Graduate Profile – Lauren Ogilvie

September 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

Have you ever wondered what happens to our incredibly talented VCAD graduates? Where do they go? What do they do? Are they still thinking about us up here in Haliburton? Well, I’ve been talking to VCAD Photo Arts grad Lauren Ogilvie, and she’s answered a few of these pressing questions…

Self Portrait - Barachois QC

Lauren Ogilvie – Self Portrait, Barachois QC

In case you never had the pleasure of meeting Lauren in the hallways, she did the VCAD program in 2011. She uses her work as a form of personal confession and confrontation, enabling her to achieve a stronger sense and acceptance of self. She believes the combination of art and the natural world to be an unstoppable duo of which she is very much a part of. (I got that from her website…you should check it out!

Here’s a look at our conversation:

So Lauren, why did you choose to take the Photo Arts certificate at HSTA?

I chose the photo arts certificate fairly last minute. I was actually enrolled in the fibre arts program and on the final day to confirm courses I had a weird panic and decided I wanted/should do the photo program instead.  I always loved taking pictures and when I actually thought about all the work I had done in the VCAD program the year before (heavily photo based) I decided it was a better fit for me.

Recognize any of these ladies? Lauren took this promo shot for the Highland Roller Girls

Recognize any of these ladies? Lauren took this promo shot for the Highland Roller Girls

What was your most memorable experience as a student here? I think finishing a bajillion photo projects in 15 weeks is pretty memorable. Sometimes it felt totally impossible given our timelines but when you find your focus its pretty amazing to see what you (and others) can do. I also really liked having my first art show in a Gallery when I was in VCAD.

Shot for a Gourmet Greek Yogurt Shop opening in Toronto called "Astarte"

Shot for a Gourmet Greek Yogurt Shop opening in Toronto called “Astarte”

What are you doing with photography today, and how has your time at HSTA influenced your current artistic practice?

Shot for Kate Atherly's (Wild Hilda Knits) newest knit line

Shot for Kate Atherly’s (Wild Hilda Knits) newest knit line

I’ve been really lucky, all of the work I am doing today is photo based.  I work (fairly) full-time as a freelance photo editor for Canadian Business Magazine. On the side I have also been pursuing my own career as a photographer; I have a really random list of clients and jobs that I’ve done (definitely not a one genre kinda gal) so I couldn’t tell you what “kind” of photographer I am but I’m getting there. I’d really like to focus on environmental portraits and photo essays. I’ve also been doing a bit of film and I’m starting to break into the world of interactive book making for tablets. My time at HSTA created my artistic practice…I don’t think I had one before I entered VCAD.  I had artistic inclinations and ideas but I really had no idea how to zero in on them. I was totally intimidated (by art making) but HSTA helped me learn how to navigate those thoughts make something useful of them…like art.

This motel was shot as part of an ongoing series of lonely motels

This motel was shot as part of an ongoing series of lonely motels

While you’re here, check out the Photo Arts video Ogilvie worked on while she was here at HSTA:

Faculty Profile- Rob Stimpson

September 10, 2013 § Leave a comment


Rob Stimpson is certainly one of the most adventurous faculty members here at HSTA. He has been a full time photographer for over 15 years, best known for capturing stunning images of Canadian wilderness. Paddling Arctic Rivers, guiding expeditions, doing stills for a film on climate change, and travelling the world with his camera are just a few of the journeys this wilderness-obsessed instructor has embarked on.

Rob’s photography has come to represent Ontario through his work for Ontario Tourism, Ontario Parks, and Ontario-based magazines, calendars and national ads.

This photo was taken during Rob's Gales of November Workshop on Lake Superior

This photo was taken during Rob’s Gales of November Workshop on Lake Superior

 Here’s a look at his connection to our school, and to the Haliburton Highlands:

Q: You’ve been a valued faculty member at HSTA for many years. What
brought you to the school initially?
A: About 10 years ago I met Shelley Schell at a Arts in the Wild marketing initiative with Ontario Tourism and from there she invited me to run a one day workshop with Kevin Callan – that started my long relationship with HSTA.

Q: You’ve practiced photography while adventuring across the country
and around the world. What keeps you coming back to Ontario, and more
specifically Haliburton?
A: Originally from Montreal, my travels have taken to many amazing places but Ontario is now home and has been for many years. I live in the Huntsville area – about 25 kms from Algonquin Park. But as for the reason keeping me coming back to Haliburton, I love teaching photography and sharing my knowledge of the medium with others – HSTA is a great venue, provides many with so many creative pursuits. I love being imersed with so many like minded people.
Q. As an artist-educator, do you have some advice to pass onto others
who feel drawn to the path of educating in the arts?
A: I get this and similar questions about how does one make a living in the arts – whether you are an educator, artist or both – following your heart is one thing but learn business, networking and stay on top of what your medium is doing and where it is going. Our world changes constantly – re-invent yourself to stay with it.

In closing – I have been a freelance photographer for 15 years. It is as I call it – an unconvential job in a convential world. If you like stability, then this is probably not for everyone but the rewards in my business are many. It is not all roses but what job is. I have been to many places on the planet – my work has been published  internationally, my fine art images hang in places throughout the world – and I shoot for tourism agencies in Ontario – it is a good life.


For a more in-depth look into the wild world of Rob Stimpson, check out his website:, and think about signing up for his Fall Equinox Photo Workshop!

Featured Artist – Hilliary Dunford

May 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

Visual and Creative Arts Diploma Graduate Hilliary Dunford has launched her business, HilliaryCustomLiving, on Etsy and recently spoke with HSTA about her starting her business and how her experience at HSTA  has helped her.912261_10151680491096802_975106359_n

Custom wedding cake toppers, delightful pet sculptures and remarkable house ornaments are just a few of the whimsical treasures offered by HilliaryCustomLiving. Hilliary has built a unique home and keepsake décor business that has captured the imaginations of her customers. Her artistically designed custom keepsake sculptures and ornaments are available exclusively in her Etsy shop. Each one of her creations is painstakingly handcrafted to perfection and makes a memorable keepsake to celebrate life.

While here at Fleming College’s Haliburton School of the Arts, Hilliary studied a wide array of artistic mediums and explored self-expression. She also learned about various artistic techniques from master artisans like Brian Smith and Adrienne Alison. For Hilliary, there is nothing more rewarding than having the ability to touch another person’s life with her artwork. She enjoys all aspects of the creative process from sketching the design, to sculpting it and then finishing it off to perfection.


You completed your Visual and Creative Arts Diploma with the generalist option (completing 14 varied credit courses in the semester immediately after the foundation year), how was that experience?

For sure! I did do the generalist option for VCAD, I personally loved it! It was just enough time for each course to get a small experience of that medium or style of art. I liked how many options you had and all the different types of art I could explore, not to mention how beautiful Haliburton is during the summer months, it’s almost like Mother Nature is giving you inspiration on a silver platter! While doing the summer option I loved meeting all the artistic people from around the world and being taught by amazing self-made artists. It makes your working environment much more relaxed and open, everyone’s ideas just kept feeding off one another till we all we’re proud of our different works.

What are some things that you learned from the VCA diploma program that have stayed with you while you have started your business?
Something that has stayed with me since I started my business was something Dar [Darleen Bolahood, faculty and VCAD coordinator] once said in the beginning of our course “Know whether you’re working for someone or yourself”, now my works are mainly craft, I am creating pieces for others, but I believe I’m doing it for myself more than them. I still work on other art mediums while creating custom pieces for my customers but I get artist block and have a break in between large paintings or sculptures that seem to last months sometimes, so working on my customers pieces keeps me fresh and ready for when inspiration strikes again. Don’t get me wrong, making custom pieces also brings me great joy, I love hearing my customers tell me how much they love their keepsakes because I know it’s something they can treasure for a lifetime with proper care.


How did you happen upon the idea for your shop and your main keepsakes?
My idea for my shop started with being tight on money, we were getting closer to Christmas and I had just gotten engaged, so we were also saving for a wedding at the time. My in-laws were also doing an extension to their home that they had been dreaming of, and my parents had just bought their second home in 15 years! So I wanted to make something for them that would mark these special occasions and started sketching. The idea sort of just came to me and next thing I know I was experimenting with some old clay from VCAD and made my first house ornament. It wasn’t much, but I still have it. Since then I just started making them for houses on the internet that I didn’t even know and was encouraged by my fiancé and family to try and touch others with these keepsakes. I opened my shop on November 12th and made my first sale on November 14th, the satisfaction of knowing someone I never met before wanted something made by my hands has been the inspiration that keeps me working in my studio from sunrise to sundown and I really wouldn’t want it any other way.

912177_10151680491061802_831125408_nCan you describe your process for making your custom objects? Are your mediums something you started exploring after or during the VCAD program?

My process in creating my keepsakes starts with a sketch of each home so I can catch any angles or small detailing in the image before I start carving. Once I’m done sketching, I start sketching on a rolled out piece of clay the same image then cut it out. From there I carve till I feel I’ve created a slightly 3 dimensional feeling with depth. Once carved I bake them then paint each one by hand, once painted I add their ribbon and they’re ready to ship! In the VCAD program I did explore clay and one of my exhibitions was of 3 dimensional women inside large boxes with only one view point. I did not however explore polymer clay while at VCAD, which is my main material and a little harder to manipulate then the clay I used in the VCAD program.

Is there any advice that you’d like to give other artists/artisans about starting an online business and using Etsy?

If I was to give anyone advice it would be take your time. Don’t rush you artistic process in trying to find an idea to sell. And don’t get discouraged to fast; Rome wasn’t built in a day. Etsy is a wonderful place to even just get your name out there for cheap advertising on your artworks. Even if you don’t want to sell on Etsy, go there to shop for gifts! Support fellow artists over large box companies. You will find unique handmade items that you won’t find anywhere else.


Inspired by the handmade movement, Hilliary enjoys offering her clients the opportunity to preserve their most precious memories with a custom keepsake. Whether it is celebrating a new marriage or the signing of the mortgage on a new home, HilliaryCustomLiving has something for everyone.

Hilliary has found a very comfortable selling niche online. Commitment to customer service and around the clock accessibility are two traits that Hilliary prides herself upon the most. As she continues to build a steady customer base, Hilliary seeks to expand the availability of her line to stores and designer boutiques. For interested buyers and store managers, please use the below contact details to discuss availability with Hilliary personally.

Hilliary Iaiana Elizabeth Dunford
Owner, HilliaryCustomLiving
Tel: 705 957 6785

I Made It! Spring 2013 Student Show & Sale

April 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

The inspiring talent of our students was on full display Saturday April 19th at the Biannual Student Show & Sale. With works from the Glassblowing, Jewellery Essentials and Sculpture Certificates as well as participating VCAD students, there was so much to see and something for everyone! Congrats to all of our students and staff on another great show and we wish all our grads the best for the future!

The Year-End Party hosted by the Student Association

April 15, 2013 § 1 Comment

Though it may have been a wet & crazy day (as evidenced by a rare College closure)…quite a few students still turned up at the Year End Party hosted by the Student Association at the Haliburton Curling Club.

With endless karaoke, a temporary tattoo competition, a photo booth plus the theme of Masquerade (and prize for best mask!) there was fun for everyone!

Artist of the Week – Bryce Petersen

March 8, 2013 § 1 Comment

Today’s long-awaited installment of548057_10151955751155553_1512290208_n our Artist of the Week series features HSTA alumni and faculty, Bryce Petersen. A graduate of the Artist Blacksmithing and Glassblowing Certificates, Bryce has gone on to become the Fine Arts Teacher in Nelson House, Manitoba, and he’s been a regular faculty member in the summer programs with his continually popular “Youth/Teen Build Your Own Skateboard Deck” workshops. Most recently, Bryce has introduced two new workshops for summer, “Youth/Teen Amateur Telescope Making” and an advanced skills skateboard workshop. Today, he shares his amazing career journey with us. Thank you for sharing, Bryce!

Q: What did you graduate from at the Haliburton School of the Arts and how did you come to the school initially?

I graduated from HSTA’s Artist Blacksmith and Glassblowing courses in the 2004-2005 school year. My decision to study at HSTA was greatly influenced by my high school visual arts teacher who encouraged me to sculpt in metal. After my first week in Haliburton, I never wanted to leave. As a rich creative learning environment, it felt only natural to extend my studies into the second semester and glassblowing had already been a growing curiousity of mine. To this day, those were two of the best choices I have ever made in my life.

Q: What was one of the most lasting learning experiences you had as a student here?

As a student at HSTA there were many meaningful learning experiences. One that stood out to me occurred while in the glassblowing program. It came from more than just one instructor, which I think is what made it so potent. Anyway, throughout the program we had the opportunity to study under several established glass artists and for me, a strong aspect of their tutelage came from seeing their passion for what they were doing. It then dawned on me, that the only correct career decision was the one that captured my interest at the deepest level. If you’re going to do something for a living, love it. Do what you love and love what you do. This is the most profound lesson I learned while at HSTA.198288_4585982691_9641_n

Q: You’ve also been a long-time summer faculty member, what did you teach and how has that experience enriched your career path?

I am the instructor for the “Youth/Teen Build Your Own Skateboard Deck” program, and have been since 2008. This summer I will also be launching two new one-week programs called “Youth/Teen Amateur Telescope Making” where we will build reflector telescopes and an advanced build curriculum to the Build Your Own Skateboard Deck course.

By the time I received this opportunity, I was confident that teaching was my path. That said, as a recurrent position, I have learned a great deal each year that I have taught the course. As I have grown as a teacher, this program has also developed in its ability to demonstrate cross-curricular connections between science, art, business, design and woodworking. Furthermore, the success of the program has now spread and is quickly gaining interest up here in Nelson House, Manitoba where I am currently teaching.

Q: Where are you now in your career?

How I came to be where I am is a point of great credit to HSTA. After graduating, I was hired as an educational assistant in the glassblowing studio. To this day, these were three of the most enjoyable weeks of work ever. During this time, I found myself working excessive hours, sweating buckets because we had a really hot summer, and smiling the whole time. It was this position that confirmed my love for working in education.

IMG_0784Okay, fast-forward 7 ½ years. I am applying to teaching jobs and find one titled “Fine Arts Teacher – High School”. I figure I’d be a fool to not pursue it so I apply and get a call back. Four days later I have a job offer from Nelson House, Manitoba, which is 800 kms north of Winnipeg! As the fine arts teacher here, I have built a new arts program that aims to engage the students’ strong tactile strengths and learning aptitudes. It has required that I learn a great deal about differentiated instruction and program planning from the ground, up.

I am also teaching a digital photography program that will develop students’ as observers and more importantly, their technological literacy. There is a strong creative inclination on the part of the students here and one of my primary goals is to use our time together to demonstrate the many career paths they can pursue with the knowledge they will gain through our new arts program.

Q. A successful career in arts doesn’t always mean that you have your own practice – is that a goal for later down the road?

Most definitely! I miss the regularity of a studio practice, especially blacksmithing and glassblowing. What I do not miss at the moment is the financial weight of them. When I began on my path to become a teacher, I knew then that a large impetus was to facilitate an artistic practice free from the pressure of creating work for financial survival. My first initiative is to create work for myself. And, if it engages an audience or some of it sell227335_29066125552_811_ns, great!

However, with that said, one of the great opportunities I associate with my position here is that I will be able to work personally in various ways i.e. drawing, painting, photography and most importantly, various forms of sculpture. The trick as a teacher of course, is finding/making the time.

Q. As an artist-educator, what is some advice you can pass into others who feel drawn to the path of educating in the arts?

Three things: My first piece of advice would be to explore, explore, explore! Working in new processes, develops and prepares you for the unpredictable and richly diverse student body you will come to work   with. This is especially appropriate when teaching specific groups be they cultural, behavioural or otherwise.

Second, technological literacy is essential and coming from a generation “Y” perspective, it is something that even us ‘young teachers’ stand to fall way behind with. I know how technology engages youth but feel that it is a growing part of our lived experience that one will and should always struggle to keep up with!

Third, always try to balance your personal studio practice with curriculum. While there are always general expectations in a given curriculum, I would argue that the ‘wiggle room’ is there to accommodate the many skill sets we as art-educators bring to the classroom. Balanced with general artistic endeavours, these strengths will be the crux of a unique and memorable curriculum.

Thank you for all you taught and continue to teach me HSTA! Your time and investment in my future will always be cherished.

Artist of the Week – Stephanie Rayner

June 1, 2012 § 4 Comments

Watercolour Print Artist, Stephanie Rayner

Dan Brown has it. Nelson Mandela has it. And this week’s Artist of the Week, Stephanie Rayner, has it.

“It” is the ability to inspire people to question their beliefs. Perhaps not change anyone’s mind, but to start an internal dialogue. To encourage someone to realize that the status quo can evolve, that the necessary evolution of ideas will lead to a greater depth of understanding. Rayner engages the viewer not by forcing them to question whether what she creates is art, but instead, whether or not they are ready to ascend to a new level of perception.

She blends religion, mythology, science, art, music, media, and ideas into thought-provoking works. Every piece is not just beautiful, but opens the doors to new dimensions waiting to be discovered. Her print works are layers upon layers of watercolour and subtleties of colour and texture; her gallery creations are typically large, often installation-style pieces blending research, innuendo, metaphor, and allegory.

Although her epic creations take hundreds of hours to create and years of planning and research, her beginnings were humble enough. In this day and age, many children and youth are raised to be empowered – they believe they can do anything, be anything. Despite coming from a long line of artists, Rayner’s father discouraged her, claiming that “There’s no place for women in art”, nor would there be.

Stephanie took the advice to heart. Rather than pursuing her lifelong dream, she decided that if she couldn’t be an artist she would choose a field so closely related to it that it would amount to almost the same thing: interior design. But, either through a cruel twist of fate or part of a larger, grander design, Rayner soon realized that while her part-time jobs could collectively pay for tuition, her pockets weren’t deep enough to pay for the supplies and materials required. (Sadly, her “burlap and found-object chairs” simply didn’t impress the instructors – after all, there are only so many things you can make out of burlap before it loses its novelty…) She abandoned her studies to see the world…

In this day and age, it is hard to find places as yet undiscovered, or at the very least, off the “beaten-track”. But fortunately for Stephanie (who’d always wanted a TIME MACHINE!), there were still places in the 70s that just hadn’t quite made it into the 20th century. And the call to adventure began… Afghanistan, Iran, Central & South America, Hindu Kush…

In Africa, she lived in a tree house à la Swiss Family Robinson, during one of her trips to North Africa she was caught by slave-traders. In Central America, she rode out a hurricane with her partner in a tiny mail boat out of Belize, only to be marooned afterwards by the sailors when provisions ran low. As though torn from the pages of R. L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island itself, they met their own Ben Gunn: a man stuck on the island who’d built a raft. With three people to man it, they landed on the shores of Guatemala at 2am. At gun-point.

They were stood against a wall, a firing squad in front of them.

Rayner recollects that she walked right towards the man in charge, his machine gun raised and trained on her, fearlessly whistling. It wasn’t until she had to sleep in a cabin with thousands of rats that her mettle deserted her. “They were like maggots, if you’ve ever seen a lot of them: they were sliding back and forth over each other, and wriggling and writhing. I didn’t scream when I thought I was going to be shot. I screamed when I saw the rats.”

Detail of “Spirit”

These experiences perhaps ingrained what Stephanie now understands to be a universal truth : “[The human] ability to deal with the world has always involved art and expression, it is a window for the soul,” she explains, “From the beginning, cavemen used art to deal with things beyond their understanding.” That might begin to explain why she whistled a tune in the face of almost certain death…

Nor was the episode in Guatemala the last of her adventures. In 1999, Rayner was asked to speak in Malta at joint INSAPP II, a Vatican Symposium on religion and science. Then, Stanford University’s Centre for Advanced Learning hosted her in 2002, to lecture a group of international scholars on “Art and the Evolution of Human Consciousness” in Palo Alto, California. A couple years later, the Zygon Centre in Chicago invited her to speak at their “Epic of Creation Lecture Series”. While the next few years calmed down ever-so-slightly, the momentum picked up once more when she was invited to China in 2009 to teach her own unique printing process at Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, in Shen Yang, and to lecture on her art at various other universities and institutes throughout China.

She spoke of meaning and soulfulness in art; and how, possessed of the best technique in the world, an artist (or a work of art) can still lack soul and vitality. It was, for her, an incredible experience. Teaching energizes her; she sees the potential in each and every student and she loves to see the students blossom in their creativity.

The two courses she’s offering this summer in watercolour printmaking will no doubt be fantastic; the first, Watercolour Monotypes, will be running from July 30th – Aug 3rd and encourages students to loosen up in their creative process, while still achieving outstanding and breathtaking results; the second, Impasto Waterbase Printmaking, will be running the following week from Aug 6th – 10th and teaches the intense layering of pigmentation that reveals itself as the prints are pulled. Students have virtually filled the halls with drying prints – all exceptionally beautiful and totally unique to the artists.

“The medium is forgiving, it’s experimental but you can have control, too,” she says about her watercolour printmaking techniques. “If you dance with it, it dances back. And there has to be teamwork in the process as well: students assist each other at the press and everyone is excited when a new print is pulled. You can hear us cheering in the halls!”

Her current work in progress will be the culmination of many years of work and research: a twenty-nine foot boat titled Eternal Return, it reveals the shared mythology of the many cultures that make use of a boat to journey to the Otherworld. It is an epic mixed-media work involving moose ribs, wood, glass, DNA-sequencing, Mozart’s Requiem, dice, and countless hours of research and construction. We can’t wait to see it!

To register for either of Stephanie’s workshops, or for more information, please call 1-866-353-6464 x3 or visit us online at

To get in touch with Stephanie, please visit her website at

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