Red Trillium tour blossoms under the sun

By Jake Davies - West Carleton Online

WEST CARLETON – The 48th Red Trillium Studio Tour (RTST) enjoyed such great weather last weekend (June 1 and 2), artists could set up both inside and outside the participating studios dotted around West Carleton.

The spring edition of the popular self-guided art tour was the first of two scheduled during the RTST’s 26th year. Participants from west Ottawa and across the valley enjoyed the works of 32 artists spread over 13 working studios found in West Carleton.

A woman poses beside her art.
Perth artist Donna McPhail had to keep her birds outside, but she didn’t mind. Photo by Jake Davies

The weekend tour had a number of new stops mixed in with some of the tour’s long-running favourites.  West Carleton Online visited landscape artist Karl Kischel’s home and studio in the Dunrobin area just off Stonecrest Road June 1. It was a first time for West Carleton Online, but Kischel’s home and studio has been on the tour off and on since the RTST launched some 26 years ago.

Joining Kischel at his home surrounded by forest was jeweller Veronica Moore and whimsical wildlife painter Donna McPhail.

West Carleton Online hit its first RTST studio stop shortly before 11 a.m. June 1, meaning those artists participating we’re just getting started.

For Perth-based painter McPhail, it was her first time as an artist on the tour.

“I saw the call for artists back in February, and I had heard about this tour for years, and I was looking for new places to sell my art, so I applied, and I got in,” McPhail told West Carleton Online just outside Kischel’s home where she had a small shelter set up to show off her work. “It’s perfect, I love it. I do have my thermacells set up for the mosquitoes.”

A woman shows off her work to some guests.
Jeweller Veronica Moore explains her process to two of the tour’s first visitors Saturday morning near Dunrobin. Photo by Jake Davies

McPhail’s work was made up of a variety of birds, some lifelike, others with human arms, wearing human accessories rocking human poses.

“The rough birds, the ones that have the elaborate neck feathers and head feathers, are actual birds from Norway called rough birds,” McPhail said. “And it’s the males that have those feathers. But they reminded me of fashionable women, you know, walking down the streets of Montreal with a fur stole or something. So, I started adding arms, and purses, and umbrellas, all kinds of things.”

Inside Kishel’s house he and Moore have several pieces on display.

Kischel says he’s been a part of the tour “since the beginning.” The landscape artist says the RTST is a great opportunity for him to “share it with people.”

Diamondview Road potter and RTST co-organizer Teresa Wingar said the tour seemed to be a popular pastime last weekend.

“Saturday was very good,” Wingar told West Carleton Online Wednesday (June 5). “People were enjoying the weather and hanging out on the patios. We’ve had really good feedback.”

Some of that feedback came from the artists themselves.

“We had 10 new artists this spring,” Wingar said. “So, they didn’t know what to expect. It’s a slower pace than the market scene and they enjoyed that.”

It was the first time Wingar and Roxanne Ward served as lead organizers of the tour, although both have participated in the RTST for many years.

The organizers hosted an artist potluck in the lead up to the tour as an ice breaker for participants to meet each other, and Wingar says they might have another as a debrief following the event.

“The artists enjoyed that, because we’re all doing this alone,” Wingar said of the artwork. “The artists can’t really go out and visit the other artists during the tour either. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.”

Wingar says the studio tour is often the beginning of a relationship with the art lover.

“They might not buy right away,” Wingar said. “But they will come back. You get follow up sales, networking and exposure. Although some buy right away because they learned, it might not be there when they get back. These are unique art items.”

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