Artist Jolene Mackie

If you’re a collector of Canadian art, a Jolene Mackie piece is essential. Known for her robots, ships and moons in surreal and whimsical landscapes, you will see her work all over the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia’s interior.

Based in Kelowna, BC, Jolene graduated from the Emily Carr University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. As a professional oil painter who exhibits across BC, her work is in private collections worldwide.

Jolene has always acknowledged the artist within. “I was raised with two very creative parents who instilled in me a love of making things. Some of my fondest memories are times when I would be alone in my bedroom, or spread out in the backyard with art materials, just playing and making art.”

Lucid, 2021, oil on panel, 10″ x 10″ (sold)

When she began making art professionally, Jolene struggled with imposter syndrome and often referred to herself as a ‘painter’ instead of an ‘artist’. “It has taken me time, but the title of artist works much better to encapsulate the many facets of making art full-time. I’m not just a painter these days as my practice has expanded to printmaking, drawing, and collage.”

Proximity, 2020, oil on canvas, 12″ x 24″ (sold)

In Jolene’s world, the purpose of art has many layers. “For myself as an artist, creativity is a tool I use to try to understand myself and my place in the world. I have always found the act of creating to be meditative. When my hands and head are busy making decisions in the moment, I am pulled out of my worries about the past and future. I struggle with anxiety and depression, and I find my creative practice is something that helps me mitigate the side effects.”

Our own rainbow garden in the clouds, 2020, oil on canvas, 12″ x 12″ (sold)

The connectivity and relationships that Jolene builds through her art are very valuable to her. “By making honest work that speaks to me and my own interests and curiosities, I am finding my like-minded tribe in the world. I think art has so much power to remind us of our humanity, and to connect with each other.”

Day’s end, 2019, oil on canvas, 24″ x 48″

Jolene takes inspiration from the world around her, translating those moments and feelings into paint. “I am always inspired by the smallest things — shifting shadows, the shape of leaves, the colours in the clouds — and I try to bring how those moments feel into my work.”

Rouge, 2019, oil on canvas, 10″ x 20″ (sold)

Many of Jolene’s paintings depict a surreal dreamscape universe guided by a robot character. “I often get asked what the name of the character is, and his origin story. This character has been showing up in my sketchbooks for over a decade, and I decided to follow his adventures in paint! I personally love the ambiguity of the character. I love that viewers can bring their own narrative to each piece. I see this character as my muse. I think he is guiding me through these increasingly surreal other-worlds with a sense of curiosity and wonder.”

Daisy field, 2021, oil on panel, 6″ x 6″

Jolene can’t picture a life without creativity. “I keep a pretty consistent studio schedule for myself. I work 5 days a week in the studio developing my own work, or working on commission paintings for clients. I always have many projects on the go at different stages of completion. This way of working allows me to tap into whatever energy level I have each day: either a focused attention span to sit with one piece for many hours, or a more flighty attention span that loves to jump from piece to piece. I typically like to start my days with work that is easier to just dive into, like the prep work, or the varnish work that needs to be done. Once I have started, I find the momentum really helps me move into the more tedious and meticulous aspects of my work. I will most often tune into a podcast while I work, especially when I need to be still and focused. I find my music is great for more of the looser prep work!”

A lifetime of adventure, 2021, oil on canvas, 12″ x 12″ (sold)

When Jolene is away from the studio, she still finds herself working with her hands. “I love playing in my sketchbooks with watercolour paints and drawing materials. I also like gardening and roller-skating, which feels creative in a whole different way!”

Lost in this moment, 2020, oil on canvas, 24″ x 36″ (sold)

Teaching used to take up a good chunk of Jolene’s time and energy before March 2020. She was in the middle of an oil painting workshop which she had to postpone indefinitely. “I really miss teaching. It’s something that gets me out of the studio and sharing my passion with other people. I have found so much joy though this creative practice, and oil painting specifically, that I love sharing these tools with anyone who is interested. I love to host group workshops, but also work privately in my studio with individual artists on a weekly basis.”

Simple and quiet, 2018, oil on canvas, 12″ x 12″ (sold)

It has been over a year since Jolene has taught group classes. “I have considered transitioning to virtual classes, but paint is so tactile. I haven’t been able to figure out an online course that works for me yet. I love the ability to connect with a wider audience online, I just need to make sure I approach it in a way that is still wrapped up with my passion and love for the medium. I also think we learn so much from each other in a group setting, so at the moment I’m just waiting for a time that it is safe to continue with my teaching.”

Naramata Centre mural, 2021, inspired by their resident peacock, Kevin

Jolene loves the variety of opportunities that come her way through commissioned work. “The easiest and most fun projects for me are open-ended projects. I love when clients will peruse my website, tell me which pieces they love, what colour scheme and size they want, and leave most of the creation to me. I love working with people to make their vision come to life. For me, part of that is sharing the process of creation. I love taking process photos and videos that give clients a behind-the-scenes look at how their painting is built! However, I also love projects that challenge and push me outside of my comfort zone — that is where the growth happens. I’m lucky enough that I have the option to say no to any project that doesn’t feel right. What I love to do is to refer my artist friends. It’s awesome being part of such a diverse community of creatives in the Okanagan, because if someone comes to me seeking work that I don’t make, I have a wonderful roster of referrals for a variety of styles of work!”

Drift on, 2021, oil on panel, 6″ x 6″ (sold)

The pandemic has affected the way most people work, and it has definitely shifted Jolene’s work, too. “I have put more energy into my online platforms, and have been really enjoying the community on TikTok! I share my art videos, and have had the opportunity to ship originals and prints all across the continent. One element that has sprung up for me over the last year has been playing with holographic and colour-shifting pigment powders in my work. I have loved working with gold and silver leaf accents over the years, but have just this year learned how to incorporate a wide variety of pigment powders into my oil paintings. There is something about these shiny and eye-catching elements in an original work that really make it special when you see it in real life. I love when the work feels different depending on how the light catches it; there is something magical about it. When paired with my increasingly surreal imagery, I feel like these little details really make the work transcend reality.”

A moment just for you, 2021, oil on canvas, 30″ x 40″

While life has been unpredictable and no one can plan a direction with complete certainty, Jolene has goals and ideas that keep her going. “I have been renovating my studio in my home to work more efficiently, including an art storage area. I worked on a private mural this summer, and hope to create more public art going forward! In 2020, I installed a mural for the Vernon Public Art Gallery in their neighbouring parkade, and worked on a ‘Mini Mural’ exhibit at Cannery Brewing which was coordinated by the Penticton Art Gallery. I would also love to travel more with my work. 2019 took me to Chicago for my first international exhibit, and to Toronto for a painting competition. I miss those opportunities to explore the world and share my art. Fingers crossed that is in our near future!”

Jolene Mackie’s artwork at Karmyc Bazaar in Kelowna, BC

A rotating selection of Jolene Mackie’s artwork can be seen and purchased at Karmyc Bazaar in Kelowna, BC. Her work is also featured at the Tumbleweed Gallery in Penticton, at the Lovecraft Gallery in Tofino, and at Cannery Brewing in Penticton (mini mural project). You can also find Jolene’s original paintings, prints, calendars, necklaces and apparel in her online shop.

See more of Jolene Mackie’s art on her website at jolenemackie.com.
Follow her on Facebook at Jolene Mackie Art or on Instagram at jolene.mackie.art.


The banner image at the top of this page is a commissioned (sold) oil painting titled Wonderland, 2021, 48″ x 18″ by Jolene Mackie.

The Arts and Treasures at Karmyc Bazaar

In the heart of trendy Pandosy Village in Kelowna, BC, there’s a curious little shop that presents unique pieces sure to charm the eclectic taste! The owner of Karmyc Bazaar, Jennelle McGuire, invites you to “explore a visionary dreamscape” of artwork from well over 100 Canadian artists.

Jennelle McGuire, owner of Karmyc Bazaar
Jennelle McGuire, owner of Karmyc Bazaar

The shop’s name, Karmyc Bazaar, comes from a combination of Jennelle’s middle name (Karmin) and last name (McGuire), along with the concept of an open-air market or ‘bazaar’.

Karmyc Bazaar

Treasures include a plethora of original paintings, prints, jewellery, clothing, mixed media work, pottery, sculptures, artisan soaps and bath products, candles and more!

For a long time, Jennelle knew she wanted to be self-employed, but wasn’t sure exactly what that looked like.

“When I visited larger cities, I fell in love with the quirky, more ‘underground’ art displayed in these alternative galleries,” Jennelle recalls. “I’d get all inspired.”

Karmyc Bazaar

Coming home to the Okanagan, she noticed a few pockets of this kind of artwork, but “there wasn’t a space dedicated to showing it. I felt this was a niche that needed to be filled, so that was the start of Karmyc Bazaar.” The shop’s mission is to “encourage our community to reconnect with their inner selves through artwork and be inspired in their daily lives”.

Karmyc Bazaar

Being in the retail sector has had its challenges for everyone, everywhere, this past year.

“The pandemic has made the world of retail even more unpredictable, that’s for sure!” says Jennelle. “We moved locations in July 2020 and the reception of the community in Pandosy Village has been outstanding! We’re blessed to have a very supportive group of people cheering us on, whether through visiting us in-store, shopping online, or connecting with us via Instagram and Facebook. I am grateful for the support each and every day!”

Karmyc Bazaar at 2995 Pandosy Street in Kelowna, BC
Karmyc Bazaar at 2995 Pandosy Street in Kelowna, BC

It’s tough to say what the top selling items are, as the stock continuously shifts and changes.

“I’ll think I’ve just figured out what customers are drawn to, and then it changes,” laughs Jennelle. “Currently, I’ve noticed that we’re selling a lot of candles, bath products, and pottery. I think this is because a lot of us are spending more time at home and we want our spaces to feel nourishing and cozy.”

Karmyc Bazaar

Karmyc Bazaar currently works with 133 Artists from Vancouver all the way to New Brunswick!

“I’m always on the hunt for more talent to bring in,” says Jennelle. “Artists reach out to us, and I like to search for artists online. Word-of-mouth is always wonderful, too.”

Paintings from local artist, Jolene Mackie (at Karmyc Bazaar)
Paintings from local artist, Jolene Mackie

You can find the address and opening hours on the Karmyc Bazaar website, as well as their COVID-19 policy for in-store shopping and their online shop. (We actually prefer the online display via their Facebook shop, which will direct you to the website for your final purchase.) You can also find Karmyc Bazaar on Instagram.


Note from the author (Annie Zed): I’ve personally purchased many items from Karmyc Bazaar, for myself and as gifts for others (below are just a few)! My favourite purchases have been paintings by Jolene Mackie; plaques and ornaments by The Poppy Tree; cups and mugs by Tiny Cat Pottery; and paintings and quirky pieces by Rare Bird Art Studio.

Some pieces purchased from Karmyc Bazaar by Annie Zed

Artist Reilly Fitzgerald

Reilly Fitzgerald

Newfoundland artist, Reilly Fitzgerald, paints for therapeutic reasons.

“I’ve always been very active,” says Reilly. “Between 2007 and 2010, I went from being an over-active volunteer, writer, high school educator, father and husband, to no longer being able to perform these things effectively. But I could still paint.”

Reilly has a congenital defect known as an AV fistula malformation, which affects the use of his right hand and arm. After eleven surgeries by age fourteen, Reilly became ambidextrous and left hand dominant.

Rare Breed by Reilly Fitzgerald
Rare Breed

“Painting helps me deal with my chronic pain and gives my life purpose.”

Cape Bonavista by Reilly Fitzgerald
Cape Bonavista

Reilly likes the challenge of painting a variety of subjects in different ways to express his creativity.

Newfoundland Snow by Reilly Fitzgerald
Newfoundland Snow
Canadian Treasure by Reilly Fitzgerald
Canadian Treasure

“I have created large bas-relief pieces made of scrap wood, cut, carved, and painted,” says Reilly. “This includes a large 12 by 8 foot piece titled Canadian Treasure which I created for the Town of Clarenville, NL, as part of the Canada 150 celebrations.”

He also made two smaller iceberg-and-whales pieces: Connected for the pediatric clinic of the James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander, and Cohesion donated to the Janeway Children’s Hospital in St John’s.

T&G Ladders by Reilly Fitzgerald
T&G Ladders

For his “wood grain paintings”, Reilly paints directly on wooden panels, using the natural wood grain to determine the images. He’s also used tongue and groove board reclaimed from demolished houses, and repurposed them as platforms on which to paint.

“But, I have to say my favourite thing to paint is my home: my town, Clarenville, my province, NL, and my country, in that order, whether it’s the house next door, the birds in the town’s protected sanctuary, or historic locations or events. I have a pride in creating my unique vision of these things.”

Cabot Tower by Reilly Fitzgerald
Cabot Tower

One of Reilly’s significant paintings, “Hell Stirs, Heaven Waits” (2020) is a depiction of the Ocean Ranger disaster.

“It’s a painting that pays homage to my province’s historic and often tumultuous relationship with the sea.”

Hell Stirs, Heaven Waits by Reilly Fitzgerald
Hell Stirs, Heaven Waits

Involved in a variety of projects over the years, Reilly has won awards and achieved formal recognition for his art. He illustrated the children’s book, Lucy Grey by Bruce Stagg, as well as the cover of Bruce’s book, Lend Me Your Ears. He has created posters, logos, produced three-dimensional installations, and much more.

Blackbird by Reilly Fitzgerald
Blackbird

The place to see Reilly Fitzgerald’s work in person is in the Clarenville area. A permanent display of about 50 or so pieces have been at the Eastlink Events Centre since 2013.

Other pieces can be found in various locations about town, such as at the Bare Mountain Coffee House, and the Terra Nova Golf Resort.

Reilly gives most of his artwork to his daughter, Kaeleigh, who sells the originals and giclee prints through her business, Eagle Photo Studio. His work is also available printed on backpacks, jewellery, ornaments, calendars and more.

Soft Light (printed on canvas bags) by Reilly Fitzgerald
Soft Light

He has also kindly created a library of over 60 Colouring Sheets* based on his original artworks. “Feel free to download and use these images for personal projects or educational use,” says Reilly. Here’s one of our favourites.

Clothes and Quilt (colouring sheet) by Reilly Fitzgerald
Clothes and Quilt (colouring sheet)

(*Please respect international copyright laws and do not misuse his intellectual property in mass production for financial gain.)

Hauling Nets by Reilly Fitzgerald
Hauling Nets

View more artwork and read biography details on his Facebook page at Reilly Fitzgerald, Artist.

Squid & Cod by Reilly Fitzgerald
Squid & Cod

Creative Aging Awareness Day

Creative Aging Awareness Day was held at the Rotary Centre for the Arts (RCA) in Kelowna, BC on Friday June 20, 2014. Its mission was “A day-long celebration of your creative life to examine the role that creative expression can play in promoting engagement, healing and wellness for all ages.”

On the approach, I saw HeART Fit painters. HeART Fit is a free drop-in session of Spontaneous Process Painting every Tuesday at the RCA.

It was very busy inside with musical entertainment and creative arts filling the main floor.

The exhibits continued through to the back hall.

There was a weaving demonstration by the Ponderosa Spinners, Weavers & Fibre Artists.

Glass and metal artist Fay Wolfenden had a display of hand-made glass beads, jewellery and mosaics.

Lucie Parent demonstrated her Funky Fabric Sculptures made using Paverpol. She is a Certified Paverpol Instructor.

The Okanagan Quilter’s Guild seemed to be having a lot of fun.

Their display of Fibre Art Journals were especially intriguing.

Jill promoted Learning in Retirement programs.

There was information about the Sing for Your Life Foundation.

It was a busy and well-attended event with many inspiring creative organizations to follow up on!

Eileen Murray’s Mixed Media

Eileen Murray

On Friday June 6, 2014, Eileen Murray gave 2 workshops on “The Exploration of Incorporating Fabric, Yarn, Papers and Pouring Medium with Your Acrylic Paintings” at the Opus Art Supplies store in Kelowna. I was lucky enough to attend!

Eileen told us about a childhood experience that caused her to shut down creatively. She says we all have a similar story. In Grade 1, Eileen was ‘slammed’ by a teacher because she drew herself with blue hair. She was punished and this taught her that her art wasn’t good enough.

As an adult, she felt disconnected from her artistic side; yet she encouraged creativity in others and bought art supplies for her own children. Children are authentic when they play. “It’s like their soul is projected out into their art,” says Eileen.

Eileen studied Jungian psychology and dream imagery. It wasn’t until she took The Painting Experience course developed by Stewart Cubly that things changed. When she dismissed something that inspired her, she was told: “You are betraying yourself.” Eileen learned that one must dive into creative inspiration rather than run away from it.

Eileen showed us some of her artworks and what she did to achieve results, such as incorporating fabric and thread.

She showed us products that she used, such as glitter, and pouring medium with a resin-like effect.

She showed us the effect of applying bees wax.

And the tools to use with bees wax.

There was a draw for an opportunity to try this technique. Keith Routley won.

In just a few minutes Keith created this masterpiece.

Others were invited to try out the mixed media techniques.

A few people collaborated.

This resulted in a vibrant piece of artwork.

A whimsical piece was also created.

The workshop was very inspiring! I purchased a few products from Opus and have been experimenting with them at home ever since!

To find out more about Eileen Murray and her artwork, visit her website at eileenscreations.ca .

Christian Lipani’s Resin Techniques at Opus

Today, artist Christian Lipani gave his third demonstration this month on resin techniques at Opus in Kelowna. Here, he worked on his painting, Archaeological Discoveries Number 3.

Bordering his painted wood box panel with tape, he mixes a 50/50 solution for a full minute and applies the resin with a foam brush. Ensuring the panel is flat with even coverage, he then hovers a torch over the surface to remove bubbles.

Christian reveals that he paints in series of 50 works. With a concept in mind, he develops each one further, sometimes experimenting with techniques. He also ‘exercises’ daily by sketching for about an hour each day. Often, these sketches develop into the basis for his larger works in acrylic.

While the resin is still malleable, Christian drags strategic lines in acrylic paint to further highlight aspects of the art.

Using his non-dominant (right) hand, Christian explains how he may ‘practice’ a swooping curve hovering above the artwork before actually touching the surface, in order to give the best chance for a perfect landing of what he has in mind. Here, he does just that, with a palette knife.

Moving in for a closer look, we see how Christian ‘engraves’ the resin around certain shapes as it is almost set.

Some of Christian’s other work was displayed in the room, such as Archaeological Discoveries Number 2 in this series, which does not have resin, but has a unique texture created with a palette knife.

In this painting, Christian used high flow acrylics with a needle-like tip.

This is a detail of a painting where Christian has engraved the resin extensively.

Nearer to the finish, Christian was still working on this number 3 in the series as we left the demonstration.

Christian Lipani immigrated to Canada from France in the 1960’s. He works in acrylic and resin on wood panels usually 3×4 feet and larger. He is also a sculptor. (One of his sculptures is pictured in the bottom left hand corner of the first photo at the top of this post.)

Christian has works in the New Moon Gallery and Hambleton Galleries in Kelowna. His work has been shown in Vancouver, Fort Nelson, Fort St John, and Theford Quebec. He has presented workshops in Kelowna, Victoria and Vancouver. Check the Opus website for his upcoming events.