Local artists, community members, friends, family, and members of The Willow Community came out this on a sunny Sunday afternoon to celebrate the opening reception of our winter member art showcase hosted at Mahtay Cafe. The Community Room was soon filled with people of all ages- laughing, talking, and enjoying the great season of work.

If you missed the opening, the showcase will be on display all week. Please pop by and check it out. Our seasonal showcases are a main feature of what The Willow Community provides for our members. It is important for diverse art to be created and showcased in St. Catharines, but also the stigma-reducing interactions and conversations about mental health and addictions to the wider community. We celebrate all levels of artistic abilities and encourage our members to discover their talents in a safe and creative community. Read More

Shapes and lines are everywhere. They make up the visual world around us. Artist Mary Burke drew our attention to this fundamental art concept in this acrylic paint class. Rulers, compasses, free hand, and off the wall, we filled our canvases with colour and design.

Bonus: Willow member artist Mark serenaded us with his awesome guitar skills while we painted. I can’t promise that will happen every class, but what a treat! Read More

Members were introduced to a multi-layered process during this fun and imaginative abstract creative writing workshop led by Brock University Professor Catherine Parayre.

We began with creating light, watery lines on our papers using acrylic paints and a lot of water. We then wandered through the exhibits at Rodman Hall and explored a flash Read More

Puns ran deep as we reached beyond the surfaces of our sketch paper and into still life drawing. Drawing what the eye sees is no easy task, but we were led by the patient and well-skilled artist Krystal Brant.

Using an antique wooden crate with incredible texture, our subject was cast in well-placed shadows with track lighting from the Studio Gallery at Rodman Hall Art Centre.  Members were introduced to the concept of 2 point perspective and horizon lines. Armed with smudge tools for shading, soft and hard pencils, erasers, rulers, and paper, 3D images began to appear. Read More

Expressive Arts Therapist Patricia Laraia created a safe and welcoming environment for our members to explore depth, creativity, chaos, and beauty. Our members rose to the occasion and created some beautiful, dark, poetic art pieces. This class was alive with feeling, honesty and discovery.  Read More

Little seeds that are planted with love and nurtured with care will grow into bigger trees in the right environment. The Willow Community has grown! This is a testament to the quality of the art classes being taught, the need for a community like ours, and the incredible supports that have helped sustain and grow us to where we are today.

In order to ensure quality classes where all members are benefiting from the creative and supportive environment, we need to move away from all classes being open to “drop-ins” and toward some classes having a “sign-up” limit with general guidelines.


What does this mean for our members?

  • The Spring 2018 Program Schedule will be advertised online Feb 1st. Schedules can be found on the Website under Classes, on the Facebook page, or printed at workshops.
  • Registration will open after 3 pm on Feb 5th
  • Members may register in person during a workshop, or by emailing signup.thewillowcommunity@gmail.com
  • All Songs from the Willow workshops are “open” and have no limit on member attendance.
  • It will be first come, first served; however attendance will be taken. There will be a wait list in case a spot opens up. Members can cancel in advance so other members can take their place.
  • Members need to arrive on time and ready to begin. This can’t be stressed enough. Be mindful of the artists and your fellow members.
  • Please do not show up at Rodman Hall outside of workshop hours to register. They do not have access to our registration.
  • The Spring 2018 Program runs from March-May.
We’ve made some big changes since Dec 2015. This too shall become familiar. We appreciate your understanding and patience during this transition.

Belong Empower Create ~ Shauna MacLeod

Willow members were introduced to the fundamentals of cartooning. Artist Andrea Eby showed us the tricks and techniques in sketching happy, sad, and disgust faces. We then had the opportunity to create our own characters.

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Saturday, May 5th, 2018 will be another epic night of live ’80s music, costumes, hairspray, amazing prizes, dancing, and so much more.

We are coming together to raise money for The Willow Community: a non-profit arts organization that provides free art classes to individuals with lived experience of mental health and/or addictions. 100% of the proceeds will go directly into funding our programming.

Tickets go on sale in March 2018. Stay tuned to the event page on Facebook for updates on awesome prizes. Start planning your outfits!

This event was a major success last year in terms of raising money and having fun. Come on out and show your support. Dust off those dance shoes and celebrate the night away with The Willow Community!

Have something to donate to the prize table? Want to volunteer some time the night of? Have a sum of money that you would like to donate to help support our members? Call or email Shauna! 289-696-0804 or shauna@thewillowcommunity.ca


The show must go on. Unfortunately our music teacher extraordinaire Joe Lapinski was sick this past week with the dreaded flu that has been going around, but you can’t stop the rock! 14 members met to work together on the Songs of the Willow project- a six month music making series that will result in live performances and a CD release.

We listened to the blues (Jimi Hendrix Red House and Freddie King I’m Tore Down), meditated, talked about melody, spent some time on creative writing, and came together to write and perform our first blues song. Read More

Member artist Evelyn Bastos’ first rule of the day was FORGET WHAT YOU LEARNED IN ART CLASS! We painted from intuition. We chose colours that spoke to us and painted without a finished product in mind. This is no easy task.

By sharing her experiences from traveling the world, Evelyn inspired us to celebrate the mistakes and allow whatever comes from the end of your paintbrush to happen. Water colour on paper, this was a lesson in humility as much as it was art.  Read More

15 individuals came together to create an awesome, original song. How did we manage that? With the superior help and guidance from Joe Lapinski and the incredible talent of our members.

We started with listening to Neil Young and The Beach Boys to get us in the mindset of what is possible, and followed it with meditation exercises that led to creative writing.

Then the acoustic guitar players came up with a simple melody and we jammed out with member artist Paul Reslinski’s lyrics. By the end of class we were harmonizing!

This ongoing music making project will result in a record being released and live performances. If you couldn’t make it to the first two classes, there will be plenty of opportunities to join in. You won’t want to miss it! Click here for more info and here for the upcoming winter 2017 schedule.  Read More

Using craft paint, Gelli printing plates, rollers, paper, and random objects, members enjoyed a relaxing afternoon discovering the many ways to ink, distort, and produce fantastic abstract prints. With wonderful instruction from Rodman Hall Art Centre’s very own Michelle Nicholls, The Willow Community got messy and created prints worthy of being displayed. Read More

What a night! Thank you to everyone that came out in support of The Willow Community. I think we can all agree our artist Kim Overholt did a fantastic job. There was so much creativity, great music, and good cheer happening all around.

100% of the proceeds will go directly toward funding programs for the members of our awesome creative community. Your participation last night means so much to us. Thank you all again! ~ Shauna MacLeod  Read More

On a wing and a prayer…. we giggled, grunted, and graced our way through angel origami. Julia was a pro at keeping her cool while ours slowly unraveled, until suddenly- angels took form!

Our class began with a gentle reminder of mindfulness and the eastern teaching of origami. Read More

Artist Mary Burke walked the shorelines of Lake Erie and explored the Port Colborne Rock Quarry to provide us a unique and *FREE* canvas for our acrylics paints. Using the seasons as our inspiration, we expressed spring, summer, fall, and winter using literal and symbolic imagery. We rocked out to The Rolling Stones while we painted, chatted, and sang our way through another fantastic workshop. Read More

Henna Artist Shazia Khan led a fantastic workshop for our members last night at Rodman Hall. Providing an overview of the historic, cultural, and artistic significance of Henna, Shazia inspired the class to create their own Henna design.


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My home away from home is in the arms of Andy Dufresne

The one who teaches of music and how to dance in the rain

The one who’s spirit cannot break

No matter how many beatings he has to take


He teaches me of hope and how from prison hell break free

He teaches me to have dreams and allows me to become me Read More

Members of The Willow came together with music producer/maker Joe Lapinski for an inspired afternoon. We spent some time getting to know one another musically- talking about our favourite bands and learning just how much musical talent our members have (violins, pianos, guitar, choir, clarinet).

We then took some time to listen, really listen, to a song we’ve all heard many times with the intent of discovering new aspects about the melody, lyrics, and overall feel. Heart of Gold by Neil Young.  Read More

Squig I know how…

And I know why…

You chose to make me let this die…


There’s not one day that goes by…

That I don’t cry and remember why…

You told me the plan, you carried it out

And at that time, I then had no doubt… Read More

I am like a snail I carry my home where I go. Home is where my heart is, my memories, past experiences, dreams….

My home is my body

When I open the door, I let the world touch me. I feel the warm of the sun, the freshness of the wind, the smell of a flower, the colours of the world

My home has some cracks, that the years create, but also through them new light can come in.

Mystery Painting Oct 24, 2017

Artist/Facilitator Mary Burke introduced the class to a novel idea: take a small portion of a famous painting and run wild! Some of us recognized the original art piece, but many didn’t. Truly great pieces were created today- and the grand reveal at the end made the member artists see and appreciate their work alongside the famous image. This art will be showcased on December 18, 2017 at Mahtay Cafe & Lounge downtown St. Catharines.

Belong Empower Create with The Willow Community ~Shauna MacLeod Read More

Artist and paper enthusiast Judith Rudoler provided the tools, materials, and wonderful know-how for us to create our own “Renegade Book”. The goal was to create a book with items we could find around the house (or the local Dollar Store). The results? Fantastic handmade books that can inspire creative writing and future book making! I encourage you all to use these books for sketches or poetry and submit them to our Fall Member Art Showcase happening Dec 18th. Thank you for creating with us ~Shauna MacLeod Read More

I’m wearing two toned, blue coloured running shows that give my feet that salubrious effect of deep soothing comfort on the soles of each foot as if I’m walking on a fluffy, marshmallowy cloud way up in the deep, blue, exhilarating sky.

My colourful, easily seen by others runners lead my two feet in many various directions, depending on which ways, locations and destinations my leader called my brain wants my feet to walk, run, jog or stand and/or stroll around at its command. Read More

Dearest Universe

In the past, most correspondence was of a salubrious nature. In this moment I’m having more of a how and why mindset.

How is it we seem to know more about other planets and stars than our own oceans and forests yet we’ve never been there?

Why haven’t extraterrestrials embraced the dumb humans?

And have full out exposure and interactions rather than a few choice places for craft and mostly speculation on bodies when it comes to any sort of proof.

What happens to a soul when people/things pass?  Is there a difference between living things?

How am I still single? Why have I had to wait such a long duration for anything to happen?

Darryl Burr

 I wear a very special kind of shoes, they are magical shoes.

Oh! Really?

Yes, they lead my feet to very special places.

If I walk backward I can visit my past, and see it with my present eyes. Stressful, scary, funny, lovely moments don’t feel the same. They happened at one moment very precise in the past and now I am not the same, I am all the moments of the past. And it is magical to see new meanings to old moments. Read More


The Willow Community was happy to be invited to participate in this year’s Culture Days out-front of The Red River Gallery in the beautiful heritage district of Port Dalhousie. Jordinn, Mary, Patricia, Krystal, and Jenn set up their easels, unpacked their art supplies, and created some fantastic art. We are grateful for the members of the public that came out to learn more. I look forward to making more afternoons like this happen in the future. ~Belong Empower Create ~ Shauna MacLeod Read More

The Willow members were thrilled to have local artist Patricia Laraia back to teach her Freedom Through Art workshop this week. With instructions such as: leave your monkey brain at the door, yes you can paint your feet and dance on your paper, and come as you are- bring whatever you have with you and use it, our members explored and stepped out of their comfort zones to create some incredible and powerful pieces.  Thank you for trusting in the process and creating with us. ~Shauna MacLeod Read More

An inspired evening spent creating art, talking about our communities, and having some fun. Led by the multi-talented artist/educator Julia Blushak, The Willow members added to her world’s longest art project. The results? A unique and remarkable array of art.

Thank you for creating with us~ Shauna MacLeod. Read More

Through the dark and light, my shadow moves me

And I move my shadow.


He’s the masculine to my feminine

The capable to my cowardice Read More

The Willow Community was thrilled to be a part of the 8th annual Queenston Harvest Festival celebration that took place this past weekend. It was a joy to meet new people and see a lot of familiar faces. There was music, goodies, crafts, and art: the makings of a great day! We are proud to be a community partner with Start Me Up Niagara. Our family game nights will resume this Fall (Sept. 29 6-8pm) at their drop in centre at 17 Gale Crescent. A big thank you goes out to Joanie for all your help and especially to all the wonderful people who stopped by to leave us a doodle, message, or create a piece of art for us. This is what community feels like! Belong Empower Create ~ Shauna MacLeod Read More

Led by artist and educator Krystal Brant, our members were introduced to still life drawing. Recreating 3-D images onto paper is no easy task, but our artists produced some incredible work. Helped by some shadow-casting lighting in the art room at Rodman Hall Art Centre, we drew, shaded, textured, erased, highlighted and created real-life representations of gourds. And the company? Fantastic! Our members are great. Lots of laughing and sharing with plenty of encouragement to go around. Thank you for creating with us ~Shauna MacLeod

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The Willow Community’s first ever Annual General Meeting will take place on Oct 2nd, 2017 6pm at The Niagara Artist Centre. This is a great opportunity to hear from the board of directors, engage in discussion, mix and mingle with members of the community, and of course… eat! We ask that those attending please bring a dish to share.

Reports don’t have to be boring! We are going to celebrate all the hard work that has gone into taking this from a grassroots effort into a full blown arts organization. Read More

Sitting in my living room

Watching through the window,

As floats by a butterfly

Oh to be a butterfly

And to be able to just flutter by,

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You’d never believe me if I told you that I traveled through time, but it’s true, and I can prove it!

I wish I could say that I found a ring of magical standing stones that transported me to sometime in the distant past, but I must blame it on my friend Dexter. Dexter is a mad scientist, you see. I’ve known him since high school, and he was working on becoming a mad scientist even then, getting impossible grades of 100% in both Physics and Math.

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Led by the talented, local artist Cynthia DiSimone, our members were taught the fundamentals of lettering: measuring, planning, font creation, sizing, and colour choices. There was a lot of erasing going on, but the words came to life with the artist’s own unique fonts and designs.

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Even though I’ve been alive and living now for many years, I’ve never had the opportunity to see or meet my grandfathers from either of my parents. In my opinion, I opined that it would have been wonderful to have been old enough to travel back in time and travel to Europe during the period of better times before the second world war started and meet and hang out with both my grandfathers while they were still both alive, vibrant, free and the future seemed and appeared to be prosperous and glorious. Read More

My shadow is so lucky,

he doesn’t think or feel.

It isn’t even imaginary,

in fact he’s very real.

One day I might just follow him

for a time to a different place.

I just hope that we don’t find ourselves

lost without a trace.


The Willow Community member artists had their first ever public showcase yesterday evening at Mahtay Cafe. Art that was created during our summer program schedule was proudly displayed. Artists, friends, families, community members, and educators came together to celebrate. I am so incredibly proud of our members and look forward to an awesome fall program together.

Your art matters. Your voice matters. You matter.  ~Belong Empower Create~  Shauna MacLeod

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We sit at a table; the wood is hard on us. A profile from the province, a statue with scars, stands solid and lurks at us from under the veiled sun, a sliver of shadow stretching away from it. We smile and prefer comfort. At times, we step up and read a few lines from the paper. We flee and do not look where the shadows dig their holes. We fly with the wind, let the darkness and the twilight follow us when we don’t breathe and think of our friends. The shadows crawl on the ground where five hundred white boats once Read More

Dedicated to my grandmother Florence MacLeod

July 11, 1931 – July 28, 2017

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My grandfather. His name is Ron. He is a second-generation Mohawk Indian living off the reserve. His father’s parents were taken and put into Residential school. He served in the United States Military and when he came home, he married my grandmother Gayle, whom I’ve never met. They had my mother, aunt, and uncle. I remember him even though I wouldn’t say he was ever a role model or inspiration. He drank a lot, smoked, and listened to Patsy Cline. He watched me a lot when I was very young as my mother Read More

St. Catharines is the largest community within the Niagara region with a demonstrated need for accessible and inclusive recreational services form persons actively engaged in their mental health and addiction recovery journey. The Willow Community’s free, art workshops and social gatherings encourage membership activity and participation.

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The Willow Community
Fall 2017 Schedule

Welcome back members of The Willow Community! Class is now in session. We have exciting new workshops to offer, and we’re bringing back some of our favourite artists. One big change this season is we are now able to offer one class a month in the evening. We hope this will allow new members to join. For more information, please visit the website http://www.thewillowcommunity.com or call 905-328-9277.
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The sun was high in the sky while we painted our sunsets on the beautiful grounds of Rodman Hall. This was a fantastic workshop led by the multi-talented Mary Burke.

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We spent a lovely afternoon under the trees at Rodman Hall learning basic crochet stitches. Armed with a hook, some cotton yarn, and wonderful instruction, we began to create our own dishcloths. Read More

Check out our member artists’ creations! Pencils, crayons, markers, paper, and a whole lot of creative talent is all that was needed. The Willow Community members are full of incredible ideas. Read More

A fire, a fire

To build it without wire

or strings or anything loved,

or life’s desire  Read More

Our members were introduced to the fascinating world of book binding. We had access to fantastic materials and tools, and given detailed instruction to create two beautiful, handcrafted books. Read More

I can’t see.

I push and stretch,

Weave and Bob.

Steve and Marie.

I can’t see. Read More