Before ever exploring anything beyond Steveston Village (which I had visited on one occasion previously – in a kilt, tie, and frock coat, no less), I had heard about and seen photos of shady island. A soon-to-be girlfriend of mine at the time lived nearby, and her running path took her past the breakwater that stretched between the shores of shady island and lulu island (upon which Steveston sits).
In conversation from afar, I had light-heartedly suggested we cross that breakwater at low-tide with a picnic or with camping gear, and spend the tide interval there in the sun and the forest. Of course we’d never gotten around to it, and I’m not even sure if it was a serious idea, but I thought about it every time I saw the island. It was on our “someday list”.
On perhaps my last visit to Steveston, I heard news that my father had passed away. I had always known I’d hear that news sooner rather than later given his lifestyle, but it came as a soul-deflating shock nonetheless. It’s a sad truth we’ve all got to face sooner or later, but my relationship with my father was a strange one, and with it came strange and mixed feelings that quite suddenly needed to be unpacked and examined. I chose to do this difficult thing (as I often did with difficult things) while taking a long walk.
I walked from my girlfriend’s apartment through Britannia Shipyards, through the village, and off into Garry Point park – then reaching the ocean I turned back and walked all the way to Finn Slough. I don’t think I’d even begun to sort anything out, but being busy and tired was what I needed.
I stopped for a while across from shady island and took a few pictures, which became the basis of this painting. In compiling reference for my landscape series, I picked this image out because it was striking. It wasn’t until I started painting it that I had remembered its context.