SUDBURY -- Pastel plein air artist Christy A. Smith of Sudbury says she creates her best work when she’s alone in the outdoors, which is why she makes the trip to her homemade hut once a year for an entire month.

Smith began painting when she was 15 years old, but in 2005 she decided to dedicate her life full-time to art. That year, she said she realized she’d prefer to paint outside.

She decided to try it, following in the footsteps of her two favourite artists.

“Who happen to be Emily Carr from B.C. and Tom Thomson from Ontario, who painted in Algonquin Park," Smith said.

"I adored them. They were my heroes. They used to go for quite lengthy times. Tom Thomson used to go for 30-60 days and Emily used to go for 90 days.”

Smith said her husband built her a hut on their property where she could go and paint. Eleven years ago, she came up with a plan to go for 30 consecutive days each trip.

“I’d be able to sustain myself no problem, and that I would paint every day and that if I went different months throughout the year, next thing you know low and behold we would start to see the different seasons evolve,” said Smith.

Began the journey

“So, that began the journey to do the big project. Fast forward and I am now entering into my 11th trip. I’ve painted for 10 solid months, all the various months of the year.”

Smith has created more than 300 paintings of the Sudbury area. She said it takes many weeks to prepare for her month alone in the woods.

“I have to plan for zero degree weather to -30 degree weather," she said. "We also start having our wood -- we took 3 1/2 quarts of maple this year on a toboggan, which is 20 some single trips.”

Smith said she looks forward to isolation.

“I crave winter. So, that’s what I go for, it calls me. Some people like to paint in a group, but I like to paint alone.”

Her next trip begins Jan. 31 and she'll arrive back home March 1.