Drawing Tidal Landscapes

Drawing Program

The Fundy Geological Museum, in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, organized a Coastal Drawing Excursion on June 18, 2016. The excursion was organized to explore the use drawing coastal landscapes as a museum experience. This initial pilot demonstrated that for participants the activity of drawing increases and extends the time spent observing and connecting with the landscape. The tempo of seeing and drawing requires time, which is necessary to witness the speed and vastness of the changing tides, notice the diverse wildlife and observe the dramatic coastal geology. The excursion also showed that ‘demonstrative drawing’ by a guide can be used to educate and share rich visual information very directly with participants.

One Day Drawing Excursion

The pilot was organized as a two day program (June 18-19). The intention of the program was to allow participants an opportunity to begin drawing early in the morning (second day), and appreciate the special light and atmosphere of the rising sun.  Although there was considerable interest expressed in the program, the two-day program was considered too long and resulted in low participation. Due to low registration, a one-day excursion was still held to evaluate several sites and activities for the program.Based on the results of the pilot, a future one-day program schedule (lunch provided) could be:

  •   9:30 am – Arrive at Museum
  • 10:00 am – Welcome & Intro: Examine Coastal Drawing Resources. Coffee/Tea.
  • 10:45 am –  Stop 1: Parrsboro Harbour, Low Tide
  • 12:00 pm – Stop 2: Two Islands, Wasson Bluff
  •   2:00 pm – Stop 3: Partridge Island
  •   4:00 pm – Stop 4: Parrsboro Harbour, High Tide

Participant Experience

Weather is obviously an issue with an outdoor Coastal Drawing Excursion. During the pilot, the day was sunny but had high winds develop later in the afternoon. In case of rain the program can be modified to take advantage of small shelters at some locations, however not all sites would be suitable. In general, participants should be advised that the weather is typically cooler along the Bay of Fundy coast. Suitable footwear is required for walking over rocky beaches.

Bay of Fundy Coastal Drawing Excursion

The guide provides direction to safe and interesting locations. The locations are chosen to provide interesting views of the tides, geology, and overall coastal landscapes.

The coastal landscapes are likely the most obvious subjects, but the terrain is also interesting. A “to scale” drawing of a cobble beach is something that is attainable within a short time. It encourages participants to observe the details of the rocks in detail. Detailed drawings of beach debris, logs and seaweed can also be of interest.

At the site, participants are left to do drawings in their sketch books. The guide may provide occasional discussion, instruction, or encourage use of new techniques. The guide can also use demonstrative drawing to convey information about various landscape or geology features, using the act of drawing as a visual map of information being shared.

Drawing of Two Islands and Five Islands in the distance. June 2016.
Drawing of Two Islands and Five Islands in the distance. June 2016.



Throughout the day, participants are encouraged to look at each other’s drawings and share information. They can also be encouraged to take a picture using their mobile; a photo that shows their drawing with the landscape in the background. Sharing the photos on social media provides opportunity to share experience with their friends. #FundyDrawing

Drawing of Light House at First Beach

The opportunity to take time to observe a changing tidal landscape with drawing, typically involves anywhere from 5-15 minutes. In this time, an observable change will be noticeable. For the change to be most apparent, it is important to establish a reference point at the beginning of the drawing.Participants might be encouraged to write a few words to identify smells or sounds that they are hearing during the drawing process.

The physical  drawings also act as memorable and valued objects they can share with friends and family. The participants can be offered an opportunity to frame (or mail) their drawings as gifts.

Complimentary Programs

Participants can also be encouraged to consider other complimentary events and programs. Program scheduling should enable participants to enjoy an evening of live-theatre (Ship’s Company Theatre), a nice dinner out, or experience Yoga on the Ocean Floor. Drawing would be attractive for those interested in purposely slowing down and be reflective, establishing a deeper connection with an engaging landscape.

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