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 Month of Art Fairs

Wow, that summer went fast.

When people asked me what I was going to do when I was done school this spring, I did not think doing three back-to-back art fairs in four weeks was on that list. But fate had other plans! In retrospect, I would not have chosen to time things that way, but that's how it worked out, and in the end it was great. I met so many wonderful people and made new artist friends. I learned how to secure a tent in a giant windstorm. I learned that the best way to cart your work to and from the van each night is on a dolly, not in your arms. I learned not to be afraid to ask for help and to always bring an extra [insert random tool here] to help out your neighbors when they forget theirs.

Doing an art fair is a lot of work. Collecting all the supplies, planning out your booth, pricing all your work, packaging it all up, un-packaging it all and setting it up . . . you get the idea. But art fairs are a great way to meet people who are genuinely interested in your work and to talk with them about it. This is a real gift once you're done school, because you don't have a critique every week where you're getting feedback. Here are some tips in case you are thinking of doing an art fair but don't know where to start.

1. Collect Ideas

Make a Pinterest board with inspirational images of other art/craft fair booths. You want to keep it simple and let your artwork be the star of the show. For my first fair I chose to get some lattice panels and paint them white. I hung them from the frame of the tent with zip ties and then hung my work with S-hooks. I picked up some old white sheets from the thrift store to drape over my table as well, to keep with the white theme. People can tell when you've put thought and effort into the design of your booth, and it will make them want to come in and look at your work.

2. Gather Supplies

  • panels to hang your work from (lattice, metal grids, mesh walls, figure out what works for you)
  • small table
  • chair or stool
  • zip ties (big ones)
  • s-hooks
  • staple gun
  • hammer and screwdrivers
  • scissors and exacto knife
  • packaging supplies, including pretty tape and/or ribbon and clear garbage bags to put the packages in if it's raining
  • markers/pens
  • payment system (I used Square)
  • receipt book for cash payments
  • email signup list
  • artist statement/short explanation of who you are and what your work is about
  • string or rope
  • business cards (lots of 'em)
  • something to show how people can find you on social media
  • banner with your name in giant letters
  • stands for small paintings (i got my mini-easels at the dollar store)
  • accessories (I brought my favourite plant because I felt like it brought some homey-ness to the booth)
  • labels with names/prices/size/medium
  • dolly to carry things to and from your truck

3. Create a Plan

Make sure you know approximately where things will hang and how the booth is laid out. (Do you want your table at the front so people can grab business cards easily, or are you using it to display product?) You can be flexible with this and move things around the day of, but often you don't have much time to set up so you want to be as prepared as you can beforehand.

4. Schmooze

Once you're set up and people start walking by, the best thing you can do is be friendly. Say hello if someone pauses, make a joke, talk about the weather, anything to engage them. People are usually hesitant to talk to you so you have to be the one to break the ice. You'll be surprised at how interested people are. Look them in the eye, be genuine, and answer their questions with a smile. They want to get to know a little about the person behind the artwork. It's important to have a short description ready to spout off so you can tell people about your process, materials, and inspiration.  Give each person a business card and always thank them for stopping to take a look.

5. Follow Up

After the fair, collect the names on your email list and send out a note saying thanks for stopping by and that you enjoyed meeting them.

Remember not to get too disappointed if you don't sell anything. Many times people are just breezing by for inspiration or don't have time to stop to chat but will take a business card and buy something later. Keep in mind that any time new people are seeing your work, it's a good thing!



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

I'm Being Featured on Artbomb!

I have the exciting opportunity of being featured on Artbomb in the coming weeks! Artbomb is an online subscription service that sends you an email with a new piece of original artwork each day. How cool is that! Three of my pieces are going to be auctioned and the dates are: May 25, 2015 , June 1st 2015, and June 5th 2015.

You can sign up to receive the emails here and you can unsubscribe anytime!

Here are the pieces that will be auctioned, so if you've had your eye on any of them, now's your chance to scoop them up!

OCADU Grad Ex 100

I felt so blessed to be a part of the 100th annual OCADU Graduate Exhibition this past weekend. Over 8,000 people came through the school on opening night! It was a wonderful night full of excitement and celebration of everyone's accomplishments. There was so much to see, I barely saw half of what was being exhibited, but it was so inspiring to see how hard everyone worked and how creative and innovative everyone's final projects were.

My sister Melody, my brother Ben and I at the show

My sister Melody, my brother Ben and I at the show

I spent most of my time connecting with my family and friends, showing them around the show and celebrating being done. I am so thankful for all of their support and encouragement especially when I was doubting myself which was often! Even though  I'm not sure about what the future holds, I have so many amazing people in my corner and they inspire me every day to keep creating and following this crazy path I've started down.

My sister-in-law Amanda also goes to OCADU for Material Art and Design and she was selling these beautiful ceramic cups and lavender pillows she made at the show. She is going to go places let me tell you, her talent is off the charts. I can't wait to see what she comes up with for her Thesis next year.

If you were at the show and I didn't get a chance to meet you, please let me know in the comments! What was your favourite part?

Endings and Beginnings

I am typing this the night before I go set all of my work up for the OCADU Grad Show which opens on Wednesday. I can't believe my four years at art school are over already. I remember sitting with my sister-in-law Amanda like it was yesterday and chatting about her plans to quit Psychology at Queens and go to OCAD for fiber art and being so excited for her. Then thinking, "If she's doing it, why can't I?" Just leaving everything to follow my dream of becoming an artist. It didn't seem as terrifying back then because I had some time to figure it out. Now, I'm all finished and it's much scarier.

I never thought I could enjoy school as much as I enjoyed my time at OCAD. I met so many amazing people had so many wonderful experiences. I am sad to be done, to lose the daily interaction with fellow artists, to lose the invisible push of trying to keep up to everyone. But it means the beginning of a new phase that I know will be good, but different. School was easy because it was structured, I knew what I needed to do and when to do it. Now, it's an open page. I get to decide how to fill it.

Although it's uncertain, I'm excited for this new chapter and to figure things out as I go. I hope for this to be a place where I can share my  struggles, successes and process as I make art and that it would be an inspiration to anyone who's just starting out as an artist like me.