Getting Ready to Grow Woad Blue

Last weekend, with the help of the whole family, we got to work setting up for growing a new batch of woad here in Conestoga. Using old tires from the garage beside my studio, we set up fifty planters for what I hope will create an ideal place for last year’s woad seeds to grow. It … Read more

“What van Donkelaar does is … have fun, learn from everywhere and teach as he learns.” —Mr. Stephen Strauss, CBC News.

Finding Local Colours

Yukon · British Columbia · Alberta · Saskatchewan · Ontario · Quebec · New Brunswick · Prince Edward Island · Nova Scotia

My pilgrimages are the journeys I take to find and collect small samples of such local colours. All of my artistic work begins with a place and its pigments. These, “local colours” come from an area’s soil, minerals, or even its plants, and fascinate me as an intersection between material colour and a community. Sometimes these trips are done by myself, but more often I’m with others who share with me their experience and love of a place. With their help, I come back from my local colour pilgrimage with a story and a bit of earth to begin my work.

Paint Pots Pilgrimage

I’ve wanted to visit the Kootenay Paint Pots since I first read about them a decade ago—and last week I did! Since a conference at the Banff … Read more

Warsaw Pilgrimage

I doubt if the previous camper at the site knew that she’d been collaborating on an art project with me … Last week my family … Read more

Up the Dempster

The Dempster highway is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. As it winds it’s way north, it would have eventually taken me to the … Read more

Dawson City’s Local Colours

It’s hard to believe how much things have changed during my first week in Dawson City. When I arrived last Sunday, the Yukon River was … Read more

“[Symeon] comes across as a really beautiful and knowledgeable and dedicated person. You can see in him what art must have meant in so many cultures in the pre-modern period.” —Fr. Dan Donovan, St. Michael’s College.

Using local Colours

Finding the pigment in the earth, represents a very different part of my practice. My aim is to create a colour which is of good quality without loosing its connection to where it came from. To that end, the processes I use are not as much about purifying the colour as fulfilling it. My records which I keep from all these experiments often become artworks in their own right, and a number these have become the bases of ongoing projects and/or gallery installations aimed at sharing the potential of local colour.

Getting Ready to Grow Woad Blue

Last weekend, with the help of the whole family, we got to work setting up for growing a new batch of woad here in Conestoga. Using … Read more

Found Wanting Black

Last week I had the opportunity to work with a wonderful bunch of people out in Edmonton, Alberta in celebrating, finishing, and perhaps resurrecting Betty … Read more

Luiseño Red

Last week I had a magical experience in San Diego … It involved beautiful people, a red landscape, and ancient tools! It was a joy to … Read more

woad blue

Woad Blue Harvest

The annual harvest of our woad patch is something I look forward to every year. While it seems that the weather rarely cooperates (at least … Read more

“[Symeon’s] unique style of art truly signifies how beautiful Canada is.” —Ms. Nicole Dupuis, Parks Canada.

Making with local Colours


Coming soon …


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Atlas of Canada’s Local Colours

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Landscape Samples

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Connecting the Dots

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A Local Colour Project

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100 mile ART

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Papeterie Saint-Armand

Last week I had the chance to spend a week in the city of Montreal, while there to present a workshop for the annual Canadian Society of … Read more

KW Rock Club Celebration

When the KW Gem and Mineral Club asked if I’d share some of what I’m up to at their 50th anniversary celebration at Kitchener City … Read more

Canada in Crayons

I doubt very much that when my children’s teachers required them to bring crayons to class that they expected what followed—the creation of the first … Read more

UofS: Creating Paint from Soil

[fve][/fve] Last week I was up at Christopher Lake in Saskatchewan teaching about making paints from soil for a course at the University of Saskatchewan. … Read more