Friday, 30 December 2016

Looking Back on 2016 and Welcoming 2017

It's been a great year of adventure and art making with my children, husband, and friends. 2016 marked the launch of my website, this Blog, photographing my Land Art, making tools from the landscape and so much more. Here are some of my favorite projects from this year.

 Mixed media - wood fiber and watercolor on a wood panel
Mounted in a pallet wood frame 

Birch bark art journal - salvaged charcoal and berry inks

Birthday collaboration with my son Paul

 Tools from the landscape - berry ink, stick pens, and quill pens

 Mixed media - reclaimed metal on salvaged plywood and acrylics

 Birch bark fringe

 Insect art pendants 

 Land Art - Zen

Land Art - Rainbow

 Birch bark bracelets

Mixed media - wood fiber on a canvas panel

 Winter tree candle holder with a rainbow crystal

Secret door - scroll sawed tree painted with acrylics

Handmade beads from sticks

As I look back on these projects I can see my love of trees and the natural world sprinkled everywhere. I plan on exploring more of Canada's forests in 2017. From the temperate rainforest in British Columbia to the subalpine forest in Alberta, grasslands in Saskatchewan, boreal forest in Manitoba and deciduous forests in Southern Ontario. I've been dreaming about visiting some of BC's forests since I was a teenager. I'm pretty sure my poster of Cathedral Grove is still hanging in my parent's house. Here's to many blissful moments with trees and feeling inspired by new ideas and projects. Happy 2017 my friends!

Thursday, 10 November 2016

A Gathering of Wild and Creative Souls

What started out as a chance encounter in the woods has turned into a weekly gathering of wild and creative souls to make art in nature. Each week I share a new project with the group. We've made land art, weaved with natural materials, learned to whittle, made paint, stick pens, natural inks and painted birch bark. It's incredibly fun and inspiring to sit in a circle of women and children of all ages and create. This has become our favorite day of the week. 

#MadHeroes #Wildschoolers #Lifeschoolers







Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Where the magic happens

I painted this many years ago after a beautiful week in the mountains. It now hangs in my studio and serves as a reminder to myself. I go to the forest and the mountains as often as I can. It doesn't have to be someplace completely removed from civilization, but I want it to feel natural, wild, beautiful, peaceful and inspiring. 

When we got to the mountains today, my eight-year-old son and I decided to visit a place we hadn't been to in a while. Our energy was high as we started walking along the trail and it wasn't long before we wandered off the trail, through the trees, and down steep slopes. As soon as we reached the creek everything slowed down. It was as though that burst of energy on the way down set us free and now we were at ease. 

I looked at the patches of white snow beside the bright green moss. I listened to the water trickle over the rocks. I could smell the wet forest around me, which I love so much!  I continued to walk around slowly, gently touching the squishy moss, wet leaves, rough bark or crinkly lichen. I realized that this is part of my creative process every time I go into nature. It's how I awaken my senses and immerse myself in a place so that I can begin to create. 

I don't set out with a plan to make art and while I'm creating I don't think about whether anyone will like it. Since I've never put that pressure on myself, I feel rejuvenated and inspired by the experience instead of drained or stressed. As I wander around eventually something clicks and I have this incredible urge to create. Maybe it's land art, photography, drawing, poetry or simply gathering materials to use later. 

For a long time, I use to whittle and paint with watercolor beside the water. I never thought much about it. It's just what I did. Allowing myself the time and space to play in nature with my children, experiment, wander and get inspired is what drives my creativity and it's how I deepen my connecting to the natural world.

Most people assume that we must be big hikers but in fact, we usually get about 20 minutes or 20 meters down a trail and then stop because we see something that interests us. Before we know it three hours have passed and it's time to head home. I appreciate the views from the top of a mountain but for me, the magic happens when I'm bent over a log covered in lichen wishing I had a sketch pad to draw those beautiful forms. 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Making Jewelry from Salvaged Metal

While most of my time is spent outdoors creating art and jewelry with salvaged wood, there is a part of me that loves reusing old bits of metal in mixed media art and jewelry. The environmentalist in me is happy to give these discarded pieces a new life and the artist in me feels inspired by the beauty of each unique piece that I find. 

Over the past few years, I have gathered many interesting pieces of metal from garages and workshops. 

I thought these were so unique and beautiful that they should be worn by someone.

 Goddess Pendant - Made from an antique swivel link

Goddess Pendant - Made from an antique lock cover

 Brass Pendant - Made from an old piece of hardware

Monday, 3 October 2016

WildArt at Fish Creek

This week we set out to make leaf prints with black tempura paint and a handmade brayer (roller). Finding the materials was easy enough but whittling the small poplar branch to fit snugly inside the Y-shaped willow branch, while still being able to roll, took a little time and perseverance. We planned on wrapping a piece of leather around the roller to absorb the paint but decided to leave it bare and roll it as a stamp instead.

We were pretty excited to see it roll across the paper and then it popped out. I squeezed it back in and we tried again. This happened many times. We might need to work on our design a bit :) This led to leaf prints, rock prints, and stick scratches. It was very messy and very fun.

Paul with our prints

A close up of the brayer

 Heading home

Monday, 26 September 2016

WildArt at Glenmore Reservoir

We biked down to Glenmore Reservor this morning with our blackcurrant ink. We gathered feathers from the beach to make quill pens and then searched for something to draw on. Mark whittled some pieces of driftwood and then "painted" them. He discovered that the feathers make a great paintbrush! Pretty soon both boys were dying the feathers with the ink, which resulted in beautiful quill pens. Since I only had one piece of paper, Paul and I decided to draw on rocks. It was so much fun! It's amazing how many colors we got from one ink.

Mark painting his sticks

Mark's sticks

 Rocks with blackcurrant ink

 Dyed quill pens

Thursday, 8 September 2016


There's just something about this time of year that stirs my soul. As the days get shorter and cooler I feel invigorated and driven to do things, make things. It's my favorite time to be in the forest. The colors of the leaves, the crunch under my feet and the crisp air. I begin to cherish the warmth of the sun on my face and even find myself breathing more deeply. I start wearing big wool sweaters, harvest the garden, drink lots of soothing tea and listen to Miles Davis over and over again in my studio. 

Even as a child I remember loving the fall. It was a time of intense beauty in Montreal and Vermont where the fiery maples transformed the landscape. When my dad passed away two years ago, it also became an incredibly emotional time of year. I find a lot of comfort in nature, watching the changes going on around me and living in the moment.

Eating Carrots from the Garden 

This is also the time of year that we start homeschooling again. While we don't stop learning over the summer we definitely follow a different rhythm.  It feels good to be back. One of the things I'm most excited about is our weekly WildArt adventures. We'll spend every Thursday in the forest foraging for materials to make art and tools. Over the summer we made pens from sticks, ink from berries, clay pots, pigment for paint and birch bark sketch books. 

Here's what we've been up to since we started Kindergarten and Grade 3. I plan to share our adventures with you each week.

Week 1: Birch Bark Bracelets 

Week 2: Natural Paintbrushes 


Monday, 29 August 2016

A Different Path

Over the weekend I had a lot of fun making beads out of ash, birch and willow branches. It's a slightly time consuming process but I really enjoy it. I'm always amazed at how each bead is so beautiful and unique. 

Willow Beads with Beeswax

When we were in the forest today, we decided to explore an unfamiliar trail. While I was making some land art my sons noticed several dead birch logs and branches on the ground. They started hitting them against a tree for fun and were surprised and delighted when the rotten wood inside started crumbling away, leaving perfect tubes of birch bark. We talked about all the cool things we could make with them; fairy tunnels, swings, garlands and bracelets!!!  I grabbed my knife and started cutting them up to make bracelets. 

When i got home, I started experimenting. First with sand paper and beeswax and then watercolors. I think they're simply beautiful. They have this incredible iridescent finish and they're much stronger than I expected them to be. I'm so happy we decided to take a different path today.