Friday, May 3, 2013

How to Build a Boat: Shelley Mitchell shares her Process with us!

Artist Shelley Mitchell is a well-loved Nova Scotia artist that we are proud to showcase at Argyle Fine Art. We're  looking forward to her annual show, opening Friday, May 10th. Please join us that evening from 7-9pm, or drop by on Saturday, May 11th and meet her at the gallery in the afternoon.
We asked Shelley to be our feature writer for this blog entry. Here is what she wrote. Enjoy!  It gives a wonderful view into Shelley's process...with lots of help from Charlie, her husband and partner in crime.
 I go to great lengths to find lovely hand crafted boats to paint because of their elegance of design. As well as being constantly on the look out while sailing in Mahone Bay and Lunenburg in the summers, I take at least one trip down the New England coast each year and either drive or sail to remote (and not so remote) harbours looking for small boatyards and marinas. In among the inflatable tenders you will often find an old beauty tied up and waiting. That's when my husband Charlie springs into action and unties and repositions the boat so I can get exactly the position I need (sometimes hanging by one hand from a pier or lying on a float with my elbows in the water)
The 3 elements I want are 1. a boat with good lines, 2. interesting water with color and/or textures and 3. great light. I often need to get these 3 things separately and combine them on the canvas. Usually I wait for the light (sometimes for a day or 2) and then move the boat onto the good water. It can be tricky and time consuming. We spend a lot of time revisiting boats in different light and weather often at dawn and sunset.  Charlie will take someones rowboat out for a row without permission and we've been questioned by many security people and locals.
Usually we can talk our way out of a problem and we always tie every one back up exactly as we found it. Except one time we put the oars back in the wrong boat and made our getaway as the owner was scratching his head wondering what was going on! Charlie has boundless energy and a good eye for finding and working with boats and I'd never get what I needed without his help and encouragement.

One of the paintings in my upcoming show at Argyle Fine Art, "Waterlines", is called Red Shed Reflected and was an adventure in patience and luck. I had found a beautiful boat and an idea for interesting water and a hope the weather might cooperate, but since none of these things actually came together I used the form of the boat and artistic imagination for the painting. 
This is what I had to work from:

This is what I ended up painting. I think it turned out pretty well.  What I want from a painting is a moment in time that shares my experience of that day surrounded by water, light and magic, a gift to myself and others.

See you at the show!
Shelley Mitchell