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The story of Port Coldwell, the Group of Seven and Dave Sills "Fifty" music album intrigued me so much that I felt inclined to record it both in paint and words. The story needed to be told. Dave Sills is a terrific meteorologist who I worked with at Environment Canada. He is also a singer and songwriter whose Grandmother Agnes was born and raised in Port Coldwell. I wrote in an email to Dave Sills: I am headed into the studio with a Port Coldwell painting in my mind. May I use an image of yours from Flickr Dave? Maybe that old postcard too... Just an idea. I still need to select a canvas.
Here is what Dave wrote after seeing the sketch I completed after Day One on this project: That's really something Phil. Really draws the eye in. I know at least a dozen people that will want a print when it's done! FYI, that's my grandmother's house in the foreground on the left. That little wood structure just in front of it was a swing. Not sure why they had a ladder on the roof. Looks like it was to get to the chimney - maybe for frequent cleaning? Gid and Eileen's house was the one that is just above my grandmother's house in the photo. Please do use whatever imagery you would find useful from my collection! Just an FYI - AY Jackson painted a winter scene very similar to the one in the postcard. See attached (if you want - don't want to spoil your vision). And of course Lawren Harris painted several scenes in Coldwell. Take care, Dave.
The above is the result after a month on the easel. I continued to learn about Port Coldwell. I had never toured the remnants of the village although I passed by on the Trans Canada Highway several times. With the generous assistance of many who also loved the area, the owners of most of the landmarks have been identified. Thank you so much. The post card I consulted was from Kathleen Allen of Allen's Store in Port Coldwell. Those and other pictures of Port Coldwell are now in the collection of her daughter Ann Barker. I have been unsuccessful so far at making contact with Ann. Thank you to Stan Johnson, the President of the Marathon and District Historical Society, for this information.
About Dave's album "Fifty", in Dave's own words: "I had a really good team for the album - lots of pros. Alice is my daughter, Mike is my dad, Ken is my brother - this is a multi-generational recording!
This artwork is based on images from Dave Sills and postcards from Port Coldwell. I used the sky from #2236 "Singleton Sunset Altocumulus". In any case by May 31st I had taken the painting as far as it could go. I take an image of the work after most painting sessions and those are chronicled in the "in Progress" images. My wife was happy to see me doing more structures and fewer skyscapes. I tried my best and after a month I felt it was time to move on. To quote Leonardo Da Vinci however.....”Art is never finished, only abandoned”.
June 7th, 2019
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