Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Leanne Baird

Leanne Baird is a visual artist residing in the Peterborough area. Her background involves a variety of experiences that, all combined, informs her particular style of painting. These experiences range from a Fine Arts degree from the University of Toronto to landscape design; from studies in process art making and mandala art, to teaching the craft itself to adults and children. Developing her intuition for her surroundings, she has immersed herself in the study of yoga and of ancient Indian scriptures.

Baird’s main painting focus is on landscapes which she considers to be both ‘a study of the physical and the metaphysical.’ Inspired by the natural world, she perceives the consciousness in all things and is particularly attracted to the consciousness in trees. Remarking on the cover art, she says, “To me it expresses the illumination of consciousness…the trees seem to be lit up from within.”

Her influences include such artists as Lawren Harris, Emily Carr and Norval Morrisseau, all of whom, Baird notes, ‘blend their artistic world with their spiritual world.’ In her artist statement, she continues that with ‘expanded awareness, a powerful silence is perceived underlying the creative energy of nature, and within the silence, an intrinsic vibration of light.’ We can all relate to times when we have seen nature so raw and beautiful that it takes our breath away. One can see why artists like Baird spend so much time in the great outdoors – it is awe inspiring. Painting is a way for her to share her spiritual perceptions with the world.

She says, “When the nice weather comes, it is hard for me to stay in the studio! I am out looking for new subject matter and immersing myself in the calming and healthy energy of nature.” Baird works with acrylic paint and attributes the evolution of her style to this medium. “It is said that the great thing about acrylic paint is that it dries fast. The bad thing about acrylic paint is that it dries fast… the essential quality of this paint opens up the artist to other means of expression.”

In her studies, Baird has explored the sacred art and geometry of mandalas, and, as teacher, has shared this experience through workshops with others, encouraging them to awaken to their own creative powers. Mandala painting ‘can be a meditative process as well as a skill building process.’ She adds that teaching allows the artist to focus on the basics again, and to grow in their own creative process.

Baird’s paintings have been part of many exhibitions in the Kawartha’s, she has been represented at the Buckhorn Fine art Gallery and she has been featured on HGTV. Although teaching has been a large part of this artist’s experience, she is currently focusing on her paintings where she can share her love of the natural world on canvas.

If you would like to see more of Leanne Baird’s work, please visit She will be participating in the 32nd annual Kawartha Autumn Studio Tour running from September 24-25.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Kathy Haycock

Artist Kathy Haycock has spent her life dedicated to her passions; nature and art. She comes by these passions quite honestly through the noble influence of her father, well known Canadian Arctic painter Maurice Haycock. She was also greatly exposed to the work of her fathers close painting partner A.Y. Jackson of Canada’s Group of Seven. She lives near Lake Clear in the Eganville area of Ontario.

Her influences introduced her to the bounty of Algonquin Park, to the vast Canadian Arctic and even further on to Greenland. Kathy continues to travel to these beautiful and extraordinary places to carry on the work of capturing nature at its best. Her dedication to on-site painting all-year-round in these remote locations can only be considered uncompromising.

Kathy is truly inspired by nature itself as she continues to immerse herself in the outdoors. Her passion has her sitting out in the wilderness, quietly becoming part of it, as she paints her experience of being there.  The appeal, she says, “is the sense of respect and belonging one gets from being immersed in the wilderness landscape. This message of caring for the natural world and the enrichment it offers is what I interpret in my paintings.” Of Algonquin Park she says “there is such a wonderful variety of accessible lakes and back country painting places.” She often paints alone, or with fellow artists Linda Sorensen and Joyce Burkholder; a trio known as the Wild Women, Painters of the Wilderness. They go on sketching trips to Algonquin a few times a year and have co-authored a book together. Their work will be on display for the month of August at the Visitor Centre in the Park.

Kathy first travelled to the Canadian Arctic in 1976 with her father to camp on the historic Beechey Island. This is the location where the ‘ill-fated Franklin Expedition overwintered in 1845-1846.’ She was “hooked by the sweeping, vast, powerful landscapes.” She has authored a book about her father and his work titled On Site with Maurice Haycock,Artist of the Arctic, Paintings and Drawings of Historical Sites in the Canadian Arctic. Kathy now travels every couple of years to either the Eastern Arctic or Greenland for 2 or 3 weeks. She also travels to the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Alaska for extended stays by camper trailer. “It is beautiful country with rugged coastlines and colourful, picturesque Inuit communities.”

On one such adventure to the Arctic in 2002, Kathy, who was travelling with her sister Karole, met Canadian artist Doris McCarthy. Kathy notes in her biography that the acclaimed artist became an important mentor, inspiration and warm friend. McCarthy emphasized to Kathy that every painting should tell a story.

So, what is the story for the cover art of this issue of The Link? “These are rental canoes. They could be on any lake at any park. They're resting in the early morning waiting to be chosen. Each is "dressed up" in bright colours perhaps competing for the attention of the canoeists who will take them out on new adventures.”

Mainly self-taught, Kathy’s work has been described as lively, with fluid woven images and a graceful sweeping rhythm. Along with the art show in Bancroft, Kathy had a solo show in May in Ottawa with another upcoming in September At the Art Gallery of Bancroft. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The spiritual practice of yoga is one of the oldest disciplines in the world, and from that discipline stems the sacred practice of Thai yoga massage. We all know the health benefits of doing yoga; this massage, in essence, is the equivalent of having yoga done to you.
Shelagh Binks of Yoga with Shelagh, describes it as a truly unique and beautiful experience, one that is unlike any massage treatment out there.  Thai yoga massage is a ‘partner practice’,  performed on large, comfortable mats on the floor, wearing loose and comfortable clothing. The practitioner uses their hands, feet, arms and legs to gently guide the recipient through a series of yoga postures, while palming and thumbing along the body’s energy lines and pressure points.
Shelagh defines the palming and thumbing as a way to open the energy lines (also known as sen) that run throughout the body, move the energy through these lines and then close the lines by palming again. Together, the postures and the movement of the energy makes for a comprehensive full body treatment.
The origins of traditional Thai massage date back 2500 years ago with roots in India and in Thailand. It is well known in the Eastern world as a sacred healing practice, essential for overall well being. This dynamic bodywork therapy manipulates the sen lines, which follow the muscular contours providing stability and structure to the whole body.
Eastern practices are performed on the basis that the whole body and mind are connected. Releasing tension in one area of the body can correct postural imbalances and relieve pain symptoms elsewhere in the body. Thai yoga massage also

·         Improves movement
·         Stretches and tones your muscles
·         Improves circulation
·         Boosts your immune system
·         Balances your body’s energy

The Western world is used to working on the physical, it is used to working on one area where the injury is and the symptoms are, and it is used to working on sound evidence. The concepts of Thai massage focus on the body as a whole. When one part is injured, others areas of the body are working to compensate for the injury, and areas are working to heal the injury. That is why the body must be treated from head to toe, as a whole.
This practice involves intuition and it is a deep feeling art. Shelagh adds that it is important for the recipient to relax and have trust in the practitioner. This will help the movements become smooth and harmonious, allowing the recipient to get the most healing out of the session.The practitioner remains focused and centred throughout the massage, really listening to and connecting with the needs of the recipient. There is great emphasis on giving Metta (Indian sanskrit for loving kindness) during Thai massage. When there is mindfulness in massage, and spiritual awareness, real healing can take place. Therefore, this entire connection can at times feel quite emotional as you realize you are really being cared for.
There are times in our lives when we must care for others, and we know that we must also make time to care for ourselves; Thai yoga massage is allowing someone to take care of you. For some, this may sound selfish, but others know it is a transformative experience. Allowing someone to take care of you has profound affects on your overall health. It makes you want to tae better care of yourself. That, in turn, helps you take care of everything and everyone in your life better! And that will indeed give you long term health benefits. 

As they say in the yogi world, Namaste.

Photo credits Phil Binks

Margaret McFetridge - The Bloomin' Barn

Joyous, cheerful, exuberant - these words are regularly used to describe the artwork of Margaret McFetridge from Wellington, in Prince Edward County. Margaret was born and raised in Toronto, and has had the good fortune of living in many different places in Ontario as well as spending a decade in Quebec. As a young child, her parents encouraged her art through classes at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and that passion never left her.

Her early career saw her working with watercolours, silk and porcelain paintings. By the 1990’s she was experimenting with oils and that was when she discovered her true medium! That was when she went big – big canvases, big brushes and big, confident strokes. She says that the work just poured out of her and you can feel her energy through these large, vibrant and colourful floral works of art.
In 1999, Margaret discovered Wellington. She says “I came to the County with some friends. I could feel the creative energy here, and that was in November! I hadn’t even seen it in the summer!” Margaret bought her old Victorian home and took it back to its original form. There she lives with her feisty tortoise shell cat named Baitley. “I feel like I am charmed.”

Margaret begins each day in the early first light of the day painting in her bright and spacious home studio. She calls this her “creative solitude time.” An addition she envisioned for her century home in the County, this studio is an exquisite architectural design which appears to double as a conservatory of sorts as the perimeter is full of plants. When you enter, your eye draws up to see several curved beams in the vaulted ceilings, giving the space a strong and feminine feel. The rounded top arches on the oversized windows continue this theme while providing plenty of natural light for her work and the many plants that surround her art studio.

These plants are also her models. “I grow pretty well every flower that I paint.” In the middle of it all are the working canvases. Margaret usually starts three paintings at the same time, all depicting the same subject in different sizes. It is quite a practical approach as the colour palette is out anyway, but also serves to keep things fresh as she moves from one canvas to the other.
It all starts with applying an undercoat, always in pale pink or mauve. She explains this provides a soft beginning for the painting and she always lets this background come through in her work, giving them an ethereal feel.

From May to October, Margaret welcomes you to view these paintings just steps from the studio in her circa 1880’s carriage house converted into a wonderful art gallery. Year round, you may visit her studio by appointment, and visit her website at
Joyous, cheerful, exuberant - if you know, or come to know, this artist, you will certainly agree that they are words that could also be used to personally describe her.