Near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on Prince’s Inlet, rests a dilapidated excursion boat. I understand it was used in the 1940s and 50s as a whale watching craft. We are here again this year on a painting vacation staying in the home of a friend. The house overlooks the water of Prince’s Inlet. This small bay was once commercial with many fish stores and docks. Today it is surrounded by luxury homes on landscaped properties. The Lunenburg Yacht Club with it’s flotilla of sail boats is on the far bank and on occasion The Bluenose II, Nova Scotia’s replica champion of early 20th century open sea races, anchors overnight here. One of the few reminders of the past is the old blue wreck at it’s weather beaten pier.
Yesterday I decided to refurbish the old boat and put it back in service if only in a painting. I painted a preliminary image on paper just to get the feel of the curves of the hull and develop the colors before trying to produce a painting worthy of canvas. Not quite satisfied, I set the painting on the hearth last night to take a new look in the morning light.
We had a magnificent sunrise this morning. As we sat drinking our morning coffee the light came through the aperture of a front windowpane and moved across the painting in a double line. The ten-minute light show as the beam slanted across the painting was enlightening. First, only on vacation would I notice and only on vacation would I take the time to watch. The movement of the sun in that short span of time showed me where the shadows should be to make the top of the boat proportional to the rest of the painting and the hull appear more concave at the bow. Finally the light moved across the water in the lower third of the painting and revealed how I might show more depth and movement. The final painting will be better for this short ten-minute enlightenment by the morning sunshine.
I wonder how often we could be informed and our work and our art could be improved by ten minutes of quiet focused study. How much better could we be with just a few minutes invested in waiting for enlightenment?