This past July, I went “home” to Newfoundland where my Mom’s side of the family lives. While I grew up in Calgary, Alberta, Newfoundland has always held a special place in my heart and identity. It is hard not to love a province known for its hospitality, food, music and beautiful scenery, however, my perception of Newfoundland is not based on the friendly strangers I met, whale watching tours or strolling around downtown St. Johns. I love Newfoundland because my grandparents, aunt and extended family welcomed me to “the rock” with open arms every time I visited.
This trip in particular was a very emotional one as my family had approached the half-year mark of my grandfather’s (Poppy’s) passing. I was excited to see my grandmother (Nanny), but I knew it would be a very different trip than what I was used to.
During our three-week stay, we spent quite a bit of time at Nanny’s cabin in Spread Eagle, NL. Out in the country, surrounded by trees, near the ocean and frequented by a community of friends, Nanny’s cabin is one of my favourite places. The cabin has seen many birthdays, Christmases, and quiet holidays cozied up by the wood-burning stove in the family room. Poppy (being a talented draftsman and craftsman) built the cabin, along with its many extensions. He wanted it to be a place where the entire family would come home to.
On one of the nights that we were lounging in the wood-panelled family room, I asked Nanny if she would consider painting the room to brighten it up. This discussion eventually lead to planning out a mural on a wall 3.5 feet long, 23 feet wide (and if this wasn’t a crazy enough idea, painting the wall involved me standing on a plank balanced between two ladders, 5 feet up.) I was prepared to take on the challenge though. How hard could it be?
One thing I learned about projects I take on, is that whatever length of time I estimate a project taking, it should then be doubled, if not tripled in length. When I did up a quick sketch, purchased brushes + paint and started priming the wall, I said to everyone below, “it should take me a couple of days to finish.” Silly me.
6 days later, I was finally happy with the finished product. (But mostly my family had to pry the brushes away from me so I wouldn’t keep adding to it).
The mural was firstly meant to brighten up the room with a light colour, but I also wanted to include East coast themes in a light-hearted way. On the far left of the mural, I painted a rock with a few puffins perched on it. Then moving towards the centre, green sea creatures and plants are positioned beneath a blue humpback whale. Moving farther right, the water that the whale appears to be submerged in, levels off into rocky shores with a lighthouse on the edge of the shoreline. I incorporated patterns such as polka dots, stripes and scallops into areas like the whale, sky, water and rock to bring a textile/ quilt-like quality to the painting.
During the week that I painted the mural, my family were my biggest critics, and even bigger cheerleaders. Every morning we would push the sectional couch aside and set up my ladders for me to start painting for the day. Nanny invited many of her friends to check out the evolving wall and it seemed like everyone was excited to see the finished result. My family all agreed that Poppy would have been very proud of the new mural in his cabin. He was always one of my biggest supporters.
In the end, I could’t be more pleased with Nanny’s reaction to her mural. She gave me a beautiful card that read, “thank you for making a sad cabin feel happy again.”
So glad you love it Nanny. xoxo