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

The Year of Creative Habits

Sometimes you just need a kick in the pants.

Something to motivate you to get off your butt and make whatever is important to you happen. Sometimes will power isn't enough, you need structure and planning and accountability.

Making and looking at art makes me come alive. It fires me up and fuels me for whatever is happening in my life. I've realized that if I don't have time to create, I feel lost and directionless. I need to make time for making.

But the thing is, I haven't.

I've made excuses and cleaned the house and read piles of books and looked on Pinterest and Instagram for "inspiration" and did just about everything except make stuff of my own. I managed to make some paintings since graduating, but I completely lost my momentum from school. I was doing it every day, and now I paint once a week if I'm lucky.

Sooooooo.... this year I'm doing a challenge. I'm going to make something new Every. Single. Day. And I'm utterly terrified and it feels like it will be insanely hard but I'm so excited.

The program is Crystal Moody's Year of Creative Habits. She's been doing this for two years now, first with a drawing a day and next with a painting a day. I listened to her podcast with Cory Huff on the Abundant Artist and was SO inspired by her discipline. There is a group of people all doing the year of creative habits for 2016, everyone is doing something different, but each of us has committed to something to do each day. I've chosen to take a photo of some part of architecture each day and to do a drawing or painting of the previous day's photo.

I always feel like I never have enough photos and that my photography skills are still pretty amateur so I feel like if I push myself to take a photo every single day, how can I not get better?

House-Dec-28-2015.jpg

I love this quote:

"You will never change your life until you change something you do daily."  --John C. Maxwell

Little by little is how big things happen and I know that if I challenge myself in this small way every single day I will be able to build momentum and grow as an artist. Creativity and growth are two of my biggest core values and those will both be a large part of this year for me.

I'll be posting what I make each day on Instagram and I'll be blogging about how it's going each week so you can follow along with me and keep me accountable. I'll be using hashtag: #yearofcreativehabits and #yoch2016 and you'll be able to see all the other talented folks who are doing the challenge as well. I'm also using Elise Blaha Cripe's daily goal tracker

I'M SO SCARED! But super pumped. Can't wait to see what this year will bring. Stay tuned for the first post which will be from Mont Tremblant! My fiancee Marc and I are headed there to spend New Year's with his siblings for a ski weekend I can't wait!

Happy New Year!!!!

Why I'm Choosing to Face My Fears in 2016

 Facing my fear of posting selfies.

Facing my fear of posting selfies.

I have a confession to make...

I don't like selfies.

When people post them, I usually judge them saying terrible things in my head like, "They are super full of themselves," or, "Don't they know how narcissistic they look right now?" or "They must need validation from other people in order to feel good about themselves."

Where do these thoughts come from? I have no idea. It's an awful way to feel and I want to stop. But because I think this way, I am afraid to post selfies of my own. I am afraid people will think that about me because so often I think it about others. In fact, I am so afraid that seeing my picture up there right now makes me feel really gross and it is making me want to delete everything I've written so far and start over about something happy and easy and safe. But that isn't what this is about, it's about facing my fears and re-wiring my brain. 

I started this blog with the intention to post weekly. I had a few ideas hashed out, I even scheduled in time in my planner to write the posts. But when it finally came down to writing I made excuses every time.

"I don't have pretty enough photos."

"No one will be interested in what I have to say."

"I'm not funny or witty, I'm boring and that will come out in my writing."

So I would spend hours reading other artist's blogs for "inspiration." Which basically just turned into me feeling worse about myself and wondering how I could ever do anything as great as these other artists I look up to. Not motivating.

I've found this is a serious destructive pattern in my life. I let my fear keep me from doing the things I want to do. STUPID FEARS like,

"The website isn't perfect, so I shouldn't launch it until it looks as good as ________'s does."

"How will I ship my painting if someone buys it?"

"What if people think I'm too salesman-y, how do I promote my work without bothering people?"

"What if my work isn't interesting or conceptual enough?"

"How am I ever going to make a living from this if I can't even blog about myself and my work?"

I spent almost all of 2015 being afraid. My relationships have suffered, I've withdrawn, I've cancelled plans. I've found myself fearing social situations. I've become restless and worrisome, glued to social media, unable to focus on the things that are really important. I've slowly become someone I never thought I'd be.

SO things need to change. Big time.

I have some big and exciting plans for 2016 which include a yearlong project that I will be sharing next week.  And Monday I'm going to post my year in review to help me celebrate some of my wins from 2015 and publicly declare my personal and professional goals for next year so I can stay accountable.

I'm done with looking at what everyone else is doing and feeling paralyzed and afraid. I'm just diving in, working hard, overcoming fear, and throwing perfection out the window.

2016 is going to be the best year yet.