About The Artist
Erica In The Woods is a watercolour and ink artist working from her little home in the woods of Gilmour Ontario. Her vibrant and colourful art is inspired by the forest where she loved exploring with her late son, Bowen, so very much.
A Letter to You – From Me, Erica
Whatever travels took you to my website, welcome. Whether you came by social media, a friend, or know me personally I’d like to extend a very big thank you for being here. Simply reading this is a way you are supporting me, so thank you.
I picked up watercolours a long time ago. When I was 7 in fact. My mom wanted to send me to summer camp, and instead of all my friends who wanted to go to outdoor camp, I chose indoor camp, at the Sudbury Art Gallery, doing watercolours. I always chose art.
As many artists have probably heard one time or another, “art is no way to make a living.” I heard those words many times, even believed them so much that I strayed away from art. Tried to become a teacher instead. I still remember the kind words of one of my professors upon my teacher’s college graduation when I told him I was headed out west to film school instead.
“Thank goodness, you'd make a great teacher, but you’re an artist!” was his reply. I guess art crept into everything I did.
I spent 7 years in Squamish BC. Following the dream of living in the mountains, but that time came to an end when my husband and I found out I was pregnant and headed back to Ontario to run the family excavating business. We thought that being able to afford a home was a goal of ours - to raise a family in.
It was 2020 when we moved, the beginning of COVID, and having a baby in the middle of that was tough. Times were tough. I’d never recommend anyone decide to have a baby, learn how to run a business, and build a house at the same time. Especially not in the middle of a global pandemic. Alas, somehow, we did.
Bowen Cleveland Tripp was his name. He was the most beautiful baby boy I had ever laid my eyes on. But things were not picture perfect. They were far from it.
Bowen was diagnosed with Krabbe’s disease at 4 months old. It’s a genetic/metabolic condition that we had never heard of. Krabbe’s disease affects the myeline coating in the brain, leading to muscle weakness, feeding difficulties, irritability, hearing loss, vision loss, and eventually loss of life. So much loss. It was all so much loss. Most parents were preparing for life, while we were preparing for death.
And so began a year of learning how to care for this fragile, beautiful baby. We decided unanimously, and pretty quickly, that we wanted to give him the best life possible. And that included becoming caregivers instead of parents, having in home nursing every day, running a regimented comfort medication schedule, feeding him via g-tube around the clock, all while trying to create for him every amazing experience we could.
We were blessed with the most caring and loving nurses, doctors, and care team we could ever ask for. Emily’s House children’s hospice became our second home, and was not a place of sadness for us, it was a place of life, a place where we could just be mom and dad and Bowie.
Bowen passed at Emily’s House April 15th, 2022. His little body couldn’t take it anymore. It was shutting down. We were heartbroken.
It was during Bowen’s life that I started picking up art again.
It all started with a scrapbook. I made so many pages about Bowen because I knew his life was precious. That every moment was a first and a last for all of us. I slowly started picking up a paintbrush again too, starting with acrylics, and then to watercolours, which I previously had an awful relationship with.
One of Bowen’s lessons was to be patient. Life doesn’t move as fast as you think it does. It brushes slowly by, like a warm breeze. I took his lessons to heart, and to my watercolour technique. I painted presently and patiently. I worked slowly, discovering my style. I followed the water, wherever it took me, knowing just how much Bowie loved being in the water, floating, I floated with it. And after spending some time with it, I found my art again. I found me.
It was because of Bowen that I started painting again. Although he didn’t speak, I felt that I knew he was here to remind me to follow that dream once again. Life is too short, so don’t waste it. He has inspired each and every one of the works that are here on this website.
My husband and I presently live in our little house in the forest. Being in the woods was one of Bowie’s favourite things. To go for walks with mama in the forest, during every season. We’d listen to the birds and the spring peepers serenading us, we’d feel the gentle warm breeze on our faces in the summer, we’d listen to the sound of the leaves rustling in the trees in the fall, and feel the thrill of excitement while he rode in his little purple toboggan down a snow covered hill in the winter.
My art is inspired by those woods that we loved so much, even though I am still very much in the woods, mentally and physically.