COVID sent some of us to the isolation of our homes and apartments while others sought out nature for solitude and solace. With the first pandemic lockdowns of 2020, I began searching out places to swim. That year I swam in 50 different spots in Newfoundland. On a sunny, windless day in late January 2021, I jumped into the Atlantic Ocean at Sandbanks Provincial Park in Burgeo, NL. From there it became a goal of swimming 100 different swim spots within that year. Mid way through my 100 swims, I came up with the idea of capturing all these adventures for this solo exhibition.
For this challenge I relied on previous connections and forged new ones. Finding places to swim meant asking local people for their knowledge of secret or favourite swimming holes and beaches. Friends and family joined me on the swims or just came along for the hike and lifeguarded. I created the Coldwater Cowgirl Swim Club and took them along on many of my adventures. Some swims were perfect and refreshing dips, while others were less than ideal, but that was part of the adventure.
I swam in both salt and fresh waters, but the terms salt and fresh have an another meaning here in Newfoundland. When I first moved to the island over twenty years ago, I would often bake bread for my family. A friend was visiting, and I offered her a fresh slice, hot out of the oven. She remarked that the bread tasted fresh. I said, "Of course its fresh, I just made it!" to which she replied, "No I mean it needs more salt." Salty can also mean tough and some of the colder swims were a salty challenge. Fresh can be used to mean new and different or refreshing this applies to all my swims.
The process of creating 100 paintings was a big task but one that I dove into with the same excitement I had for seeking out the swim spots. Each painting began with a search for the right photo from that day. I did a quick pencil drawing, followed by ink line work, and then added the watercolour paint. I tried to capture the feeling of each place without overworking the painting. With each of the 100 paintings, my style became less restricted and lighter.
The process of painting (in chronological order), labelling, preparing, and packing the 100 swim spot paintings allowed me to fondly revisit each adventure with its scenery, history, people, and weather.
This Tina Dolter Gallery exhibition on until May 26th to follow the timeline of paintings and join in my year of 100 swim adventures.