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June 25, 2014 / pleinairman

Montague, Prince Edward Island, Plein Air Festival – Day 1

Starting the Demonstration (Photo by Audrey Bunt)

It’s a little after 4 a.m., and I’m sitting in my cottage suite, drinking coffee and looking out the window, wondering what the weather will do.  The sun has risen – yes, it rises early here, too – somewhere behind the thick clouds, and they’re predicting showers.  I’m supposed to create an award-winning painting today for the Montague “Paint It Beautiful” Plein Air Festival.  I’m sure every painter is hoping the showers will hold off until late.

Montague, Prince Edward Island

From my room at Riverhouse Inn here in Montague, PEI, I have a fine view of the Montague River’s waterfront and, perched on the hill on the opposite shore, Prince Edward Island’s first museum, the Garden of the Gulf Museum, a beautiful Romanesque structure built in 1887.  We’ll be painting in Montague on Saturday, and I’m considering the museum as a subject.

But that’s not for a few days yet, so I’ll back up.  I was invited as a guest of the event some time ago, and having never been to PEI, I eagerly accepted.  Even though I’ve been living in Canada for several years now, I’ve scarcely made it out of New Brunswick.  (I did manage to get to Nova Scotia last summer.)  PEI was on the list of places I very much wanted to visit.

I drove up from Campobello Island on Monday.  It was a beautiful drive with two ferry crossings and then, of course, the 13-kilometer-long Confederation Bridge that connects PEI to new Brunswick.  The drive across PEI to the eastern end was beautiful, too.  It reminds me so much of Vermont’s Champlain Valley with the rolling hills and farms.  (I even saw a few Holsteins.) The dirt is a deep red, though, so add a little bit of Sedona, Arizona, to that description.

St Peters River, 9×12 oil demonstration

This is the first year of the plein air festival, and it coincides with the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference and the Confederation of Canada.  The province is celebrating this anniversary all summer, and the plein air festival is part of it.  The festival is being organized by Artisans on Main, a collective of local artists based in Montague, and consists of five days of painting culminating on Saturday in a charity “quick draw” and auction plus awards.  Over the week, we’ll be painting all over the eastern end.  Yesterday, we painted in St Peters; today, Georgetown; then Panmure Island, Murray Harbour and, finally, Montague.  The exhibit and award ceremony will be held at the Riverhouse Inn here in Montague.  (For details on the event, visit

The festival is offering a shuttle from Montague for artists who don’t want to drive.  I took the shuttle yesterday to St Peters, where I was to give a painting demonstration.  It was a beautiful day with plenty of sun, but it also was a bit windy.  For my demonstration, which was a painting of St Peter’s River, the wind wasn’t too bad, but as the day progressed, it got worse.  They’d predicted 50 km/h gusts, and I’m sure we hit that.  At least two easels blew over.  Some of us found areas that were more protected from the wind, but I felt the better views were out in the open, so that’s where I positioned myself later.  I was using my Open Box M on a tripod that can extend to a large footprint, so I didn’t lose my easel.  I did, however, have to spend some time at the end picking up the litter that escaped from my trash receptacle.

Today, we’re off to Georgetown, shiretown for the county and PEI’s only deepwater port.  Stay tuned!

Bridge Over St Peters, 9×12 oil

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