The Painted Province by Joy Laking

The first time I ever saw a Joy Laking painting was many years back when scrolling through the internet.   There before me was her image of – Joan’s Chairs.  I immediately looked up the artist and found her website.  I have been a fan of hers ever since. This painting is included in her book The Painted Province and it was wonderful to see it again here.

Joan’s Chairs

I was immediately transported back to my childhood rural Nova Scotia home.  Joy has a way of evoking the exact feeling to transported me back to a simpler time growing up in rural Nova Scotia.  In my “mind’s eye” I see my mother and her best friend sitting on just such a porch, laughing and chatting, as my friend and I head down to the beach that stretched out below the home of my mother’s best friend.  Joy sees with her heart and all the feeling comes out through her brush.  Here was that image again in Joy’s much-anticipated book – The Painted Province

Recently I had the distinct pleasure of opening this long-awaited book and learning more about Joy, her painting and her process.  Sitting beside my living room window glancing out an October snowy wonderland, I delightedly distracted myself by turning page after page of paintings by one of my favourite Maritime artists and visiting my home province from afar.  The artist’s name is appropriate – she brought me much joy! 

Many things make up this book.  Joy’s “word pictures” on every other page are her way of capturing the beauty of a place with words.  She does this so effectively that I want to weep with her insight into the places she paints.  It is so obvious she feels deeply and her ability to portray this in words and paintings is exceptional.

 I especially loved her “word picture” about her process – setting out in her car to paint.  “I just drive along waiting for something to call out to me.  When something catches my eye, I am usually beyond it.  I turn my car (Malorie) around and go back and take photos.  At this point, I am assessing the spot.  I continue doing this until I hear a clear loud “Paint Me.” 

In the introduction she explains that the stories in this book are meant only to make you smile.  I promise you they will.

My husband joined in the delight in this book.  He too was enraptured with each turn of the page.  Joy’s rendering of Starry Night at the Library had him buzzing with excitement.  Different from most of the other paintings in the book it is Joy’s nod to Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Starry Night which is one of my husband’s favorite. 

Starry Night at the Library

Seeing the historic street of my hometown, Shelburne, was one of the many highlights of the book for me.


This book is more than a coffee table book or a visual book of beautiful artistry.  This book is a travel companion.  In fact, Joy Laking thinks this book should not sit on your shelf or reside on your coffee table.  She wants you to take it along in your car and says the best place to keep it is your glove compartment.  To that end she has included a map of painted province areas and the GPS co-ordinates for 39 of the paintings and would love for you to enter those co-ordinates and visit the exact spots where she painted them. 

On our return to Nova Scotia my husband and I will pack this book and using the GPS will indeed visit The Painted Province of Joy Laking.

Whether you are a Nova Scotian, born and raised or planning to visit the province, you should carry along this book – The Painted Province.  Sitting in your chair turning the pages or carrying it along with you as you travel you will find much “joy” in discovering parts of the province I love so much.  I know you will fall in love with it too.

About the Author: Joy has been a professional painter in Nova Scotia since 1972. She has had solo exhibitions at The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario. Her paintings have been exhibited nationally and internationally. Joy is a recipient of the “Woman of Excellence Award,” the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the Cobequid Arts Council Lifetime Achievement Award.

  • The Painted Province by Joy Laking
  • Paperback : 116 pages
  • ISBN-13: 978-1989725252
  • Publisher: Pottersfield Press (Sept. 30 2020)

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I am a bookseller, book reviewer, author publicist and soon to be published author! I am passionate about Canadian literature in general and have a particular passion for Maritime Canadian books, authors and publishers.