Society of Canadian Artists, Gull River, Intimate Canopy, waterscape, oil painting, Haliburton, Ontario, Shallow water, maple trees

Jul 13-Aug 10, 2016 | opening reception Sun 17 Jul, 2pm

Etobicoke Civic Centre,

99 The West Mall


ON M9C 2Y2

Society of Canadian Artists 48th Open National Juried Exhibition. The Society of Canadian Artists is proud to present their 48th Open National Juried Exhibition featuring Large Works. Many prestigious awards such as the Mary Pratt Crystal Award will be presented at the reception.


Sanctuary Between, Oil Painting, Burlington: Urban and Rural, Art Exhibition, Burlington, Ravine, Creek, meditation, tall oil painting, painting of a creek, brook

I am happy to enter the "Burlington: Urban and Rural Exhibit", at the Art Gallery of Burlington.

My entry, "Sanctuary Between" speaks to a cultural phenomena that is integral to living in Burlington: access to rural sanctuary even though it is a very urban centre. We are so blessed to be able to go to quiet, unspoiled and magnificent places and be utterly alone in what feels like wilderness.

The place that I have painted is a view down a ravine, south of New Street. It is an inconspicuous wonderland, wedged right between two old subdivisions, and if you look hard, you can barely see a shed up at top of the hill that is in someone's backyard. Utterly alone and unseen, I stood at the creek bank looking into the wildly complex undergrowth, the backlit, stained glass autumn trees and into the mesmerizing lightning quick, morphing kaleidoscope of colours and shapes on the water. I felt the sacredness of this spot in its untouched glory. There was this feeling of enchantment - like I was the first to ever discover this magical world.

First to discover - hardly. But that is how a place in nature like this makes me feel. Like it is a tropical desert island. Like it is mine. The magical untouched whole earth is all mine and I am completely attached to every nuance of wonder in it. It is an exhilarating way to feel. In Burlington, the availability of such experience is ever at-hand. It happens by a quick dash to innumerable parks, or even by a turn of your head as you fleet by an open view of the lake on Lakeshore Road. It happens in the middle of well-planned subdivisions where the natural soil was respected and trees and were revered instead of plowed down and saplings sparsely replanted after the planting of houses.

Such experiences with nature add immensely to the quality of my life here. They are a spiritual replenishing for my soul and healing for any transgressions that happen within our urban, compacted and hurried society. This experience of solitary connection in nature seems to be held sacred for Canadians and for those living specifically in the community of Burlington. For me, this amazing "convenience" in Burlington is the best part of living here. It makes a profound difference to the quality of my life every single day - much greater than I ever would have imagined.

The "Burlington: Urban and Rural Exhibition" runs June 15 2016 to the beginning of September.  Each artist has been selected for his or her unique interpretations of Burlington's urban and rural culture.



(As published on, March 29, 2016)


By Kathy Marlene Bailey


Do you sometimes feel like you are beating your head on a brick wall when you plan on selling artwork? Where are those buyers, who are they and what do they want anyway?


Oh, those elusive buyers! You would think, after pouring your heart and soul into your artwork, and doing a perfect job of expressing what was so important, the world would instantly “get it” and have to get it!


Not so, evidently. It shouldn’t be that hard. Just one person has to come along that not only loves it as much as you do, but they love it enough to buy it! But where oh where is that person? Rarely is that person milling about galleries, art shows or art fairs, that is for sure, as any professional artist would attest.


Event, after event, after event, it happens. You plan to sell quite a bit. Your body of work is the best ever. You are in love with every piece. You have read all kinds of stuff on marketing and taken marketing courses. You have attended “the business of art” workshops. You are totally organized down to every last detail. Ready, waiting, poised, relaxed, and ready to share your heart of heart of why you did the artwork, and your all-important process. All ducks in a row. All people attending the event, including you, have a lovely time! Then, at about 4:30, the cold truth starts to creep in. Not a sale. Not one. Or, maybe you have sold a card. Maybe you sold a painting. Any way you slice it - you are out of the ballpark for financial success compared to anyone on minimum wage. Cold Hard Truth.


Sure, lots of those people seem to enjoy the art. Lots stand for periods of time marveling and verbalizing how incredible it is. But when it comes to tipping the scale and turning that enjoyment and appreciation into the act of buying, the vast majority of those in these crowds do not weigh in.  It seems that at an art event of any kind, average art sales would be zero to two paintings per artist. Fine craft would be higher and modestly viable. Virtually all professional art income is meager. These dedicated souls make the art. Perfection is achieved. So are long hours, study and execution of flawless marketing. Why no sales? Almost no art market - that is why. Look at your friends’ walls, while they diddle with their iPhones. The walls will show you; there will be NO ART THERE, almost assuredly. Today’s market is exceedingly small.


“These times” are particularly poor for artists. They have been since the big stock market crash of 2008.  It was lean before then.  Clearly, the number of buyers has gone way down since. But…. there are still a few out there! Who is left?


Somewhat by chance, one day a while ago, I met three.  I was attending the “Art In Action Studio Tour” here in Burlington, Ontario. While at an artist’s studio, I struck up conversation with a group of three patrons wielding bags of treasures, purchased at the tour. They told me that they regularly buy art. I knew that as an art journalist, I had struck gold. If only they would agree to be interviewed, surely, three real, live art buyers could shed some light, for all of us who trudge along this tricky path of professional art. Robin Cooke, Alex Kucharski and Joe Henriques, ALL agreed to be interviewed. My understanding of this market and its elusive buyer has now increased. This was far from a complete survey of art buyers, but it certainly was an interesting and insightful one from the three buyers I found. By the way, to add a bit of context, I will say that Alex is married to Joe, and Alex is also a sister to Robin.


When I first sat down to talk to Alex, I asked her what motivates her to buy art. She jumped on the answer: “NO REASON! It just grabs me! I cannot explain it – you need it spiritually. You can feel it; it connects. It would be a very shallow existence without art - art and nature and art….”. Alex seemed to - and needed to - react to art on a deep and primal level. This primal connection occurance was common to Joe and Robin as well. Although Robin was more hooked into a specific genre (Realism), and it sounded like Alex and Joe were quite eclectic in their tastes, not one buyer was eclectic in their motivations; all three made an instant emotional bond with the work, which drove the motivation to buy.


Robin said to me: “ I know immediately if I want it. There is absolutely no hemming or hawing. If I have to think about it, it’s no good.  It is 100% emotional. It has to talk to me. I have to see something I like. Price doesn’t matter.


Summarizing, Joe told me, “Artwork speaks to me in several ways. I know it is not for the sake of investment. There is no commercial attraction to buying art.  It is exclusively because it appeals to me. I enjoy my artwork everyday. It is eye candy all over my walls. I remember when I bought this piece called “The Curious Cow”. It was just this cow looking out, from a group of cows. I don’t know why, but I just had to have it. The reason is  - and was - completely beyond me. I just had to have it.


Money did not seem to enter into the equation with anyone. Craftsmanship, pattern, composition, aesthetic, message, subject matter and stories that they could personally identify with all might weigh in.


 So could connection to the artist. Alex noted that she loved striking a cord with the featured artist at openings and usually ended up enjoying meeting the other artists there just as much. These buyers had a favourite gallery, where they were on a first name basis with all the artists and staff. These were relationships that Alex savoured. 


Robin too noted that building a rapport with an artist was important to him. He said that the exchange of a piece of art was a two way emotional street. As a buyer, he wants to witness the attachment of an artist to his or her own work – how important it is to the artist.  Was it dashed off, or was it lovingly prepared with great meaning to the artist? Likewise, he figures it is always reassuring for the artist to know that the art they love is being appreciated just as much by its buyer. This was an interesting concept that Robin brought to light.  It could be compared to an adoption. From the buyer’s standpoint, Robin wanted to know: what kind of beginning did the artwork have? From the artist’s standpoint, an artist would wonder: what kind of role will the artwork have in its future? Will it be barely looked at, tying into some décor, or will it be treasured everyday and racked with meaning for the new owner, as was the experience in making it in the first place?  The two parties are making a transaction that really has nothing to do with money. It has to do with care, emotional investment and reverence for something that goes beyond commodity and strongly into the realm of relationship - much like an adoption of a person. This artwork is no mere “thing” to either one of them.


Knowing artmaking or artmakers well also seemed to be a factor in becoming an art buyer here.  Robin and Alex have an artmaking sister. And Joe himself is a part-time artist.  These buyers have witnessed the investment of effort, care and talent needed in creation of art. They said this gave them profound appreciation of the gift that art is to them and society.  Both Robin and Joe noted that this factor didn’t necessarily come into play with everyone exposed to artmaking.  Non-buyers were sometimes just as exposed as they were, but did not seem to get the bug. They might appreciate art - a bit - in a much more limited context. They cited other members in each of their respective families that liked art enough to have a bit on the walls, but it was exclusively for decorative purposes. It did not hold a primary function in their daily lives. For Alex, Joe and Robin, the artwork they had purchased was key to their day, in a similar way to how an artist’s own work is to theirs.


Several years ago, I had a studio in the Williams Mill, in Glen Williams. One day at my studio, I was chatting with Jim Ball, who was the United Church minister in Glen Williams at the time.  We were talking about the dramatic decline of churchgoing in Canada. I was expressing apprehension about the future survival of churches and prospects of faith in Canada. He volleyed a wisdom that changed my entire paradigm. He cited the major effect of social norm that used to bring the majority of Canadians to churches before the 1960’s and then said that the current churchgoers of the time were under no social pressure whatsoever to go to church. If anything, it would be the opposite. Churchgoers – all of them – were driven by their own, genuine, internal faith. There was no other agenda left. The upside to this was that a dynamic, exciting group was left. It was small, but mighty. It was completely dedicated - genuinely passionate.  It had all that was needed for effectively moving forward.


When I mulled through all that Alex, Joe and Robin told me about their art-buying passion, I came to have hope for the same kind upside in the context of the art world, and for the survival of professional artists. I also came to have a profound respect for those individuals that step out and buy art. They are the few who are left of the art buyers. They have no other agendas other than passion and absolute need of the experience of living with art.  Just like us. They get it.



Not that they can help it anyway. They can’t help it anymore than I can help being an artist obsessed with water and morphing shapes; I need to paint these as much as I need to eat and breath. These people need to buy art as much as they need to eat and breath. They are driven to perpetually connect to the genuine spirit that lives and manifests from an artists heart, into the conduit of the art.


I asked each of these three buyers the following question and got three different, profound answers.  The question was, “ Why, other than personal satisfaction, should artists make art? What do you see as the most valuable role for art in today’s world?”


Alex Kucharski replied, “ Artists speak to something that is in us and express things that we can’t”.


Joe Henriques responded, “Art is a legacy that stays behind – a representation of emotions – the fabric of society”.


Robin Cooke answered, “Art brings a level of humanity into our increasingly sterile world.” We as a society seem to only reward better technology.”


They get it. The group is small, but completely dedicated and genuinely passionate about our art. I have a feeling that the small number of art buyers today has all that is needed for somehow providing for our sustenance - for the survival of our artmaking in Canada.


If you are looking for them, I wouldn’t recommend that you search in any ordinary “target markets”. Don’t look for a necessarily moneyed or necessarily cultured lot. It seems the agendas and social norms in the art world are gone too. Apparently, the art buyers of today reach fully into the fabric of society. Robin says everyone he knows buys art! He is an IT guy. He talks to a broad cross section of people in the bump and grind of his day. Art buyers he knows can be truck drivers, social workers, plumbers, government strategists and other IT people.  The only common thread is: they get it.


I would challenge you, as artists, to get yourselves. Don’t make art that conforms to a social norm because unless you genuinely fit that norm yourself, it won’t be real.  Don’t fake it or try to fit in or hurry it or make art that you think curators will like or other artists will like, or customers will like and therefore buy. Instead, make art that fits – to a tee - your own personal heart. That is something that is real and can be trusted.  Always. Even in these tough times. It is what buyers, these buyers, are looking for. It is the art that connects. The elusive buyer, it seems, just wants to connect.

Kathy Marlene Bailey is member of Burlington Fine Arts Association. She is a glaze oil painter, a sculptor, writer and an art instructor at Art Gallery of Burlington, Canadore College and English Harbour Art Centre (in Newfoundland). She is represented by Christina Parker Gallery in St. John’s, NL. You can visit her website at:


Thanksgiving Canadian Autumn Water Gull River

I am grateful for our land strong and free
For each and every God-kissed tree
For food in plenty, family
For love, and all who let us be
For birds that sing so happily
For you, for her, for him, for me
For ALL God's creatures, ONE family
I am grateful for what I see
The glory in each autumn tree


What am I thinking about art today? I think I want to create like nobody’s business and paint like nobody else can, because they do not have my hand or mind or my vision. I am unique and have something unique to say to the world. They might think it is “valid” or they might not. Those are thoughts, not facts. If I love my artistic direction then it is THE valid direction. My direction is unique to whom I am. The world can choose to embrace it or not. Since I am communicating to the world – that would be nice if they did. Time, and they will tell. In the meantime, time and I will tell them what is in my heart and what I need to shout from the hills. 

World, this is my art. It is MY art. Would you like to share in it? I would like to share it with you. I would like it to be your art too. I want to strike a chord with you and prompt you sing a common harmony that is in your heart. I am unique to you. And yet, I am the same. We are each unique. We are each common. The commonality – that is where the communication starts. The uniqueness – that is where the appreciation and savouring takes place. 

I want my art to make your heart skip a beat, as it does mine. I want it to thrill you, as it does me. I want my art to sooth you and make you transcend into your Maker, as it does me. I want you to feel the Omnipresent who lives in all hearts and all places. That is what is common. That is our connection. I want you to feel it.

 You and I are unique manifestations of exactly the same thing. Utterly unique. Utterly the same.  All at the same time. That is the paradox, and the beauty of it. That is what makes us living creatures. That is what makes us living souls. That is what makes us a living species. 

I celebrate our commonality. I do it uniquely. Our commonality is the thumping heartbeat of life – it is God coursing through our veins, molecules, notions, idiosyncrasies, jaws, fingerprints, habits, triumphs and struggles and aging. We are grandly designed. We are grandly one. We are grandly utterly, utterly unique with infinite uniquely compiled components crafted by treasuring grand hands that thrill at His unique and brand new creation each time. We are loved by our Maker. I feel it as I reveal with my art my transcendence in God’s world.  It is a feeling that I want to hold. It is a feeling I want to expose and make available to anyone blocking it. I want to open the commonality of our existence and life. Our Substance.

- Kathy Marlene Bailey


Fractals art water painting experience Gull River God oil Renaissance mystic

Fractals. I work to see the shapes within shapes. I see them and then refine the shapes in my painting to match. The "fractals" then mysteriously present another shape that overlaps or intertwines in another way. I finesse my paint to bring out this next gift of sight. Immediately another shape comes into consciousness. They interweave like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. The wonder of the physics in nature that puts this all together for my eyes… I am witness to unending miracles of shapes, sizes, organisms, light dancing on or through mass or liquid or air. I am witness. I am so blessed to be witness. I feel like I am looking through a crack in the door of a magical kingdom. Just a peek – that’s all I get. Yet it is enough to sustain me and fill me with an inexplicable peace and all-encompassing awe. Enough it would seem to fill  a whole lifetime - each time I peek. There is magic in looking and working hard to see the fractals. The shapes are all connected and interwoven and morph back and forth, from one to another, bowing in, bowing out, like proud apparitions that know their own beauty. Everything is connected and interwoven. We are all connected and interwoven. We are part of one BIG fractal. I love, love LOVE finding the fractals within fractals within God's omniscient reach. It is my research that never, ever ends.


 "Tucked In At Daniel's Cove", Glaze Oil, 30"x40"

"Tucked In At Daniel's Cove", Glaze Oil, 30"x40"

I was fortunate enough to have reason to go to Newfoundland this January, and experienced some winter in this beautiful harsh land. I was struck by how the house in this painting pulled me into this incredibly foreboding landscape. I am compelled by the paradoxal dance in Newfoundland of the relentless harshness of nature and the proportionally relentless human nurture. To me, this painting speaks to that. There this house sits, tucked into the shore, cozy and feeling safe against its wild, blustery and bone-chilling environment. It sits perilously on this hill, with only a single wire connecting it to the rest of civilization via wind-bent poles. Is the light on the porch lit by the sunset or by a light in the front of the house?  The house pulls me in, either way. I am caught by its welcoming human spirit. 

After loving this painting all winter long as I honed the details and the interesting colours, I packed it up and hauled it to Newfoundland, with four other paintings, to the Christina Parker Gallery in St. John's. I hope it's upcoming buyer loves it as much as I do. It was a real pleasure to paint!

It was fun after arriving in Old Perlican to our little house here, to drive up the coast to Daniel's Cove to see the same house in the summer time. Quite a bit different in the different season! This place is amazing, in all seasons. There is such beauty here, in so many manifestations.


This is one of my favourite new paintings that is in my current solo show at Art@231 Gallery on James Street North, in Hamilton. It is called "The Beech at Boshkung, Gull River". The Beech River is part of the "umbrella" river system of the Gull River (it is listed as Beech River on some maps and the Gull River on others). The Gull winds down between a whole series of lakes in Haliburton, starting around Haliburton Lake, near Haliburton Village, and ending at Moore Lake, south of Minden.

The "Beech" portion is magical, beyond magical. When you bother finding your way  down to its banks, it rewards you with something that could be described in one of those books about after-life experiences by people that have near death experiences. It is nothing short of shear rapture. It is untouched by human hand and is a micro-wonder-world of lushness, glittering rawness and spellbinding complexity. It is a favourite place of mine.  This painting was pure delight to paint.

Hope you come to see it. Here is an invitation to my show:



I was bumping along, minding my own business, painting, teaching and gardening; out of the blue (actually the internet), I received a message from John Cinquemanati from Art at 231 Gallery on James St. North in Hamilton. They found my work, after one of their artists, Anne More, had told them about me. That was May 11. It is now June 4, and I am ready to hang a SOLO SHOW, ”Summer Reflections”, on Sunday, with 20 to 22 works, prepped and ready. Some were done; some were not. I can’t complain about midnight oil. My adrenalin helped me right through it! I buzzed along as if there was no problem or no time crunch. Just give me any excuse to paint day and night – I will take it with joy. I am making last minute refinements, doing photo-documentation, prepping my jpgs for the exhibition catalog and sorting out my invitation list (If you want to be on it - LET ME KNOW!).  Sunday, I will go to Hamilton, and pack out my bounty of works, huge and small, from 4x5’ to 8x10”.  Then, I will breath again, and rest up for the events - the Art Crawl on the following Friday, and the artist’s opening, the following Friday. I should be tired. But, I am just excited.



The winter has been spent not only visiting Old Perlican NL, but also painting it when I returned home to Burlington. I had several paintings planned, but the new fodder from my winter trip inspired me toward a lovely distraction from the harbour, per se. I went just north of Old Perlican to Daniel's Cove, and looked back towards Old Perlican and it's incredible late afternoon western sky; my breath was taken away.  And I thought Newfoundland could be beautiful in the summer! This work will be called: "Cozy In Daniel's Cove". It is glaze oil and is 30"x40". The bone-chilling, formidable force of the winter ocean juxtaposes against this inviting habitation, perched onto the edge of the equally awe-inspiring drop of the cliff.  

Snow is a real treat to paint if you are glazing. I say...that glazing is always spectacular, but is particularly spectacular for water, skin and snow. I rarely paint snow, so this is fun. I still have lots of echelons of detail and colour to work out in both the snow and the water. Can hardly wait.

The other works in this picture are of Old Perlican Harbour. The little one in the middle will be called "Little Boat, Blue Water" and is 10"x12". The little boats always amaze me the most. What nerve it must take to take on the possible rages of the mighty ocean in these little boats.

To the right of this is "Fire in the Water" glaze oil, 12"x16" which will not be for sale. I have barely begun this work. On the Indian red primer ground that can still be seen in some places, I have carefully plotted out the waves. They are still very rough, and will need a multitude of glazes to refine the light structure, rendering, line and colour. I won't stop until I can feel the same awe as I did at the dock, in that minute.

I have been hankering to paint the little painting on the left, "Slick" glaze oil, 12"x16" for quite some time. The immediacy of the movement - the flash of a glance - and the profound simplicity yet complexity of the ripples on the water - these are what I just love about this subject. It is just so...slick. This painting is about half done. I will enjoy the challenges of the complex colour and light structure in the water.