A Good Home, Art, Artists, Arts, Canadian life, Creative Writing, Poetry

Home Is Where The Art Is


So — you think your dwelling is too small? Try living on a boat.

Margaret Mair and husband Richard live on their boat “Into The Blue”.  Margaret also paints and writes her poetry there. And produces her blog.

Margaret's Boat

“The space is very compact, and set up for both living and sailing”, she says. “That means having to think about everything we bring on board: it must be something we need (that includes art supplies, for me) and can store securely.”

Some people have a room to create their art. Margaret has “a corner”.

Margaret's Corner on her boat

There are advantages. She and Richard have traveled widely, from Canada to the US, the Caribbean, and elsewhere.

“We can cast off our boat and move, go exploring or visiting and know that we have our own comfortable place to stay.  Anyone who lives on a boat lives very close to nature. We have an intimate relationship with the weather: when the wind blows hard the boat rocks and creaks and the ropes groan; when the sun shines the water sparkles; ripples on the water gurgle against the hull of the boat.”

Margaret's Painting of Boat on Beach

Margaret’s poems and pictures  often reflect her close relationship with the sea:

It calls, the sea,
To the restless boat
Uncomfortably cotched
On a sandy shore,
Longing for
Rocking waves
And cooling current
And the feel
Of wake moving
Singingly along
Her planked hull….

Acrylic on canvasboard; 20 x 16

Margaret started writing poetry as a teenager. She started painting in her forties, first learning to draw and work with colour – chalk pastels. 

“I worked my way through chalk pastels to experimenting with other media until I arrived at the medium I most frequently use, acrylics.”

Margaret Mair's painting - We are Islands

“It took a friend’s introduction to SPARK  in 2011 to make me think most deeply about how paintings and poetry could work together. I did not really start creating my own melding of the two until quite recently – January 2014.”

Many poems and pictures followed, as you can see on her blog.

Her pieces often evoke powerful responses.

“Everyone responds in their own way, and finds the thing or things that speak to them and their experience.

“I gave my mother a piece that hung on her wall until she died, a first iteration of my Tree of Life, much larger and more delicate. One day while I was visiting I watched a young girl stand silently in front of it for a long time, just looking. That was one of my favorite responses.”


And a few final words about home:

“I have learned that what you bring to a place is as important as the place itself. Keep it reasonably clean and relatively tidy, as cool on the hot days and as warm on the cold ones as you can (we’ve lived in some drafty places), put your favorite pictures on the wall and fill the bookshelves with your books and magazines and pieces of art, let music fill the rooms, make space to do the things that are important to you, and love the people who share it with you.”

Brava, Margaret.

All photos by Margaret Mair. Artworks copyrighted.

43 thoughts on “Home Is Where The Art Is”

  1. I love Margaret’s words you included at the end of your post Cynthia. A beautiful code for life. I have never spent any time on a boat but we do holiday in our caravan regularly. I find the small living space a challenge at times but with few possessions it can be kept tidy and the housework takes no time at all! I’m not sure that I could live permanently in such confined quarters though! I am amazed Margaret can produce such amazing works of art in her little boat. Thank-you for such an interesting post.

    1. Those are indeed good words, Clare. Thank you for liking it the post and Margaret’s art.
      You see: you get to go on great day tours and I get to do so virtually through your posts and through people like Margaret. A blessing.

  2. I envy those who can leave so much behind and set sail! And I equate it to those who set out on an RV and sail on the open roads. I live near and RV park and see “snow birds” heading north with the summer and south with the winter while I cling to my home on the coast. Love the last quote!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing my story, Cynthia. It’s odd to read about myself, but a pleasure, even for this introvert, when so well and sympathetically told. I hope everyone enjoys it.

      1. I am touched by and deeply appreciative of everyone’s responses. I beaver away on my own and live with my own thoughts much of the time, so it’s wonderful to see my work find its way further out into the world than it already has. I’m smiling.

  4. Margaret’s art has a fun and evocative feel and beautifully matched to her words. I’m on the verge of downsizing again with the idea to live in a room or small camper. I actually love the simplicity (or did in my 30’s). It might be different in my mid 50s! Thanks for sharing this lovely art Cynthia.

  5. I really enjoyed the insight to Margarets life and often fantasise about a similar lifestyle – I really like the thought of living so closely with nature, it must be a very freeing way of life, giving time to focus on whats important. Thanks for sharing this Cynthia.

    1. I hear that from people who have downsized — but I have also heard – as recently as last week – that some people who move to small apartments end up moving back to a larger space.

  6. Living like Margaret would be one of my fantasies, but I imagine it can be quite hard to live in such a way, so good for her for managing to do it and to combine that with so much creativity.

    1. Must take a lot of discipline, and a willingness to free oneself of possessions and just be. I’m not there yet on any front, but I sure do admire Margaret. She strikes me as a wise person.

  7. We have traveled in England on narrowboats (aka retrofitted barges) and enjoyed the ability to move about the British Waterways canel system. We have contemplated doing an extended trip some day in retirement. Space is definitely a premium, but maybe more appreciated that our usual storage-sheds of homes.

  8. Absolutely love this post, Cynthia. Art pieces are fantastic. I’d settle for a corner if I could travel to those places. Of course I don’t have but a corner anyway, so I’d not be giving anything up in that respect. 😉

  9. Inspiring to read of others adventures – a wonderful read. I can’t imagine picking up and just going, but there is something very freeing about that thought. Beautiful poetry and artwork.

  10. Wow, that’s cool. I wonder if I’d find it claustrophobic, living in such a small space, but out on the water with the sea around me, I suspect not. What a fantastic way to live. It would definitely keep you focused on priorities.



  11. Cynthia, Margaret’s paintings are evocative of all things natural. As a nature lover, I prefer art that carries my spirit outside–as her work does. A home is not a home without a garden and art, for therein dwells the essence of the owner’s heart.
    Holy Week Blessings ~ Wendy

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