Monthly Archives: October 2015

RV’ing Around Nova Scotia

Rex Beanland, Lunenburg Campground

Lunenburg Campground

As mentioned in a recent post, I taught at the Canadian Society Of Painters In Watercolour Symposium near Digby,  Nova Scotia earlier this month.  As soon as the symposium was over my wife, Susan, and I rented an RV and took a week to travel from Digby along the coast to Yarmouth and then along the south shore to Halifax.

I have to admit that it took a couple of days to get used to living in an RV.  This one was a 2016, 28′ and pretty darn comfortable but still you’re living in very close quarters.  After that initial period, however,  we just loved it.  Great to stop wherever you want and you’ve got your home right with you.  I remember the first day when we stopped at Digby Harbour. I felt just like a tourist until I remembered we had lawn chairs and 15 minutes later were sitting in comfy chairs having coffee with a view of the harbour.  We stopped at quite a few neat spots and did a lot of painting.  I was hoping to do 2 paintings a day but we often didn’t get started until almost noon and then we tried to get a place to stay before supper so I was happy to have the painting opportunities that I had.


This first painting is Digby Harbour.  We were parked just beside that truck on the far right.

Rex Beanland, Digby Harbour, watercolour, 11 x 15

Digby Harbour











This second painting was one I did at our campground at Lunenburg but it’s a painting of the fanciest house at the  Annapolis Basin Conference Centre where the symposium was.  I assume that it was originally the commander’s house.  The conference centre is a semi retired military base.

Rex Beanland, Officer's House, watercolour, 11 x 15

Officer’s House










This next one is a favourite of mine.  It’s the Superstore in Yarmouth painted from the Walmart parking lot. (Guess where we stayed?)

Rex Beanland, Superstore Yarmouth, watercolour, 11 x 15

Superstore Yarmouth









This painting of Indian Harbour is looking at the back of the Clifty Cove Motel.  About 25 years ago my mother and I travelled around the Maritimes and we stayed in that motel.  I paid homage to her with the figure in green.

Rex Beanland, Indian Harbour, watercolour, 11 x 15

Indian Harbour











Here are some other photographs from our trip.  Nova Scotia is a great place to visit.  The people are very friendly, very generous and love to talk.  Some of the locations and scenery along the south shore are fabulous.  I know  it’s a cliche but Peggy’s Cove is so picturesque and captivating that it almost defies belief.

Rex Beanland, Digby Harbour

Digby Harbour

Rex Beanland, Digby


Rex Beanland, Digby Fogg

Digby Fogg
























Spending the night just outside Yarmouth with 2 friends from the symposium.  Thanks, Dan & Susan.

Rex Beanland, At Dan & Susan's

At Dan & Susan’s

Gary McFarland

Nova Scotia Village
photo by Gary McFarland









Rex Beanland, Peggy's Cove

Peggy’s Cove










Rex Beanland, The Rocks At Peggy's Cove

The Rocks At Peggy’s Cove










Rex Beanland, Lighthouse At Peggy's Cove

Lighthouse At Peggy’s Cove

















If you get this far you deserve a medal but here is a final painting that isn’t from Nova Scotia but it’s also a recent favourite of mine.  Its from our trip to Boston 3 years ago to see the John Singer Sargent Watercolour Exhibition.

Rex Beanland, Woman & Child, Boston Common, watercolour, 11 x 15

Woman & Child, Boston Common

Workshop With Joseph Zbukvic

Rex Beanland, Joseph Zbukvic & Rex Walk

Joseph Zbukvic & Rex Walk

In September I had the unbelievable experience of taking a workshop with my absolute hero in watercolour, Joseph Zbukvic.  He is an Australian and for me he is the best watercolourist in the world – an absolute master of the medium.  The  workshop was held at the Madeline Island School Of The Arts on Madeline Island which is an island in Lake Superior.  It’s part of the Apostle Islands which are in the state of Wisconsin.

His workshops around the world always sell out 12 – 18 months in advance and by the time I found out about this workshop it was likewise full.  I put my name on the waiting list and 1 year later, long after I’d forgotten about it I got a call that a space opened up and I jumped at it.  It was an interesting experience because I didn’t take his workshop to learn his technique. I have  all of his DVD’s and I have studied them extensively.  In fact I’ve done about half of all the demos on them.  I posted about this a few years ago and I still consider studying him and Alvaro Castagnet to be  my university of watercolour.  I learned so much from copying their demos.  Since I wasn’t really looking for his technique I went to be inspired and challenged and to grow as a painter.  I received far more than I expected.

One other factor about Joseph is that he is also a master teacher.  As a retired school teacher I am a keen observer of the teaching techniques of various workshop instructors.  I have discovered that many of the best painters are not necessarily the best teachers.  By in large their approach is, watch me paint and get what you can from it. I don’t know if Joseph ever taught school  but he is a master of teaching  technique. Using humour and repetition and by having developed some wonderfully insightful concepts he made sure that everyone ‘got’ what he was teaching.  Everyone left there knowing “Mr Bead” and “Tea, coffee, milk, cream and butter”.  I use his ideas all the time in my own workshops and students just love them.  I always make a point of saying that they are his ideas much as I wish I had thought of them.

Anyway, what I got from the workshop was a way of thinking about watercolour.  Watching him do his sketches and see how he instinctively choose just the key elements of the subject was inspiring.  To hear him verbalize his thought process as he approaches a subject gave me all sorts of insights.  But most of all I was given the gift of inspiration.  I left the workshop with my confidence brimming, ready to tackle anything.

As I said he is my #1 hero so I could go on at length but suffice it to say that this was the experience of a lifetime.

Rex Beanland, Joseph Zbukvic & Rex

Joseph Zbukvic & Rex














Joseph did 2 demos a day and here are my versions of them.

Rex Beanland, Rockport Harbour 2 , watercolour, 15 x 11

Rockport Harbour









Rex Beanland, Wet Day In Rockport , watercolour, 15 x 11

Wet Day In Rockport












Rex Beanland, Aussie Landscape, watercolour, 11 x 15

Aussie Landscape

Rex Beanland, Dry Dock, watercolour, 11 x 15

Dry Dock

Rex Beanland, Rockport Harbour 2, watercolour, 11 x 15

Rockport Harbour 2

Rex Beanland, Vienna, watercolour, 11 x 15





































I also did a couple of plein air paintings the day before the workshop started.  The first one is of the Indian Cemetery in La Pointe, the small town on the island.  It’s a very old and run down but represents some of the early history of the island.

Rex Beanland, Indian Cemetery, watercolour, 11 x 15

Indian Cemetery








Even though Madeline Island is just a few miles off the main land it does have it’s own way of life.  The people there are  independent, friendly and very individualistic.  This next painting is of a very popular local landmark, The Burnt Down Cafe.  I think this is, in fact, it’s history.  The first place burnt down and now it’s a very interesting mix of canvas and plywood.


Rex Beanland, Burnt Down Cafe, watercolour, 11 x 15

Burnt Down Cafe












Finally the location of the workshops, Madeline Island School Of The Arts.  It’s a very nice place with all the buildings located right together.  They run various workshops from painting to writing and crafts and they bring in a lot of top names.  They also do a super job making you feel  welcome. Great staff.  There is accommodation and meals on the campus though there are also other places to stay and eat on the island.  Madeline Island is the largest in a series of 22 islands collectively called the Apostle Islands.   There are whole bunch of  fascinating geological rock formations, great hiking and what I always find interesting, the rusting remains of early settlement on the islands.  Today only Madeline is inhabited.

Here are a few shots of the Madeline Island School Of The Arts.

Rex Beanland, Dining Room

Dining Room

Rex Beanland, The Farm House

The Farm House

Rex Beanland, Accommodation


Rex Beanland, Workshop Building

Workshop Building






























A memorable experience!

Watercolour Symposium, Cornwallis, Nova Scotia

I had the honour of being an instructor at the annual Watercolour Symposium presented by the Canadian Society Of Painters in Watercolour.  It was held in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia a tiny town just outside Digby.  For me it was a fabulous experience.  I taught a different workshop on 4 separate days.  The students in the symposium were an enthusiastic group of people who were completely motivated to paint and learn.  Also since every one stays right on location and eats together it was a wonderful social event.  I found that everyone was so friendly and there was a real sense of common purpose that developed over the week.  I would highly recommend this experience to anyone who is interested in watercolour. There is something special about getting up every day with one purpose – to paint and to do this surrounded by people who are all there for the same reason.

As a teacher I found this experience to be the high point of my teaching career.  I love dealing with the students.  It is extremely rewarding to see the light bulb turn on as people gain new knowledge or techniques.  It’s intense but also intensely rewarding.

I taught 2 workshops: Figures In The Urban Landscape and Figures In Action, each workshop twice.  I did a different demo for each of the 4 workshops.  Here are the 4 paintings that I demonstrated.

Rex Beanland, Winter Sun, Inglewood watercolour, 11 x 15

Winter Sun, Inglewood











Rex Beanland, St Mary's, watercolour, 15 x 20

St Mary’s













Rex Beanland, Construction Season, Downtown, watercolour, 13 x 20

Construction Season, Downtown







Rex Beanland, The Porch In Summer, watercolour, 15 x 20

The Porch In Summer












The symposium was held at the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre which is a former military base updated into a conference centre.  It was neat to have the accommodation, dining hall and the classrooms all within about 100 m of each other.  I’m including some shots of the location to give a feeling for the event and, I hope, to encourage people to consider attending next year.

Rex Beanland, Registration Building

Registration Building









Rex Beanland, Up To The Dining Room

Up To The Dining Room












Rex Beanland, The Classroom Building

The Classroom Building










Rex Beanland, The Dining Room

The Dining Room










Rex Beanland, Sunset Over The Bay 2

Sunset Over The Bay 2










Rex Beanland, From The Conference Centre

From The Conference Centre










I would like to thank the Canadian Society Of Painters In Watercolour for inviting me, to all those who put in the hard work of organizing it, and all those great, enthusiastic people who attended and made it such a special experience.