Bancroft Studio Tour


Very early in her career, painter, Nancy McKinnon had a powerful aha moment. Her first acrylic on canvas landscapes were very dark in colouration and mood–and she wondered why. Then having become aware of the brash and bold and colourful work of Hamilton artist, Julia Veenstra, she signed up for one of her classes and, inspired and encouraged by that painter’s verve and exhilaration, made a bold and colourfully creative piece; and has not looked back.

As a small child in Hamilton, an early recollection is of bedding down near an open window and seeing human faces and dogs and spooky shapes in the trees that disturbed her—but were certainly indicative of a vivid imagination that many decades later became the drive for her to become a visual creative. A neighbour art teacher periodically gave her leftover art supplies that she played with. And she recalls fun and intense art classes at the Catholic high school she attended—messing with various media and genres. But hardcore life took over upon graduation from her schooling—with post secondary education not really an option. And she married her high school sweetheart, became a hairdresser and had children (a boy and a girl); and that was the life she lived till retirement from working 25 years later.

But she recalls, with a rolling of her eyes, that her sister told her too many times over the years that she should paint; and finally, she took lessons at the Haliburton School of Art with iconic instructor, John Leonard, got the painting bug, took classes every year for the next four at Haliburton and launched into a career in the visual arts. She adores the landscape and carries her camera constantly while hiking, etc., to record images that she turns into her trademark bright, colourful, loose and magical acrylic on canvas works.

In 1990, she and hubby had purchased a cottage on local Diamond Lake—then some years later, built and moved into another one there. And then, having moved on to a cottage on Baptiste Lake she retired in 2011 and she and hubby moved permanently to this area. And that same year, she had her first solo show titled, ‘Seasons of My Journey’ at the Art Gallery of Bancroft. And she has been a participant in several of their juried shows as well as being a regular on the Bancroft and Area Studio Tour since 2013.

Three years ago, the McKinnons moved to Huntsville where she maintains a lovely big studio space in their home and involves herself in the local annual “Art Crawl” and “Square Foot” exhibitions. However, she returns every year to guest show her work in this area at the studio tour during the last two weekends in September in West Bay House at 187 Storey Road, Hartsmere. To connect with Nancy McKinnon, message her at

(Profile writing by Allan O’Marra)