Meet the Artist Laurie Wonfor Nolan


Since we are unable to gather and celebrate the talents of the artists from "Lyrics of the Land", I am instead probing the artists for some of those deeper and creative questions you might have asked in person. I hope you enjoy the deeper insight on how the land is full of music and how music can reflect back in the depiction of land.

- Curator Andrea Jackman

Meet Laurie Wonfor Nolan...

What makes your studio environment linked to the land which you depict? 

I collect treasures while I’m out painting or just walking. Currently in the studio I have beach stones, a large hunk of bark and an oriole nest. Pieces of the outside. My studio was once a country church and has 7 really tall windows on three sides so you can see from the top to the bottom of the trees that surround it. I used to hang up my work in there but I don’t anymore. You can’t compete with nature.



Where is your go to site for inspiration? Why do you NEED to paint it?

 Yes, like Cezanne’s Mont Victoire or Hockney’s Woldgate Road. For me it would be the black walnut grove behind the studio. I should name it something fancy, but we just call it ‘The Grove’. It feels like a cathedral when you are in the middle of it. Places that seep into your heart like that give endless inspiration because they are constantly changing in every light and season but feel solid and constant at the same time.


"Amaryllis and Distant Studio" 28" x 40" Acrylic on Canvas

When you are out scouting for inspiration, what sounds resonate with you until you get to the easel? 

It’s interesting that you mention sounds. I’m not sure if this answers the question exactly but when you are painting outside, sounds contribute a great deal to what happens on the canvas. Roosters, Spanish voices and church bells in San Miguel de Allende.... it’s magic painting along to all that. I try to get as much of that ‘sound’ into the plein air works as I can. It’s hard to conjure that away from the scene so its the studies that I can still ‘hear’ when I get them back to the studio that I might consider for a larger work.


Do you keep a sketchbook? 

My habit has been to sketch prior to starting even a small plein air study. That way I can work out possible compositions and simplify the values and planes. I do them quickly in soft charcoal. They serve my purpose but are really illegible and smooshed in the sketch book over time. 

However, on my last trip to San Miguel, I was playing with some different spacial ideas, so I did some more sustained ink and wash sketches. This one was made at the same site as ‘Little park fountain’ featured in the exhibition. These ‘might’ lead to paintings... I’m still pondering on that.

"Little Park Fountain" 14" x 10" Acrylic on Panel

When creating in the studio, what music do you listen to? Is it always the same? 

 I listen to a lot of  different music in the studio. I go through phases. The history of music interests me. There are so many parallels and connections to visual art. Bebop jazz and the abstract expressionist movement happening at the same time is no coincidence!

Go to song to start the day?

The ‘Swimming Song’ by Loudon Wainwright III should be played daily and loud, followed up with Bobby Short’s version of Cole Porter’s ‘I’m in Love Again’. 



Do you have any phrases or words written in your studio? What are they and why are they there?  

‘Don’t depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus’ Mark Twain

This is true when applied to painting from observation. Painting what you see, not what you think you should be seeing is definitely not as easy as it sounds.



A graduate of the Sheridan College Illustration program, Laurie started her career as a commercial artist in 1983. She began combining those skills with her love of the land and began painting in 1996. Three years later she had her first solo show of large scale ‘plein air’ landscapes in Toronto. Although, painting in the landscape continues to be a large part of her art practice, new subjects, ideas and inspiration

found everwhere propel her as an artist. Laurie began teaching in 2008 offering a variety of classes and workshops at the Cambridge Centre for the Arts, Dundas Valley School of Art, as well as in her loft studio in Hespeler, ON.

Today, Laurie’s residence, studio and gallery space are located in a renovated church in beautiful Roseville (Ayr), ON. A haven for painters and art lovers, mentorship programs, private sessions and plein air classes are offered during this time. Gallery is open for private appointments unless otherwise posted.

Laurie’s work can be found in corporate and private collections in Canada, USA, Italy, Germany and Austria. Awards include the Bernice Adams Memorial Award for Visual Art and the KW Women of Distinction Award for Arts and Culture.

Back to blog

1 comment

Fearless – and also a hottie!

Nancy Kimoff

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.