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jim allen The Globe and Mail

Illustrator, painter and designer Jeff Jackson has been around. His work has appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times, his installations have been shown throughout North America and his work has hung in galleries from Tokyo to Paris. But despite the Torontonian's globe-trotting, it's in his Kawarthas cottage that he creates most of his work. The main room is flooded with natural light. "It works very well as a studio," he says.

"I always feel as if I'm painting outdoors."

THE FIREPLACE: "We built the cottage and made the fireplace the centrepiece of the main floor. I like it because it looks very similar to the rock formations found in this area of Ontario. The technique to bond the stones that make up the fireplace is called dry grout, where a gap is left between the stones. It plays a major role in keeping the place warm in winter. The candles on the mantel were originally set up one Christmas and left. We use them occasionally to set a mood."

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THE PAINTING: "This is a portrait of my wife and my two daughters, Grace and Isabelle, that I painted and gave to my wife on her birthday. The other paintings in the room are also by me, but of the surrounding area. Sheds, boats and canoes are used here as painterly elements to create what I call an iconography of the north."

THE WOOD PANELLING: "It serves as a great backdrop for paintings, clocks and the central chandelier. The panelling was whitewashed to let some of the knots in the pine show through, emphasizing the openness of the big, two-and-a-half-storey room. The flooring is recovered hemlock from an old barn from somewhere in the region."

THE CLOCKS: "These clocks are my wife's; she inherited them from her father. Each has been set at memorable or non-memorable times: 5 p.m. for the end of the workday, 8:45 a.m. for the start of school, 4 p.m. for tea time. And the designs are all different styles: a school clock, a train-station clock from the 1950s, a 24-hour clock. My wife also has some very nice plates that look like clocks and are part of the collection."

THE SOFA AND CHAIRS: "They were all made in Toronto and are boxy in a Jean-Michel Frank kind of way. They're covered in a durable fabric to outlast sleeping dogs and cottage life, while still be comfortable enough for reading a book."

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About the Author

Deirdre Kelly is a features writer for The Globe and Mail. She is the author of the best-selling Paris Times Eight and Ballerina: Sex, Scandal and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection (Greystone Books). More

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