Evening has been my time to walk down to the shore and seek out someone to meet and ask about their relationship with the coast. But as I looked out the window at midday I saw a form settling into a chair in front of an easel and knew I had this person their story. Surely an artist sitting facing the coast, brush in hand, would have much to say about what he or she was seeing. Surely they were painting their relationship. Camera in hand I crossed the road, bringing the Point down the hill into view, revealing another, and another, and another, and…easily a dozen artists and easels pointing in various directions, painting various faces of this headland. I walked past the first woman I saw, thinking of an interview with Brandon Stanton and his description of how he sometimes walks the streets of New York for hours before finding a face he wants to hear more from. Don’t rush. Walk the length of the point, smiling and nodding, stealing glances at what was being made on the canvases, walking all the way to the farthest maker, Vonnie, to ask what was up. It was a gathering of The Alfrescoes, “Plein Air Painters of Victoria” (http://www.alfrescoes.com/) - the only requirement of joining: you like painting…outside. Vonnie (whose name is a truncation of the Welsh, Myfanwy, given to her from the friend of her mother’s) told me that the way it works is that someone calls and tells the group where to meet and then everyone arrives and gets down to work.
Vonnie was working on a painting of a rock and adjacent pathway, her back actually turned away from the coast, noting that she’d painted the mountains many times before, had thought today that there are other areas that form the coast, “that are also intriguing, because there are lots of forms…you look at shapes - that’s something I learned when I was learning to paint - you see the shapes and how they construct the bigger area, and you can apply that to anywhere, how the rocks are, how the mountains pile up again each other.” She’s been looking at the coast her whole life, having been born and raised in Victoria, but it was her father, an artist, who first tried to teach her to see it. “He always made us look at things, you know, really see them. And I thought I was pretty observant. But then I started painting, and now I’m starting to see all sorts of things that are part of the coast, the way the rocks are formed, the way the moss and the algae and everything else that’s on them … you don’t find these things anywhere else.”
My sister moved from here to the interior…I couldn’t even imagine doing it.”
What would be missing?