For a few years now, my husband and I have wanted to visit the beautiful Canadian province of Newfoundland & Labrador. He was surprised to learn that, born and raised in New Brunswick, I had not yet visited this Atlantic province. Distances are great in Canada, but this summer we prioritized a visit. With only one week, we focused on one area of the province: Gros Morne National Park. In what follows, I write about the trip highlights and how the landscape has sparked inspiration for my painting.
During our six days in the park, we took advantage of the many hiking trails, including the Approach Trail to Gros Morne Mountain Trail, Green Gardens, and Bakers Brook Falls. These trails boasted gorgeous views of the mountains, coastlines, and waterfalls. A boat tour of Western Brook Pond took us through impressive fjords and a visit to the Tablelands was a lesson in the minerals that make up the Earth’s mantle (the middle layer of the Earth).
I was struck by the intense colour palettes in the park. At the Tablelands, we learned from our Parks Canada guide that minerals like copper are in the soil of what was the earth’s mantle. The mineral rich soil is an intense rust-orange colour and contrasts with the tree-covered mountains nearby.
While I enjoyed the abundant panorama views of the national park, it was in the details of the plants and rocks that we encountered that I found painting inspiration. At sunset in Rocky Harbour, ripples in the sand created purple shadows that contrasted with the bright green of the grass and yellow and white of the dandelions.
The flat and winding road at the start of the Green Gardens Trail made us feel that we were in the desert – despite the snow that was still at the top of many mountains in the park. We were assured that, by the end of the summer or even September, the snow would finally melt.
Jagged rocks, wet from the spray of a waterfall on the Approach Trail of the Gros Morne Mountain Trail, were deep purple with hints of orange, against moss green.
Walking along the beach towards Green Point, I noticed a light sage green plant growing between light grey and pink spherical rocks. Looking closely at this plant, I saw that the leaves were grouped together reminiscent of a rose’s petals or the leaves of a cabbage.
Green Point is at first sight a rocky cliff – impressive but by the last day of our trip not out of the ordinary. From a lookout at the top of the cliff we took in the vastness of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Upon descending a staircase and reading the plaque, we learned that this site is one of the main reasons why Gros Morne National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This place—Green Point—and specifically the rocks making up the cliff are important for geologists. The fossils found here helped illuminate the concept of plate tectonics.
Green Point was the highlight of the trip for me. Visually, what is most impressive is the abundance of layered rocks, some of which were almost paper thin and others as thick as bricks. These layers were once the floor of ancient oceans! It is difficult to grasp the idea of such ancient history (500 millions years ago), but at Green Point you can’t help but be struck it. The cliffs look like pages of a book: an amazing, natural record of time. Oddly enough, some of the layers were so defined they almost looked man-made.
Now back in Belgium, after a year in the United States and a short trip home to Canada, I am ready to begin a new series of Newfoundland-inspired paintings! Exactly how the layers of rock and the contrasting colours of the landscape will make their way into my work is yet to be seen. I will begin by looking through my record of photographs and putting together some sketches. Stay tuned!
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