Below is a showcase of the creations made during CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS Pen Pals Project Session #9 ~ From Feb. 22nd, 2022, to March. 10th, 2022.


This is an opportunity for Artists, Creatives and those interested in connecting with others in a creative wellness activity that allows for self reflection, artistic expression, and chats with likeminded individuals!

Participants have matched in a jazz-like back-and-forth creative expression.  The prompt for this Round is ‘Hello, It’s Me, Your Inner Child‘ and all interpretations of this & anything in-between.

With only 24 to 48 hours as the turnaround goal for each piece, Creatives challenged themselves to create in a quick timeframe using their Match’s creations for inspiration.

The Creative Pen Pal journey reveals much more than artistic pieces alone ~ This experience can be a tool for self-reflection. Shared experiences and friendships blossom along the way. Like connecting with a great selection of art, connecting with a new person can be daring, frustrating, surprising, comforting, and awakening.

For all Creatives and Artists at any stage in their careers or practices, this project serves as an exciting chance to develop and expand in their artistic discipline or to try a new medium.

An online social activity group has many benefits, including discovering and developing skills, increased well-being and creating social connections. Matches connect through email and socials as they progress through the two-weeks and we all meet in a chat at the end!

For many, it’s an exercise in personal growth ~ trusting strangers to contribute to a shared goal. Something beautiful begins to grow as the creative conversation takes on a life of its own and a new unspoken understanding and connection emerges.

This culminates in a linear exhibit showcasing each unique conversation followed by an artist group chat over zoom. Creatives are encouraged to discuss their emotions and inspirations for each piece and their creative process. We share tips and advice about all things creative.

Please send us a message to learn how to get involved.

If you enjoy the experience, please consider donating to help fund the continued delivery of social art-based therapeutic rec programs and services.

Enjoy the exhibit.


Rhiannon Barry, Project Coordinator

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Please consider donating if you enjoyed participating or viewing the exhibit. Your donations support the continued provision of complementary and low-cost creative wellness programming.

Join us for Complimentary Live-Online Creative Activities HERE

Join us for one of our Creative Wellness Retreats:

Mini Day Retreat Mothers Day May 8th St.Catharines, ON
Reserve your spot in the zoom room!
Overnight: ‘Elements of Art & Nature Retreat’ May 17-20th in a lovely resort in  Killarney, ON  The Creative Wellness Haven Art & Wellness Retreats Get away from the tethers that bind you to everyday life! Chef-inspired meals, lodging, shattered sail, creative activity and more.

Round 9:

Dianne Wright Kirwin (St.Catharines, ON)  & Sarah Chasity Johnson ( Kingston, ON)

1 Dianne Wright Kirwin

Should I stay 
Or should I go now
Should I live
Or should I die now
No one to believe
Love was meant to find me 
Unwanted, the secret in the basement, 
the lie.
Love was meant to rescue me.

Did you find pleasure in delivering pain?
Did you find pleasure in my tears?
You feasted on my insecurities and nourished me with self doubt.
The 80’s screamed lost & unloveable.
You smiled,
You taunted.
You were the adult, 
The dedicated parent, 
The dear friend,
The church volunteer,
The lady who lunched.
I was the disappointment,
The unwanted,
The dirty secret,
The lie,
I embodied, drugs, sex and loss of control.
All before I was born to this world,
I should be grateful to you both.
Indebted for life.

Your laughter bounces off the basement walls.
Your laughter rings in my ears to this day & forever.

There was one time you encouraged me,
Go ahead, do it, I dare you.
Your laughter faded up the stairs along with an immaculate pile of laundry.

From a dark basement growing in the womb to sweet 16 in another dark basement.
A curly beige phone cord wrapped around and around and around…

Panic in my heart, breathless & quiet 
Fixated on the rusty support beam, 
Cemented in the basement, waiting for footsteps
Waiting for her return 
Waiting for love 

I couldn’t make her happy, not once.
I am still here 
She left the earth with judgement on her dying lips.

She was powerful, she was in control
Her darkness turned to cancer.

Her disease became mine. 
Two not one were my cancer.   
One gone forever, leaving deep scars, slow to heal.
One in denial, fuelled by lies, shame and regret. 
Waking up with more than a hangover, 
Hiding in the basement for 9 long months.

I will stay
I will not die now 
I have time to heal and love to give

2-Sarah-Chasity Johnson

3-Dianne Wright Kirwin

The background to this 11 x 17 wood/ collage/paint mix up is to reflect a time in my childhood when I felt free. No critical eye, no one to judge my every move, I lived for summer camp in my tweens & teens. 2 weeks of complete bliss and freedom with friends, playing music, making art, canoe trips, cabin life picking mosquito bites to  first crushes. Camp was freedom.The collage pieces all relate to the 80’s at camp. Archie comics, music lyrics, nature, guitars etc. My response was influenced by your drawing, the vulnerability of the naked form with the eye looking back- looking back to escape from adulthood, to see what people say behind your back and to keep going, moving forward.
At summer camp, I felt strong, funny. I was comfortable in my skin. I was happy.

4-Sarah-Chasity Johnson

Seeing or reading rather, your email regarding childhood reminded me of seeing the three generational males in my family, in garage in a Nova Scotia at my grandfathers. In the garage, hung a moose  dripping blood into a bucket. I was crying so much but they all just said to me this is what me must do to survive.

I still lay and ponder as humans, if this is really how we are to survive or if we were out here to continuously relive damnation because we can’t learn how to live in harmony within.

April Garrison, (St.Catharines, ON)  & Adele Campbell ( London, ON)

1-A.GARRISON-Inner Child

I wanted to represent the feelings of innocence, joy, and limitlessness I remember having as a kid. So my idea was to use a lollipop to express love and fun, and the middle of my lollipop being white to symbolize innocence and purity. I took a picture of it in the night sky because, for me, it means the feeling of limitlessness, and I’ve always loved stargazing.

3-A.GARRISON-Star Bright Rattle

Initially, my vision was to capture this image as the light shone through it onto a wall, but I couldn’t entirely orchestrate it properly,  but I’m happy enough with this one. The last piece had me thinking of stars and constellations, and the lollipop has a very similar resemblance to a baby rattle. The creation of it felt kind of like a throwback to my Life Brite days. Simple, but fun!

4-A.CAMPBELL- Ukrainian Kaleidoscope
In preparing my response, I thought again of being a child and being taught to look beyond the stars. It reminded me of the kaleidoscope I used to look through, peeking in, you are brought into this entirely different world that can have the ability to change with the movement of the tube, so I decided to make a digital representation! Of course, with Ukraine being at the top of mind for the world, the colours were attributed by that being on my heart and mind.

S. Sommerville Amhertburg, ON & A. Courtemanche, ON 

S. Somerville 1 Awakening. 
For my first piece, I tried to tune into how I felt about the theme. The inner child was knocking at the door.  It’s made with Stabilo All pencil, watercolour,  and some collage on watercolour paper. 
I wanted to do a loose sketch and enjoy the process. I was trying to just follow where the pencil took me and not worry about the product. 
I thought back to how I felt about the creative process as a child. I first fell in love with art with a box of 80 crayons that someone gave me when I was about 7 or 8.  But I never felt that I could really let go with visual art until I was about 48 years old. I had a mid-life wake-up and took my first art course!
So the sepia in this sketch kind of works with that whole “awakening” to colour. 

A.Courtemanche 2  – Dreaming of water
Here is my first piece. I love playing with abstract compositions as a way of freeing myself from perfection. This piece is acrylic on unstretched canvas and I love the blues to greens on it, a hope of spring. 

S. Somerville 3 – Dream Sail.
For this piece, I worked with watercolour and some collage. I was trying to find my “inner child” in the process, so it looks like a child made it, hopefully. I remember being not overly pleased with how it turned out. Then I reminded myself that this is about the process. I don’t think a child would look at their art and not be happy with it. So, I just embraced it and kept moving forward.

A.Courtemanche 4A – Playing in mother’s garden# 1
A.Courtemanche 4B – Playing in mother’s garden #2
These are 2 small pieces that reminded me of mother’s garden. 

S.Somerville 5 – Dream
I called my next response a little garden dream. It’s Stabilo All pencil and watercolour paint and markers. This is one of the bigger canvases that I have been able to work on lately. I’m learning to layer my pieces more, and this is an example of starting to play and seeing where it takes me a bit. A portrait turned into a doodle that hopefully appears integrated. I was trying to capture how I remember feeling in my Mom’s garden, which was so beautiful that she took great pride in it. 

A.Courtemanche 6A – Beautiful day
A.Courtemanche 6B – Sunshine all day #1
A.Courtemanche 6C – Sunshine all day #2
I LOVE your work. It is so beautiful and soulful. It reflects a lot about you. Oh, and the colour juxtaposition is awesome. 
I played more with the digital and created 3 in the same colour palette. I wanted to create something a bit more bright and cheerful!

S.Somerville 7 – Mermaid Dream
I was tapping into magic for this piece as I dealt with some sad realities during this time, like our beloved cat being sick and dying. I had a mermaid on my mind and would like to explore these more in my art. I had tried to work with a warmer palette in response to my partner, but it ended up still being essentially a landscape with cool colours in watercolour. 

Elizabeth Tessier (Hamilton, ON) & Tinamarie Jones (Hamilton, ON)

Lion Hunting
By: Elizabeth Tessier
Notes:  An attempt to catch sight of the inner child.
Lion Hunting

 In in-between green places
entering other worlds 
two pine spires
guarded the gates
we followed the hill
down to the little bridge
then all summer
I grew weed like 
by lake Erie
Put on a show,
set up the store,
 I was intent
singing the beach 
for the underbridge echo.
showtunes and books
of insignificant heroines
who became beautiful
found their inside of shell self
alone in a secret walled place.
I do my best to coax you back.
I leave you messages
in sand. I play at the water’s edge.
I wait patiently all day.
Oh come again friend
and we will make willow wreaths, 
clay pots and paint rocks
before we swim.

In the Shadows
By: Tinamarie Jones
Notes: I loved your piece, especially the call to return, the yearning for the child to come back and enjoy a simpler time. I took as the starting point your use of the word ‘in-between’ and have threaded into my response here. 

In the Shadows

Clinging to the side of the house

the bright white stuccoed in-between space, neither dirt nor brick

8 legged weavers work
Dark threads pulling apart then coming back together 
a living mesh of
leggy lace-makers serving as both warp and woof
attuned to an unpatterned pattern

Disturbed by the unexpected weft of chubby fingers probing
They gently tickle and tat their pattern across my arms
Their decoration transforms me

A laughing backdrop for a constellation of dark stars

By: Elizabeth Tessier

Filigree legs over a sticky mandala.
There in the small places
you practiced an acute eye for otherness,
awake to the life inside these
creatures more like
punctuation than a living being.
But look at it drop spindle
eight -legged knees bent
to discover you, 
an accidental goddess of destruction
in their thin silk world
Your mutual recognition
of shared energies
A begin to sensitivity
to the gamut of forms
life takes.

By: Tinamarie Jones


graceless spiders cling to a thick silver web

clumsy hands clasp metal bars creating
a parti-coloured metal mandala
each struggling to remain centered

a single still moment 
feet pounding on dirt 
a samsaric spinning 
faster and faster

shrieks suddenly bubble across the playground
a shrill symphony
so many silly sounds
bursts of laughter
grating metal, then
whumps, plops and splats

like a kaleidoscope
the pattern quickly changes
as one by one each colourful piece tumbles off

weak kneed and dizzy

eyes glinting in ecstasy

tiny saints
reminding us of the joy that comes
from letting go

Teeter Totter
By: Elizabeth Tessier          

      A Parkinson’s poem

My dreams bleed into waking     
scrawl thoughts with collage
of lost limned memories:
my childhood home,
precarious cottages invaded
by waves. 

My thoughts move
at the pace my body makes
every brain signal a broken white line,
a Morse code symphony.

  I stand and standing think
of ways to tell my feet to move
When a signal behooves them they
flatfoot splay juggernaut solved
to counter lean, hard sit.  Deluge of beluga losses
float incontinent 
I stand in the storm in slow motion
Begin again

The date and time lose precise outline
vague waves on a beach.
I hold out for dopamine patch surf
Tide out toddler tired 
in the afternoon.
    The playful side

Is it right or left?

The Playful Side
By: Tinamarie Jones

The Playful Side

A part of the Chevy generation
My mom and I would vacation
Every summer at the beach
A week, sometimes two
Just us

This time, she said, we’re going in style

We’re going to really live life for just a little while
This summer at the beach
Two weeks, yes two
Just us

No longer satisfied with HoJo
My mom knew where she wanted to go
The fancy hotel at the end of the beach
In her Camaro, so blue
Just us

At the city limitsthe car’s muffler expired

But we finally arrived, loud, hot, windblown and tired
The noisiest car at the beach
Attracting a lot of attention, it’s true
Just us

My mother, head held high
Looked the parking valet right in the eye
And placed the keys in his reach
He smiled, laughed and said, ‘I’ve got a mechanic for you’
And welcomed us

We checked in
Had lunch
And then, it stormed.

We were not daunted, we had plans
We grabbed our buckets and our hats made of beer cans 
We set out for the beach
Our bespoke beer hats askew
Just us

After hours of beach combing shells of every colour and size
The saturated yarn elongating our hat brims over our eyes
It was time to head back from the beach
Head to toe soaked completely, and laughing through and through
Just us

Ducking inside, wearing drooping beer hats, dripping with water
Other patrons in suits and gowns, someone painting a portrait of a daughter
Staring, everyone leaning out of reach
At the fancy hotel, we made quite the debut
Just us

Time at the ocean, enjoying the tide
Always brought out mom’s more playful side
Waves of laughter then and happy memories always in reach
Childhoodmoments of joy so true Just us

By: Elizabeth Tessier


I woke to smell of bacon
suspended in the sag of bed
no clock or phone
in this small home
with no bones
our rented cottage
on the shores of lake Erie
how dearly
those offshore breeze
clearwater mornings 
Come back to me
now. Before he 
rode the mower
my father fried up the bacon
and perfectly cooked soft
boiled eggs as only he could
and handled them hot
from the pot with his
large leathered hands
to lop the top
for our spoons
Then later as the
wind shifted and rose
we’d go out in the petrol
a bath tub of a boat
and sail or float
Hearing his voice
Readyabout Hard de lee
as the boom swung
clicking cleats and pull
He knew every knot
self taught from
the manual.
How lucky we were
that he that he lowered the keel
Held the tiller
on the the rudder
through the summer
of our childhood.

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