Happy New Year!

Happy 2017 everyone! I am celebrating with the launch of my new website! A lot of work went into it over the past month and a half, but I am so proud of how it turned out.

We've all heard in the news about what a disaster this past year was. And we have to admit, it was pretty dismal with all of the deaths, terror attacks, war in Syria, and the election. But I'm trying to stay positive and reflect on all of the good that happened. I began the year committing to draw in my sketchbook every day and while I didn't make that goal, I achieved much more than I could have ever imagined. My work has progressed immensely and I no longer sit there terrified of a blank page.

Here's what I managed to do in 2016:

  • I drew or painted consecutively for the first 100 days of the year and then continued to create regularly multiple times a week after that
  • I grew my Instagram following from 200 to over 1K
  • I had my best year in sales
  • I had my first solo show at a gallery
  • My cousin-in-law helped me make my first promo video
  • I made my biggest painting yet and documented it through a time-lapse video
  • I did my first artist residency
  • I revamped my website thanks to GoLiveHQ <3
  • Oh and I worked my full time job :)

As much as I love what I do, it was hard to get up every morning at 5am to paint and to dedicate whole weekends to art making.  But looking back, each choice I made to sit down and make something, although it was hard in the moment, as soon as I started putting brush to surface I lost myself in the moment and let the joy of creating take over. And all of the small efforts added up to so much over the year.

Making time for the things we love is hard. There are so many other important things grabbing for our time. But there are also so many unimportant things we spend time on that we could cut out; TV, mindless web surfing, games on our phone, all things I am so guilty of but that don't make my life any richer.

This year, I will have even less time for art because Marc and I are getting married (YAY!!) and I am going to be writing my interior design licensing exam so I am going to need to get even more ruthless about how I choose to spend my time. This past year has helped show me that the small choices I make every day really do make a difference.

I can't wait to see what this year will bring and although I won't be making as much work,  I am still committing to showing up everyday and doing at least one thing, whether I share it or not. I am so proud of all I have accomplished this past year and am excited to keep up this momentum.

I encourage you to guard your time along with me this year and make time for the things that really matter to you. Little by little small choices make big results. Thanks so much for following along with me. Here's to an awesome 2017!

Watch Me Do A Giant Painting in 2 Minutes!

One of the goals for my residency was to work on a piece that was larger than anything I'd ever made before. I don't have a lot of room in our apartment to work large, so I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. The whole process of creating such a large piece was really difficult since I've primarily been painting watercolour on small 9x12 sheets of paper each morning. 1/4 of the way into the painting, I really hated it. I moped around the house and procrastinated and did some other small paintings in the mean time. It looked so awful and I didn't know how to bring it back. But I discovered the key when that happens is to just mix up a boatload of paint and go to it. I knew if I had paint ready I wouldn't want to waste it and I just attacked the canvas, chasing the fear away. I was psyching myself out by worrying so much about it instead of just enjoying myself so this helped me to stop being so precious and enjoy myself.

I would say fear is the biggest struggle I face in creating my work and tackling something this large helped me dispel a lot of it. Hope you enjoy seeing it come to life in this short video!

This painting was made in several sessions a day over the course of 5 days.

 

Time and Space

When I was in the first year of my fine art program, an artist came and spoke to our class. She had just returned from a residency at the Banff Centre and this was the first time I had heard about this magical concept of a residency. You go and live somewhere and make work among other artists and focus intensely on your art for a length of time. I decided at that moment that I would do one of these as soon as I had the chance.

So when I was thinking about how to celebrate my 30th birthday and what I really wanted, it was time and space. Time and space to spread out and paint larger than I ever have before. Time and space to nap and read and rest and recharge and have mental space to explore new ideas. Time and space to focus on developing my artistic style and refining my technique. I got all this and more during my time here at Spark Box Studio.

I love my little studio corner at home but it has its limitations. I have difficulty focusing when other people are around and there are always chores to be done and errands to do. This week I was able to paint all day for 6 days straight, something I haven’t had the luxury of since, well, probably ever. This place is full of beauty. It is decorated with lovely vintage furniture and is filled with natural light. I couldn’t picture a more welcoming and inviting place to work.

While I was here I stretched and painted a huge canvas, (and documented it to create a time lapse video) made two medium size paintings, started a third, and made 4 small paintings. Not bad for one week. I learned a lot about myself as well. I usually lose momentum in the middle of a painting when it feels ugly and unfinished, so I forced myself to just keep going and keep mixing paint in order to keep putting fresh marks on the canvas until I was happy with it. The middle of the painting is usually not that enjoyable for me. It’s like a roller coaster, I start off really high and excited and then dip deep and hate it and don’t want to look at it, then I force myself to climb up the hill of not being happy and then I usually love the last finishing touches. But you have to push through the not fun parts in order to experience the times of pure joy.

I took some time out of painting to visit some local shops and galleries and was so inspired by all of the creativity around the area. I went to Oeno Gallery and perused their sculpture garden, visited some shops that featured handmade wares from local artisans and even managed to squeak in some antiquing.

I am so thankful for the time I was able to spend here and all I was able to accomplish. Thank you so much Chrissy and Kyle for being amazing hosts and for all you do to create time and space for artists.

Spring Update.. And a Time Lapse Video

It's spring! Doesn't it feel amazing? I try to slow down and savor the beauty of the changing seasons because it's one of my favorite parts about living in Toronto. The light streaming in in the morning, the warm, fragrant air, the leaves budding, everything feels new.  Which is why I wanted to share some new exciting things that are happening!

I am still going on my year of creative habits during the week. I am not as excited about it lately because I've been feeling like I can never get into something enough to really do something different. I feel like they're all starting to be the same. But I think it's still important to stick with it and finish the year out. Plus I've been feeling a lot more confident in my ability to work on more finished pieces because I'm practiced. And it's taught me a lot of discipline and how to steal moments to create when I don't have a lot of time.

Which is going to help me a lot because I got into the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition again this year! Which is exciting and stressful as all art fairs are, but I am happy for the deadline to push me to make a whole new body of work. Everything I have right now has either sold or is being exhibited somewhere which is awesome, it just means I have to make a ton of paintings before the show.

I am also going to be doing a week long artists residency at Spark Box Studio at the end of September which I am SO EXCITED about. A whole week to work on nothing but painting is better than anything I could imagine. I love having my studio in our apartment for its convenience but it means I am always distracted by the TV or tidying or laundry. I really thought hard about how I wanted to celebrate my 30th birthday this year and this was at the top of the list.

Painting-wise I have been thinking a lot about trying to make my work more sophisticated and thoughtful. I want my paintings to convey the feelings of the city. Cars zooming by, the hustle of people trying to get where they're going, food smells, flowers, people with strollers and walking their dogs. I've been feeling like my paintings aren't showing the full story of what I want to show. They are more than just architecture, I want people to feel alive and excited when they look at my work. I want them to be full of texture and colour and energy like a city street is layered and constantly in motion.

But I don't want to lose the pleasure I have in painting with freedom and spontaneity. I feel like when I paint from photographs I get too bogged down in what the picture looks like and I'm not painting as loosely as I would like. But then when I paint completely abstractly, they lack coherence and representation. I want them to have more space and depth so they feel like they could be a real place instead of being so random.

So I tried a new technique yesterday where I brought some of my source imagery into photoshop, simplified it and converted it to black and white so I wouldn't be distracted by the colours. I think it still might be too representational, but I'm getting more toward a happy medium of showing the essence of a space and all of the energy and life it contains.

I recorded my process for that painting up there in the super-short video below, so I hope you enjoy seeing how one of my paintings comes together! I am going to be making a boatload of these new paintings every weekend from now until the show so stay tuned my my Instagram account to see the progress!

Music credit goes to my super amazing brother Ben <3

Day 100!

Today marks day 100 of my goal to draw or paint every day in 2016 and I haven't missed a day yet! It has been a roller coaster! I started an amazing new job in January and I knew it was going to be a struggle to continue making art while working full time so this challenge was a way to keep myself motivated and progressing as an artist.

When I started the challenge, I decided I would wake up early and draw/paint in my sketchbook before work because I knew I would be too tired when I got home and that has seemed to work well. At first it was an adjustment to be waking up so early and I often struggle with not knowing what to draw or how to start so early in the morning, but it has developed into precious, quiet, creative time that I look forward to each morning. It means that I am filled up creatively before tacking the day and I find that makes me a much better person.

What is really cool is seeing my progression in style from when I started to now. My drawings at the beginning look awkward and not very cared for or developed. Where now I see that I can make fewer marks to get my point across and that makes the drawings more sophisticated to me. Even though I feel like I start the same way every day,  no two drawings ever end up the same which is pretty awesome. Varying the colours and perspectives and changing from using photo references to making things up in my head seems to help with getting good variety. And when I am working on larger pieces, I feel more confident in my decision making, where I am putting colours, marks and the overall composition.

I would encourage anyone who wants to develop their style, doing one small thing every day goes a long way. It is hard and a lot of the time you don't feel like doing it but the only way you can make progress is slow and steady.

Here are my top 10 favorite drawings from the first 100 days.

Thanks for following along! I hope you feel inspired to make time to do something you really love every day. <3

Get To Work Book

So I finally opened my online shop yayyyyyy! This had been a goal of mine all summer and I had a really difficult time at the beginning. I have so much trouble prioritizing all the things I have to do so I end up doing nothing, except wandering around the apartment aimlessly cleaning things until I have to be at work. That was until I got my Get To Work Book!

My sister wanted to get me a planner for my graduation present because she had gotten me two great ones that had been my lifelines for the past two years. We did a little research together and decided on Elise Blaha Cripe's Get To Work Book. I watched the video where she flips through and talks about all of it's features and I was so excited because it had all of the things I look for in a planner and then some.

  1. Monthly AND weekly full page views. I am such a visual person and I need to see things written out both in a monthly at-a-glance view and broken down into weekly and daily tasks. I do my meal planning on the weekly view and make lists for things I need to remember to pick up that week.
  2. A ton of note space. For ideas that randomly come to me while I'm on the subway. I use this space for blog post ideas, instagram hashtags I want to keep track of, a huge goal list, and other things I need to get out of my brain and on to paper. I'm able to keep track of everything in one place. In previous planners I've used, there is barely any note space, so I'm always hesitant to write things in it in case I use it all up and end up needing it later. (I know, I have issues)
  3. Goal setting. There is the Reflect and Goal Set page where you can be intentional at the beginning of the month about what's working, what's important to work on this month and what to let go of. And then there is the Project page where you can break down one of your larger goals into smaller pieces which is the best way to tackle something that seems impossible. 
  4. Also, it's super pretty. And let's be honest that's important. It has a beautiful simple and clean design which allows you get creative with colours and doodles ! It even comes with beautiful motivational tear out prints which I hang in my studio space to keep me on track.

This book has helped me so much. I am one of those people who has to physically write things down so that I remember them. I think I was the only person who took handwritten notes in an actual notebook at school and not a Macbook. That made me feel old haha! I love sitting down with my coffee to plan my day and look at my to do list in the morning. It helps me feel like I have a plan and I am in control of getting things done.

I cannot recommend this book enough, if you are like me and you need something physical you can hold in order to help you get your thoughts out, plan your days and keep yourself organized, this is the tool for you!

Cottage Life

This is a month late but better late than never right?! At the beginning of June I went up to my family cottage to get some painting done. Boy is it hard trying to paint at home once you're used to having a separate studio space. So my parents offered to make the drive down to Toronto to come get me and all my supplies. This was such a gift to me because A: I don't have a car and B: Our cottage is my favorite place on earth. It is so relaxing and restful and the perfect place to crank out some new paintings! It's funny how a change of scenery and some encouragement from those close to you can inspire so much good work.

My grandparents bought the cottage in the early 1940's after they got married. It used to be a one room shack until the mid-eighties when they tore it down and built a new cottage. (Brown and yellow must have been really in at that time ha!) This place holds so much comfort and peace for me, I treasure every moment I spend there.

I managed to paint 3 paintings over the course of 2 days which felt great! Having my parents there to push me to work helped a lot. It is so hard to get motivated when I'm alone at home.

We managed to slip in a few drinks on the patio in between painting sessions :)

I'm so incredibly thankful for this place and everything that it means. But especially that it's a place that lets us all connect and enjoy time together as a family <3