I graduated in 1995 with a Bachelor's in Fine Arts Studio from the University of Waterloo. Tony Urquhart was one of my most influential and memorable professors. (And our class trip to Chicago! That was sooo much fun!) I instinctively refer to my foundational painting and drawing skills learned at Waterloo to this day, and they allow me to continue to grow as an artist.

Melanie with classmates

At Waterloo, I also participated in the Arts Administration co-op program (similar to today’s Arts and Business Program). My co-op placement at the Arts Club Theatre on Granville Island in Vancouver really took me my out of my comfort zone and led me to where I am today. It was an excellent learning experience both professionally and personally. 

Since then I have been painting and exhibiting for almost 20 years in the Kootenay region of BC. We moved to Fernie, a small community located in the Southern Rockies renowned for its world class powder skiing, mountain biking and fly fishing rivers. Inspired by healthy outdoor activities and easily accessible wilderness areas, this is where I found my calling as a landscape painter. 

I worked seasonally for over 10 years at a renowned catskiing operation called Island Lake Lodge.  In the winter, I actually drove a snowmobile to work! As a Snowcat operator, I shuttled backcountry guides and skiers along ridgetops and through alpine bowls in search of untracked powder. The best office view imaginable.   

The resort, located on 7,000 acres of pristine wilderness and nestled within a pocket of Interior Cedar-Hemlock old growth, profoundly informed my subject matter. Island Lake commissioned several paintings from me to adorn the walls of their luxurious lodges while also expanding the international market for my work.

With the birth of our son in 2012, I became a stay-at-home Mom and renewed my commitment to painting with more clarity, maturity and dedication. 

In the last several years, it seems I’m on a bit of a roll. I was selected along with 11 other artists from BC and Alberta for a four-day artist residency in Canada’s Glacier National Park. We stayed in the historical Wheeler Hut, explored the park and created artwork inspired by the area. The residency culminated with a group exhibition at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre and continued with a touring exhibition across BC and Alberta in 2017 to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. I painted a large diptych of the Illecillewaet Glacier which is now in the collection of Parks Canada.

Melanie painting on top of a mountain with landscape behind.

I was awarded a grant from the Columbia Basin Trust to attend a workshop in Jasper National Park on outdoor painting with acrylics which was taught by the enthusiastic Charlie Easton, a Signature Member of the Federation of Canadian Artists. Adopting plein air painting into my practice has opened my mind to a new way of seeing the landscape and sparked a period of artistic growth. 

This year, I was accepted by juried application to become an Active Member of the Federation of Canadian Artists and just shipped my first painting to be showcased alongside Merging and Signature members of this respected organization. I also completed a solo exhibition at a private gallery in downtown Fernie.

Melanie MacVoy (BA ’95) is a contemporary painter based in Fernie, BC. Her artwork has been exhibited and collected for almost 20 years by international art lovers and outdoors enthusiasts alike.