As one of Ontario’s longest-running studio tours, the Images Thanksgiving Studio Tour has become a favourite weekend outing for both local residents and visitors. The free self-guided tour takes place October 6 to 9 throughout the beautiful rural landscapes of Oro-Medonte, Horseshoe Valley and along the Lake Simcoe shoreline to Orillia.
This year’s 40th anniversary tour, with 20 different locations, will feature many of the favourite stops from the past four decades and will also showcase new artists. One of those is painter, Michael Scott, who will be at Stop “W” on Old Barrie Road, where he has transformed his grandfather’s homestead workshop into an artist studio and retreat.
Scott, who grew up at the family property just outside of Orillia, started out doodling and life drawing as a kid while sitting in church with his dad. He said he enjoyed drawing and listening at the same time.
“Drawing was a source of joy for me,” said Scott.
As it turned out, the art of snowboarding was also a source of joy for Scott. Following high school, he moved to Whistler B.C. where he became a professional snowboarder. Scott described it as a life of big jumps, filming, and lots of photography for magazines, including many cover shots – “having a blast.” While out west, Scott also returned to school at Simon Fraser University.
“When I finished school, and my body couldn’t handle the snowboarding anymore, I moved back to Orillia and pursued my art. It was a natural progression I guess, to go into something else I loved.”
Scott reconnected with friends and began getting together regularly with fellow artists to draw and paint. He also spent time in the Muskoka and Georgian Bay areas where he worked as a carpenter and was inspired by the scenery during barge trips to and from job sites.
Inspired by his artist friends, the work of other artists, and the land he knew so well, Scott realized that he needed his own place to work.
“I needed to find my voice and paint what I know – to be authentic.”
When you visit Scott’s studio, you immediately see how he has accomplished this and how his paintings evoke such strong emotions.
“I add my own personal expression into my paintings and hopefully that’s what some people respond to. Maybe they can understand my attempt at being honest and can look at a painting and feel how the grass is growing or how the water is reflecting or how the clouds are moving. Sometimes people tell me that my landscapes remind them of places where they’ve been or have loved.”
Scott also credits his years of life drawing as being crucial to developing his style, along with his relationship with the oil paint that he uses.
“All that life drawing really pays off – learning the skill of controlling your hand first means you can then get loose and creative. Once you know the rules, then you can break them.”
When it comes to the medium, Scott shared his insight into the oil paint he uses. “Paint is such an incredible thing – it almost has a mind of its own, so you have to let it breathe a bit. It’s luxurious stuff, seeing the way it reacts with itself is cool, so you have to let it do it’s one thing, rather than try and control it too much.”
Scott is also quick to point out that other artists, such as local Images Tour artist Tony Bianco, the Shillings, along with influential artists like Vincent Van Gogh have all provided inspiration.
“You have to be aware and look at everybody. We (artists) are all just whispering to each other down through the generations.”
As for the future, Scott simply hopes that the inspiration continues. “You just have to be in the right spot to catch it. I have faith that it will keep coming; at least I hope that it will.”
You can visit Michael Scott at his studio during the Images Studio Tour, October 6 to 9 from 10 am to 5 pm daily. There are 30 artists participating in this year’s tour at 20 different stops. Don’t miss this opportunity to support local artists and enjoy a colourful fall outing. For details, visit the Images Tour website.