Going For Gold

Going for Gold

Size: - 24” x 24”

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The exercise of painting is a constant search for light and I thought about light often while painting “Going for Gold”. Light is what informs the artist when painting or sketching. Without light, the exercise of translating a three-dimensional object or scene into a two-dimensional one would be flat and uninteresting. Painting is also a form of meditation and while painting, these were some of my thoughts.

I thought about Light being associated with daytime, darkness with night

Where would we be with light – darkness would fill our world. The Arctic is inflicted with darkness throughout the day for several months of the year.  Even in more southern climes, too many winter days without sun are a cause for complaint. The absence of light for an extended period is known to cause depression and sadness. As humans, we depend on light to normalize our moods and our days.

I thought about Light being associated with happiness.

Another use of the word light is to associate it with a happy personality – as in “he/she lights up my life” or “he/she lit up the room upon entering”. Seemingly, the atmosphere in the room changes when such a person enters. This situation is most certainly true for people when they find love.

I thought about Light being associated with Christianity

Light is a significant and positive notion throughout the Bible. The following verses speak for themselves.

And God said “Let there be Light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good and he separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:3)

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119:105)

And the words of Jesus:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)

In summary, my meditations on light came to the conclusion that in my life, it is all encompassing, from the act of painting to the act of worship.

Kindred Spirits

Kindred Spirits

Size 24” x 24”.

Available at Cedar Creek Gallery - 2805 Hwy 60, Dwight, Ontario 705-970-7878

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Not too long ago, my friend and I were hiking along the shore of yet another pristine northern lake laden down with all of our painting gear. Paints, palette,  brushes, easels, lunches and snacks and water add up to quite a weight in my backpack. Always the optimist, I trudge along, hoping that the view that I am looking for is nearer rather than farther!

This particular afternoon, it was hot. Very hot. And I was wishing that we hadn't begun this expedition. I was ready to drop my pack at the first fairly level spot and set up. We were on a small cliff which was about 25 feet off the water. I dropped my pack, but then my curiosity took me  a little further to see what was beyond the shrubbery at the edge of the side of the cliff. Carefully, I parted the bushes. The scene in front and below me was a small beach framed by cliffs on either side. and evoked freedom, adventure, oneness with nature, peace, and relaxation. Brilliant colour was juxtaposed with cool shade.  I didn't see any signs of the owners but this scene was enough to inspire me. I have not had the thrill of kayaking yet but these kayaks looked so splendid and colourful sitting there resting on the beach. , I  have tried to capture the awesomeness of the panorama that lay before me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did

Be Still and Know...

A couple of weeks ago, I spent 3 or 4 days on a painting expedition with my friend and painting companion, Roxanne Driedger. Our destination was Killarney, Ontario, Canada. We had perr-fect weather for the entire time. It was both of our opinions that the journey is as important as the destination so we took our time both in getting there and in coming back.


If you’ve never been to Killarney and Killarney Provincial Park, I highly recommend it. The natural beauty of the rolling hills with the white cliffs of the La Cloche Mountains in the background is breathtaking. Lakes are a dime a dozen, with sparkling clear water and surrounded by pink and white cliffs and rocks. Although we didn’t see wildlife (except a porcupine!) this time, bear and deer are plentiful here.

On our way back home, Roxanne felt it necessary to take me for a quick tour of Grundy Provincial Park. I was glad she did. It is situated just south of the French River and a little jog off of Highway 169 onto Highway 522. If you go past the Grundy Lake Supply Post, you’ve gone too far!

This painting scene was the first place that we stopped in that park. It was a hot summer evening and the air refused to move. We marvelled at the stillness of this place. This creek came out of the dark and wild place of endless forest but had surrendered itself to utter calmness. All of features of the surrounding grasses and forest and sky were mirrored in that liquid pool. The coolness of the forest and the lingering heat of the day intermingled for that perfect summer experience. A Bible verse came to mind that evening – Be still and know that I am God – Psalms 46:10a. It was a spiritual moment.

Each day, I feel so blessed to live in this country. Here is a poem that expresses how I feel right now in this stage of my life.

SLT – a poem by TR Takoda

I’m in love. 
With the blue water
Crisp air
Pale skies
I’m in love with the mountains
and the rivers
and the creeks

I’m in love with a life that I never dreamed I’d be allowed to live

I’m in love with

Cool, Calm & Collected

Previously I wrote about our amazing trip to Killarney. While there, we decided to undertake a sailing excursion hosted by the Killarney Mountain Lodge. When we inquired, we were told that there was a confirmed sailing at 11am the next day. Sailings were confirmed only when there were at least four people signed up. We conferred briefly but we didn’t need much persuasion. We both knew that sailing up the Georgian Bay Coast would be an inspiring experience. As the advertising promised –

“Enjoy the magic of Georgian Bay during one of our morning, afternoon or sunset cruises. The Captain will ignite your imagination with captivating stories as you take in the breathtaking views of rugged terrain and ancient coastlines.”

We met the Captain and mate and the other crew members shortly before launching. Captain Mark was born and raised on a dairy farm in Ontario, but on obtaining a BA in Biology and having a brief career in that field decided to do an about-face and pursue a dream of sailing. He had the gift of gab and regaled us with stories for the entire trip. His first mate, Juliana, hailed from Brazil. Her specialty after graduating was in geology and she spent several years as an engineer before meeting and joining Mark. They were both very interesting people!

While sailing (we had to motorsail most of the way because of lack of wind), we passed several islands, all of which were blanketed in white pine and spruce and other evergreen tree species and ringed with the gorgeous pink rock that Killarney is known for.

The highlight of our trip was at the turnaround point. We were told to look up at a magnificent rock structure that resembled an Indian Chief. This rock structure overlooked a beautiful cove surrounded by more high pink cliffs. Sailboats and other small vessels had harbored there in this natural protected cove and were dotted in the green-blue water. What a wonderful picture and promotion for the joys of sailing!

Heading back to the town of Killarney was another adventure. A breeze came up and Mark and Juliana raised the sails allowing us a few moments of feeling the boat move under the power of the wind. But alas, the wind was too variable and it became too difficult to set sail and continue that way. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that we were all refreshed by the views, the wind, and the flapping of the sails.

This large painting is a result of our sailing trip. I was struck by the way the light reflected off the unusual pink rock into the calm bay waters. The air and water is so clean and clear all of which affects the way the light hits the rock, trees and water.

Above all, I hope that this painting (and my story) motivate you to explore some of our awesome country this summer! You won’t regret it!

Cool, Calm and Collected

Size 40”W x 30”

Available at Cedar Creek Gallery - 2805 Hwy 60, Dwight, Ontario 705-970-7878


Summer is here and the living is easy. Here in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada, we often have muggy hot days. What makes this bearable is that there is always a lake nearby. On those hot, muggy evenings, the air becomes very thick and appears dusky, rendering the hills in layers of blue. Of particular delight to me, perhaps while swimming, is to see the islands forming their unique dark shapes outlined against the panorama of blue hills. Here is my rendition of what we experience in this wonderful corner of Canada.

Unfortunately, the photo does not describe the pink in the sky and water very well.


Size 20”W x 16

Spring Freshet @ Km 6

Early in May, I travelled the short distance to Algonquin Park with my son. After visiting Ragged Falls and hearing and experiencing its mighty thunder, we went in search of a waterfall that I had seen only once before. I had suspicions that this waterfall existed only in the spring when the water was high. We crept along the highway while our eyes combed the edge of the forest ... suddenly, there it was! The rocks were stepping stones to where the water spilled out of the lake above. It was such a magical place. There were no bugs to speak of and the roar of the water blocked out all other noise. We were alone with nature and it was utterly peaceful and beautiful. 

Algonquin Spring

We were exploring trails and such along the 60 corridor in Algonquin Park a couple of weeks ago. It was sunny, warm and it was easy to feel that spring was in the air. This is a marked canoe portage that we happened upon where the light was just magical! We stayed awhile just to soak up that magic and commit it to memory.

Algonquin Spring

Size 40” x 30”.

Golden Hour

t’s February – a time when a lot of friends disappear to warmer climes to escape the doldrums of winter. I would be remiss if I didn’t admit to wish the same from time to time. I love the winter but I long for somewhere new… somewhere fresh… somewhere away form the everyday humdrum existence.

But I heard something on CBC today that put it all into perspective. If you would like to have a listen, here it is:

Her name is Kate Bowler. Her book is “Everything Happens for A Reason and other Lies I’ve Loved”

A couple of quotes from her talk:

“I mostly try to think about the day – like what in the course of the day – is brave and big and also small and snuggly.”

“My life is already full of beautiful things and to just not to take things for granted”

Not hard to take that to heart. I needed that talk.

Negative Painting & Landscapes

This post is in response to all of you who have contacted me and wondered how to incorporate negative painting in my paintings. I don’t hesitate to share how I do it since everything that I have learned along the way is because of someone else sharing their knowledge (Linda Kemp being one of them!) and I am very grateful to them. While I have not heard of anyone doing things exactly the way that I do it,but I’m also sure that I am not alone!

REFERENCE: Fallen Giants

I usually start with a canvas, although I have also experimented with Aquabord, Claybord and wood panel. My favorites are Aquabord and Claybord using this technique but it is difficult for me to get a regular supply of them, so I use canvas most often.

My first step is to lay in a background colour. The colour that I chose in this painting was Pyrrole Orange. I chose this orange because it is the complementary colour to Phthalo Blue (red shade), which I had decided to use for the snow.  The Pyrrole Orange is laid in rather loosely. It is the bottom layer and will only show through here and there where I leave gaps of paint and where the Phthalo Blue and other colours is most transparent.

Next, while looking at my reference photo (I take all my own photographs), I paint in the darkest darks wherever they may be. In this situation, I mixed Phthalo Blue and a bit of the Orange and painted the tree and branch shapes and the darks of the fallen tree shapes and shadows. It helps to map in these shapes with white chalk beforehand in a complicated piece like this one.

Most of the hemlock branches have a tad lighter tone, so I mixed Phthalo Blue and Cadmium Yellow Dark to the desired tone and painted that colour in quite loosely to indicate hemlock branches and the trees in the background. Notice that the orange shows through quite a bit in spots. I kinda liked that. I thought it looked rather painterly.

My next step was to paint the sky showing through the branches. I used Cadmium Yellow mixed with Titanium White in varying amounts to show the sun being stronger in one area. I laid in the colour by shaping the the hemlock branches and making some additional branches as well. After the sky, it was time for the snow. I made up a palette of successive tones of Phthalo Blue and Titanium White and painted in the tones from dark to light ending with the lightest tones highlighting the snow. At this point, “Fallen Giants” was essentially finished.

I hope that this little ‘tutorial’ is beneficial. This is the first time I have ever shared this type of information. I’ve always been on the receiving end!

Let me know what you think.

Fallen Giants

After a fresh snowfall, I love to venture out snowshoeing into the forest. The blanket of snow, often a foot deep, magnifies the stillness. It also makes abstract forms and shapes out of decaying matter lying on the forest floor. I was drawn to this scene by the strong lines and composition that had been formed by these fallen hemlocks. I felt a little sad about the demise of such strong beautiful trees. But the resourcefulness of nature demands that the death of a tree transforms into a cozy winter nest for small animals.

Fallen Giants – 24″ x 30″H – Acrylic

Fallen Giants – 24″ x 30″H – Acrylic

Hemlock Hideaway

Following up on my snowshoe adventures, I diverted off the main beaten track onto a deer track. This was a little more challenging to negotiate but not difficult. Of particular interest to me is finding those spots where the deer bed down for the night. And then this —a hemlock hideway! A perfect shelter with a view of the frozen lake.

“Hemlock Hideaway” 36″W x 24″H- Acrylic – for pricing information, please contact marikemacd@gmail.com

“Hemlock Hideaway” 36″W x 24″H- Acrylic – for pricing information, please contact marikemacd@gmail.com

When The Morning Light Sings

I’ve been finding a lot of joy in January this year. It’s been bitterly cold in our region with temperatures regularly reaching -35 C. in the morning. But along with the cold this time, we had brilliant sunshine. It didn’t take me long to bundle up, strap on the snowshoes and head out. Snowshoeing is an activity that warms up the body quickly and in frigid temps, it is just perfect. This painting was inspired by the morning sun shining through to the snow capped hemlocks.  Deer tracks guide me along to find one magnificent site after another.

There are a few more similar paintings in my repertoire that I will complete in the near future. I hope you like them.

“When The Morning Light Sings” – 20″ x 16″H – available through Eclipse Gallery, Huntsville

“When The Morning Light Sings” – 20″ x 16″H – available through Eclipse Gallery, Huntsville

Let All the Earth Keep Silent

Glorious sunshiny days combined with a recent snowfall make for wonderful photos showing that gorgeous winter light. We’ve had plenty of that over the Christmas holidays so what did I do? I took my trusty phone and went snowshoeing. My phone takes perfect pics that later inspire my paintings. 

When I found this spot, I stood still. The light was gorgeous and splayed out over the rocks in a abstract pattern.  And then it hit me – there was absolute silence. And I realized again just how lucky I am to live in this natural paradise and I silently gave thanks right there.

As Mother Theresa once said:

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch our souls”

“Let All The Earth Keep Silent”

Acrylic – 24″ x 30″ – for pricing information, please contact marikemacd@gmail.com

Let All the Earth Keep Silence.jpg

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I would like to take this time to thank all of you for your friendship. Your encouragement is a great source of inspiration to me. I wish all of you wonderful days with your friends and family over the coming week and take time to remember the Reason for the season.:-)

Resurrecting a painting done some time ago – inspired by the beauty of a fresh snowfall layering my town. Enjoy…


A Final Nod to Canada 150

I did this piece in celebration of Canada 150 earlier in the summer. We have a great country. Yes, I know that the indigenous peoples inhabited this great country much longer than that and I respect that. But I hardly need any reasons to celebrate Canada. We have oceans (not just one but three!), lakes that look like seas and millions of little lakes, mountains, prairie, Canadian Shield and acres upon acres of wonderful farmland. We need to preserve and protect our great country.

To me the maple tree is one of the symbols of Canada and precipitates many memories. I climbed in the maples and played under the maples around my house growing up. They were shelter, shade and a climbing gym all in one.

To that end, I am sharing this piece as the year closes.