Reflections of a painter on the Northumberland Shore

It’s been said that pandemics bring out the worst or the best in people. What we are experiencing on the North Shore of Nova Scotia is the latter. Music, art and other aspects of culture are influenced by times like these. Artist Leilany Garron-Mills shares her thoughts on how living here on the north shore and in this moment in time is shaping her experience and perspective.

At this precise moment on a delightful Sunday afternoon, I am drinking a cup of coffee while I sit on one of our turquoise Adirondack chairs – their eclectic design have always fascinated me – only to contemplate our Northumberland ocean in order to reflect.

Amidst the recent tragedies that our beautiful province experienced and the devastating consequences the pandemic is having on our entire world, it takes me only a few moments to regain some sense of calmness, wisdom, and peacefulness from our ocean, filled with its infinite majestic beauty.

This is a quiet moment I am able to give to myself – every day, if possible – to simply sit and enjoy the beauty of our landscape. Perhaps for all of us these ‘quiet moments’ have increased in our lives while we collectively experience what is happening in the world and, hopefully, while we are able to heighten our sense of appreciation of all the meaningful things that make up our every day lives.

And while I am sitting here, resting, I am aware that there is a painting waiting for me to be finished (somehow, it seems, there is always a painting waiting for me…). This time, this painting strives to capture the beauty I am sharing with you. Painting, like our ocean, tends to be quite unpredictable, sometimes the end result is successfully accomplished and other times may not be – however, the experience of painting – just like the experience of contemplating our ocean – is always a fulfilling one.

And while my coffee lasts and I rest, I recognize that painting also takes a great deal of decision-making, problem-solving and much of one’s energy and time, so I purposely lengthen my sips to make this moment last a bit longer.

As I connect to the ocean I muse about the painting. The wooden boat makes me think of each one of us in relation to this vast body of water, a metaphor for life itself – from the outside we can observe it with all its calmness and beauty but, if we venture a bit further in, we can experience its unpredictable nature in all its fullness.

The storms, the rough winds, the lightning as well as the sense of uncertainty to what kind of weather each day may bring us. And how each one of us, just like this Nova Scotian wooden vessel, must resolve in strength and resiliency to be able to face the challenging conditions, if and only, to be able to relish and delight in all its beauty and calmness of sunny days like this.

By now my coffee, unfortunately, is finished and as much as I would like to linger here a tiny bit more – which is the magic of our shore (everyone who has ever been here, feels the same way) I must go back and, somehow, try to finish my work.

Leilany Garron-Mills has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic Design from the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, USA; a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Printmaking, both from the Nova Scotia College of Art + Design University, Halifax. She describes her art practice as multi-disciplinary where she is able to combine her endless exploration of design, drawing, painting, printmaking and textiles. Leilany and her husband have a place on the North Shore where she has a private studio.