I have returned home inspired from a week in the wilderness with a group of like-minded, nature loving artists. Waterfalls, lichens, mushrooms, loons, rocks, hikes, swims, time spent creating and capturing the scenery on canvas or camera. A beautiful environment to explore ideas, experiment and create, in a very supportive environment. 

Lac Penniseault
It was a week of inspiring the senses: not just plants and landscapes, but also patterns and reflections; the sounds of loons and their babies, the roaring of the rapids, tent zippers, crackling campfire; the scents of clear air and pine trees; the feel of sand and rocks underfoot and of cooling off in the lake; the taste of local spring water, supper cooked over the fire.

Lac Penniseault - view from the camp

We were 15 artists, spending a total of 7 days together camping in the wilderness of Quebec, thanks to our sponsor, CPAWS (Canada Parks and Wilderness, Ottawa Valley Chapter), at their 5th artist residency, Dumoine River Art for Wilderness Retreat (DRAW). We camped in a beautiful setting with a large area for tents, a campfire pit, deck, eating areas, and a beach 66 stairsteps away (and of course 66 back up). A small barn and woods were ours to explore, finding many old rusted garden and cooking implements and scrap metal pieces, some of which we removed in an effort to clean up the area, but also inspired by the potential of these relics for our own artistic creations. Our disciplines included painters, photographers, a felter, fibre artist, a sculptor, even a sound artist.  

The highlight was visits to the Grand Chutes along the Dumoine River, with its roaring rapids, rocks, and towering trees. The trail along the river offered up a surprising number and variety of lichens, mosses and mushrooms. The feel of the area was magical, leaving us wondering if this was the world in which faeries live. The Dumoine is a protected wilderness area in the province of Quebec, and one which needs to be protected from further climate change and biodiversity loss. 

Dumoine River

Trail along the Dumoine River. Could faeries live here?

I have well over 350 photographs from this trip, including an excursion we took up a mountain where a new hiking trail is being forged, and of wildlife and an abandoned building nearby. We fortunately did not see any bears or wolves or moose.

Blueberry Mountain
I have lots of plans in my head for making fibre art pictures from this adventure, including 3 I started during the trip. I was also able to spend time experimenting with more sun printing on fabric, paper and birch bark, testing leaves I had not tried before with varying results. These too will somehow get incorporated into art. I was delighted when some of the artists asked to learn this technique - below is a shirt one artist decided to print on - a synthetic material that actually turned out quite well.
Sun Printing

Sun Printing on Birch Bark
My idea bucket is now very full. I am inspired. We had time to create, time together inspiring and sharing, also time alone to reflect, think, journal and work on our art. And each of us will be creating and donating a piece of art based on the area to help raise awareness of the importance of protecting our parks and wilderness areas.


"Music is full of longing and movement.  Painting should be the same." I read this quote in Hundred and Thousands: The Journals of...