A Gordon Henschel original painting.

A Brush with Henschel: Tide’s table

“Painting in such an environment, a place that makes your heart race while it soothes your soul.”

There’s an old saying among those who live near the sea: “When the tide’s out the table is set”. This is literally true, for if you have some experience with the inter-tidal life, hunger is never a problem because there is literally something edible on or under every rock. The Great Blue Heron in this painting is a master at harvesting this feast.

I believe I am one of the most fortunate beings in the entire world for being able to live here, for this is my back yard! This is where I spend much of my painting time because it is so accessible. It takes me about an hour to travel from my home to the Pearse Islands using a small skiff with a 10 horsepower outboard motor. The 10 minute run from Alder Bay is directly across Johnstone Strait from there. (Yes, this is the famous Johnstone Strait that the orcas love so well). This painting was done from one of these islands and looks into and across Weynton Passage whose waters connect Johnstone with Queen Charlotte Strait.

There is simply no place on earth that can surpass the beauty and excitement of this area with its wealth of life in an ocean that never stands still; an ocean of seventeen feet tidal changes, creating currents that turn passages such as Weynton into huge rivers. During the summer months when the salmon runs are at their peak these swirling waters play host to hundreds of thousands of sea birds, seals and dolphins and the “now you see them, now you don’t” orcas. Nearly three hundred “resident’ orcas navigate these currents every summer, not to mention the “transient” orcas that suddenly appear to hunt for whatever mammals they can find and then just as suddenly disappear.

Painting in such an environment, a place that makes your heart race while it soothes your soul, is both a privilege and a challenge. It’s my job to try not only to convey some of the excitement of this unique place but also some of the contentment it offers. I hope this painting has captured even a small part of it.

Comments e-mail: ghenschel@shaw.ca, or website: www.henschel.ca

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