Wooden Boats - Relics of the past
Traditional construction of wooden boats, like many handcrafts, is a declining industry with just a few people left in the province who practice the craft and share the techniques with others. Finding wooden boats on the water is more by chance than common occurrence. The vessels are quickly being replaced by fibre glass as a lighter, lower maintenance option. Motors have all but replaced human power in propulsion. Since the cod moratorium in 1992, the fishery is a ghost of itself and rural areas with no fishery income show the impact of that loss. This book provides a glimpse into my search for wooden boats and the process of documenting them in paint.
I went looking for boats. What I found was a window to the past.
Paintings are available for viewing or purchase at Peter Lewis Gallery, 5 Church Hill, St. John's, NL. The exhibition runs until June 26, 2015.
June 12 - 26, 2015
Opening reception Friday, June 12 7pm - 9pm
Peter Lewis Gallery
5 Church Hill
St. Johns, NL
Artist talk 2pm Saturday, June 13, 2015
I gave an artist talk at Peter Lewis Gallery where I shared images of sketches, studies and paintings and provided insight into the creation of the paintings and my search for wooden boats.
Download Artist Talk presentation
Download Wooden Boats - Relics of the Past
This book was created to accompany the Wooden Boats series and provide insight into the work process behind the series, information on the types of boats and their uses through working sketches, studies and in progress views of paintings as well as the final pieces.
I am providing it as a downloadable resource for a small fee, at the link below.
Published on June 09, 2015
The Telegram, St. John's, NL
Relics of the past Download article
Artist Jeanette Jobson went looking for wooden boats to paint — and it wasn’t easy She may have been a fisherman in a previous life, or perhaps a mermaid. One day, artist Jeanette Jobson says, she’ll move out of the water and onto land.
But not right now.
Jobson, known for her watercolours and her Japanese gyotaku — fish printing — art pieces, is opening a solo show of paintings at the Peter Lewis Gallery in St. John’s Friday. “Wooden Boats: Relics of the Past” is a series of 15 oil paintings, and Jobson worked long and hard to complete them, not only on the actual execution of the work, but finding wooden boats to paint.
It’s somewhat of a theme for Jobson, who often finds herself in a similar situation when looking for whole and uncut fish to print. It’s not easy.
Having secured a grant last year from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council for the series of wooden boats, Jobson put out a call on social media to find some. With friends, she embarked on road trips around the Avalon Peninsula, down to Burin, and around the central portion of the island in search of boats for inspiration.
“I begged, borrowed and stole information from people who knew anything about boats,” Jobson said, laughing. “I think I’ve been in every cove and community. It was a bit like ‘Where’s Waldo?’ I’d say, Oh there’s one! Oh, wait. Fibreglass.”
Traditional wooden boatbuilding is a dying craft, Jobson said, with only a few people around who still practise it. Many of the wooden boats she did find were beached or overturned and left to the elements in people’s gardens.
“Fibreglass is the future,” she said. “It’s cheaper, it’s lighter, and you don’t have to paint it every year. I’m a typical townie — I have no practical knowledge of boats in my history, and I never anticipated how difficult it would be to find a wooden boat.”
In the end, she succeeded, locating wooden boats in places like Fermeuse, Green’s Harbour, Winterton and Trinity. She found some close to home, in the Battery area, St. Phillip’s and Petty Harbour.
Jobson’s pieces are done with a palette knife, giving them a dreamy, impressionistic quality that’s less precise than her watercolours and drawings. The paintings are less about the boats as subjects and more about their interaction with light and, in most, water. She worked plein air, creating sketches on site and adding colour notes to them, before taking photos for perspective and completing them in studio. In smaller communities, standing on a wharf with an easel or sketch book almost always prefaced a variation of the same conversation with local residents.
“I could have worn a T-shirt with the answers on it,” Jobson joked. “First is ‘What are you doing?’ Then ‘Why?’ We’d often get into a conversation about wooden boats and where I could find them, but most of the time no one knew and said they don’t exist, or that I should have come there 20 years ago.”
The visits also provided Jobson with a glimpse into a deeper story about Newfoundlanders, opening up a new thought process for her and validating the impact of the fishery loss.
To complement her paintings, Jobson has created a book to provide viewers with insight into her process; she includes some of her working sketches, colour notes and in-progress images with the final pieces, as well as information on the different types of boats and their uses. The book is available for sale, and will be available as a free download from Jobson’s website.
“Wooden Boats: Relics of the Past” will open with a reception at the Peter Lewis Gallery Friday evening from 7-9 p.m., and will run until June 26. On Saturday at 2 p.m., Jobson will host an artist talk about the project at the gallery.