Exploring Northern Ontario

I turned 38 years old on Friday, August 25th. Every year I try to take a trip somewhere new. It was my trip to Jasper, Alberta, I made for my 36th birthday that changed the direction of my life and art. Last year was Lake Superior. This year was Killarney (and Georgian Bay, and the French River).

Why Killarney Provincial Park this year? Because last year I was introduced to it very briefly and wanted an opportunity to return and explore. Every time I go north, I feel like a piece of me gets left behind. When I drive there, I’m full of excitement and inspiration; and when I drive home I cry my heart out on the highway. Every. Time.

This little adventure made me realize that along with my project of “Canada: The Provinces and Territories” there is going to be a side project. Smaller canvases inspired by the North, lots of rocks and trees.


The timing of this trip for my birthday weekend could not have been better. We set up camp, went for a stroll, and discovered there was a bluegrass band playing that night! Whiskey Jack, and we could hear them from our site by the fire. The next night there was a professor from OCAD (that’s right, the art university in Toronto I dropped out of many moons ago), talking about “The Land Is A Feeling.” He even had a photograph of Fox Island in his slideshow- which is the Island I painted after my trip last year!

killarney complete
I now know this is “Fox Island”



This was a four hour hike, 2 hours up and 2 hours down. It was TERRIFYING. I was scared walking in, through dense stinky forest. It didn’t feel uplifting or inspiring like my usual hikes- it felt dark and dangerous. Like a wild animal would jump out at you any second. After awhile the forest opens up, and the land becomes more rocky, and you start hiking through deep gullies. As you get higher, the air smells better, the warm sun starts to heat up the pine needles and I could see the landscapes ahead of me. That is when I started connecting with the land.

We reached a plateau, and I thought we were at the end of the hike. We could see “the crack” off in the distance, and Georgian Bay and George Lake; But the markers continued us forward, and other people started passing us on the path. Once again I was terrified- we had to climb THROUGH the crack?! This was a steep incline of fallen boulders we were climbing. Jagged rocks, and open holes. I thought I might die; But I did not. In fact, climbing up turned out to be way easier then climbing down (I wished my legs were just a few inches longer that day).

When we got to the top of the crack, it was pretty incredible. Rolling hills and multiple lakes. We had a snack and took in the view. Chatted with a few others who made it up there (and a couple who were on their way back from 8 days of outback hiking and camping). Climbing down was a full body workout. I had to use my arms more then my legs to lower down rock by rock. My ass was black from sliding down giant boulders. My knees were shaking and I was in total shock by what we had accomplished. If you’re up for the challenge, I highly recommend doing this hike/trip.


Beyond the Provincial Park, is the tiny village of Killarney on Georgian Bay. We parked and walked out to the lighthouse, on the peak of the rocks. Wild winds and choppy dark water, rolling pink rocks and famous Jack Pines. My heart felt so full. Georgian Bay hits me in the feels just like Jasper. Something about these lands… they just speak to me. Inspire me. “Force” me to paint more!

And so, on that note, it’s time to go buy some new canvases, and start this side project along with the big Canada Project… not only is my heart full, my hands are full! Wish me luck friends.


My Canada Project

A few weeks ago I introduced my next project on the blog: The Provinces and Territories. It is coming to life already: I have started 3 out of the 13 canvases (because the other 10 canvases had to be ordered in- they best get here soon as I’m on a roll!).

This is a new process for me, because after my last few paintings, I realized that for the final product to be it’s best, it’s a good idea to hash out a “rough” version to play with form and colours. Already I’m seeing improvement in the gallery canvases, and those little boards are ROUGH but FUN, and have already saved me from making mistakes on the 14 x 16 inch canvases.

Another motivating factor in my painting, that is new with this project, is listening to music. I’ve always painted in silence. However- the power of painting to Neil Young’s “Prairie Wind” while painting Canadian Landscapes… a totally surreal experience. This inspired me to pull out all the Canadian Classics… The Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, City In Colour… and from my Jasper experience: Cadence and Nathan. I’m finding it highly motivating and feel like I’m painting faster and better then ever.

The paintings I have begun are: Yukon Territory “The Journey Begins”, Alberta “Prairie Sun” and British Columbia (not yet titled). Thank you to friends and family who have contributed their photos for this project. I am still looking for photos of Ontario, Quebec and Northwest Territories. Spread the word to fellow travelers and/or photographers!

And now… a break from art until next week.

Art in Nova Scotia

chief in window

I am proud and excited to say, my art prints have made it to Round Hill Studio in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. This is a studio that just opened in November 2016, and I’ve been eagerly watching their progress and events on Facebook (somewhat jealous we do not have this sort of art community here – yet?!).  I wish I could have traveled with my prints… I mean, look at this view from the gallery!

great view

So how did my prints end up at a Gallery on the east coast? It’s all thanks to Facebook; and to make a long story short, after my show in July I reached out to Jaime about sending her some art to display in her shop. She suggested I send prints ASAP, and the process for originals is still in the works (and my thought process… like a road trip delivery in the spring or fall? hehe…).

all of them on shelves

If you know anyone near Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, send them to Round Hill Studio!

If you are a Canadian Artist looking to network with other Canadian Artists, I recently started a Facebook Group: Untitled Canadian Visual Artists. Feel free to join us, to share your art, articles, blogs and discuss the whole process of creating.

The Provinces and Territories | Canada Project

I’ve had an idea brewing for a while now, about a Canada painting project. The idea solidified when I saw this image floating around the internet:

canada newfoundland labrador iceberg doreen dalley

This photo blew my mind about Canada. I instantly wanted to hop in the car and drive as fast as possible to Twillingate, Newfoundland Labrador. Of course, this was not possible so instead I contacted Doreen Dalley and asked permission to paint from her photo. I want to capture the majesty of this incredible iceberg, and Canadian Landscape.

That was how the project was born: what else do I not know about this country? What have I not seen, that others have (that I might want to!)? So I put out an invitation for people to send me their favourite photos from around the country. Funny enough the territory I thought would be hardest, was my first respond: Nunavut! I still need images from the Northwest Territories though, if anyone has some to share?

I have done enough traveling out west, and around Ontario, to have collected a huge amount of photos. However, I really want this project to not be about my travels: but instead to be about people around the country coming together in a collective project. Each painting, will give the photographer credit, and they also have the option of adding a small story (even just a sentence or two) with photo.

The photos I have collected above are: Northwest Territories (Jennifer Poole), Nunavut (Jennifer Shymko), Prince Edward Island (Carrie Freake), New Brunskwick (Emily Smith), Nova Scotia (Laura Sanders), Albert (Maggie May), and British Columbia (Robyn Cowan). Notice no Mountains? I’m pushing outside my comfort zone haha.

I choose the pictures based on the feelings that come to me, and the flow I see in the ability to paint them (how they compliment my style of painting). So many people have sent me INCREDIBLE images, and I am so grateful. Keep them coming, you just never know what might hit me!

The two photos above are mine, driving through Manitoba and Saskatchewan on October 31st last year. What a grey, boring drive! But something about these two images, I really love. I am not too eager to use my own photos (so if you have a Manitoba image or Sask image you’d like to share, send it my way); I will use these if nothing else has jumped at me over the next few weeks.

In conclusion, I am still looking for a few photos: Quebec, Ontario and the Northwest Territories. Please do not be shy, send as many as you like, I am happy to sort through images.

Ontario has been the hardest for me, perhaps because I have seen so much of it, and this province of mine is so large and has such a vast diversity in it’s land. I have a ton of images from Ontario, and people have sent so many gorgeous photos, that have come close to the “ah ha!” but not quite the flow I need… and it’s made me think: what do I want to capture about Ontario? …Wild flowers! If anyone has an image, of a field of wild flowers (yellows, oranges, purples, blues, greens, etc.), with open skies above, and maybe some tree silhouettes… please forward them to me. I will be so grateful. Of course, you are welcome to send me anything, I am open to changing my mind if something else clicks.

In the meantime… I’m going to start some practice paintings on small canvas boards, and I am super pumped to start with those bold colours in Maggie’s Alberta Sunset. Stay tuned… I will keep writing about the process of this project over the next few months. I hope to have it complete (13 canvases all the same -medium- size) by December. One painting a week? I can handle that. I think.