ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Finding Inspiration in a Quiet Vacation

I'm happy to report that I've found a quiet and inspiring pause in my schedule. It began with a 9-day vacation to Grand Manan, Island, New Brunswick, Canada. The destination was chosen because I knew it would be peaceful and provide reflective time and inspiration.

We lucked out on weather! A vacation in the Maritimes is often (at least for us) accompanied by rain. We had beautiful sunny days for the first several days, as evidenced by these fluffy white clouds. Even though it was cloudy a lot in the latter days, we seldom found it raining more than a brief shower.

Seafood is always a welcome part of travelling in the Maritime provinces. We stopped off for lobster rolls, haddock and whole clams just outside St. Andrews. That was the first of many, many lobster rolls!

A walk to the pier in St. Andrews.

A look back at the picturesque town.

We dressed warmly for the ferry ride to Grand Manan Island. It wasn't as cold as we expected. Here you can get a glimpse of the shore of Grand Manan as the ferry approaches.

Such a beautiful day spent out on the deck of the ferry. Here is the pattern we left in our wake.

Oh, yes, and the other reason I chose this destination was that I fell in love with the quirky cabins and yurts at Castalia Marsh Retreat. This was ours. We had a beautiful view out over the marsh, and a lovely outdoor seating area to enjoy it.

The front of our cabin:

I have been drawn to the sight of fishing boats and reflections on water for a while now. Grand Manan provided lots of inspiration to photograph them. I hope to create some quilts inspired by these photos, but am seriously wondering what I can do that is different from what others have done? We shall see.

Not sure what these purple flowers are that were blooming all over the place, but an abandoned boat amidst them captured my attention.

As if Grand Manan wasn't quiet enough, we decided to ferry to a smaller island called White Head Island. Not one afternoon, but two! There I did some sketching, we collected treasures (shells, rocks, etc) from the beach, and mostly found we had the beaches there all to ourselves.

A few nights into the vacation we woke to the sound of rain on the roof. Our first thought was, "oh no, another rainy vacation". But no, the next morning we awoke to magic outside our door. I shot many, many photos of raindrops on leaves. It just so happens that this is another subject I've been developing an interest in. I certainly collected a lot of inspiration.

The spiders spun magical webs during the wet night, and they were coated with fine raindrops. I'm feeling inspired to make a quilt based on the spider web.

When it was cloudy, many days I found the sky an interesting turquoise, blue and grey. Reminds me of a hand-dyed fabric I dye regularly in those colours.

A week of peace and quiet amidst nature and beauty is just what I needed. Now that I'm not planning the next three teaching trips (the next one isn't until end of September) I can think and dream about work I want to make. But in the meantime, I have a bit more vacation coming up, in which I shall think and dream and sketch some more. I am finally moving past the big sketching block I developed in the last couple of years. I'm willing to take the risk now. Enjoying quick pen and ink studies with a bit of watercolour. Perhaps I'll share them in a future post.

I hope you are enjoying some peace and quiet in your life wherever you are.


  1. I love the cabin. It looks like you found lots of inspiration and lots of relaxation. A winning combination. Enjoy the rest of your time.

  2. I think those flowers are called Fireweed. I saw a lot while on a Canadian vacation a couple of years ago and they were the inspiration for a few small quilts.

  3. Elaine, those wildflowers are Fire Weed. They grow all over the place, even in NL. https://duckduckgo.com/?q=fire+weed+wildflowers&t=ffab&iax=1&ia=images
    See images in the link. I just searched for fire weed wildflowers and viewed them in images.
    lovely photos. Thanks for sharing.


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