Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Mists of Avalon

Mists of Avalon
20 x 8 watercolour
From the sea to the streets runs the wandering fog,
like the steam from a steer interred in the cold,
and long tongues of water accumulate, covering over
this month that, in our lives, promised heaven.

- Pablo Neruda - Love Sonnet Number 85
There is something about an expanse of water that begets more water in other forms. Mist or fog obscures the view, taking away definition and draping itself over the rocks and trees as well as the water.

Living on the northeast Avalon Peninsula, fog is often blanketing the coastal towns creating 'mauzy' days. The small coves and bays where fishermen sought shelter and created homes still stand, untouched by time in terms of geography and the look of rocks and trees and water.
The peninsula was one of the first European inhabited areas in North America, with the first permanent settlement established at Cuper's Cove in 1610. Sir George Calvert was later given a large land holding on the peninsula. The initial colony of Ferryland grew to a population of 100 becoming the first successful permanent settlement on Newfoundland island. In 1623 Calvert was given a Royal Charter extending the Royal lands and granting them the name Province of Avalon "in imitation of Old Avalon in Somersetshire wherein Glassenbury stands, the first fruits of Christianity in Britain as the other was in that party of America." Calvert wished to make the colony a refuge for Roman Catholics facing persecution in England. In 1625 Calvert was made the first Lord Baltimore in recognition of his achievements.
Admiral's Cove is one of the small settlements on the Avalon, near Ferryland and it is here in the sheltered cove that this watercolour depicts. The fog is just starting to form on the horizon and is softening the headland. In an hour or less, the foreground starts to become hazy with fog, taking colour with it and creeping into your clothes and hair with cold and damp.

Twilight fog
oils 5 x 7

Capturing that magical form of water at its various stages is complex, as it changes before your eyes in both shape and colour. I love the softened look to the sea and land that fog creates and the mournful, incessant sound of the foghorn warning ships they are too close to land.

Many of the traditional lighthouses are now gone, replaced by fog alarms instead. The foghorn works with laser technology. Two laser-beams are transmitted far upon the ocean. If the beams can not intersect - the fog horn is triggered to sound-off. Huge, crashing waves, causing mist, can sometimes trigger a "false-alarm" sounding of the horn.

I prefer the romantic notion of rotating lights and humans manning lighthouses, perched on a rock face in the fog.


Patricia said...

Your paintings are lovely and evocative. Lord Baltimore or Calvert eventually journeyed south to found his colony for Catholics in the state of Maryland. Much of our area has links to Calvert.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I think watercolour is going to suit you very well indeed when painting water! These are lovely and you've caught that misty 'wetness' of the air.

Avalon is such a lovely name I have no idea what its boundaries were in England but have always wanted to know more about it. The geographer will out!

Lindsay said...

This is a lovely post and you really give us a feel for your area. Interesting that a Catholic colony would have a name rooted in pagan traditions!
The blues you are expressing are lovely.

Jeanette said...

The connection to Maryland is interesting Patricia. I have gone to Calvert and Ferryland several times and there is an extensive archeological dig there which uncovered much of the original settlement and its artifacts. The Colony of Avalon its called and its online if you google it.

Katherine, I'm letting water take me on a new journey. I'm breaking out of tight detail with paints and am enjoying it a lot.

I don't know the original boundaries of Avalon either in Britain. I used to explore Glastonbury a lot as I lived in Somerset and loved the references to the Isle of Avalon and King Arthur legends.

I'm sure you can sleuth it out!

Thanks Lindsay. I would imagine most religions are based in some pagan traditions, just glossed over. :)

vivien said...

these are lovely and you are really going places with this series :>)

I loved the word 'mauzy'- one of those local words that's just perfect for what it describes :>)

I find language fascinating - on Meyers Briggs (?) I come out as a Visual Linguist.

Trevor Lingard said...

Hi Jeanette
These paintings are stunning.
I CAN here the fog horn.
Have a lovely Christmas

Jeanette said...

Thanks Vivien. There are so many options in depicting water and derivatives of it!

Newfoundland has some very unique words, spawning the Dictionary of Newfoundland English.

Thank you Trevor. Merry Christmas.

annie said...

Lovely moods, Jeanette. And a lovely new word to describe moments that I love by the sea.

Laureline said...

I love this post! You tell the story so beautifully and your paintings really capture the mystery of dissolving form in atmosphere. I wish you a very happy new year in your beautiful Newfoundland. I'm hoping to visit your part of the world in 2009--your photos, artwork, and narratives are very seductive!

Jeanette said...

Thanks Annie, isn't it such a descriptive word?

Happy New Year Laura, I hope you are able to visit at some point. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Grat work Jeanette...I love your twilight fog, I can almost get lost in it! Fog/mist has a special attraction for me, it transports me to another place, the quiet, the strangeness, the almost insecurity you full. I feel it in your twilight fog.