The Magic of life on Amherst Island


In all my wildest dreams, growing up as someone who was happiest in the water, I never could have imagined I would end up living year-round on an island.

It never even occurred to me this was something you could do. But, thanks to the ferry, it’s actually feasible to live your day-to-day life completely surrounded by water.

Sure, you have to go to the mainland for most material things. But the good stuff, the stuff that matters, is right here on the island.

Peace and quiet. Nature. Maple syrup. Sunrises and sunsets. Community. Wool. Friends. Family. Honey. Healing. Inspiration. Home.

It’s a truly special place, made up of so much more than the sum of its parts.

And I love living here. I love the escape of it. The respite from the bustle and pressure of the mainland. Of the real world.

For me, the release happens the minute I board the ferry at Millhaven. Travelling the channel either way is such a peaceful time for me.

Because I love the lack of control. The knowledge that we’ll get to shore when we get there. Or we won’t. And I have no control over the outcome. It’s liberating. And a tad humbling.

So, I love the ferry. I love that it makes it possible for us all to live here in this magical place.

That’s what made me want to start including it in more of my work: it’s such an integral part of what is special about my island home.

This collection of abstracts started with my attempt to paint a photo I took of the ferry at sunset at the Stella dock. I’d taken it on my way home from yoga one night this summer and there was something startling about the light that evening, something special.

At the time, I didn’t know this particular painting would inspire a collection. All I wanted to do was to see whether I could loosen up a bit, free up my style, get down to the basic elements of light, shapes, and colour, and still manage to paint something that looked somewhat like the ferry on the lake at sunset.

The experiment went off better than I could have hoped and I was in love with what I’d made. And completely captivated by the ever-pressing question so many artists face: can I do that again?

I tried. Again and again. Big and small. A triptych and single-canvas paintings. And I love them all.

I learned so much along the way about how I paint, what I like to paint, why I need to paint, and how to make my oils do exactly what I want them to. I failed as often as I succeeded and there is one piece that didn’t make the cut for this collection.

But the 14 pieces that make up this collection are ones I am immensely proud of. So proud I arranged to have them framed by a local artisan, Cameron Gray.

The paintings were more challenging to create than any I’ve done before—in ways I hadn’t expected. I had to do them in one sitting, which was easy for the little babies but a huge hurdle for the big pieces. I also had to be more picky with my reference photos because these pieces required more dynamic light and more varied colours than what I sometimes choose to paint.

I created rules for myself. Including how I worked the paint and how I mixed the colours. Most important was the rule about the subjects of each painting.

Each one had to contain both island scenery and something man-made. Whether that was the ferry, our dock, or a friend’s dock, it had to be something that I feel is part of the magic of the island experience.

The magic that comes from a community of people choosing this life. Choosing the peace and quiet. Choosing to care for this special place. Choosing to make it home.

I hope you love the pieces in this collection as much as I do. And I hope they help connect you to a memory you have of time spent in nature, by water, on a boat or a dock somewhere, or maybe even of time you spent here on Amherst Island.