On Stoney Lake this summer, not only can you ‘paddle your own canoe’,
you can ‘paint your own paddle’, too.
On a recent rainy day in July, eight women — all cottagers and friends on Ston(e)y* Lake near Lakefield, Ontario — gathered at the Harbour Art Gallery to learn how to paint colourful canoe paddles, guided by artist Hope Zatorski, owner of the gallery located at Kawartha Park Marina.
Zatorski supplied the paints, brushes and creative atmosphere, while some of the women brought their own paddles, and some bought theirs from her. They all brought their own imaginations and design ideas.
“We’ll see what mine turns out to be,” said Alessandra Tattersall of Big Island on Ston(e)y Lake. She had found a 50-year-old paddle on her cottage property that she couldn’t bear to throw out. Now it’s a beautifully painted piece of art – and she created it herself.
“It’s such a great thing that Hope is doing because I think we all want originality at the cottage and the Island, and this is a great way to bring things to life,” said Tattersall, who lives in Toronto when not at the lake.
Zatorski, a mother of three grown children, has lived on the lake for 23 years. She sells paddles she has decorated, as well as her acrylic paintings of canoes, flowers and scenes of Paris and Venice.
While this is the fifth summer the Harbour Art Gallery has operated, it is the first time Zatorski has painted paddles and offered the paddle-painting workshops.
“I just thought ‘I want to paint a paddle for Canada Day’, and it went from there,” she said.
Margaret Chadwick, from Michigan, who has spent 30 summers on Ston(e)y, said,”We’re getting our creative juices flowing here.” She plans to use her paddle as decoration on which to hang life jackets, or possibly cottage photographs.
Zatorski, a Peterborough native, said she has always been interested in painting, and for a time, while living in Toronto, she worked at an art gallery, sold art, and set up art displays. But she did not begin to actually paint works of art until about 12 years ago.
“My first painting was of some of my mother’s poppies, and I then I just kept going on my own,” she said. “Then I joined an art class at the Ridpath art store in Lakefield.”
She has continued to attend classes with a group of other artists, led by Chris Ridpath, now held at his studio home.
“Hope is one of the most naturally gifted artists I have ever met,” said David Kerr, a fellow artist in the group, in an interview. “She has an eye for great compositions and use of vibrant colours. Every painting she does is unique and remarkable. She has the ability to create a scene or mood that makes you feel you are living in real life right in the middle of the painting.”
“Watching her paint, too, is amazing as she paints so quickly with such vigorous wrist action and broad brush strokes. If you didn’t see a canvas in front of her, you would think she is describing the world with her hands to someone who has never seen it before.”
“Both Hope and I belong to a group of artists that meet on Wednesday and Saturday mornings north of Lakefield,” Kerr continued. “We paint together and critique each others work. We share stories as we paint and have become a very close knit group.”
In past years, Hope has shared her gallery space with over 20 other artists, many from the lake area. This year, however, there is only Zatorski and just two other artists: Krista Ouellette, who specializes in painting fish; and Gail Noble from Upper Ston(e)y Lake.
“Initially I started the gallery because I just wanted other artists to be exposed who wouldn’t have been otherwise. I do it because I enjoy it,” said Zatorski.
She has sold about 180 of her own pieces from her gallery, and also exhibits yearly at the Juniper Island Art Festival. (This year it was held on Aug. 12 and 13)
For her, creating art provides “a tremendous amount of peace. It’s almost like meditating and I love it,” she said. “It’s just natural, and not stressful at all. It’s endless. You never stop learning and there’s always something new around the corner.”
*Some people like to spell the name of the lake as Stoney Lake, while others spell it Stony Lake.
By Melodie McCullough