Northern Landscape Commission

Their jaws dropped.

Its one of the highest compliments for an artist, inspiring relief, gratitude and thrill.

Commissions are one of the most challenging projects artists do. Many full out decline them. As Robert Genn would say, ‘ It may take me 10 years, by then I hope they have forgotten.’ 

To make the process as smooth as possible on the rare occasion I accept, I first refer clients to my commission terms, posted on my price page

Communication and trust are key for both parties. 

If the project and reference material is suitable, after reviewing at length, we discuss expectations, deliverables, artistic freedom, etc. 

Emotion is always my focus, not necessarily site specific content.

It is this lovely family’s collective love of the outdoors, and northern subject matter that really excited me about the project. 

They first provided me with a half dozen lovely photos. 

I asked for more.

I needed to get a full sense of how they experienced the landscape and participated it in. Even if they thought the photos were’t relevant, I assured them they would be. 

I requested photos of the room where the painting would reside, from all angles, lighting, and the room’s purpose.

Timing process would affect creative process flow. Approximately start to finish was nearly 2 months to create. Half of this time was ‘creative thinking’ with weeks spent daily on composition, photo referrals, story element, etc . (Special thanks to my friend Julia who was my amazing sounding board thru this.)

When I unveiled the piece last Saturday, I included a narrative and a gift of brushes I used. Photos and narrative ( a few edits) shared with their permission:

“You requested I paint a northern Ontario landscape from your family canoe excursions, include shoreline, trees, sky, a canoe somewhere, Killarney, or French river main subject area. 

My ambition was to create how the experience was for you, participating in landscape actively as a family. Sharing happy memories, vivid experience, and the vista beauty.

My intention is about manifesting the feeling of being in that landscape, emotion is the focus. I create this using colour, shape, feature elements combined with soft palettes and strong design. 

All elements were considered, how you engaged in the landscape, your collective love of the outdoors and each other. The room where the painting will reside, its purpose, lighting, natural light, elements in the room, wood, stone, etc. Where you will view the painting from, and how that will change as you enter the room. Time of day when you experience the painting most was considered.

Your photos offered a wonderful glimpse how you engaged with each other and the landscape. I have the sense you gathered on the rocky shore together sharing meals, laughter, enjoying the land & water before you.

Overcast skies provided lovely light in your photos. Painting these soft lit palettes allows the vibrant rock colour and shapes to create the drama. 

I wanted the painting to feel balanced, pop with colour & variation, like your personalities. You seem to collectively grasp life in abundance, and enjoy those quieter peaceful moments. This is prominent in the photos.

Because this painting will live in a room you sit & gather relax and entertain, surrounded by natural elements, it needed to feel cohesive.The composition is created to flow with your room, entering the room from the left.

 You will feel anchored with the body of the composition being heavier on the left, it will actively draw you into the room with the flow of the landscape transitioning to lake on the right. 

A higher shoreline in the distance and prominent rocky foreground offers the perspective and feeling of being in the landscape. This works well with the lower ceiling, considering you will be seeing the painting from mostly a seated position. You will feel ‘in’ the painting. 

Instead of creating you actively paddling, the canoe is at rest on the rocks, psychologically giving you a feeling of being on a rest stop, camp out or portage when you experience the painting in your dwelling. ( remembering this is a room for relaxation.)

Many of your photos have two canoes, with the four of you, but I decided to depict a single canoe. One canoe, one family, expressing your single tight family unit. 

Your lighting will make the lake feel 3D. The under layers of cerulean blue will make it glow like moonlight at night.

Your single source of natural light, the window on the right, will illuminate the painting from right to left, giving it a synchronized feel in your environment, the painting is infused with the natural lighting on the right to enhance this feel of time of day.

I have incorporated colours in the room, and kept it a statement piece all on its own. 

Ultimately, it is created for a family, not a room, though all these elements are considered, they are not necessarily to be consciously noticed, its created cohesively to offer that emotional content and showcase the vista.

The main focus is to create a heirloom painting infused with family love engaged in beautiful northern landscape together.”


Thanks so much A&C for your trust and enthusiasm! So excited to see the photos of your painting in your beautiful home.

~ For those inquiring about collecting art, several about the new OCEAN, please email to purchase, so excited to hear from you!