Transitions-Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga Real Estate Blog: Joyce Empey Smith - A Gifted Belleville, Ontario Artist of Diverse Talents

Real Estate blog about property, home buying and selling, life in Burlington, Oakville and Mississauga Regions of Ontario, Canada.

Joyce Empey Smith - A Gifted Belleville, Ontario Artist of Diverse Talents

On a quiet, east-end, Belleville street, lives one of the area's finest artists, Joyce Empey Smith.

Cattails in Winter~Watercolour by Joyce Empey Smith Joyce, a retired teacher, grew up on a dairy farm east of Napanee and took art lessons from her Grandmother, Martha MacLean, beginning at the age of 9 for 4 years. Joyce's paternal Grandmother was an art instructor in the Kingston area and gave oil painting lessons in a studio in her home.

Joyce remembers her Grandmother working on 5 paintings at a time due to the long drying times. Her Grandmother supplemented her living by selling her paintings, which were mostly sceneries.
Joyce's Grandmother saw great promise in her young Granddaughter and had endless patience with her as she taught her how to paint.

After finishing high school in Napanee, Joyce attended Peterborough Teacher's College and then taught grades 1-8 in a rural school for 3 years. During that time period she continued to paint with oils.

In 1964 she moved to Belleville and painted mostly Painting in a Sicilian Train Station-Joyce Empey Smithscenery from calendars and photographs for 4 or 5 years. While she was in her 20's she sold quite a few of her oil paintings.
Once Joyce's two sons, Rick and Brian were born, Joyce was very busy with teaching and raising her sons and did not have time to paint.

At 50, Joyce decided to try her hand at watercolours and began to take lessons from Donnah Cameron, Sr.
Donnah held lessons in her garden on Rednersville Road during spring and summer and the students could be found painting beautiful Irises, Poppies and Geraniums.

Through Donnah Cameron Sr., Joyce met her daughter, Donnah Cameron Jr., who taught her how to paint on silk when she was 52 years old.
Joyce has sold many of her colourful, beautiful silk paintings and scarves over the years.

During this time period, as well as a full teaching schedule, Joyce pursued her other creative pursuits. She has been creating lovely stained glass windows, lamps and ornaments for 27 years and has also been a skilled woodworker for 10 years. The beautiful cabinets in Joyce's cottage kitchen, on Moira Lake, attest to her fine workmanship and skill.

For the past 8-10 years Joyce has been painting entirely in watercolours Market in Sicily~Watercolour by Joyce Empey Smithand taking lessons from Sharon Bower and more recently from Donna Bonin. In April of 2007 Joyce traveled to Sicily with Donna Bonin and a group of artists to paint the enchanting scenery of the mediterranean villages and landscapes.

In September of 2007 she traveled to Algonquin Park with a group of artists to capture the peaceful, natural beauty of the lakes and forests.

As well as taking lessons from many local instructors, Joyce has taken many art courses at the Ontario College of Art, Loyalist College and also from Queen's University.

Joyce has sold many of her watercolours to fortunate buyers who spot one of her works and fall in love with the halcyon beauty and subtle colours and lines.

Through the Quinte Arts Council, Joyce has sold 5 of her paintings that hung in the halls of the Quinte Healthcare Corporation hospital in Belleville. Her work can also be seen at Fabulous Finds and she has sold 8 paintings there in the last couple of years.

Her paintings can presently be found at the Quinte Healthcare Corporation hospital in Belleville, the Ramada Inn's Windows On The Bay Restaurant, the Belleville Art Association Gallery on Front Street and at Fabulous Finds.

Joyce had 15 of her paintings chosen to be on display at the Bayview Medievel Wash House, Cefalu, Sicily - Watercolour by Joyce Empey SmithMedical Centre in 2007 for one month. In the month of November '07, she was the featured artist with three paintings on display at Barrett's Stationery.

Joyce's paintings were chosen on 3 separate occasions to be displayed in local law offices. One of them remained on display for 9 consecutive months.

Paintings from artists who are members of the Belleville Art Association can be leased on a monthly basis by either private homes or businesses.

In October-November '07, Medieval Wash House-Cefalu , Sicily (seen to the left), Steps of Sicily and Log Barn on Crookston Road, 3 of Joyce's lovely paintings, were chosen for a juried show, Up, Up and Away, at the John M. Parrott Art Gallery in the Belleville Public Library.

Steps of Sicily was chosen from amongst many to be on display at the Windows On The Bay Restaurant at the Ramada Inn in Belleville and is currently there for a 9 month period.

One of Joyce's paintings, Nature's Garden, a mixed media painting, was chosen for the juried show 'Expressions' which is currently being held at the Belleville Public Library.
Joyce explained how 'Nature's Garden' came to be painted~

"Every year, myStride and Glide~Watercolour by Joyce Empey Smith family spends two heavenly months at our cottage on Moira Lake, Madoc, Ontario.
While sitting in my Adirondack chair I came to realize all the many types of flowers, weeds and nature's twigs and trees that made this view so beautiful. Using paint, pickling salt, seeds, glue and many types of paper, I created a mixed media picture. I am calling my picture 'Nature's Garden

During the 2nd Annual Lilac Tea and Art Show (a juried art show) which is being held at the Tyendinaga Township Public Library on Sunday, May 25th from 1-4pm, four of Joyce's paintings will be on display.
The following were accepted into this juried 'Art For Literacy' show:
Pansies, Moira Lake-Stoney Island, Stride and Glide(seen to the right) and
Market In Sicily

Joyce is now branching out into the painting of people and animals and I've been totally enchanted by two of her more recent works:Majestic Beauty~ watercolour by Joyce Empey Smith

Majestic Beauty
With regards to 'Majestic Beauty', Joyce says , "In December of 2007, I was reading a newspaper article on the 300 pound Siberian Tiger that escaped it's pen at the San Francisco Zoo. This tiger killed a man while free. There is an air of mystery about the tiger. He appears suddenly, dramatically, then melts away into the cover as secretly as he came.
I have tried to capture the breathtaking power and the beauty of the elegant striped tiger by using bright colours and using a 'wet on wet' painting technique. In my watercolour picture he rests contemplating in
tAge of Innocence~Watercolour by Joyce Empey Smithhe wind-whisper of movement in the pale green grass."

Age of Innocence

In addition to choosing her own subjects and scenery to paint, Joyce also does custom paintings for clients who wish to have a painting done from a photograph. Her paintings are a unique and wonderful gift for a special occasion or loved one.
Visit this link for a complete list of Joyce's paintings that are currently available for purchase.

Joyce can be contacted by email at

©2008 JoSmith

Jo-Anne Smith, the author of this article, is a REALTOR® with Royal Lepage Proalliance Realty, Brokerage, in Belleville, Ontario and welcomes your real estate inquiries. To contact her, visit

There You ARE!  I've Been Waiting For You!!!
Let's Get to Know One-Another:

Comment balloon 22 commentsJo-Anne Smith • May 04 2008 09:40AM


Joyce Empey Smith is a fine artist!  Is she any relation to you?
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 10 years ago

Hi Brian,

She is indeed a fine artist!

Yes, she is related to me....I'm very fortunate that she is my Stepmother. She's a very lovely person to know and especially to have in our family.

Thank you for stopping by.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith about 10 years ago
Jo - Thank you for sharing this magnificent talent with us. I love her use of light and color.
Posted by Tom Plant ( about 10 years ago

Thanks for visiting this post, Tom.
She does use light and colour in a very unique and beautiful way.....similar to the way you do with your lovely photographs.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith about 10 years ago
Jo, I saw the last name and wondered too.  Her artwork is just beautiful, my favorite of the ones you've show are Steps to Sicily.  I love her color choices and detail.  I'm always amazed at these incredible gifts some people have.
Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) about 10 years ago

Hello Jo...has she done any especially for family members?

I like the same one Carole has a timeless quality!

Posted by Joan Mirantz, Realtor, GRI, CBR, SRES - Concord New Hampshire (Homequest Real Estate) about 10 years ago
Jo-Anne, Joyce sounds like a talented artist.  It is wonderful that she is using her God given talents to create such beauty.  It's really great that she started pursuing this later in life also; it will keep her young.
Posted by Marchel Peterson, Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro (Results Realty) about 10 years ago
I've been studying your beautiful pictures of the even more beautiful paintings and honest to goodness I cannot decide upon which one draws me in more.  They are ALL so touching and beautiful and warming.  I agree, what a wonderful gift it would be for someone you love to have her paint something for them. 
Posted by Kris Wales, Real Estate Blog & Homes for Sale search site, Macomb County MI (Keller Williams Realty - Lakeside Market Center) about 10 years ago

Hi Jo,

Such beautiful works of art! She is a very talented lady. I love the cat tails, although they are all very lovely. I would love to be able to paint, but stick men give me trouble :) So I stick to painting walls and I must admit I do a mighty fine job or so I think....teehhee

Posted by Trace Galle (Designs by Trace) about 10 years ago
Jo  - I loved the cattails with the snow flakes on them also the age of innocence. Is that you when you were just a few years younger than now?  What a wonderful tribute and testimonial to your stepmother and her talents
Posted by Kathy Clulow, Trusted For Experience - Respected For Results (RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage) about 10 years ago

Hi Carole,

 Majestic Beauty, Age of Innocence and Steps of Sicily and the Medievel Wash House are my favourites.....Thank you for stopping by and I'll pass your lovely compliments on to my Stepmother.



Posted by Jo-Anne Smith about 10 years ago

Hi Joan!

Yes, I does have a timeless quality. I believe she has done some for family members...I know my Aunt has a silk painting of hers and I believe my cousin does too and likely other family members do as well.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith about 10 years ago

Hi Marchel,

I's wonderful that she is using her gift by creating such beauty. This way she can share it with everyone....

There are so many creative and talented people who don't begin to use their gifts til later in life. I think it's magnificent to see them take up something later in life and discover they have a natural talent for it.

thanks for your nice comment!


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith about 10 years ago

Hi Kris,

It's nice to see you! thank you so much for your wonderful comment and I'll pass your compliments on to Joyce.



Posted by Jo-Anne Smith about 10 years ago

Hi Trace!

The Cattails is a very beautiful lifelike. I had a giggle over your line about painting walls...thanks for bringing a smile to my face.  (((-:

Thank you also for your very nice comment,


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith about 10 years ago

Hi Kathy!

Thanks for visiting this post and for your lovely compliments about Joyce's work. I'm sure she'll be very touched with so many nice comments on her art.  The Age of Innocence was just painted recently....I'll have to ask her the meaning behind the painting and who the children are. The little girl does resemble one of her son's daughters.



Posted by Jo-Anne Smith about 10 years ago
Hi Jo,
Your stepmother's art is beautiful and what a wonderful variety of subjects.  Please convey my congratulations on her accomplishments.
Posted by Cynthia Tilghman, Realtor® Onslow County NC Home Specialist (Kingsbridge Realty, Inc) about 10 years ago

Hi Jo,

You are welcome!

The cattails are so life like that at first I thought it was a picture you had taken. Your step-mother does very lovely work.

PS.  I bought The Celestine Prophecy this past weekend. I need something to read when I am sitting outside enjoying the almost warm weather! It is trying really hard to warm up!

Posted by Trace Galle (Designs by Trace) about 10 years ago

Thank you Cynthia!

I'll pass along your compliment to her....


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith about 10 years ago

Hi Trace,

It's really amazing how real the cattails look, isn't it? I thought the same thing when I saw the painting.

The next time I go to the library I will pick up the Celestine Prophecy and read it's been many years since I fist read it and I gave my copy away a long time ago. That book was a major turning point in my life....I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

It's nice to hear that it's finally warming up somewhat out there....we had our short summer and are now back to a regular spring.



Posted by Jo-Anne Smith about 10 years ago
Oh, I so love art...any kind of art. This is wonderful and some place I would love to see the day I visit !
Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Century 21 Liberty Homes) about 10 years ago

Hi Sally,

If ever you and Gary get a chance to visit here (you're welcome to stay here...I have an extra room), I'll take you the Belleville Art Association's Gallery and also over to my Dad and Stepmom's so you can see some of her paintings.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith about 10 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments