This week I’ve been painting a Canadian icon. No, I haven’t been working on a portrait of a celebrity; I’ve been painting a canoe paddle!
I’ve traded in my usual canvas for a wooden paddle as part of a fundraiser to support arts programs in Muskoka. The fundraiser is being hosted by Algonquin Outfitters, who will hold an online auction and live event in September. Their goal is to auction at least 100 paddles, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of Tom Thompson in Algonquin Park.
I love to paddle, and of course I love to paint, so the opportunity to combine the two and paint on a paddle was irresistible. The only question was what to paint. I wanted to design something simple and elegant that would complement the shape of the paddle, and eventually I decided on a gray jay, also known as a Canada jay or a whiskeyjack.
Whiskeyjack is an English corruption of the Algonquian name “Wisakedjack,” a kind of mischievous, trickster spirit in First Nation’s lore. If you’ve ever met a gray jay, you’ll understand why it has earned that name. They are known for seeking out people in the hopes of getting some food to cache, and sometimes even stealing it from unsuspecting campers. The Royal Canadian Geographic Society endorsed it as Canada’s national bird in part because “it has been known for centuries as a companion to Indigenous Peoples, early explorers and outdoor enthusiasts. Its chattering and whistles are considered an early warning to hunters of nearby predators. There are stories of Gwich’in guides in the Yukon who tell of gray jays singing from tree to tree to lead a lost hunter home.”
A brush with life
I love the smell of art supplies in the morning! This space is to share info about the materials and techniques that I am trying, as well as some pictures of my work in progress.
Copyright Jennifer Foster