Septic tanks launch colourful hobby

Chantelle MacIsaac
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Keen interest in art keeps South Branch woman painting

The famous septic tanks located on the Trans-Canada Highway in South Branch. — Photos by Chantelle MacIsaac/The Gulf News



There are very few who haven’t passed the big tanks in South Branch —which are painted with different characters — and wondered what they are or who had painted them.

They are the work of Marg Gale. Her family runs Gale’s Septic located in South Branch, Codroy Valley.

Gale was searching for someone to put some paintings on those septic tanks to promote the family business.

After much searching and no luck, she decided to give it a go herself.

Using paint that was lying around the house, she transformed the tanks into roadside attractions.

Her paintings were also featured on Maclean’s magazine website with a headline “Something Interesting.”

“It’s a new found hobby and I didn’t think I could draw a stick man before those,” she laughs.

Her granddaughter was able to recognize Dora the Explorer on the tanks and so she thought to herself that if a child can pick it out, she must have done something right.

From there, she gained a new hobby and hasn’t been able to put down the paintbrush since.

Gale had been, and still is, an avid photographer. She has used her photographs and some that have been taken by family members as the inspiration for her paintings.

Since painting the tanks, Gale has produced 52 more paintings, on canvas. Her very first painting was of a girl sitting by a tree, reading.

“I am far from a professional,” she said. “I am just starting out.”

She tried several different styles of paintings such as cartoon characters, but has more recently been working on landscape and portraits.

One painting was taken from a photograph of fishing stages in Rose Blanche. She said behind the shacks are rock cliffs and she just couldn’t get them right. So instead she inserted the Wreckhouse mountains.

She uses the Internet as her main teaching resource.

“I have learned a lot of different things just from YouTube,” Gale said.

It only takes her a couple of hours now to complete a painting, noting that her paintings are never exactly like the pictures. She likes to put her own spin on things.

“When I gets at a painting,” Gale said, “I can’t put it down until it’s finished. Some call me the speed painter.”

Some may have seen a painting of hers on Facebook during the CBC Searchlight contest involving Sherman Downey.

Gale had painted a picture of the singer’s face with the slogan “Vote for Sherman — He’s number 1.”

That painting was one she slapped together in less than an hour. She said even though it was rushed, Sherman said he really liked it.

She said her hobby is very inexpensive which allows her to keep it going. Most of her supplies can be bought at dollar stores.

Gale has more recently introduced painting to her granddaughter and great niece, who have taken a great interest in what she is doing.

“I look at it like you are never too old, or too young, to learn a new hobby,” Gale said.

As of April 24, she didn’t have a painting that she was currently working on, but did have a picture picked out for her next project.

“I could be at that this evening,” she said.

She doesn’t know what she will do with all her paintings, but for now she is content with hanging them all over her house.

She has given quite a few away to her daughters and other family members.

It’s her keen interest in art that keeps this

hobby going for her and she is nowhere near being bored with it.

“I don’t know if I will ever be able to give it up,” she said.


The Gulf News

Organizations: South Branch, Gulf News

Geographic location: Rose Blanche

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Recent comments

  • Jane Hancock
    May 02, 2013 - 08:43

    This is a very inspiring, heart touching story by a 'down to earth' person.. I, too, have stopped to take pictures of those famous tanks while I vacationing in the Codroy Valley.

  • Deidre
    May 01, 2013 - 19:42

    I was home June 2012 and drive to visit my friend in Cosroy Valley from Pasadena. On the way back, I stopped to take a picture of these for my vacation album and to show my boyfriends family in Thunder Bay ( where I currently live). I actually got my mothers Ranger stuck in the sand ( obviously not a 4x4 haha). I had to flag someone down on the highway to help me! Great memories!

  • david
    May 01, 2013 - 12:15

    From the headline, I thought that septic tanks had somehow come to life and taken on a group activity! FYI, the word "inspire" might have been better. But hey, what do I know? I'm not an expert in grammar or language, like a journalist.