Rich Thistle Canadian Visual Artist RICH THISTLE is a multi-disciplined, Canadian visual artist respected for his aviation art as well as watercolor and acrylic landscape paintings of Ontario's lake country. His work extends to other subjects including horses, cars, trucks, motorcycles, tractors, sailboats, canoes and portraits.

His images are available as original paintings. In past years his images were published as limited-edition prints, posters and collector plates, all editions now sold out. Over his career Rich has also designed and created original stained glass, furniture, pottery, whips, knives and works in leather as well as designing and building two homes.

Rich spent thirty years as a visual art educator and consultant in Perth County, Ontario, while developing his career as an artist. He studied at the Ontario College of Art (& Design), earned a BA (Visual Art Major) from the University of Western Ontario and is a graduate of Stratford Teachers' College.

His original paintings are in the collections of the Canadian War Museum, Jersey Museum Channel Islands, HRH Prince Charles, 431 (AD) Squadron Snowbirds, Canadian Forces Base Greenwood, Bombardier/Canadair, Penn West Energy and numerous other corporate, military, public, museum and private collections worldwide.

Rich has been profiled on national television and radio and his images appear on the covers of Canadian, American and British books, magazines and in television documentaries. One of his paintings is depicted in bronze in the Royal Canadian Mint's Canada Remembers medallion set commemorating the 50th anniversary of D-Day in World War 2.

In early 2000, Rich was commissioned by the Snowbirds, Canada's military aerobatic display Team, to create a painting celebrating their 30th anniversary. The painting Flying the Flag was published by the Snowbirds as a limited-edition print with artist proofs personally co-signed by Rich and the entire 24 member Team. The following year Rich painted Double Diamond Radical Twins, also published as a limited-edition print, co-signed by Maj. Bob Painchaud, Commanding Officer/Team Lead 431 (AD) Sqn. Snowbirds 1999-2000-2001. Sadly, Bob died suddenly in March 2020 while at his vacation home in the Caribean with wife Kate.

Rich was proud to be asked to contribute his painting ONCE UPON A TIME for inclusion in the book DIANA IN ART. Compiled by Mem Mehmet, the book, published in 2007 was hailed as... "one of the most must-have coffee table books of the millennium" ... by ATTITUDE MAGAZINE.

Over the years Rich has given numerous presentations to service clubs, historical and community clubs, aviation associations and veterans groups. These presentations feature his paintings and career as an artist with particular focus on the Canadian history depicted in his many historical aviation images depicting both military and general aviation aircraft.

Rich has created commemorative aviation posters for veterans' associations and various annual or special aviation events. He has written several articles about the aviation history represented in his paintings for the American magazine AVIATION HISTORY and 33 monthly columns for Canadian Flight, the national publication of COPA, the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association.

Since 2000 Rich has also kept busy creating graphic design work for his wife Jay's website design business Thistle Site Design / Joomla!® Specialists

Rich and his wife Jay owned and operated Gallery 164, a retail art gallery, in their home town of Stratford, Ontario before re-locating to cottage country in 1999. Visitors are now welcome by appointment to Rich's studio/gallery located in Wasaga Beach, Ontario, north of Toronto. Collectors can view and purchase original paintings or discuss a commission for a painting.

READ Rich's article giving a personal view of his motivations for painting.


Rich will professionally photograph your classic or special car, truck or motorcycle (or use high-quality images you supply) to create a poster for display at car shows, to frame or print-plak for your man cave/ garage or accept a commission to create an original painting of your special vehicle. Visit Rich Thistle Automotive Art, Photography & Graphic Design for details.




This year-long project produced an exciting public art installation THE HEART OF STRATFORD MURAL completed in Nov. 1998, including 23 original acrylic paintings by Rich Thistle. These works, a visual art tribute to historic and current Stratford, are permanently mounted across the front of Stratford Place, a commercial/apartment complex in the heart of downtown Stratford Ontario. Take some time to view these widely-acclaimed images, and read a little bit of history about Rich's hometown.


Over the years, Rich's urge to create has led him down various side paths, seeking an expansion of his skills in traditional crafts and a deeper understanding of materials and processes. For several years he worked in earthenware and stoneware, making functional pottery and sculptural art in clay. His interest in Canadian naval history led to the building of two highly-detailed, scratch-built models of Canadian WW II warships, HMCS Haida and HMCS Sackville. He has spent time designing and making jewellery in non-precious materials (clay, leather and wire) based on ancient Celtic designs. Over the years Rich has worked in leather, creating garments, luggage, belts, knife sheaths and whips. He also enjoys designing and building furniture in his home workshop.

The contemplative and visual oriental art of bonsai appeals to him on many levels. He's a tree guy, painting as well as propagating and planting hundreds of them over the years. Rich is an amateur architect having designed and built two personal residences, and the major renovation design of a third, including models and working blue prints. An ongoing interest has been exploring the world of custom, knife making, designing and creating knives from scratch using the stock-removal method. Other interests include customizing, petting and playing with his vehicles, film-making and playing his guitars.


Summer Vine - stained glass
(Artist's Collection) original stained glass window installation
Tree of Life stained glass
(Artist's Collection) original stained glass lamp panel
Stoneware pottery
(Artist's Collection) stoneware pottery based on historical Ontario designs
Celtic-style jewellery, hand-made stoneware beads, non-precious wire & leather
Norway spruce bonsai, fifteen-year-old tree, collected from nature, with hand-made stoneware pot & wood display table
Franklin Dr. house
second Thistle-designed residence Franklin Dr., Stratford (1986)
hand-made hunting knife
(Artist's Collection) hand-made hunting knife, O-1 steel, brass, deer bone handle with custom cowhide & deer-skin sheath
hand-built wall unit
(Artist's Collection) Luan mahogany lighted wall unit designed & built by Rich Thistle
HMCS Haida Canadian Tribal Class destroyer, scratch-built model
(Artist's Collection HMCS Haida Canadian Tribal Class destroyer, scratch-built model
 whips hand made using traditional 19th century methods
(Artist's Collection) whips hand made using traditional 19th century methods
Check Out Rich's 'WHEELS Classic Car Photography & Graphics'