27 June 2013

33 on 33: Day Thirty-three

At the end of the tour
When the road disappears
If there's any more people around
When the tour runs aground
And if you're still around
Then we'll meet at the end of the tour

–TMBG, "The End of the Tour"

This was my final day of painting en plein air for my 33 on 33 project (here's my final and comprehensive Map of Stops) and I was at the Glenora Ferry, the easternmost end of Highway 33 in Prince Edward County. The ferry takes you across the Adolphus Reach to Adolphustown, where Hwy 33/Loyalist Parkway continues on to Kingston.

View from the queue.

I've taken this ferry many, many times and it's my favourite way to get to Kingston because I get to ride the tasty ferry and the rest of the drive is gloriously scenic, being alongside the water.

The Murray Canal, The Regent Theatre, and the Glenora Ferry were the only pre-determined stops for this project, all others being decided as I went along, so I knew this would conclude my journey and I had to make it count. The forecast was for rain (yet again!) but the weather actually got better over the course of my painting until the sky was clear by the end.

I didn't know if I'd be a fast enough painter to be able to include the ferry in my painting today because of its very brief stay at the dock, but I sketched it in and kept adding more detail each time it arrived, to the point where I was able to get quite a good likeness of it and I'm very happy with the final painting.

Stop here for Ferry.

The mill and the enforcer.

Built in 1806 by Peter Van Alstine, the Glenora Mill was often the first view of Prince Edward County for early settlers. There is currently an excellent port produced by Karlo Estates that's named for Van Alstine.

Going "behind the scenes" to take some pictures I managed to get all of the old Mill in the shot, but I couldn't get back far enough to get all of the Ministry of Natural Resources building in one shot. I did get it in another way, though (further down below).

Uncommon view.

Thankfully, I didn't even have to sneak around to take the above two shots thanks to the helpful MTO folks who let me explore the area a bit. 

"Headin'dulla beach, boys?"

Back in the 1980s, when music videos were more of a thing than they are now, Niagara Falls band Honeymoon Suite shot their video for "Wave Babies" on a beach at Sandbanks, and the intro features an older Glenora Ferry (IRL continuity error: when they're "headin'dulla beach" they're actually boarding the boat on the Glenora side, therefore leaving PEC).

My set-up.

Again aided and abetted by the incredibly friendly folks working at the ferry for the MTO (thanks, Jim!) I scored this great spot out of everyone's way and with a better vantage point of the dock and the ferry than I could have achieved on my own. 


Sure, I could have gotten this shot of (from left to right) the Glenora Mill, The Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of Fisheries/MTO buildings, and the Glenora dock from the vehicle deck, but I was invited up to the wheelhouse –and offer that was impossible to refuse.

Captain Norm at the helm.

I have to admit, with each step I climbed up to the wheelhouse I felt myself getting younger and younger, becoming as giddy as a schoolboy, but I maintained my composure and remained cool; not everybody gets to go up there.

Me at the helm.

Just after we cleared the Adolphustown dock, the captain said to me, "Well, you painted her, you might as well drive her." A few seconds later, when I realized I didn't just imagine him saying that, I took the centre seat and actually drove the ferry for a few minutes. No, I didn't dock it back at Glenora.

Heading to Adolphustown.

This was a great day of painting and a more-than-satisfying conclusion to my journey across the beautiful and historically rich County of Prince Edward.

And here's the painting.

25 June 2013

33 on 33: Day Thirty-two

32 footsteps leading to the room
Where the paint doesn't want to dry
32 footsteps running down the road
Where the dirt reaches the sky

–TMBG, "32 Footsteps"

While scouting a location for my second-last stop for my 33 on 33 project, I was drawn by this amazing sight heading east towards the Glenora Ferry:

Majestic in the morning.

That lone tree/island became my subject for today's painting, but the sky changed abruptly by the time I set up my gear, so –apologies and regrets– the final painting isn't as dramatic.

[A] dock of the bay.
Sorry, Otis, I have no time to waste.

Like yesterday, today's painting features part of Picton Bay (here's my Map of Progress), and this dock belongs to the Glenora Marina, a friendly place where they warn you of imminent rain in time for you to seek shelter so your painting doesn't get wrecked because you're listening to music on your headphones and you can't hear the thunder and didn't look behind you to notice the dark clouds approaching.

I managed to get most of the painting done before the rain poured down, finishing it in my trusty dry and spacious van.

Marina HQ.

Established in the late 60s by Al Wagner, it's still thriving today under the care of his son Larry.

Marina H Cute.

Look at that face! It's like something from a British kids' show; the most adorable marina in the world! I just wanna pinch its barny cheeks.

Pepin prepares.

Frédéric Pepin of the CBC came out to interview me for this project and met me at tomorrow's (and my final) stop, the Glenora Ferry. He conducted the interview with me in the van –appropriate, since I spent so much time in it, not only driving to all the locations, but painting in it for about half of the 33 days. We then went back to the Marina where he videoed me doing a few touch-ups en plein air during a pause in the rain. Then back to Small Pond to shoot some of my previous paintings in this series.

Frédéric had interviewed me before [skip to around 18:42] last December during my Burning the Midnight Oil ink painting marathon and it was great to have him come out again for my latest adventure.

The Painter and The Reporter:
in tandem at the ferry.

Click HERE to see the interview (skip ahead to 16:30).

And here's the painting.

24 June 2013

33 on 33: Day Thirty-one

And though I once preferred a human being's company
They pale before the monolith that towers over me

–TMBG, "The Statue Got Me High"

Nearing the end of my 33 on 33 project I only had to choose two more stops before I reach the Glenora Ferry on Wednesday. Today I stationed myself at the intersection of Highway 33 and Glenora Estates Road (here's my Map of Progress) at the top of a hill overlooking a residential area that is largely on the waterfront of Picton Bay.

Facing east.

Rain was again forecast, but I set myself up outside and managed to finish in the invigorating summer morning air, well before any sign of rain.

Neighbourhood art project?

The neighbourhood recycling was picked up just before I parked and the randomly-tossed blue boxes looked like a half-assed Douglas Coupland installation. My set-up was beside the road facing the water, just out of frame on the right.


On the other side of Picton Bay, along Highway 49 is the Essroc cement plant, giving residents on this side an eyeful of their industriousness. What a view!

The Diamond J Ranch.

Also at this intersection is the Diamond J Ranch (you can see part of their horse fence in the top photo). I've only ridden a horse once, years ago, but I enjoyed it and maybe I should pay these folks a visit and...get back on the horse...

Morning graze.

And here's the painting.

23 June 2013

33 on 33: Day Thirty

When the ship runs out of ocean
And the vessel runs aground
Land's where we know the boat is found
Now there's nothing unexpected
About the water giving out
"Land's" not a word we have to shout

–TMBG, "Women & Men"

The Picton Harbour was an easy choice of subject as I continued to make my way east along Highway 33 and was my last stop in Picton (here's my Map of Progress).

This stop was the shortest distance from my home –about 3.5km away– and was two days after the longest day of the year. This coincidence was something I realized only about a week into my 33 on 33 project, which is too bad, since I would have scheduled my shortest trip to take place on the longest day, had I been aware.


I've passed the Picton Harbour almost every day since moving here and had always wanted but never managed to go down there and take some photos to make some paintings one day. Most interesting thing there besides the glassy water is Rosebud, the tugboat, standing out all bright red against the monochromatic backdrop. Today I managed to finally paint her.


The surface of the water stayed quite glassy for the duration of my painting, giving me amazingly clear mirror-like reflections.

Latitude:  44°   0"  10'
Longitude:  -77°   8"  28'


When I got up at 5am Small Pond was enveloped in such a dense fog I could barely see 15m, but by the time I arrived at the harbour it was just a bit hazy as the sun began burning off the mist.

The infamous Town Hill.

This is the notorious "Town Hill" where there is a three-way intersection at the top, making for a more annoying traffic arrangement than even the stupid five-way by the Tim Hortons down the road.

The reason it's annoying is that the two streams of traffic at the top have to yield to the uphill traffic (whether they're turning left onto Main Street or turning right onto Highway 49). Most new/transitory people don't realize that uphill traffic has right-of-way (this is especially important in winter to avoid vehicles sliding backwards on icy roads waiting for their turn) and the yield signs are either ignored, aren't descriptive enough, or people just get confused by the annoying arrangement of it all.

As annoying as it is, I find it a bit more annoying to hear people complain about drivers not magically knowing how to navigate The Hill upon first encounter as though this kind of arrangement is commonplace.

Good morning!

While looking around for a suitable vantage point to paint today I encountered this amazing snapping turtle (roughly half a metre in length) just hanging out on a grassy hill just up from the boardwalk. It's possible it was a female laying eggs (I saw a patch where it looked like it was scratched away, possibly for this purpose)...but it could have just been basking in the morning sunshine. Either way, it was a beautiful creature and I was happy to make its brief acquaintance.

And here's the painting.

22 June 2013

33 on 33: Day Twenty-nine

She's a different kind of girl
The kind you see in pictures
I think you might have seen her
Richard's on Richards

–TMBG, "Vancouver"

Aside from my starting point at the Murray Canal and my ending point at the Glenora ferry dock, The Regent Theatre on Main Street in Picton was the only subject I knew without a doubt that I would be including for my 33 on 33 project.

No comment on this week's movies.

This year the Regent is just shy of celebrating its century of operation, having opened its doors in 1918 by the Cook family, working out of a former grain store and office building that was itself already 80 years old. A major renovation and redesign completed in 1922 saw the addition of the vast auditorium and art deco motifs. Here's a cool video briefly detailing its history.

Theatre Regent Theatre Theatre.

Ground floor on the left is the box office for live-on-stage and live-by-satellite events at the theatre, and on the right is The Regent Café, owned and operated independently and separately from the theatre.


The theatre underwent another renovation a couple of years ago, seeing the installation of a digital projector (the old film projector I first trained on is still in the booth and functional), the improvement of the auditorium, washrooms, and concession area, but the front doors and lobby area with its ticket window were preserved and partially restored (those front doors are nice, but drafty in winter).

Great marquée.

I absolutely love this marquée in the daylight, but seeing the neon lights at night is something pretty extra special. My only problem is with the green lights that remained on the marquée's face after the recent renovation which enabled the display of showtimes. They're neons remaining from the previous look of the marquée, but they should have been swapped out with white lights to make the words more legible (and it would look less tacky).

The summertime experiment.

Since becoming one of the projectionists at The Regent in 2010, I've taken over the scheduling and screening of the monthly Classics, setting up two streams, Vintage matinées, and Modern evening shows. This summer I've been given the green light to try something a little bolder, instituting the After Dark program. I figure since the days are so long in the summer and most people are having fun outdoors at the beach or wherever while it's still light out, late night screenings would be a worthwhile experiment (in a larger city like Toronto, this would be an easy success). So this July and August my friend Clinton and I have come up with seven themed weekends featuring 18 classic movies to screen starting at 11pm. We're pretty damn excited about this.

Rocking out (in and out of the rain).

As on Day Five, my friend, singer/songwriter Jeff Jones came to hang out with me and play some music while I painted. Being a Saturday and having relatively decent weather for much of the morning and early afternoon, we had huge numbers of people stopping to chat with us and/or just check us out and see what we were up to.

Blame it on the rain.

With Jeff's expression, the Dutch angle, and my upside down painting, I think this picture pretty much sums up our struggle to stay out of the rain, moving in and out of a storefront undergoing renovations (here's my Map of Progress). Nearing the completion of the painting, I decided to let the rain fall on it for a short while, creating streaks and recording the elements in a very spontaneous and natural way. I had meant to let this happen for quite a while now, and after encountering rain for about half of my painting days, it was about time.

And here's the painting.

21 June 2013

33 on 33: Day Twenty-eight

I've been leaving on my things
So in the morning when the morning bird sings
There's still dinner on my dinner jacket
'Til the dinner bell rings

–TMBG, "Dinner Bell"

Yesterday I talked about how it might be forgivable for a big corporate business to move into a historic building if it meant the building would remain intact and its architecture preserved (for example: a Starbucks moving into the Brick Church on Main Street Picton would have been more preferable to having the church torn down). But would it be forgivable if this kind of thing went unchecked?

Development overload.

Good thing the nightmare scenario in the image above hasn't happened...yet. I created this Photoshopped image the summer they tore down the church as a sort of cautionary tale of rampant development and history lost.

It's also almost the exact angle I used for today's 33 on 33 stop on Main Street Picton (here's my Map of Progress). What I turned into a Starbucks is actually The Bean Counter Café on the near end and Buddha Dog on the other.

Buddha Dog.

Opposite angle of the old granary building (go ahead and try Google; I couldn't find anything useful) showing Buddha Dog –where the ingredients are local, and the dogs tasty. Get a "flight" and enjoy!

Also, using only their well-designed word-free logo for their shop sign is very cool in its minimalist approach.


Well-kept and beautiful: I have a soft spot for these kinds of interesting architectural details on what are otherwise basic uninteresting boxes. Tasty like a Buddha Dog.

Angles and colours.

Again, basic boxes accented with great details...here with bonus angles and lovely colour choices to boot!

Guaranteed to make the cut, Kelly Roblin has tons of interesting stuff available in her colourful and inviting shop, notably the artwork of amazing local artist Niall Eccles.

Best pizza around.

Unassumingly located between a laundromat and (maybe) the last video store in the world, Prince Edward Pizza makes the best (commercial) pizzas I've had in PEC (the Small Pond cob oven makes great ones, too!). Their crust has a great texture I've never experienced before and Clinton Hele is a master with topping combinations.

That clock tower in the background is part of the Picton United Church, whose bell rings every hour...whether you like it or not.

The Grill.

This is the opposite view of the grey "Wendy's" building in the very first pic. The top two floors are residential and the awnings on the main floor belong to The Acoustic Grill, where their frequent sandwich board motto is "great tunes, cold beer, bad coffee." Their burgers made with local ingredients are fantastic.

On the last Wednesday of each month you can find a bunch of us gathered around some tables in the back for the Monthly Prince Edward County Comix Jam, where we collaboratively draw comics, drink beer, and catch up with each other in a wonderfully laid back atmostphere. Join us! Did I mention The Grill's burgers are fantastic?

The Painted Peppercorn.

Visible and left alone in the top Photoshopped image, The Painted Peppercorn is a cozy place which also has good food and a nice atmosphere.

Penny Morris is great and has all kinds of interesting bulk food items for seemingly every dietary requirement. I think this and the The County Farm Centre are the only bulk food shops in all of PEC (but I could be wrong).

Looking east.

This is only about a block west from the photo below, near Prince Edward Pizza (you can even see my van behind the pickup parked on the street), showing that all the businesses listed above are within a short walk from each other.

Still looking east.

There's my trusty blue van in the far left. My painting spot today was on the sidewalk, beside the planter box on the right. That weird little infothing towering between the boxes used to have a great map of Picton illustrated by Niall Eccles, but it was replaced with a more corporate-looking and less fun one.

And here's the painting.

20 June 2013

33 on 33: Day Twenty-seven

Standing in my yard
Where they tore down the garage
To make room for the torn down garage

–TMBG, "A Self Called Nowhere"

Call me sentimental
But I want to go back
And commemorate the place
With a historical plaque

–TMBG, "Canajoharie"

Today's stop for 33 on 33 was no accident or improvisation.
I planned this site very soon after I began this project.

I painted an empty lot.

They tore down the church
to make room for the torn down church.

In August of 2010, the current owners of the 135-year-old "Brick Church," a Picton landmark, made a decision that would forever change the face of Main Street: despite popular opinion that it should be preserved as a Heritage or otherwise significant building, they hired convicted environmental criminal Jim Sinclair to tear it down...on a Sunday morning. Read about this madness here and here and here.

Something I noticed during the controversy, before the demolition, was that a certain councillor (who happened to concurrently be a real estate agent) went on record about this saying that owners should be able to do whatever they want with their property. After the demolition this same guy called the whole thing very sad and stated that it was such an unfortunate loss to the community. I'm paraphrasing and I can't find links to the articles in which these two opposing views were stated, but that's the gist of it. I wasn't surprised that a politician would be so obviously hypocritical, just kind of dumbfounded that he thought no one would remember what he said on record (in print, both times) just months before.

Now, the church had been deconsecrated for about a decade at the time and the owners were trying to run a second-hand thrift-type shop out of it (because Picton needed yet another one, I guess), but were so bad at being business people that, rather than trying something else, or selling the building, they figured their best and only option was to tear it down. There's a lot of speculation about the reasoning, one story is that there was a buyer, but they only wanted the land and didn't want to build whatever they were planning and be known as the people who tore down the church, so they had the owners do it. We do know that there were offers made, supposedly beyond asking price, but none were accepted.

Whatever the real reasons were, it's still an empty lot to this day:

For sale or lease –approaching three years now.

Have a look at the devastation in the story links above. Some solace can be had in knowing the ever-friendly Henry and Natalie of the most excellent Humble Bread rescued a whole bunch of bricks from the demolotion site and used them for the facade of their gorgeous and gigantic bread oven.

As much as Picton doesn't need a Starbucks, I think most residents would have preferred a Starbucks moving into the church –retaining its architecture and thereby its landmark status on Main Street– to the demolition that has only served to add yet another empty lot to our growing collection.

Successfully repurposed architecture.

There are many examples of old buildings being used for newer purposes all over the world and the buldings above (which happen to be next door to the torn down church) are great examples, retaining their architectural beauty and helping to give Main Street its historic character.

Looking west down Main Street.

Main Street has been changing for some time, and, unlike the repurposed buildings, the scene above bears no resemblance to anything from the "olden tymes." Of course, change isn't necessarily bad, and it's largely unavoidable. Sometimes fires happen and whole blocks get razed. But does newer architecture have to be so damn boring and uninspired? Surely new buildings can be built using the latest technology, but designed to fit in among the existing architecture. I've seen it done, but I'd like to see more of it.

Incidentally, I was set up right in front of the McDonald's to paint the empty lot today. Here's my Map of Progress.

And here's the painting.

19 June 2013

33 on 33: Day Twenty-six

Through the overgrowth
Of the underbrush
Shone a fossil tooth
That I must have dropped
Very long ago
Which reminded me
How we wound up where we are now

–TMBG, "Canajoharie"

It sounds kind of monumental when I put it like this: it took me 26 days to reach Picton.

Named for Sir Thomas Picton (who was a big jerk according to the account of his career in the New World) and known as the town where John A. Macdonald managed a law office for his uncle, Picton is Prince Edward County's largest municipality and it's postal code (K0K 2T0) encompasses such a large area that even Small Pond Arts is considered to be within its limits.


I initially planned to be at the roundabout on the outskirts of town, the junction between Highway 33 and Sandy Hook Road, but parking close to it wasn't an option and there isn't much to see there, anyway. Conceptually, painting in the middle of a landscaped roundabout is a great idea, but the painting wouldn't have been interesting. And I would've had to use a certain Yes lyric instead of the usual They Might Be Giants quotes.

The banners on the lampposts in town were designed by my friend, Carl Wiens, world class illustrator and cycling enthusiast, who also just happens to live in Picton.

The west end looking east.

I don't think anyone calls it that, but the pic above is part of the west end of Picton with the centre being the stupid 5-way intersection by the Tim Hortons, I guess. It's hard to tell when Main Street is only about seven blocks long. This is also where I set up today (in front of the Metro) for my 33 on 33 project, but the subject of my painting was the reverse angle with the intersection at Lake Street in view. Here's my Map of Progress (Picton's gonna have a lot of overlapping dots)

Cute, but too leafy.

I almost painted this quaint little thing, but all that ivy was too much for me to wrap my brain around so I did a street scene instead.

Where I am now.
(photo by Judith Burfoot)