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Of course exceptional art is what makes this tour so great, but checking out the artists’ inner sanctums gives visitors a rare insight into creative processes as well.
Now in its 37th year, The Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour takes place over two weekends, September 24-25 and October 1-2, during the height of the fall colour season in Ontario’s cottage country. As the reds, yellows and oranges come into brilliance and the air grows cool and fresh, the studios of more than 20 of Muskoka’s most talented artists will be open for visitors to view their incredible works and to watch them in action.
If you’ve ever been to one, you’ll know that an artist’s studio is far more than a bricks and mortar space to work. Instead, it’s a very personal place to find inspiration and focus. Whether a dedicated room in a home, an outbuilding that has been converted to an artistic haven, or a rustic hideaway nestled among the trees, the artist’s studio is a unique sanctuary where creative sparks ignite and spectacular works come to life.
Here’s just a taste of what you can expect when you take a fall drive to visit the participating artists on the annual Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour:
Textile artist Pam Carnochan of Morgan House Woolworks has been working with wool for over 20 years. She has five sheep at her location that she shears herself to harvest the wool used to create felt, which she then transforms into unique pieces of art. Her motto is “From farm to frame,” and she has converted a portion of a barn on her property into a studio space for performing the multiple steps necessary to convert wool into artwork.
After washing the wool and dyeing it with a carefully curated selection of powdered colours, it’s time for the wool to be carded. Using tools that would look at home in a Medieval castle, Pam cuts, stretches and rejoins the wool into fuzzy, carpet-like mats in a myriad of patterns.
Finally, the wool is shocked with boiling water and friction is used to make the fibres tighten and contact, the end result of which is a piece of dense wool felt. The felt becomes the base into which Pam weaves wool to create scenes that mimic the natural surroundings she is inspired by.
Artist Mark Reeder moved to his Dwight location ten years ago, into a house that once belonged to his grandfather. Working in photography and paints in the same studio where his grandfather was a landscape painter years before, Mark’s love of the outdoors – of the scenic vistas and wilderness that surround him – is a major inspiration for his pieces.
With his secluded studio tucked into the forest, Mark often sees deer walking through the property while he paints. The walls of the studio hold paintings done in the style of the old masters, with large landscapes in various stages of production. Applying multiple layers of paint, each stage refines the piece and adds more colour and realism until a canvas is complete, its complexity mimicking the diversity of the landscape outside the studio’s walls.
Housed in a renovated horse barn, The Stable Studio is the creative headquarters of jeweller Miranda Britton and photographer Scott Turnbull. Located near the quaint village of Windermere, the drive to the studio follows winding country roads along wide vistas of farm fields. Miranda’s jewellery is the product of her visual exploration of the ways in which humans and nature interact, and her work area overflows with the tools of her craft. Working mostly in sterling silver, many of Miranda’s pieces incorporate classic Muskoka images such as spruce trees, crab apple trees, robins and swallows.
Visitors to the studio will be able to experience firsthand the many steps and processes that go into each piece of jewellery she crafts. Miranda’s husband photographer, Scott, also depicts the stunning Muskoka landscape, and his unique eye and ability to scout wild and natural locations are evident in his photographs. Scott shoots many weddings in the region as well, and his portfolio if filled with brides and grooms surrounded by the trees, lakes and granite that the region is famous for. Visit this studio on a historic farm for a taste of the idyllic that can be found in the artists’ world.
The artists on The Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour will once again open their studios to the public September 24-25 and October 1-2. Be sure to head to Muskoka to visit all 20 incredible artists on the tour, while enjoying unparalleled fall foliage in Ontario’s cottage country.