‘Hermit’ time on island at heart of series

Published on March 13, 2014
A photo taken on Pictou Island during Stephanie Robertson’s creative process.


"Vehicles sleeping in the snow" is how Pictou resident Stephanie Roberton describes her latest watercolour series.

"Basically I ‘hermited’ myself away for just over a month on Pictou Island where I decided I was going to paint." And, painting without electricity, running water, and ensuring the fire was kept burning was initially what Stephanie accomplished.

"I really enjoy self-sufficient style living, having to haul water and firewood are things I get satisfaction in doing. Cooking was primarily on a propane stove. The neighbours who live year round on the island, were great to help keep my camera batteries charged.

“Also, our cabin is located on the east end of the island, so sometimes not having sufficient light was an issue as the days got dark quite early. Once I got back on the mainland I was able to put finishing touches on each piece where it was required."

Apprenticing in small engine repair, it has been somewhat of a "balancing act between the two passions. I've always loved working with my hands, and I'm intrigued by the know-how and grime that comes with working with engines, and the art behind machines that move.

“I knew that there were some abandoned vehicles on the island and requested for the most part permission to have them photographed and painted. I'm guessing that they are 1950s to ’70s vintage vehicles. Because of the amount of snow this winter I had to put on snowshoes and hike in to the spot where I knew an abandoned vehicle was. And, not having too much technology, I would sketch out the photo from my camera onto a larger sized sheet.

“I typically paint with oils, but because of the drying properties of the paint and the logistics of being on Pictou Island I made the decision to use watercolour. Winter brought me back to my art, and where my heart is in living simply. I was able to meet with Dave MacIntosh, who really inspired me to pick up oil paints. Sharon Nowlan was another local artist who has been of great help to me. And Gary Nowlan who carefully framed each piece for me."

Stephanie's series "Vehicles Sleeping in the Snow" can be viewed at Stone Soup Cafe on Water Street in Pictou. On Saturday, from 4 to 6 p.m. you can meet the artist in person as she hosts her very first solo art show at Stone Soup. Everyone is welcome to drop by. Thanks for sharing part of your winter interlude inspiration with us Stephanie Robertson. 


Shawna Coleman is a Westville resident who is never without a camera or a listening ear. She is a regular correspondent with The News and can be reached at shawcole@hotmail.com