Robert Achtemichuk

What I see becomes a sort of visual illumination, like a match struck unexpectedly in the dark, a gift, lighting my path into wonder -Virginia Woolf

from Cantelon Trail, Norfolk Arts Centre

Pines and Sassafrass at McDowell and James

Pines and Sassafras McDowell E and Charlotteville W 1/4 Line Rd gouache on

washi 27 x 26 cm

Walnut tree in Lynndock

Walnut tree in Lynedock            2017            gouache on washi            32 x 32 cm

Honey Locust on #24

Honey Locust on #24            2017            gouache on washi            34 x 26 cm

Butternut in Dover

Butternut in Dover            2017            gouache on washi            35 x 26 cm


Hackberry on Lake Erie shore            2017            gouache on washi            45 x 30 cm

Oak in Lynn Park

Oak in Lynn Park            2017            gouache on paper            33 x 27 cm

Oak on Lynn Drive

Oak on Lynn Drive            2017            gouache on washi            20 x 18 cm

Black Cherry

Black Cherry on HWY #3            2017            gouache on washi            34 x 30 cm

St johns cedar

Cedar at St John’s Church            2017            gouache on washi            49 x 40 cm

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Hemlock on Jenkins Road            2017            gouache on washi            55 x 27 cm

Artist Statement

The Cantelon Trail – Norfolk Arts Centre November 17, 2017 to January 27, 2018

“Algunos dicen: Nunca segundas partes fueron buenas.”

Don Quixote 11.4   Quoted in The School Days of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee

Edgar Cantelon documented places and people and his meticulous paintings give us a detailed visual history of the Norfolk County. I find an affinity with Cantelon’s paintings of the roadside houses and mills with trees. I like his picket fences.

Cantelon painted only a few tree groups. One of the paintings is of a large oak in the middle of it all, like what I hear was once at St. John’s corner. Wouldn’t it be great to see a large oak there now, so that we had to drive around it?

This project gave me the opportunity to visit the famed Carolinian forests of Norfolk. I experienced the reforestation started by Zavitz in the last century. Trees were given to anyone who would plant and care for them. I was fortunate to drive around the county with Adam Biddle, Norfolk County Superintendent of Forestry and together we created a list of older indigenous trees from our wanderings, trees that where special to this region – for him an inventory, an update to the county’s holdings; for me an exciting moment of orienteering. I painted a few of these older survivors as tree portraits, as individuals, and as groups, documenting the passage of time.

My work is about evoking the presence of trees – the light, the time of day; the wind, the weather, the season – what am I experiencing at the moment of painting. This is what the pre-Impressionists referred to as plein air painting. As artist I discovered that the spontaneity of first impressions is better than second tries. In my previous project on night time urban landscape painting I painted mostly from memory.

Whenever memory plays a large part, as in this case, great care must be exercised because if things go wrong and events are placed in a wrong sequence, then there is no correction possible except to tear up all the papers written on and begin again. And I want to avoid such a course – a real danger – because seconds are never as good as firsts. – Camilo Jose Cela, The Family of Emil Durate

Recently I heard a quote on Sheila Roger’s The Next Chapter: “The hardest journey is from the head to the heart,” said the Ojbwe elder James Dumont. Working with memory or in plein air has brought me a poetic understanding of the painting experience. We all have memories of common experiences, and I try to use these memories to make my paintings. – Robert Achtemichuk 2017

I appreciate support though Exhibition Assistance at