Insights on what inspires some Oxford Studio Tour artists

Every year we have a little help from a good friend to the tour in promoting it.  The article that follows is his writing, and the photo credit goes to him as well.

The balletic beauty of dance captured in crystalline pendant.

Contrasting dark and light windows into the yin and yang of an artist’s soul.

Creativity fired by imagination and a 1,650-degree oven.

And playful technique generating abstract vision from a natural scene.

The 10th Annual Oxford Studio Tour Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. features 38 individual artists, including nine new exhibitors at 18 locations throughout the county. Glossy brochures available at art galleries and tourist sites both in the country and beyond, and the website contain a complete listing of artists, descriptions of their work, locations and detailed maps. Those seeking further information may call 519-842-6151.

The collective works in double digits worth of distinct media ranging through various painting styles and photography to pottery, jewellery and fibre arts, journeying disparate artistic routes along a linked quest for creative expression.

“She looks like she’s on point,” explained Judy Feskun of a rose quartz heart crystal pendant combination topped by a tourmaline (“flower in her hair”) she refers to as ‘The Ballerina.’

“I see something (in her mind) and I make it,” continued Feskun, who began creating sterling silver and copper wire and semi-precious stone jewellery 15 years ago after reading an article on wire wrapping. “All I was thinking was ballerina, because she dances on point.”

Each component is meticulously selected to fit her original vision and composed using pliers and wire-cutters, a simple, elemental process bringing Feskun close enough to her work to personify each piece, be it the ballerina, or a related compilation using doubled, darker hearts.

“I call her the belly dancer.”

‘Darker’ vision may not have been Tabitha Verbuyst’s goal. But exploration of broken, abandoned and forgotten things took her down that road in an oil painting of a derelict white house surrounded by starkly dead trees and foreboding storm clouds, ‘yin’ to a contrasting ‘yang’ featuring a bright, yellow residence set off by a field of sunflowers.

“My daughter thinks the one has ghosts in it,” Verbuyst laughed, admitting the paintings illustrate elements of her own psyche.

“I’m drawn into that,” she admitted of an approach, both subject and colour, contrasting light and dark to create dramatically-emotional work intended to help the viewer bring a restored narrative to abandoned shells.

“You kind of draw your own conclusions to them.”

Janet Whittington’s process concludes with two hours at 1,650 F. It begins with precious metal particles, a binding agent and water formed into artisanal jewellery using hand-built pottery techniques.

“I liken it to pottery in miniature,” said Whittington.

The firing process leaves hollow pure silver or other precious metal forms with individually-patterned exteriors.

“I love all the textures I can create,” said Whittington, whose recent work is informed by a South-East Asian journey. This summer, Africa is on the horizon, physical experience she anticipates will translate into tangible results.

“It will be interesting to see what comes of that.”

It is interesting to see what has come of Gary Payne’s 30-year exploration of thinking and creating outside of the artistic box. A 1982 painting of a windmill reproduced in detail from a postcard contrasts sharply with a more recent ‘playful, colourful, non-objective’ view of the same. Placed side by side, the inspirational elements are clearly visible in an interpretation accomplished through contemporary techniques including a paintbrush with the bristles removed and stub honed via a pencil sharpener, knife blade, sponge, or a random piece of paper retrieved from the floor.

“This is the same thing,” smiled Payne, indicating the distantly-related pieces. “I love to play, I love to play.”

Those are but four of the creative visions on display throughout the two-day tour. Participants range from enthusiastic amateurs to seasoned 30-year professionals like Ontario Society of Artists member Cathy Groulx, whose work is featured in Ontario government collections. Regardless of experience level, or whether artists approach their work as livelihood or part-time outlet, there is a shared passion for the creative process.

“It’s a part of me that I can’t turn off,” said Groulx. “Every painting is a new challenge I look forward to.”

Every tour is a challenge looked forward to by organizers including Sue Goossens, a distinctive and well-known Otterville-area watercolour artist. The tour truly does offer something for everyone, says Goossens, a cliché, but accurate nonetheless.

The collected works represent a broad body of work both creatively and geographically that Goossens says is beyond the scope of two days. Rather than making the tour a race, she suggests previewing the brochure or website, narrowing down some preferences, including a new medium or two for variety, and spending some time to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the art.

“Talk to the artists,” she concluded. “Spend some time.”


The 10th Annual Oxford Studio Tour Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. features 38 individual artists, including nine new exhibitors at 18 locations throughout the county. Pictured here, are: (front row, left to right) Janet Whittington, Cathy Groulx and Judy Feskun. In the back, are: Tabitha Verbuyst, Gary Payne and Sue Goossens. Glossy brochures available at art galleries and tourist sites both in the country and beyond, and the website contain a complete listing of artists, descriptions of their work, locations and detailed maps. Those seeking further information may call 519-842-6151.

Our Tenth Tour is coming up!

Hello subscribers!  You may or may not have been informed that our website has been completely updated by artist Lianne Todd (Stop #3 this year) for the 2017 tour.  Sue Goossens has been working hard to gather everyone’s information and photos and seek out advertising and sponsorship, and Rhonda Franks (Baseline Creative) has been designing our print brochures.  Both of them are at Stop #4.

We have, as usual, some new locations compared to last year, and some of last year’s locations have dropped off the tour.  So please, have a look at our whole site and the new maps, both the ones from the brochure and the Google Maps versions.

Rather than post a location per day like we did last year, perhaps we will try something new.  Stay tuned!

Location #16 on the Oxford Studio Tour

It’s 8 pm the night before…. and it’s been a busy day for all of us artists.  Look how many of them are at location #16!  This place is full of experienced talent.  You should really have a piece of work from each of them at your house.  We would say so much more, except it’s 8 pm the night before and we still need to post one more location!!




868 Nellis St., Woodstock

Cathy Groulx O.S.A.  Groulx1

Realistic oil paintings on canvas. Studio in home open all year, with commissions welcome.





Bruce Hartley   Hartley B 1sm

Fine art photography reflecting a passion for travel.  “See the world through my lens”.





Ruth Hartley   Hartley R 2sm

Functional stoneware and decorative pieces – uniquely styled mugs, bowls, platters, vases, and ovenware.





Rita Milton  rita milton1sm

Acrylics on canvas featuring a kaleidoscope of colour.


Location #15 on the Oxford Studio Tour

Only a couple of days left!  We are excited to have your eyes on our art this weekend.  We hope you’ve managed to pick up a brochure somewhere so you have a handy reference and map while you are driving around, but if you haven’t, simply start at one of our studio locations, and pick up a brochure there.  For your convenience, each location on our website has a google map associated with it for you, and if you go to the home page, there is also a link to a google map of the whole tour.

You really should take in Kelly’s beautiful watercolours while you are out on the tour.  This artist has some serious skills.


MAPkelly bradley1sm

63 Vansittart Ave.  Woodstock

Kelly Bradley

Bright and bold watercolours depicting nature.


Location #14 on the Oxford Studio Tour

And now the tour brings you around to Woodstock!  You can, of course, do the tour in any order you like, and visit as many or as few locations as you like.  Who are we to dictate how you enjoy it?

Julie has a very strong and educated sense of design and colour, which shows in her wonderful abstracts.  You won’t be disappointed!


MAPJulie Hawkins - Thunder in the Heavens-1sm

1033 Pattullo Ave. Unit 10,   Woodstock

Julie Hawkins

Original art made with passion and paint.


Location #13 on the Oxford Studio Tour

You don’t need an appointment this weekend to see Michael’s art, nor anyone else’s on the tour!

Michael is an accomplished watercolour artist who does very nice representational pieces.  A few years back he branched out with his art and began experimenting with these large acrylic abstracts.  It’s up to you to decide which are your favourites!



26 King Crescent, Hicksonmichael de bellevalsm

Michael de Belleval

Large acrylic abstracts, along with realistic watercolours.  Studio open by appointment.


Location #11 on the Oxford Studio Tour

Oh dear, seven locations left to cover and only four more days to blog until the tour this weekend.  How did this happen?

This artist is known for her depictions of the beautiful Canadian Shield, especially as it exists in Killarney Provincial Park, where she spends as much time as she can.  These are truly lovely to behold.  Don’t miss this stop!



363 Oxford Avenue,  Ingersoll

Danielle GardnerGardner_GraniteRidgeHawkCliffsm

Legacy artist of the Group of Seven, painting the Ontario landscape.  Commissions/lessons available.


Location #10 on the Oxford Studio Tour

Yikes.  Has it been two days since we posted?  So it has.  Artists have a warped sense of time, you know.  I’m sure if you personally know any artists, you’ll agree with us.  But then again, we are very busy right now getting ready for this tour!!

This location has some really interesting media – check out all of the descriptions here.  These are some things you are going to want to get a nice personal look at.  And the setting at this location is really pretty – once you cross the train tracks in the driveway, you are approaching the bank of part of a river/pond which the property looks over.


MAP Note: Railroad tracks cross the driveway.  You may wish to park in the area to the left of the driveway between the road and the tracks, for safety when leaving so you don’t have to back  your vehicle across the tracks.

584591 Beachville Rd.  Beachville

Lesley Penwill penwill3sm

Wire jewellery in exciting configurations of semi-precious stones,  hand textured metals and  beautiful beads.




Paulette Robertson  robertson3jpgsm

Whimsical clay artist who has recently developed a passion for wool and primitive rug hooking.






Maggie Robinson Robinsongrab

Fibres, beads and paint – a day without creating is like a day without sunshine.






Janet Whittington whittington6sm

Timeless artisanal jewellery using precious metal clay, 24 k gold, sterling silver and semi-precious stones.