Painter Kelly Whyte poses beside one of her canvases

The Victoria County Studio Tour: Kelly Whyte on Painting Close to Home

Kelly Whyte of Rapley Fields Art Studios doesn’t have to go far to find inspiration.

I live just south of Bobcaygeon,” she says, “and we own 100 acres. It’s fields and trails and woods. I ski on it, I hike on it, I snowshoe, so a lot of my scenes come from just my backyard, so to speak.”

Whyte’s painting studio is a stop on the 2023 Victoria County Studio Tour, her third year participating in the popular Kawartha Lakes event that sees artists opening their doors on select weekends in fall. The complete tour map includes over three dozen artists, in disciplines that range from photography, woodturning, ceramics, and more. Visitors to Rapley Fields Art Studio can browse a selection of Whyte’s oil paintings, with the artist on hand to talk about her process.

“I always thought to myself when I moved up here, wouldn’t it be great to be on the studio tour?” Whyte says. She’s lived in the area for over three decades now, but retiring from her teaching job allowed her to concentrate on her passion for painting. She opened her own studio in 2021, making good on a lifelong dream. Participating in the studio tour allows her to share that enthusiasm. “Oftentimes I think artists are solitary beings—we spend a lot of time by ourselves! So it’s really nice to talk about art with people that appreciate it.”

Her landscape paintings have a universal appeal, but for local audiences, there’s an added pleasure in recognizing the terrain. Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park and Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park have both inspired paintings, with Gold Lake and Cold Lake being particular favourites. She often works from photo references, or acrylic studies painted on location that she later renders in oils, her preferred medium.

“It’s just the vibrancy of the colours,” she says of the appeal of oil paints. “The colours just pop off the canvas. I don’t think there’s anything else that compares to it.” That richness lends itself to capturing fall colours, as well as winter paintings that contrast deep purples and blues against stark white. However, if vibrant colours are one of her hallmarks, she varies her approach by alternating between naturalistic and impressionistic styles.

“Every day I go into the studio and I’m like, what do I feel like doing today? I get a little bit impressionistic if I’m in one of those moods where I don’t want to concentrate and do a lot of detail… And then there are days I’ll go in and I’ll really focus, zero in, and do a really detailed painting!” she says, laughing.

Outside of the Victoria County Studio Tour, Whyte’s range has been on display at the Miskwaa Studio & Open Air Gallery, where her work is shown during the summer, and at the Boyd Heritage Museum in Bobcaygeon. The museum focuses on the region’s history, particularly the influential Boyd family, who ran a logging empire. Whyte refers to the museum staff as “fountains of information,” but her link to the Boyds goes further—the property her studio is on once belonged to the Boyd estate, who named it Rapley Fields.

Whyte kept that historical link in mind when she opened her studio. It’s a fitting choice for an artist active in her community and drawn to local scenery, and an interesting story to muse on while exploring the region on a studio tour. Whyte, for her part, will be ready to receive guests enthusiastically: “I think my highlight of the whole season is the Victoria County Studio Tour. I just love it.”


The Victoria County Studio Tour runs from 10am-5pm September 23-24 and September 30-October 1, 2023

Share this post

Read More

A smiling woman with two children on either side, each holding a maple syrup sample
Family Getaways

Make Your Own Maple Syrup and More at The Roost Farm

A tour of The Roost Farm immediately shows you the range of the operation. Head down the farm track and you’ll pass the chicken coop first, where hens peck around garden boxes and Shep the border collie keeps a wary eye on the rooster. Beyond that, the route runs alongside an expansive field before heading

Read More »
A skier in a yellow jacket heads down a corridor of trees
Outdoor Recreation

Top 6 Winter Activities in Kawarthas Northumberland

Here in Kawarthas Northumberland, the outdoor season doesn’t stop when the cold weather hits. The region abounds with exciting ways to make the most of winter, and so we’ve compiled a few of our greatest hits into one place. If you see something that sparks your interest, just check the forecast, bundle up, and head

Read More »
A person looks out over a frozen creek
Day Trips

Six Winter Hiking Trails to Try in Kawarthas Northumberland

Many of the trails in this region are a pleasure in any season, so winter hiking doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel. Instead, you’ll find many of our local favourites transformed by a fresh blanket of snow, bracing air, and a quiet and calming atmosphere that’s unique to the season. We’ve selected the areas below for

Read More »