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“Voyageur Spirits”

© 2022, Watercolour, 22” by 14”


I know that, like our children, we’re not supposed to pick our favourite paintings, but I’m not going to lie: this one has struck a chord within me.


Like many of my paintings, it’s based on an idea that’s been a long time coming. When I first started putting boats inside bottles, I’d fancied putting a voyageur canoe inside a bottle. Right from the start, I envisioned that the canoe would be navigating stormy waters with the paddlers struggling against the elements, and that there would be a steady stream of water coming out of the bottle’s mouth. I cannot tell you how ecstatic I am that this painting not only matched my original inspiration but has actually surpassed it!


Although, like I said, the idea had been gestating for a time, mostly because I hadn’t been able to figure out what kind of background to use. I knew I wanted it to be a river with a waterfall, and I had taken a few pictures over the years, but hadn’t found anything that worked the way I wanted it to. Then, one rainy morning this past summer (July of 2022 to be specific) I woke up with an urge to go to Burleigh Falls (a destination that is only about a half hour away from me). I had the place to myself because of the heavy rainfall, but it was a warm summer kind of rain that didn’t bother me. It didn’t take me long to find the perfect rock on which to place my stalwart bottle and take a series of about two dozen pictures of water guggling out of it.


Then, it was time to find the reference images for my canoe and its passengers. I went right to the master for most of it: Frances Anne Hopkins. In the late 1800s, Frances and her husband (who worked for the HBC) travelled with several voyageur canoe expeditions, and she produced several epic paintings that are considered among the most accurate representations of voyageur life. I based many figures on paddlers from her paintings, matching the clothing and the accoutrements as closely as I could. I also paid homage to a favourite voyageur painting of mine by Adam Sheriff Scott who, in 1942, painted a breathtaking image of a birch-bark canoe, bow suspended in mid-air, as it prepares to descend a sudden drop in the river.


As I played on this painting publicly at art shows over the summer of 2022, I had many people ask me if there was any symbolism in it (specifically with the water pouring out of it, or the design on the front of the canoe). I can honestly say that this painting is what the viewer thinks it is. Nothing more, nothing less.

Voyageur Spirits


Reproductions of my art are available printed either on paper or canvas. Both formats are signed by me, the artist, and are high quality, full-colour prints of a high resolution scan or photograph of the original painting. All prints are inspected to ensure that the colours match the source and created using inks that are guaranteed to resist both fading and UV light.


Paper Reproductions

These are printed on high quality paper to give them the look and feel of the original painting. In terms of the dimensions listed, please keep in mind that they are approximate. Since I custom mat and frame the prints myself, I reproduce them at specific sizes so that when they are matted to standard matting dimensions, the mat-board borders are consistent widths on all sides. It’s because of this that I highly recommend that you upgrade to the matted version (seriously, go do it now).


Now, if you've ordered a print that is not a standard sized when matted, then I highly recommend that you go back and order it in a frame. As described in the sister section Frames, I do all my own framing using reclaimed wood and am affordable.


Stretched Canvases

If you want to avoid matting and framing altogether, then I suggest that you order the canvas option. I stretch the canvases myself using reclaimed wood and, with a profile that is an inch and a half thick, the art will make a strong statement on your wall.

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