Two painted tree cookies held up in the foreground of the Sleeping Giant

Inspired by the land of the Sleeping Giant

Iconic. Inspiring. Idyllic.

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, near Thunder Bay, is without a doubt a natural wonder of Ontario. When viewed across the landscape, this natural landform resembles that of a giant sleeping on its back.

Its beauty and allure has captivated artists for generations.

Sleeping Giant and many landscapes spanning across Ontario have been a great source of inspiration by well-known artists. Exemplary historic and modern works of art give expression to Ontario’s vast, wild, and spectacular places.

In celebration of Ontario Parks’ 125th anniversary, parks across the province are hosting Go Wild for Art programs.

Nature and art: a perfect pairing

On Friday July 20, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park hosted a Go Wild for Art program in celebration of the anniversary and Healthy Parks Healthy People Day.

young girl holding up her cookie with lake in background

Healthy Parks Healthy People is a world-wide movement to promote the positive health benefits of spending time in nature. Both spending time outdoors and creating artwork can help lower stress levels.

Behind a girl painting on a cookie

Painting en plein air (outside) can be a great way to boost your mood and channel your creativity! One participant in the program at Sleeping Giant noticed that the experience allowed them to engage their senses and slow down.

Two people, painting on the shore

Participants received an overview of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park (and surrounding region) art history, then found inspiration from painting on the lakeside across from the Giant itself.

Painting nature on nature


Participants were given a tree “cookie” as their natural canvas. As one participant enthusiastically said, “It’s like we’re painting nature on nature!”

Tree cookies are a cross-section of a tree trunk or branch. Annual growth rings of a tree reveal the story of the conditions and natural events that occurred over the course of a tree’s lifetime.

Like the tree rings, art can be a way to record stories and memories through the eyes of the artist. The artists took their pieces home with them as a keepsake of their visit to the park.

Two people on a beach working on their art

Fostering connections between people and nature

Families, friends and people of all ages came out to partake in the Go Wild for Art program that Friday afternoon.

It was evident that people were connecting with each other while connecting with nature. One participant mentioned, “It’s a great way to meet new people. It was a very relaxing afternoon — calm and enjoyable.”

Another participant said, “I think it’s a really neat opportunity for people to come here and to be able to put what they see on the tree cookie canvas.”

Everyone was in close proximity to each other, however no piece of art was the same. Nature and landscapes can inspire us in different ways, even when collective feelings about a place are shared.

Capture your connection

Watch for more Go Wild for Art programs this summer at Ontario Parks and capture your special connection with nature!

Share your masterpieces on social media by using #GoWildforArt!