I'm definitely a 'car guy'! I inherited this peculiarity from my Dad, and, as it happens, have passed this deviant gene on to my son and one of my grandsons. Nothing seems to please me as much as driving my 'daily driver', a 2007 Trailblazer SS, which still looks brand new, even though it has come through several tough Canadian winters. Over the years I have endeavoured to make each vehicle I have owned express this trait in some - often many - personal ways. Part of this obsession includes taking professional-quality pictures of my vehicles. And, not surprisingly, my love of special vehicles has been the inspiration for several original paintings over the years. ~Rich Thistle~
RICH THISTLE is a multi-disciplined, Canadian visual artist respected for his aviation and automotive art as well as watercolor and acrylic landscape paintings of Ontario's lake country. His work extends to many other subjects including cars, trucks, motorcycles, tractors, sailboats, canoes and horses. His images have been published as limited-edition litho prints, posters, and collector plates. 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 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, museum and private collections worldwide.

Rich has been profiled on national television and radio and his images have appeared 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 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 Caribbean 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, published in 2007 and 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 aviation images.

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 2001 Rich has also kept busy creating the graphic design work for his wife Jay's website design business
Thistle Site Design / Joomla!Ā® 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.


This year-long project produced an exciting public art installation, THE HEART OF STRATFORD MURAL, which was completed in November 1998. It includes 23 original acrylic paintings by Rich Thistle. These works feature a visual art tribute to historic and current elements of the 'Festival City'. They are permanently mounted across the front facade of Stratford Place, a commercial / apartment complex, on the main street in the heart of downtown Stratford Ontario. Take some time to view these widely-acclaimed images, which are also available as digital fine-art prints through Rich's studio, and read a little bit of history about Rich's hometown. VIEW HERE


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. His passion for cars and photography has led him to yet another creative outlet - photographing classic cars, trucks and motorcycles to create graphic collages, mounted for display at car shows.

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 and detailing his vehicles to keep them pristine, film-making and playing his guitars.
Rich will consider commissions to paint an original watercolor or acrylic painting of your special vehicle.