in cooperation with sierra club bc

Forest: Breath of Life explores the multi-faceted nature of forests: as a source of beauty, healing and solace to humans; as an ecosystem under threat; and as a source of every breath we take.

Students, ages 10 to 19 were asked to create an original work of art expressing the theme of Forest: Breath of Life.
These are their stories.

Artists by work

Sierra Club BC

Sierra Club BC is pleased to partner with the Cowichan Public Art Gallery for the “Forest: Breath of Life” Exhibit.  Artists play an essential role in communicating about the natural world and the natural world plays a reciprocal role as inspiration to creators of all kinds.  On Vancouver Island, forests define the landscapes, communities, and the stories about the world and humanity’s interdependent relationship with all beings.  As we collectively face the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, all voices have an important role to play in how we work together.  We are grateful to be a part of this conversation and raise our hands in gratitude to the people of the Cowichan, Stz’uminus, Penelakut, Ditidaht, Malahat, Pacheedaht, Halalt, Lyackson, and Lake Cowichan First Nations who have lovingly cared for this land since time immemorial.
Elisabeth Noble
Manager of Donor Engagement, Sierra Club BC
Lekwungen Territory
C 250.882.3682

Seeing Through Watcher’s Eyes – Between the Worlds

An online interactive learning tool that tells the story of the land where the mural lives. Built using the Prezi platform by tSouke member kQwa’st’not (Charlene George) with support from Sierra Club BC, this tool is a publicly shareable, culturally rich Indigenous learning tool to support community learners of all ages and backgrounds to see through another’s eyes.

Link to the experience

Learn to Draw B.C. Wildlife Series with Julius Csotonyi

Dr. Julius Csotonyi is a Vancouver-based scientific illustrator and natural history fine artist.  He has a scientific background in ecology (MSc) and microbiology (PhD) which has taken him to study sensitive ecosystems, from sand dunes in the Rocky Mountain parks to hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
These experiences have fuelled a strong resolve to work toward preserving the earth’s biota.  Painting biological subjects is one means that he uses to both enhance public awareness of biological diversity and to motivate concern for its welfare.

link to the drawing course


We are a movement of young people across Metro Vancouver—united by the urgency we feel to stop climate catastrophe and by a shared vision to exercise our agency, and create a more just and sustainable world. We exist to create space for youth to engage with these issues and lay the foundations for a future that they can look forward to.

link to Sustainabiliteens website

Grassroots Orchestra


by Grassroots Orchestra | Nemira and Greg - 2021

CVGRO (Cowichan Valley Grass Roots Orchestra) is a musical collective created in 2018 in order to connect and promote local musicians through weekly jam sessions and open mics. 

This recording is a live original piece by the co-founders Nemira Rose (Banjo) and Greg Bohemen (Upright Bass).  This instrumental blends the Original with the Traditional, merging the modern with a hint of old time bluegrass.  

We hope to see you all when the days get brighter, and we can all enjoy gathering together, as a community to share the love of music.

Greg Bohemen

“A Walk” – acrylic on canvas

Emily-Ann A.

Duncan Christian School

This piece makes me feel that there are different paths we can take even when there is only one that is clearly visible; you can go anywhere. The idea of painting feet was that it symbolizes guiding most of us through our every day. While the image of the surrounding forest was to show that you can be anywhere and just keep walking.

“The Australian Fires” – pencil and marker on paper

Charley B.

Cowichan Valley Open Learning Centre

The ability to visually tell stories has always inspired me. I grew up with so many examples of visual storytelling, so to use the art form I was raised with to help spread awareness for the communities suffering during said fires, means more than I can express.

“The woods within” – acrylic on canvas board

“Curiosity” – acrylic on canvas board

Tenley B.

Queen Margaret’s School

I really enjoy art because it makes me feel really relaxed and calm and it just lets me paint/draw what I feel inside. I love to sketch wolves and dragons and cats. I’ve been loving painting just as much lately. That’s why my project is going to be a wolf with a forest inside. I feel that my spirit animal is a wolf, I just love them.

“Behind the Green Clouds” – paper, pencil, crayons

Jared B.

Tansor Elementary

“My Nature Work I” – paint on woodblock

My Nature Work II” – paint on woodblock

J. C.

Tansor Elementary

When I do art it calms me. It washes away any feelings that I don’t want inside of me. My art work represents what nature means to me. Nature means to me a haven of some sort. Like when I am there it makes me feel like I can be myself and not have to be someone I’m not. I love my art work and hope to always!

“Lonely Doug” – acrylic on canvas

Danielle D.

Duncan Christian School

I chose to do this piece because it shows how, even though many trees are logged or burned, there’s still beauty in things that have been changed. It also shows how many things we take for granted in this life and that we should appreciate the beauty of the forest while we still can.

“Fantasy Forest” – coloured pencils and ink on paper

Ciara D.

Chemainus Elementary

Art really helps me when I am anxious, overall it calms me down. When I am angry, sad, overwhelmed, and depressed, that’s what art helps me with! My art represents peace and calm energy.

“The Trestle” – watercolour on paper

“New day” – watercolour on paper

Julianna D.

Duncan Christian School

Time in the forest brings me peace. The clean air and beauty have the ability to fill me and ground me. No matter how crazy things get, I can always take a walk, breathe in the forest air, pray and find peace.

“Forest” – clay and woodblock

Ryder E.

Tansor Elementary

In the forests there is an entirely different world. Totally different than our sky scrapers, busy streets, giant factories, things that destroy the forest. I represented a creative world built on top of a piece of the forest

“Nature: breath of love” – digital collage

Alexa E.

Tansor Elementary

Untitled – paint on woodblock

Austin E.

Tansor Elementary

My art is the world overlooking the moon and the galaxy. It means to me that there is more to life than meets the eye. There is a whole universe inside a tree. Art making makes me feel calm and peaceful.

“Christie Falls” – acrylic on canvas

Lucy H.

Chemainus Elementary

The reason I painted this was because I love the forest and I love art too. So I painted this to represent that. I’ve always loved art and the forest too so I was so happy when I got to paint it.

“Trippy mushroom” – paint on woodblock

Riley I.

Tansor Elementary

My Art is mushrooms in a trippy background. I worked really hard on it.

“Breath of Life I” – pens and crayon on paper

“Breath of Life II” – paint on paper

Dominic J.

Tansor Elementary

I like to draw and I thought that this would be fun so I did it. I drew a tree by a stream because this is supposed to be about trees and I also wanted to add the element of water. And for my other one I wanted to do mountains with trees at front. I always like the view of mountains so I added it.

“Dark forest” – collage: paint, magazine and paper

Taylor J.

Tansor Elementary

In the background of my art work I decided to go with dark colours because it was not in the daytime. I like dark colours so I went with what I like. I am also a lake person and love nature so when I could not find or think of anything this image of a tree got into my head and that is how this piece of art was created!

“Fading Fast” – watercolour on paper

Addyson K.

Duncan Christian School

Hi my name is Addyson and I am a grade 10 student. I created this art piece to represent Vancouver Island’s beautiful and seemingly endless forests. But that’s the catch. I love these forests and I want them to stick around so I can hike through them with children and grandchildren one day. As endless as they might be portrayed, it wouldn’t take much to change that. Our forests are not only a significant tribute to the Island’s beauty but also homes to many species of animals such as bears, deer, mountain lions, and many others. We love these forests and need to protect them.

“Night in the Forest” – watercolour and ink on paper

Rosalynn K.

Queen Margaret’s School

My art lets me express myself in multiple shapes and forms. In my art, I like to capture everyday objects, animals, and nature scenes in a very colourful way with a variety of media.

“Winter Snowfall” – acrylic on canvas

Lennon L.

Chemainus Elementary

My painting is a winter scene. Art is one of my favorite things. It means so much to me. My painting is set in the forest. I worked very hard and I hope you like it.

“Energy motion through forests” – spray paint on canvas

Connor L.

University of Victoria

The idea of using spray paint as a medium for painting came to me last fall 2020 when I wanted to create something artistic while being outside where I love to be. I set up an easel and canvas outside under our carport, and I started to experiment with applying the paint in different ways, including making and using stencils. My later works incorporated the use of natural materials such as ferns and leaves to create a natural aesthetic.
My first attempts used only a few colors until I was able to source a wider variety of paints. I enjoy layering different colors, and I particularly like to work with bolder colors of red, white and black.
In this group of three paintings, I want to depict the fluid motion of energy and life through abiotic and biotic elements: from the sun, through forests and streams to the ocean.

“Winter Snowfall” – watercolour and ink on watercolour paper

Aedyn M.

Tansor Elementary

Art making is a part of my life. I’ve been doing art my whole life and I’m really excited to share my art with you. To me this means peace.

“Day and Night” – song and performance

Lucy O.

Ryleigh P.

Adelyn W.

Tansor Elementary

Day and Night

Forest and rivers, the beautiful life
I seek out your calling day and night
Cry with the willows; sing with the birds
Hide all your worries; never be heard
Swing the vine
Don’t look behind
Drink from the lake
It’s not a mistake
Forest, river, life, trees and nature too,
these are the qualities of you.

So come on down to the stream
where we can share our dream
And here we shall stay till the end of the day
Day and night
I see you running through the trees
Day and night
you always say to me
Nothing’s ever going to change
Everything will stay the same
Butterflies are running wild
Wolves are crying to the mild.

— written and performed by Lucy O., Ryleigh P., Adelyn W.

“Forest: Breath of Life” – paint on wood block

Emily P.

Caraj T.

Tansor Elementary

Emily P.: My artwork is about a forest at night with stars shining everywhere and a nice big moon.

Caraj T.: I am proud of my artwork because I used to not be as good as I am now. I really like art and I do a lot of art. Art to me is really fun and cool. Whenever I do art I like to have a special meaning for my art so its unique in its own way. Art to me is one of the things I will do even if I feel sad.

“Mountain’s view” – pencil on paper

Rose V.

Tansor Elementary

My artwork represents the beauty of the mountains and forest. It’s a reminder of how beautiful our nature truly is. Art means a lot to me because I can express my self through it. I hope my artwork inspires you.

“Sunset and galaxy” – acrylic drawing

Vasso V.

Tansor Elementary

I made this piece it represents a time at night, a galaxy, and a time in the morning, a sunset. I am really positive with this piece of art because I spent a lot of time for it.

“The Three Trees”

Dara de V.

Duncan Christian School

I chose to do this art piece because, as a child I’ve always loved nature, the forest and how beautiful it was, but I also like how diverse forests are. I love the trees and forests that are dark and mysterious or spooky, the ones that look very pretty and happy and the almost swampy looking trees. Although they’re all a little bit different in their own ways and may be ‘”weird looking” to others, they are all beautiful and amazing to admire.

“Sunset on a forest” – clay and woodblock

Denver W.

Tansor Elementary

I made this to show people, to slow down other people cutting forests because I want my kids in 20-ish years to grow up with what I had.

“Dot Tree” – coloured pencils on paper

Crystal W.

Tansor Elementary

I made this tree out of dots to make it unique. It took a long time because the dots were tiny.

Thanks to our sponsors

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This exhibition of artwork by young artists in the Cowichan Valley is presented in co-operation with Sierra Club BC.