featured artists 2017

Alexis Phillips
FA Phillips

Alexis Phillips was born and raised in New York, and has pursued photography and painting from an early age. She majored in Art and Theatre at Dutchess Community College in New York. During summers she taught children at her home, and at the Y.M.C.A. camp in Dutchess County for many years.

After teaching massage and supervising a medical clinic in New York City at the Swedish Institute College for Allied Medicine for 20 years, Alexis and her partner, John, moved to Grand Manan, Canada in 2004, and to Daniel Island, South Carolina in 2012. Falling in love with the Islands inspired her to begin painting and to use her camera to capture their realistic beauty.

Alexis is an active member of the Grand Manan Thursday Art Group, she is on the Board of Directors of the Grand Manan Art Gallery, and is an instructor of the Grand Manan Junior Art Club. She is also a founding member of the Art Guild on Daniel Island which began its first year in 2015. She also initiated three “Pop Up” Art Galleries on Daniel Island which are noted for their well-attended Opening Nights wherein artists from Daniel Island and the Greater Charleston area have their works on display.

The University of New Brunswick at Fredericton purchased three of her works and these are on permanent display in the University Library. Alexis has had her own shows in both the United States and in Canada. She also enjoys the culinary arts and has catered many large holiday parties both in the US and fund raisers for the Grand Manan Art Gallery.


Allan MacDonald
FA MacDonald

When Allan was growing up in rural New Brunswick in the 1960’s, one of his favourite things to do was to look at the great photographs in his collection of National Geographic magazines. He still has that collection, and he has shared it with his children and grandchildren.

Allan says, “Photography has been a casual pastime for me throughout my whole life. In recent years, however, I have had a unique opportunity to photograph rare and wonderful things almost daily as I ply the waters of the Bay of Fundy around Grand Manan Island on our whale watching yacht.”

Allan has logged over 5000 hours on the Bay of Fundy in all imaginable conditions of weather, light conditions and subject matter – camera in one hand, binoculars in the other. This has provided him with an unequaled opportunity to photograph many rare and wonderful creatures and natural scenes of the Bay of Fundy, much of which can offer spectacular results just in the subject matter itself – a rare right whale, birds only seen at sea or a mother whale and her calf.

“On land my interest is to photograph some of the common things that I see every day, he says, “I attempt to capture images of everyday things that are somehow different, pleasing or even spectacular, be it a manmade object, wildflowers or the sometimes spectacular combination of manmade objects in the middle of nature. Most of my images are captured as it happens – the opportunity identified, composed and captured within seconds and often within a fraction of a second. Mother Nature presents some spectacular opportunities. She probably will not do a rerun or an instant replay. The secret is to be ready at the precise moment when she pulls back the veil to reveal the opportunity. “


Andrew Phillips

I’ve been told that I had an artistic nature from a very young age. I loved any type of artwork, and was taught and encouraged by my mother. Throughout school I took as many art classes as possible, and worked in many different mediums. My preference then was pencil/ink on paper, and drawing/sketching for me is still the purest form of art.

My grandfather introduced me to woodworking and construction. He was a New York City ironworker (bridges mostly), and when I was about six he showed me how to weld, and began explaining to me how structures and machines were built. I started to develop a fascination with their creation. That resulted in an array of tree houses as a kid, and a career in construction as an adult. My first summer/part-time job taught me a lot about building homes, and the best lessons came from hand work. I wasn’t allowed to use power tools for almost two years – the theory being if I couldn’t accomplish the work properly by hand, power tools wouldn’t be of any help.

Construction lead to a passion for fine woodworking that evolved into carving. The two seemed to go together naturally for me and my love of woodworking – conceptualize a piece, put pencil to paper, then craft it. Most of my carvings are unorthodox; roughed-out from a log with a chainsaw and then worked to a finished piece with traditional hand tools.

Inspiration doesn’t come from anything elaborate – either the smallest detail in nature or in something organic to the outline of an entire superstructure can spark an idea. Sometimes I just follow the natural lines and grain in a log and see where it goes.


Anne Johnston
FA Johnston

Anne Johnston is an oil and pastel artist who paints landscapes and seascapes of New Brunswick and Maine. She attended the School of Art and Design in Montreal, and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. She also received instruction in watercolour from Toni Onley and Chincook Tan, and pastels from Michael Chesley Johnson and Doug Dawson.

Anne has spent much time painting and hiking in mountainous regions of the world from the Cascades and Olympics to the Appalachians, Alps and Himalayas. She says, “My art is based on sensing the deeper meaning of nature, with the emotions and vivid insights it brings. Our part of the world inspires me with both sweeping coasts and hills, and intimate details of nature that are so exquisite they must be painted. The areas I love to paint most are home – the forests, fields, coastal hills and shores. I love the range of colours, from soft foggy images, flowers of summer, the brilliance of autumn, and the whites of winter.”

Anne has illustrated books and taught art and craft courses for adults and art and nature courses for children. She lives on the family farm near St. Stephen, N.B. with her husband, daughter, and cats.


Carole Forbes
FA Forbes

Carole has been a professional artist for 35 years. She was born and raised in Fredericton, N.B., and has lived in five provinces and travelled extensively throughout Canada and the United States. She now resides on Grand Manan Island.

While teaching herself to draw and paint, she developed her own techniques, which she now teaches to others. Carole works in many mediums, combining them to create original pieces of art on both paper and canvas. She especially enjoys the challenge of working with ink, inktense and watercolour. The ink allows her to express the detail she has become known for, and the watercolour creates a softness to the painting. She recently added acrylic and watercolour abstract realism to her wide array of painting styles.

Carole uses a combination of photographs, sketch books and intuitiveness when she begins each drawing or painting. With a variety of colours and mediums, she endeavours to create truth, realism, abstract or a combination of all. She is fascinated by the contrasts of natures colours, shapes and shadows. She says, “With each painting, it is my goal to evoke a memory, hope or dream while transporting the viewer to a feeling of calmness or strength.”


Edith Mullen
FA Mullen

Edie was born in Fredericton, N.B., and now lives n Grand Manan with her husband Dan and two cats. She works predominantly in the medium of fabrics as a designer of clothing. She says, “My mother first entrusted me with a needle and thread at the age of five; I made little pillows and blankets for my dollies. When I was ten, she bought an expensive Singer Slant-O-Matic sewing machine. It was an interesting curiosity to me with it’s little box of discs and special feet. Being a wise woman, and seeing my interest in the machine, my mother signed me up for my first sewing lessons when I was 13, and that was the beginning of my serious love affair with fabrics and sewing. By 15, I was making most of my own clothes, and by graduation time, I was sewing gowns for my girlfriends too.”

Edie studied Fashion Design at The Lydia Lawrence Fashion Institute, in Vancouver, B.C. and sewing has been a major part of her life, from the designing and constructing of clothing, ecclesiastical banners, and window treatments, to sewing tiny costumes for dolls. Wherever she goes, she sews.

During a trip to Guinea in 2006 she discovered a whole new world of fabrics and fashions. “I immediately loved the colourful people of this beautiful west African country and their style of dressing,” she says, “Although the fabrics of Guinea were not my initial reason to visit, my interest in them has continued to draw me back. But I especially enjoy spending time among the people, learning about them and their way of life, that is so very different from my own. And through the years, I have found their clothing to be an integral expression of who they are.

Edie first showed her photographs of Guinea at the Grand Manan Gallery in 2014, and this will be her second exhibit.


Heidi McLean
FA McLean

Heidi (Brown) McLean is a self taught landscape artist who realized her love of art at a very young age. Inspired by many artists in her family, she began drawing and sketching while spending time with her grandparents on Grand Manan Island during the summer.

As a young adult, she obtained a degree in Graphic Arts , and continued to delve further into her artistic creativity with watercolour and acrylic mediums.

Heidi resides in Harvey Station, N.B., and she is a member of the Fredericton Society of Artists. In 2016 She was selected to donate an original painting to the Canadian Kidney Foundation’s “Brush of Hope”celebrity auction. Other entries for this auction included Mike Myers, Don Cherry, Leonard Cohen, and Alex Lifeson of Rush.

The beautiful countryside and lakes around Harvey gives Heidi many subjects and ideas for paintings. As well, she loves to travel to Grand Manan where she can connect with family, and become inspired by the natural beauty of the Island. “I have a soft spot for the Island,” she says, “I love to create pieces that display the natural, raw beauty of such an amazing place. When I want to become inspired, I either go to Grand Manan, and embrace the salt air, and travel around the island to take in all of the scenery, or I go through all of the pictures I have taken while being there over the years. Either way, there are endless paintings yet to be created. My plan is to complete as many as I can for many years to com, and to put on canvas what I feel depicts true Maritime scenery.”

She also has a soft spot for Harvey Station, N.B. where she raised her family and has been her home for 35 years. “We live surrounded by farmland, lakes and beautiful countryside,” she says, “There is inspiration everywhere, and I want to share as much of it as I can. This is why I create what I do. I just want to create a feeling in my artwork that may resonate with someone else, and stir up a memory for them as well.”


John Edwards
FA Edwards

John is a “Grand Manner” by choice spending his allotted 180 days per year with his fiancé, Alexis, in their North Head abode.

His interest in photography began in the 1990s when he was superintendant of a school in Bridgehampton, Long Island. One of the teachers started a photography club with a grant that John wrote to obtain digital cameras for the student’s use. He was then “pulled” into the photography club, and as a good role model he began taking pictures with junior and senior high school students and modifying them digitally in the new computer lab.

John’s photography interests continued through his tenure at Bridgehampton and well into his retirement years – mostly spent on Grand Manan. His interest in photography is somewhat on the eclectic side, and it encompasses scenes from nature, wildlife, architecture, people and dogs. He has displayed works in the Grand Manan Art Gallery as well as in the Annual Daniel Art Shows that have been held on Daniel Island, South Carolina (2014-16).


Kathy Merrithew
FA Merrithew

When Kathy was 13 her mother signed her up for a beginners oil painting class. From there she kept her interest in painting with different mediums, and over the years, took courses from many well known artists, such as Molly Lamb Bobak, Elizabeth Nelson, Michael Chesley Johnson. In her self-taught way and her love of nature, the most important thing that she learned was the artistic technique of how to look and see. This made her eager to venture out and try many new and interesting art forms.

Kathy is also a self-taught fiber artist. She has done felted wall hangings, clothing, and jewelry, and her work has been displayed in several New Brunswick shops and gallery’s.

Along with felting, her latest work is painting with torn pieces of paper. This is a form of collage that she started when she was living on a small Island in the Caribbean. Kathy had a heart for the women there, and wanting to teach them to become more self sufficient and to give them a better sense of self worth, she taught them to make beads from paper for jewelry. After these classes were finished, there were a lot of magazines left over, so Kathy started tearing these up and making landscape pictures, and discovered a new art form.

Her latest paper collage pictures are sometimes made from memorabilia, such as old pages from her dad’s Grade 2 reader, old letters from her grandparents, and many unique textures of different paper and paint. There are never scissors involved, and each torn paper picture she creates is full of thought, for which she hopes to convey an intense feeling of the subject, which makes people stop, touch and hopefully be inspired.


Lynn Cyr
FA Cyr

Lynn is a native of St-Leonard, New Brunswick, and now lives on Baker Lake in St.-Jean-de-la-Lande, Quebec. She started her career in graphic arts after moving to Massachusetts in 1996. Being an artist since childhood, she always knew she would pursue the arts in one form or another.

Her passion is still life. She uses fruits, vegetables, and other found objects to create a scene. For Lynn, these subjects aren’t just inanimate objects… it’s as if they are characters in a play, wanting to tell their story. But regardless of the subject, her work follows a consistent theme of color and simplicity. Lynn says, “I am passionate about life and everything around me, I see beauty everywhere. I am especially fascinated by the light and the effect it has on shape and color. There’s a certain subtle sensuality in my ‘unstill’ lifes. The way the light shines on the edge of a pear, or the colors that I see reflected in a bowl, these are the small details and the emotion that fascinate me and that I try to capture in my paintings.”

Lynn started drawing at the age of five, and in 2001 she rediscovered my passion for painting, and has been creating on a regular basis since then. She prefers the figurative approach in her work, where each brush stroke aims to faithfully reproduce the flavour of her subjects, while still remaining painterly. She always looks for simplicity in its purest form and originality is very important. Her paintings do not follow the same recipe; each one has its special flavor and spice added to it.
Lynn is a driven person by nature, always looking for new challenges. She started with watercolors by painting from photos, and now she paint in oils directly from life. She recently gained an interest in plein-air painting, and intends to do more of that. “I’m constantly renewing myself,” she says, “Social and cheery, being surrounded by other artists feeds my creative spirit; interactions with the public, that is where I feel alive as an artist.”


M.J. Edwards
FA MJ Edwards

MJ was born and raised in Kingston, ON, but spent childhood summers on Grand Manan Island where she has lived full time since 2007. Prior to moving east, she worked in administration at Queen’s University. With a BA in English Literature from Mount Allison, a BFA from NSCAD, and a BED from UNB Fredericton, she is presently a part-time high school teacher, and the Curator/Director of the Grand Manan Museum.

Cohabiting in a tall house overlooking Whale Cove with her poet husband, Wayne Clifford, two black cats and a wire-haired pointing griffon dog, she finds that daily beachcombing walks, ocean vistas, rugged cliffs, and summer gardens are ongoing sources of artistic inspiration.

Her ink drawings, photography, and paintings have been exhibited in libraries, museums and art galleries in Kingston, Halifax, Hampton, St. Andrews, Saint John, and on Grand Manan. You can see her at work in her Rocky Corner Studio on Grand Manan Island.

Ink Drawings

Begun as a portfolio exercise, many of her ink drawings are strongly intuitive and spontaneous. She thinks of these as “follow-the-line” drawings. They contain elements which tell mythic stories, deal with relationships, or look at the natural world — sometimes at a cellular level — using a visual language which is abstracted, pattern-based, metaphoric, and universally symbolic.

Other drawings were inspired by her photographs, and are abstracted and patterned translations and transformations of them. Sometimes the two intersect and inform each other. A series of ink drawings were commissioned for her husband Wayne’s book of poetry “Learning to Dance with a Peg Leg: Three Dozen Tunes for a Third Mate”.


MJ’s photographic practice began in 1998, and lead her in 2004 to pursue a degree in Fine Arts at NSCAD University (formerly The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design). Before attending NSCAD she was involved with the Kingston Photographic Club, a member of CAPA (Canadian Association of Photographic Arts). Her practice ranges from 35 mm to medium and large format, medium format pinhole, infrared and digital photography.

Her interests include macro photography and the possibilities for creativity, patterning, texture, and abstraction that it presents; the iconic photographic image as first explored by the photographers of the 1920-1930 era; the documentation of people and places; processes of decay; the interaction and impact of people with and on their environment; collections and their relationship to memory, nostalgia, and the creation of meaning and identity; and digital montage.

Acrylic, Oil and Beeswax Encaustic Paintings

MJ paints in acrylic, with bead work and mixed media collage, in oils, and in beeswax encaustic on wood. Her painting interests extend to nature-based abstraction, patterning, automatic line drawings, surreal narratives, mixed-media, and still lives. Because of her interest in textiles, she sometimes make paintings which use thread, buttons, beads, and other textile-related materials. These are usually sewn on to the canvas. The interplay between the painted and the sewn surfaces creates a tactile-rich surface.

Her most recent painting explorations have led her to the use of encaustic as a painting medium. Beeswax encaustic paintings (beeswax, damar varnish and pigment) are luminous, aromatic, and have wonderful layering, collaging and sculptural possibilities.

There are a number of themes which she continues to explore through encaustic painting: playful, colourful line drawings inspired by the jetsam and flotsam of the Bay of Fundy tides on the beaches of Grand Manan; nature-based abstractions inspired by the Island’s geological formations; mixed-media collages which explore its cultural, natural and personal histories; pattern-based textile-inspired compositions; and those which incorporate her own or historic photographs in her collection and photo transfers.


Michael MacFarlane
FA MacFarlane

Antigonish native J. Michael MacFarlane earned a BA (Honours) in Psychology from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, NS, in 1997, where he first encountered his need to paint. Michael continued his study of art at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, earning a BFA Major in Fine Art in 2001. He spent six months of his studies living in India and Italy. He is currently an instructor in the Art Department at St. Francis Xavier University.

Michael says, “As I move through the phases of my artistic development, the transition is laced with seduction and uncertainty. My relationship with these landscapes is a journey unto the self. I look to the expanse for answers: what do these places convey to me about who I am? I welcome the voyeur because these familiar, yet foreign sights, are a portal to our personal stories.
Landscapes allow us to look at ourselves, without directly confronting ourselves. Because landscapes are portraits once removed, the viewer can look inward and feel, without burdening the self with the calamity of assuming too great an importance on who we are. We are humbled by landscape because we cannot attach more importance to ourselves than to this land, which sustains us. We are just a piece of it, the whole thing; my feelings are not all that important, but at the same time, they are everything.”


Simeon Posen
FA Posen

Born and raised in Toronto, Simeon Posen is a landscape and architectural photographer with works spanning over four decades. His studies in architecture and stage design contribute to the unique perspective evident in his black and white photographs – namely, illuminating the intricacies of the parts to express the structure of the whole, whether created by nature or by man.
Simeon’s technique, style and composition are also influenced by such photographers as Marie Cosindas, Wynn Bullock, Brett Weston and Ansel Adams with whom he studied in California.

Receiving both federal and provincial grants, he has conducted extensive photographic studies of the architecture of France, Austria, Iran and Greece; as well as broadly documenting the Ontario landscape.
Today, Simeon continues his exploration of photographic art through blending new and old technology, frequently exhibiting while continuing his professional career in architecture. He utilizes 8×10 and mid-size negative formats to express the beauty of natural form. He prefers the subtlety of ‘black and white’, maximizing the use of digital technology interwoven with more traditional methods. He uses ‘Pyro’ for negative development, a formula favoured by Adams and Weston, and continues to print on silver fibre-based papers.

Simeon brings an added dimension of brilliance to his works by carefully selecting the conditions of light and weather for the subject chosen. His exposures can require up to 30 minutes. This study and patience bring an intensity yet subtlety to his nature studies.


Wendy Dathan
FA Dathan

Wendy Dathan was the first white child born in a bauxite mining camp in the interior of Guyana in 1934, a beginning that she says has contributed to looking at the world from many different points of view. She grew up in Jamaica and England before her family moved to Montreal in 1951. Proud of two sons and a granddaughter from an early marriage, she has an MA from McGill University where she taught Botany labs and edible wild plant courses.

Before moving to the island in 1987, she was active in several natural history groups around the Montreal area. She did curatorial work at the Grand Manan Museum from 1988 until 2000. Since retirement from the Museum in 2000, Wendy has authored four biographical books and operated a shop for island art and handicrafts, but her greatest preoccupation has been the creation of unique baskets and wall hangings from discarded fishing ropes. A display of her baskets was very successful in the gallery at Sunbury Shores in Saint Andrews in the summer of 2010.

Ever since she came to Grand Manan, she has been fascinated by the left over ropes from the fishing industry washed up on the shore. She loves the vibrant colours, the amazing designs in the tangle of intricate knots, and the subtle changes in texture and shade caused by the pounding of the sea.

In her work with basket-making and wall-hangings, she has tried to use these features to express their beauty, as well as her admiration for the expertise of our island fishermen who first used the rope in so many strong and creative ways to tie their working world together.