Watercolour painting of white blossoms on a tree bough

Kawartha Autumn Studio Tour: Nan Sidler on Capturing a Sense of Place

Peterborough residents know the Old West End as one of the city’s most tranquil, beautiful neighbourhoods. For painter Nan Sidler, that makes it the perfect home base to pursue her chosen artform, landscape painting. “I just love the trees in the neighbourhood,” she says. “It’s so gorgeous.”

Guests will have a chance to appreciate the area too when Sidler opens the doors of her Homewood Gallery and Studio to the public on September 23-24, 2023 as part of the Kawartha Autumn Studio Tour. Now in its 39th year, the popular event allows artists from around the region to display not just their work but their workspace itself, offering unique insight into their process.

The tour includes artists across a range of mediums, from stone carving to relief printing to ceramics. One of this year’s features is a supporting exhibition at the Art Gallery of Peterborough, which includes samples from artists on the Tour. If particular works pique a visitor’s interest, they can easily create a custom tour route via the Toureka app.

Anyone with an eye for local scenery would do well to add Sidler to their itinerary, as she often draws inspiration from close to home. Paintings of Peterborough’s Jackson Creek, the Bridgenorth Trail, and Eel’s Creek will likely seem familiar to paddlers and hikers. Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park is also a regular source of inspiration. “When we were younger we used to go to Algonquin Park. Then we discovered the Kawartha Highlands and thought, why are we going to Algonquin when we can just go an hour up the road and be in the wilderness?” Sidler says. “It’s so close and yet so wild still. We’re so lucky to have that.”

In order to best capture those places, Sidler prefers mediums that are easy to pack up and quick to use. Watercolour and graphite have emerged as reliable favourites. “I can get a lot of detail in both of them, and I like detail, but you can also be very loose with watercolour too, so it’s very versatile.”

Sidler has been fascinated by the Kawarthas ever since studying at Trent in the seventies, and immersed herself into the art scene after moving here permanently. Since retiring from teaching twenty years ago to focus on art, she’s become a firm fixture of the local arts scene—when the Canadian Canoe Museum reopens at its new location, Sidler’s work will be available in the gift shop.

It’s a fitting home for an artist whose work is so closely tied to natural world. “I just know so many places in this area that are so inspirational and beautiful,” she says. “I’ve often had viewers who say, ‘I know exactly where that is’ or ‘I thought that was that place’ or ‘I’ve been on that canoe trip!’ So it’s an advantage in some ways to have an audience who recognizes those places, and it resonates with them.”

Visit the Kawartha Autumn Studio Tour page

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