Jodi Kitto-Ward grew up in Oakville, Ontario and acquired an education and career in business and accounting. She later pursued her interest in art by enrolling in part-time studies at Sheridan College, graduating from their Fine Arts Program. Today as an award winning artist with work in private collections, Jodi exhibits in group and international juried exhibitions and is an elected member of the Society of Canadian Artists, the Ontario Society of Artists, and the Colour and Form Society. She and her husband own a graphic arts business and currently live with their two children in Hamilton, Ontario.  

Jodi paints mainly in acrylic and derives inspiration from nature, the city ,and everyday life. Strongly influenced by line, color, and expression, Jodi has a style that is representational, vibrant, and simplified in form, evoking influences of Pop Art and Art Deco. Along with offering original art, Jodi also offers commissions and children's book illustrations.

Jodi Kitt-Ward’s paintings amplify the nature all around us, illuminating her everyday environment within lush leaves and deep, dusty shadows. In her work, sky and ground meet within the swirls of clouds and shadows, creating a calming, tranquil effect. Join the artist and I in conversation as we discuss the answers that can be found in nature, gardening as another form of expression, and her journey rediscovering what truly makes her happy.

Let’s talk a bit about your journey.  I understand you originally worked in business and accounting.  What inspired you to take the leap to pursue your passion in art?

I always loved art and wanted to be an artist when I was little.  Even though I chose a completely different career path, art never entirely let me be.  After becoming an adult and rediscovering what truly made me happy, I made the decision to study fine art in college part time at night school.

My pursuit of art has never been about the money, but about expressing myself, having something so close to my heart and using that to contribute to society.

Can you tell us a bit about your connection to nature and the role that the natural environment has in your art practice?

Besides providing endless inspiration, I was told that all answers can be found in nature. When your senses are engaged, the brain quiets down and a different dialogue occurs. When I’m painting I feel like a child again, and nature can affect me the same way. For example, watching a robin brings me right back to childhood. How I feel is how I've always felt in nature, it hasn't changed in a world where so much has. Nature is comforting, satisfying on a deep level and beautifully mysterious. When I'm painting any aspect of the natural world in a piece, including (and sometimes only) the sky, I'm happily getting to revisit it and become lost in it—as I think we’re supposed to do. Hopefully the viewer does as well.

Do you live around the scenic nature that you capture in your work?  Where is your favorite place to go to be immersed in nature?

I live only fifteen minutes walking distance from a major forest trail as well as living close to the shores of Lake Ontario. I love hiking; it's wonderful the way the ground feels under your feet, when you see the sunlight streaming through the trees or reflecting on the water and you’re able to smell the earth. It's calming and revitalizing mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Living inside the city, a lot of what I also paint is just in my yard, or in my neighborhood, and what I see on walks.

If you are experiencing a creative block, how do you get out of it?

I watch a movie if I'm lacking inspiration. A very good film does wonders for me. There's a lot to appreciate artistically with so many different aspects all coming together into such a rich art form. A great story can engage the imagination and the emotions in surprising ways.  

As previously mentioned, I also go for walks, hikes, and visits to the lake to gain different perspectives. Reading helps as well. I wouldn't call it having a creative block, it's more like being in need of "filling the well" as Julia Cameron explains in her book, "The Artist's Way".  Day to day life can just deplete it and you need to fill it back up again on a regular basis.

Who would you say is your biggest support?

My biggest support is easily my husband Jeff, of course our two kids are very supportive of me as well. Jeff is a talented musician and artist, and he truly understands me in a profound way. During the times that, for various reasons, I have struggled with believing in myself or my abilities, he did and does, and he helps me to see myself and what I create in a more kind and gentle way. I can always count on him for an honest and educated opinion when asked and for this I am truly grateful. He also loves to cook ,which is huge when I'm at an obsessed stage in my painting.  

Lastly, he respects and appreciates the creative process so he's very supportive and understanding of what I experience. I'm pretty lucky, he's the best!

If you are not painting or drawing, how are you expressing yourself creatively?

I love going out on excursions for the sole purpose of taking photos for future paintings. I feel very akin to photography; it allows me to view everything through a frame of reference for creating a composition, and for me it's the very start of a painting.

I also enjoy writing, which I gain more and more appreciation for as I get older. It's satisfying, challenging, and thrilling to attempt to express ideas with words in a consciously artistic way, as all good writers do.

Gardening can be another form of expression—attempting with nature to create a living, ever changing piece of art. It feels good digging in the dirt, getting in touch with all that is and allowing my imagination to run wild.

What are you reading/listening to right now?

Mostly the news when I'm not painting. When I am, I like to listen to positive content videos, various types of music, and podcasts featuring artists, for example The Create! Podcast. Silence is also wonderful.  

As far as reading, I have a bit of a book problem so there are many books right now waiting to be finished, one of them is "The Hidden Life of Trees" by Peter Wohlleben.