Do you have memories of summer camp as a kid? My own memories go back to eight years old and the lake, woods, campfires and cabins of somewhere in Connecticut and my best friend (also redheaded like me. I was Copper to her Rusty that summer). Well, all that came rushing back at Samish Island Paint Camp on the north coast of Washington, where all those ingredients converged with spectacular spring weather and loads of like-minded artists. No workshops, just the freedom to roam the 87 acres and paint, with no responsibilities but to make it to meals on time (or not!)
The Samish Island Camp and Retreat Center is run by the Community of Christ church and was managed for this retreat and two others every year by the Northwest Watercolor Society.
We arrived and checked into our rustic cabins, where each person had their own! Mine was green and had two bunk beds in addition to my bed, and a heater which was useful at night. On the weeks when kids and families arrived, one could imagine a more “cozy” bunking experience.
We had our first meal at the Longhorn saloon in the nearby town of Edison and launched into sketching.
Next day, while the majority of the 50 artists at camp settled into the studio for a day of painting, my friends and I headed back to Edison to try to capture the “flavor” of small town north Puget Sound before the anticipated weekend crowds converged.
The Hedgerow store attracted me with its color palette and rags? textiles? hanging from the telephone pole out front. Inside was jewelry and clothing with upscale S.F. prices! And the Smith and Vallee art gallery in this two block town was equally upscale and well curated.
Meanwhile I was struggling with this sketchbook, which has good watercolor paper and opens flat, but on some spreads exposes the messy glued seam in the gutter!
After lunch there was the entire afternoon to wander around the salt water lake down below, stopping with each something to record. I started with the lake and tree reflection where I could also map the signs of oyster farming as well as the snow capped peaks of Mount Baker across the Sound. There were the creepy wriggling caterpillars and the first solo salmonberry of spring and so much more to notice. I turned on the sound in the Merlin bird ID app and it lit up with birds! some I was able to see, and all I could hear. As I walked along the path baby bunnies scurried to the side and swallows swooped low.
When all the squares on the grid were filled, I was happy with my efforts and ready for dinner.
Stay tuned for more . . .