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Evening sun, evening shadows - Fall.  Looking east from the old Machon farm, aro

Evening sun, evening shadows - Fall. Looking east from the old Machon farm, aro

By James Evans

January 2022

16”x20”, acrylic on canvas board 


This was painted from a black and white photo owned by Glen Machon. 

The original (below) seems to have been taken from above the old Machon farm, before the road was made. It doesn’t show much information and appears to have been heavily masked and touched up by the photographer. 


I let my imagination fill in the gaps: I saw early autumn, the crops home, a fine evening with the shadows rising and the far shore brightly lit with the last of the day.  In the distance a schooner tacks up to Beach Point before bearing away with the beginning of the ebb, loaded maybe with produce or perhaps with barley for the breweries to slake the thirst of the miners of Sidney or the workers of Halifax. A red-sailed sloop catches the last of the evening breeze with topsail set, hoping to make the harbour before the ebb starts running strong. It might be a fisherman, a trader or maybe one of the crack yachts out of Charlottetown, Summerside or Souris that started racing together around this time.


Note from Artist - Jim Evans

I’ve been painting for about forty years, ever since I did a year of evening classes in watercolour. Along with a couple of weekend courses with the Canadian Society of Artists in Watercolour and a term of figure drawing in Toronto, that’s all the formal training I’ve had. 

I painted exclusively in watercolour for years. It’s a lovely but demanding medium, but finally a worsening tremor in my hands meant that I could no longer manage the decisive brushstrokes that watercolour demands. You have to get it right first time, there’s rarely a chance to correct. For several years I did nothing but a few rough pencil sketches, on location on my boat, purely as a pastime.

I’ve dabbled in oils, but the smell and the slow drying of the paint were problems. Slow drying can be an advantage, but for me it just seemed to be more opportunities to stick my hand where it wasn’t wanted! Finally I found acrylics, a medium with which one can work fast, make multiple mistakes and produce a work that will stand the rough handling that my style involves.

I work mainly from photographs, with a few rough sketches; occasionally I work from memory, or plein air. I usually use a coloured ground, then make a rough underpainting to establish tones. Usually I work from the top down, as I’m a messy, uncoordinated and occasionally wild worker and tend to splatter everything below! Sometimes, though, I’ll get distracted by something interesting and do that first. Most of the time is taken up not by painting but by standing back, looking and thinking about how I’m going to achieve the effect I want (time that often might have been better spent before I started, but I’m often just too keen to get going). Finally I’ll step back, maybe photograph the work (it’s surprising what you see from another viewpoint) and make small adjustments. I make frames from planks of wood on a table saw and chop saw, finished with hand plane and sandpaper: a bit rough, like me...

In recent years my style, although it has always been basically realistic, has changed from trying to reach for perfection to letting colour and brushstrokes create an impression of what is there, although sometimes I stick to a realistic representation. My aim in painting is to capture a moment that will make you say “Yes, I know that! I’ve been there”, or “I feel that heat or the cold or the wind”. I am fascinated by light: the light of different times of day, season or weather, light beyond shadow, light reflected by sea or snow. 

If you look closely at my paintings - particularly what I regard as my best work - you can see that they are nothing but blobs and streaks of colour. That is what art is about: arranging those blobs into something that might move you. Sometimes I have some small success in doing that.

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