I was surprised at how quickly I got to Sooke. I drove right to Sooke Harbour House, not even making one wrong turn. Victoria has more mid-afternoon traffic than one might expect, so it did take longer to get out of Victoria proper than anticipated, but the rest of the trip was quick and uneventful. It's a pretty drive, too. Sooke Harbour House is just as I'd remembered it. It's such a pretty place and the gardens and the situation of the Inn are stunning. I love it that Whiffen Spit is right there, at the end of the road, and it's such a nice walk out to the end and back. The beach is not the best for 'picking', as Nonie would say, but I still managed to find a few Chinese hats and a piece of broken crockery that I know came from a TG Greene mixing bowl. I have the very same one in the cupboard at Grant Creek!
We had been given the Events Pavilion at Sooke Harbour House for our painting/art space, although we did have to clear it all away on Friday night and reassemble it again on Sunday, as there was a wedding there on Saturday. I liked painting there a lot. We each had a big, round table of our own, for all our supplies and papers and such. Anna had constructed the most amazing 'alter' in the center of the Pavilion with a huge flower arrangement, fruits and veggies, candles, sea stars, shells, wooden drawing models (those pose-able little wooden men thingies), ribbons and little books and art works. It was stunningly beautiful and inspiring and centered the whole space---gave it weight, I guess, is the best way to say it. Anna likes to have drama in her spaces and it has the effect of making you feel you are somewhere special and safe and almost sacred. I love her attention to detail and the whole environment she creates for her classes. What's even more fun is that she lives that way, too. Her whole house seems like one of her elaborate alters, with flowers and art and objects, books and glass and candles....even the way she displays her French knives on the chopping board in the kitchen has drama and snap.
Anna, Frederique Philip and Frederique's daughter
Saturday we moved our location to Frederique and Sinclair Philip's home, just a few minutes drive away in Sooke Harbour. They have a lovely home just west of the commercial dock in Sooke and the view across to East Sooke was beautiful. The Olympics were visible to the south, too, across the Strait. We spent the whole day there. Our assignment was visionary landscapes. I really enjoyed myself and had lots of fun doing three little caran d'arche drawings. Two were of the view across to East Sooke, one much more realistic than the other, and the third was my impression of snorkeling in Tahiti (sans glasses!). I was happy with my work and enjoyed being on the deck of the Philip's house. We had a yummy lunch---wonderful wraps from the Sooke Harbour House kitchen and lots of fresh fruits. Heaven. The weather was wonderful, too. Sunny and hot, but not too hot.
Sunday was oil portraiture day. I did another of Xenia Hausner's women. This one is younger, happier and not nearly as self-possessed as the last two I've done. I really enjoyed the process although I did hit a wall in the mid-afternoon where I had no idea at all how to proceed or what I was trying to do. I got through it but found it to be rather a scary feeling. I've never had that happen to me before. We had some wonderful things come out of the portraits on Sunday. I think everyone got, at least, a great start on their portrait. I have almost finished mine. I had to do quite a bit of work on it here at home, and only have some background work left to do that I'm unhappy with at this point. I think she might be very nice hung downstairs....
It was a great retreat and I'm so glad I got to go again. I am amazed that Anna was able to pull it all together since we had to change the venue at the very last minute because of Will's illness. It was a huge job to move all the supplies from The Hawthorne to Sooke Harbour House. We couldn't have had the retreat without all the help from Frederique. She's a wonderful lady and I am very glad I got to meet her and have the chance to get to know her a little. Now there's another lady with huge personal style and a very real flair for Drama!
After the retreat ended on Monday afternoon I headed back to Victoria. I spent the night at the Laurel Point Inn, in the very same room that Nonie and I shared last summer when we were up in Victoria for the Tall Ships Festival. Wonderful view and very expansive deck. I spent some great R&R time on the deck, soaking up the sun and the view and doing a little reading. On Tuesday I got up, packed up, headed out and walked nine miles by 4:30 when I had to move the car into the line for the 7:30 sailing of the Coho to PA. I set off, with a breakfast stop at Murchie's (tea and a croissant), then went up Fort Street looking in the antique shops that caught my eye. Romanoff's didn't have anything I had to bring home this time, so I guess I saved myself a bundle there! I went on to the Museum of Greater Victoria (at Moss Street) and saw the Group of Seven Sketches show. Amazing! I am such a huge fan of JEH MacDonald's and there were three of his oils on board that I could really study up close. All the work was fascinating. There is a permanent collection of quite a few of Emily Carr's paintings there, too, so I got to see those too. (I stayed in the Emily Carr room at Sooke!) There was also a show of Japanese wood block prints that was outstanding. From the museum I walked down to the Emily Carr House. It was fun to take the tour and see not only the house where she was raised (including the grape vine her father tended lovingly and named Isabella) but the House of All Sorts, that was just around the corner on Simcoe street. I have always wanted to see the Emily Carr House, so that was great fun for me. I managed to get some Victoria Cremes to take home to Nonie, who loves them so, and to buy about $250 worth of books at Munro's. They had a great book of paintings by JEH MacDonald from Lake O'Hara. I read that completely before the Coho sailed on Tuesday night! Made me mightily homesick for O'Hara.
Since returning home I have been getting ready for Annie and Alex's visit. They arrive tonight and I can't wait. I have agreed to be a member-at-large on the EAF executive board for next year. I hope I haven't shot myself in the foot by agreeing to do that! Sue J., the incoming president, swears that all it will mean is a few more meetings for me to attend. I sure hope she's telling me the truth!
LIFE IS GOOD. My children are well and happy, my husband is well and happy, my friends seem to be healthy, happy and occupied with activities that please them and it's summer. What a truly lucky woman I am.