James Woodside shows his art to Scott's Bay community

Wendy Elliott
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Artist James Woodside with some of his work outside his studio/barn in Scott’s Bay. - Wendy Elliott, www.kingscountynews.ca 

In 1998, when surgeon Bill Beveridge operated on James Woodside’s broken arm, he had to position the cast so Woodside could keep painting.

That’s why he’s come to Scott’s Bay for each summer for almost 20 years. Now Woodside is having his first exhibition of local scenes in the village he calls his seasonal home.

“I never painted landscapes until I came here. I fell in love with them here and I have been ever since,” he says.

With the weather constantly changing, Woodside sometimes finds the landscape of the sweeping bay area overpowering. In fact, he says, “why would I paint something else with all this in front of me?”

He’s excited to show his fellow community members what he does, how he views the fog and the foliage, the existing church and the ruins of another church.

“We’ve been coming here for years and I’ve never had a chance to show the people I’ve become friends with.”

In a previous artist statement, he set out his belief system. “For me, painting is a kind of personal testimony to the power and excitement of a particular place, form or environment. As I work, I try to simplify and distill whatever I’m looking at into a logic that makes sense for me in paint.” 

At some point in the process of observing and trying to represent a particular environment, he added, the needs of the painting itself take-over and it becomes the living thing, the thing I respond to.

That approach has taken Woodside as far away as Antarctica in 2003 to put oil paint on boards in the outdoors or ‘en plein air.’

“I do my paintings from direct observation and I complete them on site. Working quickly, I try to maintain a direct and emphatic relationship with the subject matter I’m painting. Hopefully, this helps the work to maintain a fresh in-the-moment credibility and a sense of authenticity.”

Woodside, who is in his 50s, spends the rest of the year working as director of visual art at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts near Boston. He studied his craft in Baltimore, New York and Delaware.

Most of the paintings in the show, which opened at The Haze Restaurant July 10, measure 18x18 inches.

Vist the artist's website here.

Painting spouses

James Woodside’s spouse, Holly Worthington, is, of course, another summer resident of Scott’s Bay.

Four years ago, she had an exhibition of some of the images she’s taken locally at the Ocean Spirit Studio in Canning. It featured traditional black and white gelatin silver prints, local landscapes and portraits.

Worthington, who also teaches photography, showed selections from her medical specialties project, which used landscape images from Nova Scotia and Labrador as metaphors to describe different medical specialties.

Worthington and Woodside live in a square, old, farm house with an adjacent barn that doubles as a studio. The house dates back to the 1890s, but might be even older.

Woodside says Scott’s Bay residents have taught them the history of their summer place.

“They’ve opened their hearts to us, been kind and helpful. So we try to be good citizens,” he says.


Organizations: Walnut Hill School for the Arts

Geographic location: Antarctica, Boston, Baltimore New York Canning Nova Scotia

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