Algonquin Outfitters

Paddle Art Contest – Emma Inkpen

Paddle story – Paddle number 192 – Dove Grey

You see it all started when we moved from England to Canada, I was a teenager at the time. One of the first purchases we made as a family was a shiny red canoe, because it seemed like the “Canadian” thing to do. That is where my love for being out on the water in a canoe came from. I studied at Ontario College of Art, which is when my love for the Group of Seven started to blossom. Now as an adult with a young family, we enjoy our time together in the great outdoors, and we seem to gravitate to Algonquin in all seasons.

When I saw the poster for this contest and fundraising auction, it was something I had to be a part of. Combining a canoe paddle, Tom Thomson and art into one thing. Perfection.

We kicked off our summer with a few days of camping on Tea Lake, with a day trip by canoe with the kids along for the paddle, to Canoe Lake the day before the 100th anniversary of Thomson’s disappearance, with a stop at his cairn on Canoe Lake. We did everything we could that would embrace Tom Thomson, including seeing his two paintings and new exhibit at the Algonquin Art Centre, and touring the Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery. During this trip, we took our kids to an island on Tea Lake and I taught them how to paint, en Plein Air – to paint in the landscape rather than indoors. This is where I took my inspiration for the paddle.

I had a vision of what I wanted to do, I just needed to get on with it. I wanted to combine my graphic design esthetic with one of my favourite Thomson paintings – West Wind. That paddle came of a few trips with us this summer so I could work on it while in the landscape that had inspired Thomson and The Group of Seven.

The colours I chose for the graphic chevron design are not by accident, and they certainly are on trend for current popular colour combinations. The navy blue is an obvious choice as it is the West Wind painting, the gold represents the light shimmering on the water, and dove grey because that is the colour of Tom Thomson’s canoe. I left some of the wood grain showing, in different shades of stain to embrace the natural wood.

When I was finished I did not want to part with it, but that just means I will get to do another one!

I am excited to see how well all of the amazing and creative paddles do at auction, and knowing all the funds raised go back into the art community just makes it that much more exciting.

See all the paddles in the auction here


Emma Inkpen
Inkpen Studios Graphic Design & Illustration
Brooklin, Ontario


1 Comment

  • Kim says:

    Emma it’s stunning…you should be so proud of this piece! From someone who is not an artist, I can definitely tell this was inspired by Tom Thomson and the group of seven style! Excellent work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *