. The water around me maps the roots that stretch from 15th century Europe to Newfoundland and plots the success and failure of life on this island that depended on the Atlantic ocean to exist and still does in many ways.
I hope you'll join me on my journey.