The hamlet of Wilno is nestled in the beautiful, rocky hills of the Madawaska valley and is home to Canadian Wilderness Artist Joyce Burkholder. Many refer to this area as God’s Country, and for good reason- the hills afford breathtaking views of the surrounding forests and lakes, and serve as a natural backdrop for the work of an outdoor artist. Joyce has dedicated the better part of her life to her work, “it has been, and still is hugely fulfilling to be a full-time professional painter of the stunningly beautiful landscape of wilderness Ontario.”
Born and raised in Toronto, Joyce attended the Ontario College of Art and Design (formerly known as OCA), an education that was to be just the beginning of a lifetime of learning. In her early 20’s, she made the decision to “get back to the land”, so she headed north, originally settling west of Wilno in the country near Maynooth where she lived for the next 25 years. It was about this time that Joyce found a cottage style building in Wilno surrounded by perennial gardens that would make a perfect studio and gallery. She says that this inspiration came from a visit to Sante Fe some thirty years prior where she came across Canyon Road, a stretch of “artist-owned galleries in funky little houses.”
Joyce is an award winning painter known for her outstanding and passionate landscapes of the Canadian backcountry, notably many from Algonquin Provincial Park. No fair-weather artist, Joyce goes out to paint on location in every season with all of the challenges this has to offer, be it hot days, rain, the bugs and the cold. Whether on foot, canoe or snowshoe, she heads out into the wild to paint. She has painted on beautiful winter days at temperatures of -30 - she recalls “the beauty and clarity of light is astonishing” yet, it gets uncomfortably cold and this can make the paint very thick and hard to work with. She says that she “loves the rush of arriving at an inspiring location especially if there is dramatic lighting.” Then the mystical work begins, as Joyce transforms her vision and tells the exciting story through the paint; her painting being an emotional reaction to her environment.
This emotion, her passion and her primal connection to nature certainly come through in her art. Painting on location gives her a fresh and spontaneous edge and allows her to convey that feeling of really being there. She works with oils, acrylics and watercolours, using many layers of this glaze giving her images depth.
Adding another layer to her work, Joyce shares her passion, “it is exciting, dynamic and inspiring, especially being part of an identified female trio of painters we branded as “Wild Women” who have all made a similar commitment to portraying and preserving our natural environment.” She says of the group, “joining together with Kathy Haycock and Linda Sorensen continues to enrich and expand my career in ways I never imagined...it is like everything gets multiplied by three.” The Wild Women co-authored a book, ‘Wild Women: Painters of the Wilderness’, which Joyce admits stands out as a great life achievement.
If you would like to see first-hand these award winning works of art, check out the Madawaska Valley Studio Tour this Summer (July 22-23) and Fall (Sept 30-Oct1), or for a more hands on experience, Joyce offers workshops from May to September. You too can get back to the land and paint on location in our beautiful Ontario wilderness.