In the late fall of 2015 I made a trip to Northern Ontario to visit a place I had been dreaming about for many years. That place was Killarney Provincial Park, about 80km west of Sudbury, on the shores of Georgian Bay. I flew to Ottawa and rented a car, driving the hundreds of kilometers North West the same day, to arrive in what can only be described as one of the most incredibly diverse landscapes I have seen. Killarney is a jewel in more ways than one, its quartz La Cloche mountains rise up inland to form an undulating series of white ridges and outcrops that to a landscape painter is overwhelming. It is not just the colour of these hills but the diversity of the land its self, a jumbled collection of rugged and ragged vegetation, rocks, cliffs, eskers and skies. It is no wonder that Canada’s first true landscape painters found themselves here in the early part of the last century.
Killarney was not my only destination but also Muskoka, a few hours north of Toronto, along with Algonquin Provincial Park, the Algonquin Highlands and Georgian Bay. Much of the trip was spent seeking out those places that would inspire me back in my studio in Nova Scotia as well as sketching and writing a journal of the trip which I will use to rekindle the subconscious reaction to the landscape, eventually building a new body of work from the region. Below you can see some of the 20 sketches I did and a few of the developing landscapes.
It seems that I am slowly covering the country, seeking out those places that remain ‘wild’ to me. I think a part of my journey as a landscape painter is being used to connect me more deeply with life, to enrich my sense of awareness and aliveness and to also draw attention to the natural world as something ‘we’ are not separate from but a part of. As Satish Kumar said, “We have to shift our attitude of ownership of nature to relationship with nature. The moment you change from ownership to relationship, you create a sense of the sacred.“
When I am ‘in’ wild nature I feel the most alive, it is in these places where my sense of self expands to include all living things.