Christopher Kovacs - Fine Art
May 21, 2024   11:05 pm NL Time

Flouting B’ye

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Flouting B’ye


Status of Original Painting – For Sale

All prices are in Canadian dollars

Size: 11 x 20  inches

Price: Inquire

Medium: Watercolour on 300 lb Arches


Every painting tells a story. In this case, there’s also a story in a sequence of reference photos that I shot, which led up to this captured moment.

I spotted a female mallard riding atop a turtle, while a male mallard approached her from the right. He quacked and jumped up beside her, but she immediately squawked and leapt into the water, swimming away fast with nary a glance back. You can see the crest of the wave she’s pushing up with her furious departure. He looked at her and then at me.

I think in Mallard dialect it went like this:

Him (in best Matt LeBlanc voice): Hey, how you doin’ ?

Her: Fine without you!

Him (looking at me): You didn’t see nothin.’


And now a few words of explanation about the title…

My working title was “Spurned” because she rejected the mallard and the ride on the turtle. But the counter-suggestion “Flouting B’ye” caught my attention. First, it suggests “Floating By;” second, flouting is a synonym for spurning/disdaining/rejecting; third, it evokes the frequent use of “b’ye” in Newfoundland speech; and fourth, it means “spurning the boy.”

How do those third and fourth meanings come about from use of “b’ye” ?

B’ye (also b’y or by) is a shortened form of boy. In Newfoundland you’ll hear “yes, b’ye” as an affirmative and “no, b’ye” as a negative. In response to “what are you doing?” you might hear, “eating, b’ye” or “drinking, b’ye.” It’s as common as “yeah, man” and “y’all” are in other cities.

This may be a bit complicated and not self-evident, like a joke that fails when you have to explain it, but I like when a title has multi-layered meanings.

The depicted scene unfolded at the San Diego waterfront.

…and my thanks to Lisa Dawe for that intriguing title.


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