Chickens Royal Winter Fair, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, acrylic, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
For a time, my sister, Yvonne Brioux, and I would lug our paints easels and canvases down to the Royal Winter Fair, pay our admission. We would wonder around, find good models among the championship animals, and sit down and paint them. Vonny was a portrait painter and would get the faces perfect. The other visitors assumed we had been admitted free and were part of the display. “Oh look, Mummy! An artist! Take my picture with her!” I always came home with great pictures and a bad cold, picked up from the dust and the crowds.
Roberts’ Cay, Exumas, Bahamas, Goldie’s Well, Ship Channel Anchorage, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
If you sail east from Nassau, you will arrive at the tricky little entrance at the south end of Roberts’ Cay. Inside, turn north and drop your hook in the deepest water, six or seven feet, beside this tiny house. There is no room for more than half a dozen boats, anchored both fore and aft. The little house and the cistern (Goldie’s Well) were owned by Mr. Roberts and his wife Goldie. There was a well-tended garden beside a little pond, palm trees behind the house and a tall platform beside it from which they could overlook the boats and watch the sun go down in the west. Peacocks, large iguanas and chickens roamed around. Cruisers joined them for Happy Hour on the dock. Mr. Roberts said it was his wish that cruisers could always visit there The first time I visited, the well water was still fresh and sweet. But Goldie was gone and Mr. Roberts was buried under the small circle of stones you can see in the garden. Termites were feasting on the palms. The last time I was there, the eavestroughs had fallen down and the cistern was almost dry. Most of the palms had fallen to the termites, and a hurricane had taken out the platform and the dock. You can google the key. It is now for sale for several million dollars and has No Trespassing signs on it. I’m glad I got this little painting, before everything is gone.
Mangroves, Intracoastal Waterway, Florida Keys, Tarpon Basin, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
On our way back to Indiantown Marina that spring, we anchored in the northeast corner of Tarpon Basin. We were well away from the noisy Highway U.S.1 and just off of the Intracoastal Waterway. I loaded my painting supplies and a water bottle into the dinghy and poked along the shore until I found the tiny hidden entrance to the narrow creek through the mangroves, which came together over my head. I tied the dinghy to a root arcing out into the water. Birds flew and sang in the branches and fish swam around and under me while I painted. My favourite part of cruising!
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For a few years, my sister Yvonne Brioux and I would go to the annual agricultural fair at the Canadian National Exhibition fair grounds in Toronto. It was cold and dusty, and thousands of people came by and watched us paint. Sometimes someone would even buy one of our paintings. There were those who thought we were part of the exhibits. We always enjoyed the weekend and brought home many paintings of farm animals.
When I was alone in the Vero Beach Mooring field, I often took my paints and went over to the nearby cultural centre. Sometimes artists gathered to paint models, and sometimes I just looked out a window or painted on the beautifully maintained grounds.
It was a beautiful fall day and the leaves still clinging to the oak trees were mirrored in the calm water of the creek. I stood at my easel, looking toward the creek and the Royal Botanical Gardens, trying to get the mood onto my picture.
Some hay, loaded up a long time ago, that never made it to the barn, and the machinery abandoned there with it, and the view across the rolling hills to another barn in the distance. A peaceful afternoon, enjoying and recording the moment back in time when something, perhaps death, caused this farm activity to stop.
A favourite spot for our Dundas Valley School of Art painting class in the late nineties was this area south of Ancaster, Ontario. It was late fall and the red dogwood bushes were showing off the colours of their branches, now that the leaves were gone. This is one of those quick little sketches that is almost an abstract painting.
Trees, hammock, shadows, Dundas Valley School of Art, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
Everyone in the class was hot and looking for a piece of shade from which to paint. I found mine. The dark patches of shade under the trees looked so cool, in contrast to the grass in the glaring sunlight.
Norman Island, Norman’s Cay, BVI, British Virgin Islands, Benares Bay, Tortola, Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
In the winter of 1997, I chartered a boat in the British Virgin Islands for six weeks. Friends, escaping Canada’s winter, came and went. We sailed, snorkelled and ate in many of the delightful restaurants. Happy Hours were celebrated on board or in local watering holes. From Benares Bay, I painted this picture.
Old fish cleaning station, Marathon, Florida Keys, original, acrylic, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
I was at a dock in Keys Boat Works on the Gulf side of the Keys when I painted this. TowboatUS had delivered my boat My Detour and me there after the latest breakdown of my motor. My stern was facing an old trailer park where all of the trailers had been evicted. The only thing left was this old fish cleaning station and some floats, caught in the tree roots under the dock. I sat in the shade in the cockpit of my boat and painted it. When I returned to this spot two years later, the cleaning station was gone and there were condos in the trailer park. But there had been an economic downturn and most of them were empty.
St. Lucie Canal, Indiantown, Stuart, Florida, Okeechobee Waterway, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
Every late fall or early winter, boats leave the Indiantown Marina and head out the St. Lucie Canal for points south, and return in the spring. They pass grazing cattle, the back lawns of the houses scattered along the shore, and some heavily wooded sections, where the trees reach out over the water.
I met Richard in 2006, and joined the annual parade with him. We usually set out to go to the Bahamas but things kept happening. Richard had a quadruple bypass one year. The next year the old motor had to be replace, a big job for Richard. The year after that there was no window to cross. Then I returned home because my father was dying. Each spring we would spend some time anchored in St. Lucie Canal, and this was our view.
Mangrove, tides. No Name Harbor, Miami, Florida, Intracoastal Waterway, Florida Keys Cruising, acrylic painting, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
I was cruising with Richard, the singlehander I met in 2006. We were waiting for a friend of Richard’s to arrive so we could head south in the Keys. I t was Sunday and little power boats were anchored all around us, the partiers on board playing loud Spanish music, splashing into the water off their boats and having fun. Our stern faced the shore towards this old knarly mangrove, the roots reaching out into the water along the high tide line.
Autumn, Dundas, Ontario, Canada, Dundas Valley School of Art, acrylic, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
Our Dundas Valley School of Art class was out painting in the field. There we were, scattered around, after finding a place where we wouldn’t be standing in mud or snow. My eyes were drawn to the hilly fields rippling off into the distance, and the fall colous showing through as the snow melted.
Wild grapes, Valley Inn Road, Burlington, Ontario, acrylic, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
On a warm day in late summer I propped up my easel with my back to the Royal Botanical Gardens. I was on the edge of the Valley Inn Road, looking out over a little inlet hidden at the east end of Burlington Bay. The Valley Inn had disappeared, likely in a fire, many years before. All was quiet, except when this freight train lumbered through on the tracks high above.
Coneflowers, Royal Botanical Gardens, Burlington, acrylic, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
They are both gone now, and, looking back, I realize it was a very special time. My mother and her best friend Myrtle often came to stay with me in Hamilton in the summer and we would paint together every day for a week. On the day this was painted, we were in the Royal Botanical Gardens, in Burlington, Ontario. At the end of the week, Mom took the coneflowers home with her. Now Mom is gone and the coneflowers have come back to me by default. I live in a small house and the walls are already full, so they need a new home.
Weaving, Tapestry, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
For several years I lived in Guelph, which had an art department that teamed up with other faculties. Home economics was one of these, and this small tapestry, in which I turned the weaving on its side, was one of the results.
Rolph Gate, Dundurn Park, Hamilton, Ontario, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
For many years I lived in Hamilton, Ontario, one block from Dundurn Castle. This entrance to the castle must have been very imposing when it was the only way into the property where the castle loomed. Now it is just ornamental, but it was always an elegant beginning to my daily runs around the top of the bay.
Canada Geese, Princess Park, Hamilton, Ontario, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
One of my favourite places to paint was Princess Point, a fresh green park where Environment Day was always celebrated. I t overlooked the waterway known as Coot’s Paradise, where people canoed in the summer and skated in the winter.
I was not very far along on this painting when it started to rain big heavy drops that ran down through the paint. I packed it in for the day. Later I went back to the painting and liked the effect of the rain, so I finished it. Voila!
I have painted Webster’s Falls several times, and love looking up at it from the bottom of the ravine. But up on top, in the park, is this fantasy-like structure which incorporates the trees and wood around it. This pavilion is a work of art.
This small bay was just between Whale Cut and Windley Key, in the Florida Keys. It was protected all around by keys and sand bars. It was tricky to get into and usually we had it all to ourselves, but we were in a very windy few days of weather (25 to 30 knots) and another couple of boats had joined us. We had lots of downtime and were very close to the mangroves, so I painted this little sketch.
It is a retired person’s dream – to spend the winters sailing the Keys and the Tropics, and the summers in a small northern village, surrounded by a large extended family.
Perfect, you might think.
In the winter and spring of 2000, two Canadian sisters in their fifties, Vonny and I (Sharon), went sailing in Florida, and to the Bahamas and back, on a thirty-foot Nonsuch that belonged to Vonny and her husband, Ray. There were some problems, but we fell in love with cruising. The next year I retired, bought my own cruising boat, and continued the adventure on my own.
There have been accidents (the most notable one a collision with a bridge), many groundings, countless hours of boat maintenance, the replacement of three motors and lots of ripped sails. And all those unexpected stories about the places, the people, and the truths discovered along the way.
This website has my for the most recent four years of the journey, and information about the books that have grown out of it, with excerpts and pictures from them.
For most of my life, I have painted, and a page of this website is dedicated to my art.
There have been different boats, too. A couple of years ago, I met another single-handed sailor, and both of us quickly realized how wonderful it would be to sail together on one boat. When two people who have been single, and single sailors for a large part of their lives move in together, you might think that would be perfect too. Let’s just say that the pros outweigh the cons.
Below are a few samples of my artwork. Most of the paintings are in acrylic paint and all are “gallery wrapped”, unless framed is noted. (This somewhat pretentious phrase, used on the internet, just means that I painted around the edges of the hidden stretcher frame so the painting can be hung unframed.) Prices do not include shipping. Please email me to receive a shipping quote before ordering any artwork.