In our yard before the first trip, Andie seems quite excited about our new gear!
Fully loaded, and not budging! It took a team effort at Neys Provincial Park to get our canoe off the beach and into Lake Superior to start kick off our very first paddle of the project.
Still not moving yet!
The reason why our canoe was hesitant to get going.
On our way!
A few bubbles trace our path in Superior's exceptionally clear waters.
Tucked into the bow of the canoe in front of Janet, the gentle waves rocked Sydney to sleep in no time.
First camp was on Pic Island on a beach at the back of a sheltered bay. About as perfect as it gets!
Starting my first painting of the project on Pic Island.
It's wonderful painting at the edge of the water, surrounded by the sounds of water lapping against the rock. The rock in the base of the easel help kept it from from blowing over.
Night fell and I finally packed up for the short hike back to camp.
The girls found many things to keep them intrigued and entertained, like this log with a beaver chew!
Andie doing a little homeschooling with her younger sister Sydney on Pic Island. It was September after all!
Our campsite at Pic Island takes on an almost tropical feel as the beach and sun bathed us in sometimes summer-like conditions.
Using a Globalstar satellite phone with the computer, stories and photos are sent from almost anywhere. What's really nice is the size of satellite phones these days. No need for big, bulky units. The phone weighs little more than a regular phone, and takes up no more space. Really key when you carry a lot of stuff like I do.
McDonald Islands at sunset.
The canoe as a floating studio has everything I need to paint by water. A well shaped rock and a piece of rope serves as an anchor in shallow water. In deeper water, be prepared to spend as much time paddling as painting if it's windy.
Putting a few more stokes on back in the tent.
The girls helping me get the fire going.
Andie taking in a big view of Lake Superior.
Making our way down the coast in Pukaskwa National Park. Sydney is hidden up the bow of the canoe, comfortably tucked in.
Late night at our camp kitchen.
Janet and the girls at an old log shelter in Pukaskwa.
Getting geared up to the next paddle.
Janet had her hands full making sure the girls were suited up with wetsuits and life jackets for Superior's frigid waters.
Getting all packed up to leave Lake Superior Provincial Park. Somehow all that gear, and us, fit in the canoe.
Beginning with the canoe loaded with easel and canvas/panel panting boxes, I set out to glide over the crystal waters of Lake Superior in search of a scene.
Roughing in the composition with oil paints directly onto the canvas. I tend to begin all my paintings very loose, leaving me the opportunity to make changes as I proceed.
In calm weather, a large canvas like this one is quite manageable from a canoe, but watch out if the wind picks up!
The nice part about having the family with me on these trips is having someone to greet me and help out upon returning from my painting jaunts.
Love the feeling of floating in my canoe.
Jan and Syd.
Special time with Andie.
Sydney acclimatized to the outdoors very well... almost too well at times 🙂
Night time in tent with family are always special times to reflect upon the day and bond.
Campfires never cease to mesmerize.
Gathering around the fire: great time for storytelling and camaraderie.
The scenery at Naturally Superior Adventures is so beautiful that I may wind up doing a painting or two from here.
While at the White River, I had the chance to paddle upstream to the suspension bridge. As the late afternoon sun worked its way into the gorge, I couldn't resist the urge to start a painting from the great vantage point that the swaying support offered.
Trying not to drop my brushes while painting this lovely bridge view of teh White River.
Painting by canoe on the Montreal River. During this typical fall day, rain followed sun, followed again by rain. So what to do? Take your tarp, a couple of paddles, a tripod, some rope, an easel, and some duct tape, and you've got a shelter to go. This 10' x 10' tarp by Outdoor Solutions is perfected suited as it has paddle pockets the corners too.
"The Crack" at Killarney Provincial Park. Easy to see why the Group of Seven was so inspired to paint here.
My turn to carry the wee one. We were able to devise a comfortable seat in the Eureka backpack which worked well for a while... until she began to throw her weight back and forth.
Janet takes a turn lugging Sydney on our 3 hour hike in Killarney. Sydney's a great little camper, but doesn't quite have the stride to keep up yet.
Andie gives us a break and takes a turn carrying Syd. It didn't last too long 🙂
Janet holding on to the kayak while Ed Chevrette leads us to calmer waters in French River Provincial Park.
One of our favourite Georgian Bay camping locations.
What to when you lose your easel on a painting trip? Improvise. Using one of my painting carry boxes, a hunk of wood, and lots of duct tape I set up a makeshift studio on the go.
A quiet spot to paint on the Canadian Shield of Georgian Bay.
Writing and sending field reports to Canoe.ca.
The last place I parked my canoe to during of fall trip. From here I hiked around this little island in search of a new painting.
Sketching the sculptural, twisted shapes of dead pine trees. They are so fascinating.
Doing pencil studies for a large painting which I will be working on back in the studio. The size that I wish to so this piece was just too large to bring out in the field.
Janet captured the magnificent magenta afterglow from a French River Provincial Park sunset. The sun had actually set behind us and lit up the opposite sky for a few brief moments.
Dusk on at the water's edge of Georgian Bay.
For the last few days of the trip we dropped off our daughters with family and carried on by ourselves. We missed them so much we built this little reminder of them.
Taking in a blustery view of Georgian Bay while snowshoeing along Chikanishing Creek.
Finding a great view in the cold season.
Looking for a place to paint.
The metal teeth on the bottom of my snowshoes are critical to safely hiking along the frozen shoreline.
The coast of Georgian Bay takes on a whole new incredible look in the winter.
Visually setting up the scene.
The initial stages of one of my paintings are usually pretty messy as I try to establish the main elements and mood.
When the wind chill kicks in, nothing like a good tarp to help me stay out longer.
A young moose I encountered while snowshoeing along Chikanishing Creek.
Flying high: Wilderness Helicopters taking us over Lake Superior to the Slates Island.
Sydney adapter well to the chopper, falling asleep in mere minutes after lift off.
Flying high over a the icy waters of Lake Superior.
Beauty from above.
Superior's crystal clear waters seem even more so from the air.
Landing at the remote Slates Islands, which lie about 14 kms offshore.
Keeping my head down while packing up the chopper.
Getting ready for lift off.
Winter painting at Lake Superior offered a spectacular scene of ice-covered islands.
My sole winter campsite offered true solitude in the woods.
After a painting session overlooking Old Woman Bay during which the temperature dipped to -22 degrees Celsius. Was most pleased when my buddy James Smedley had this roaring fire going to thaw out in front of.
While paddling through the hundreds of little rock islands known as the Chicks and Hens in Georgian Bay (west of French River Provincial Park), we were pleasantly surprised to find this jewel of a beach. We had not seen a speck of sand during many hours of paddling, and then, out of nowhere, this gorgeous little inlet awaited us.
A sublime, quiet morning for painting.
Foggy magic near the French River.
Beauty in one of the countless back corners of Georgian Bay bay.
Paddling south around Point aux Mines on Lake Superior led me to this overhanging cliff face. Paddling through the small opening you can all the rocks below down about 20 feet. Just incredible.
Hooking up my Outdoor Solutions tarp to my Eureka K2 XT tent made the perfect combo for comfort in all conditions. A little fire out front allowed me to cook in the rain while staying dry. Lots of dry space for my paint boxes too.
Another view showing how camping doesn't need to be torture. With a little planning and the right gear, one can enjoy the outdoors even more instead of fighting with it.
Solo camping on Lake Superior. The company of a nice little fire in the evening before turning in completes the experience.
This is where James' canoe made its appearance. While working on this painting portaying the water and rocks of this gorgeous bay, James innocently (?) beached his canvas covered canoe on the rocks to explore around. It caught my eye, and just happened to anchor my composition.
The Boundary Islands quietly sit out a couple of kilometers from the Pigeon River and are somewhere near the dividing line of Canada and the USA. A quiet spell allowed me to paddle out there where I was treated to this lichen-covered island.
The girls keeping me company as I paint at Tea Harbour, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.
Painting the foot and knees of the "giant" at gorgeous Tea Harbour.
The "nest". Playing with the endless rocks along the beach at Tea Harbour, the girls found some egg-shaped ones and got creative!
Another rock "nest" configuration.
Jason, videographer for CBC, catches me setting out to begin a new painting.
CBC videographer Jason and producer Colleen Ross joined us for a couple of days to filming for a television segment.
Painting an old cabin - or is it a shack ? - on Lake Superior.
While crossing the gap from Silver Islet to Porphyry Island on the "Melissa", owner Jim Dyson turned over the reigns to Sydney for a short while. She did a great job and never veered off course (maybe we'll tell when she's older that Jim had the boat on autopilot).
Andie's turn at the helm.
Sunset at Porphyry Island.
The Sleeping Giant.
A beautiful little cove on Porphyry.
Beautiful rock formation and growth along the black volcanic beaches of Porphory Island.
Sydney joins me as I begin a new painting.
Hardy plant in Superior chilly environment.
The delicate beauty of the Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora) plant.
Andie is dwarfed by a Devil's Club on Porphyry Island. The only other place they grow is in rainforests of the Pacific Northwest.
I love the orange and black contrasts found is many of Superior's rocky islands.
Porphyry Point Light Station. We met the descendants of one of the original lighthouse keepers who filled us in on the history of the island and showed us old newspaper stories about it. Fascinating.
Painting from Porphyry Station lighthouse. What a view from up there!
Janet soaking it all in.
Early morning paddle on a calm Superior.
Raised beach along the west side of Jackville Bay.
Camped on the beach at Jackfish.
Janet and Sydney at sunset on Jackfish beach.
Moonrise over Superior.
Moonrise over Superior.
The girls pausing for a photo in front of one of the Jackfish ruins that was just their size.
Up early one morning to head out for a "paint and paddle", I found our beached Temagami canoe complementing the morning sky at Naturally Superior Adventures.
I don't know if it was watching the Swiss Family Robinson DVD on the way up, but the idea for the raft wouldn't go away until Andie was able to float on one in Lake Superior.
Moonlight and campfires, two things that etch permanent images in my mind about the camping experience. Its a good thing the moon was up too...James and I had forgotten to bring flashlights with us when we ventured out that evening and had to hike back by its light[.
James conducts an interview with Janet to gather material for future stories. His style is low key and very comfortable. What I would do to get a copy of the tape when he asks her what its like to live with an artist...then again, maybe I don't want to hear that conversation.
Buddy m write an photographer James Smedley and his lovely canvas covered canoe.
The Smedleys getting ready to head out with us for some camping on Lake Superior. Little did I know at the time, but his beautiful canvas covered canoe was later to make an appearance in one of my paintings.
Work continues on a painting surrounded by a truly stunning environment.
My iBook came in handy on occasion when the creative juices would flow late into the night. Downloading images from my digital camera allowed me immediate access to the reference that I had shot during the plein air painting process.
Glorious sunrise on Georgian Bay's Manitoulin Island.
A crevice in the rock: a perfect sheltered spot for a campfire for us to enjoy before turning for the night.
Summer paddling along Manitoulin Island.
Camping on the unique alvars of Manitoulin Island.
Shallow waters that stretch out for hundreds of feet from shore make for a great camping location with young children.
Hanging out in the sun.
Dinner time is family time.
One of our little spider friends. This one could sit on the lid on a large coffee cup, and hang its toes over the edge!
A cute little water snake.
Everything critter on Manitoulin Island's alvars seems to grow to an enormous size!
The rocks (2 to 3 feet in height) in the background where like cliffs compared to rest of the region. Notice the dimples in the limestone. The textures that abound everywhere are an endless source of inspiration.
Getting some help painting.
Is this the right brush dad?
Absorbing the rays of the setting sun on a perfect summer day.
The calm waters of Georgian Bay behind me bouncing the sunshine from its surface like many brilliant diamonds.
More glorious morning colours to treat the senses.
The mirror-like surface of the water at Head Island casts a spell on you as you soak it up in the morning.
The skies broke open for us on one of of last evenings of the summer journey. It is quite understandable that artists in past days often used this kind of imagery in their paintings to depict God's presence in their works.