‘It was absolutely beautiful’: NYC artist sketches iconic Cape Breton scenes

Nick Golebiewski has been doing a daily sketch, wherever he is, for 6 years

Wendy Martin · CBC News · Posted: Jul 18, 2019 2:03 PM AT | Last Updated: July 18

A sketch of a fishing boat spotted by Nick Golebiewski in Sydney, N.S. (Nick Golebiewski)

A New York artist has sketched some iconic scenes of Cape Breton, sometimes in scarcely more time than it takes to snap a photo.

Nick Golebiewski has been doing one sketch a day, every day, since January 1, 2014, as part of a New Year’s resolution.

Usually, they show spots near where he lives and works in New York City. But for 10 days this July, it was scenes from a family trip to Cape Breton.

“Every day I’ll make a drawing on site, somewhere,” Golebiewski said in an interview with CBC Cape Breton’s Mainstreet. “Whether it’s in front of a skyscraper, or in front of a rolling mountain and beautiful horizon where you see the sea.”

The view from the Skyline Trail of Cape Breton Island and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, sketched by Golebiewski during his Nova Scotia trip. (Nick Golebiewski)

Golebiewski made time for the sketches while camping and hiking in Cape Breton with his wife and two children, ages two and four.

He said they typically take between five and 15 minutes to draw, although sometimes it’s “just 30 seconds”.

He said after taking months, sometimes years, to complete a painting, it’s a “breath of relief” to have something he can finish every day.

Golebiewski found a bounty of material in Cape Breton. 

“It was absolutely beautiful,” he said. “I didn’t want to stop drawing or painting ever there.”

His sketches include a waterfall, a rocky coastline, a fishing boat, the Skyline Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, and the bell tower at the Fortress of Louisbourg.

On July 12, Golebiewski posted this sketch to his Twitter account, writing: ‘The bell tower at the King’s Bastion Barracks in the Fortress of Louisbourg, reconstructed to match its 18th century heyday before it was destroyed in 1760.’ (Nick Golebiewski)

“That drawing is the most appropriate way of reproducing what you’re seeing there,” Golebiewski said of the fortress sketch, “since photographs didn’t exist in the 1700s. It’s very accurate for the period.”

Golebiewski has posted the sketches on various social media sites, including his Twitter feed.

One of his insights from doing a daily sketch?

“It’s good to just pause for a moment every day and just really look at what’s around you.”