Plein Air in Alert Bay

I was up in the Port McNiel area a few weeks ago and visited Alert Bay on Cormorant Island. For kayakers it is a dreamscape. Islands are a short paddle apart and feature zen gardens with friendly beaches. I was taken back at the beauty of the area. I would like to offer a plein air workshop up there in the future.

Through a friend of mine I met the hereditary chief of the Namgis people, Al West. He is over 80 but you wouldn’t know it although he couldn’t hear worth a damn. He is one of the last of the traditional dug out canoe builders and mask carvers. He was wise, full of good humor and an engaging storyteller. You learn much from an old timer like Al and from the perspective of a first nations aboriginal, you get a different take on west coast history. I spent the afternoon touring his boat shed /studio studying his latest creations and the meaning behind them. He sat for 20 minutes as I made a quick portrait oil study.

Attached are some the photos of the visit, field studies and his portrait oil sketch. Experiences like this reminds us that the west coast is historically interesting and full of bigger than life characters.

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