Being tuned in to the world around you is second nature to many creative people. They tend to notice details that others miss. The subtleties of a sunset, the way light falls in the forest — these are the little moments that often translate into inspiration. Landscape painter Felicia Norris Bartlett is someone who notices these things.

ARTIST: Felicia Norris Bartlett

Felicia always has a camera with her. She never knows when she’ll spot something worth painting. She smiles as she explains, “The thrill for me is when I see the scene. Then I can’t wait to paint it, as I know how it’s going to be on the canvas.”

Born and raised in Montreal, Felicia began her education in art with the Institute of American Universities, painting in Avignon France. She graduated with an Art History degree from Queen’s University and moved to New York City the following year to pursue illustration at the Parson’s School of Design.

She launched her career with a series of watercolour miniatures, exhibiting at places like Holt Renfrew and the McGill Club. Over time, she shifted to larger canvases, many of them featuring landscapes and animals.  Felicia also studied painting with Molly Lamb Bobak and worked as a children’s art teacher.  She and her family now live in Toronto — retreating on weekends to their farm near Mansfield.

Felicia paints on canvas in a wide variety of sizes and subject matter. She’s drawn to seaside and pastoral landscapes, but always with an unexpected touch of drama or whimsy.

She explains, “my paintings focus on beautiful places — where you’d want to be.” For her, that’s often where there are wide open spaces or water.

With a family summer-house in St. Andrews New Brunswick, she takes advantage of the opportunity to witness nature at its best. The artist likes to combine serious landscapes with “little moments” that appeal to her. Some paintings feature her own children . Many commissions have children or animals subtly injected into the mix.

Felicia recently published a book highlighting many of her paintings.

“I always know what I want to create,” she says, referring to the way she approaches each new painting.

Sitting in her living room, it’s easy to see how important her work as an artist is to her life.  The dining room of Felicia’s Toronto home has been transformed into her studio, with paintings propped against the wall and  supplies piled high on the table. She’s casual about it all and admits, “it feels great at the end of the day to see what I’ve accomplished.”

 This painting would be perfect in a serene master bedroom or spa-like bathroom

Many of Felicia’s paintings highlight familiar activities we can all relate to.

Getting the little details right is what keeps her interested in painting.

After graduating from school, Felicia spent time working as a gallery assistant at Galerie Mihalis in Montreal and Benjamin Rhodes Gallery in London England. While she learned a lot about the business, she prefers to arrange her own showings and deal directly with clients.  She has exhibited in solo and group shows in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. When I ask which Canadian artists have inspired her, Felicia points to the work of Charles Meanwell and Jean Paul Lemieux.

Charles Meanwell’s White Island, 2010

Jean Paul Lemieux  

To learn more about Felicia’s work or commission a painting, check out her website here.