Algonquin Outfitters

Paddle Art Contest – Jen Morgan Anderson

Paddle Art Contest entry by Jen Morgan Anderson“After Northern River”

Last fall I rediscovered an old paddle I had lying around the house and decided to paint it to go above my fireplace. I used a simple geometric design that reflected the shape of the paddle, and colours that echoed the landscape of Muskoka and Algonquin Park.

When it was finished I posted a photo of it on Facebook, and a friend of mine told me about the AO paddle contest. That week I went in to the Huntsville store, bought a paddle blank, painted it, and decided to give it away as a Christmas gift. I made 3 more for Christmas gifts, and several others over the next few months that I donated to silent auctions (Jake Thomas fundraiser, a friend’s Stag & Doe, Muskoka Chautauqua, Muskoka Conservancy).

I finally got around to painting a paddle for the AO contest just before the submission deadline (ha ha). This one was inspired by the Tom Thomson painting “Northern River”, one of my favourites of his. The colours are sampled from the painting, and the shapes are a highly abstracted version of the painting’s composition.

Up until this one all my paddles had been unvarnished or lightly varnished, meaning they were for decoration only. However, I was thinking about how cool it would be to take one of these decorated paddles on a canoe trip to Algonquin Park, so decided to finish this one with multiple coats of Spar varnish to make it waterproof. The Spar varnish turned out to be quite a challenge to apply, but after several coats, sanded in between, I got a nice, shiny, durable finish.

I have to say, the AO Paddle Contest has really inspired me! I’ve got 3 more paddles on the go right now, and I’ve taught 2 sold-out paddle painting workshops at Let The Cat Go Art Studio in Bracebridge, with 2 more scheduled this fall. I’m hoping that AO will continue to stock the paddle blanks so that I can keep painting them. It’s also great that the auction proceeds are going to local charities!

Thanks so much for all of your efforts with this contest!

Jen Morgan Anderson

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