New Works

April 8, 2018


Desotos on St.clair, Blood Brothers Brewing on Geary, The Gem on Davenport. These are some of the spots but not necessarily the pics I will be using

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I have a feeling that my neighbourhood will be unrecognizable in just a few years from now. I have lived in the Dovercourt Village/Wychwood area for almost 6 years. We moved in when my son was just a baby. I was a full time mom and I’ve spent the first 3 years just walking around with this area with my son. In this time we have found some great local cafes, restaurants and great little spots that I have always wanted to paint.

I have seen many plans for condos to move in all along Dupont and even The Galleria Mall is going to be torn down to make way for a huge development in the next few years. I have already seen big changes to Geary St. that was just an idustrial/warehouse corridor when I moved in and now there are craft breweries, cafes, bars and film companies with more cool stuff being added all the time. Over the next year I want to paint as many of these local spots along Ossington up to St. Clair West. I will be continuing my experimentation with a palette knife. It has a much different effect from using a brush. I am also working on a series of local laneways in my neighbourhood as well. Over the next 6 months I hope to capture my neighbourhood as it is now since I see how much it’s about to change.

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Above

Desotos – our favourite family restaurant on St. Clair West/Lauder that we just discovered last year. They hand out crayons and a print out to my son as soon as we arrive, is a beautiful little restaurant with reasonably priced fantastic food!

The Gem- A local dive bar that has been there for decades. Many people have told me their stories about The Gem. It was the first pub my husband went to when he moved to Toronto from Montreal. Yesterday one of the parents from my son’s school told me it was the place he went to on his first date with his wife. It has a very retro divey feel to it and the food and drinks are very reasonable.

Blood Brother’s Brewery on Geary St.- I haven’t tried their beers yet but this little place instantly added a whole new community feel to Geary St and just looking at the picnic tables with people hanging out this fall made me want to paint it.

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The Tricky Business of Pricing Artwork

November 8, 2017

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King Street At Night #1, 12″/36″, oil on canvas, painted 2013.  (King and Jarvis-2010)

 

The painting above took over 80 hours to complete.  I was just starting out again after taking years off to raise my son.   It was as if I had to start all over again in some ways.  Mapping out the painting took forever and building up the skill after years off from painting takes time.   I was really determined to try to make a living from my painting.

I would paint whenever I could and I had decided that when I had at least 4 or 5 paintings that I was happy with I would try to sell them.   That’s when I got a bit intimidated.   I had no idea how to price my work.   So I got the idea to bring my work into a local gallery to ask them what I should charge.   The woman  who worked there was very nice but was almost afraid to look at the painting.  She was pleasantly surprised when I had shown her the work but still she didn’t want to give me a definitive answer.  She showed me pieces from various artists with quite a range in price according to experience and notoriety.   Unfortunately that confused me even more.

So, I decided to go low.    I wanted the pieces to sell because I needed more materials to keep painting.   Each tube of oil paint costs 20.00, canvases start anywhere from 15.00- 100.00 depending on the size, brushes, thinners can also be really expensive.  At the time I was a full time mom and had absolutely no money and very little materials.  Not to make a sob story out of it but I barely had money to get on the bus at the time.

When I completed the paintings I just put them up on my Facebook page to see what the reaction would be.   I got a great response from my friends and was lucky to sell a piece that week!

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Side note:  When people look at art and wonder why it is so expensive I don’t think they understand what goes into making a piece of work.  First off,  it takes years of experimenting and practice.     I served tables and painted for  8 years  just trying to figure out what my style was going to be.   Then it’s the time it takes to go out and take photographs, selecting the image that will be a successful painting, and then the work itself can take a month or more to complete depending on the details.  And of course, the materials can get really expensive. Also this is an original, handmade piece of work and that is valuable in a mass produced society granted if the work is good.

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From that point I had enough money to be able to buy materials however I was still in the dark about how artists actually price their work.  So I asked my friend who was a very successful artist in Toronto how she priced her paintings.  She told me that she charged per square inch and that was the standard.   Again, I was too afraid to ask her how much she charged per square inch because I think it’s a bit rude to ask people how much money they make. So I started to look at some galleries and their pricing and I did the math.    (However it is important to know that most galleries take 50% of the sale so I factored that in as well)

I wasn’t prepared to give up 50% to a gallery so I decided to rent a space and throw my own show at Wychwood barns.   Someone did tell me that beginners should charge 1.50 per square inch.  That is what I did.   A piece that was 12″/12″ /1.5 is 215.00.    As the sizes got larger I would not stick to the per square inch equation if the price seemed too high.  Over time you get a feel for the value of your work.  It is important to have the formula for consistency.

If a piece is very detailed and takes a lot more time I will charge more for the piece.   I now have 2 formulas since I do have 2 different styles.  The paintings that are more abstract take less time therefore I charge less.

It’s been 4 years now that I have been painting full-time.   I feel now that my work is at the right price point.   I love working with a formula because it is easy to explain to people who want to commission a piece or are just inquiring.   I have to say though, it was the trickiest thing to figure out in the beginning.   I was a bit terrified to tell people the price of a piece.  Talking money for something that I made was uncomfortable at first.   It just takes some time to get used to.   I hope this helps for any artists out there with this issue.

 

 

Music

November 2, 2017

If I don’t have new music my life tends to grind to a halt in basically every way.   Part of my lack of inspiration comes from the inability to find new music that really blows my mind.   I have to actively go out and search for new music since I don’t really have much love for what is on the radio.   I don’t mind the old stuff every once and a while but that represents old experiences.   I equate new music with new feelings, new creations and all that is great in the world if I find it.

I am feeling at a loss lately where to find something new.   At least something that will hold me until my next show.   I have paintings that I have named after songs I was listening to when I was out taking pictures.

I haven’t finished this blog yet but I wanted to write about the role music plays in conjunction with inspiration in my life.

I was listening to a song called “The Brightest Hour” by The Submarines on some random mix and it was the first time I had heard it when I was taking pictures of an alley just south of Davenport between Ossington and Shaw.   So naturally I named it the Title of the song.   I love that when I look at this painting I hear this song in my head.

 

 

 

2nd Attempt- Palette Knife

October 31, 2017

This is another work in progress.  Originally this piece was a commission of a painting I did years ago, only I had the wrong size canvas so I decided to try out the palette knife and experiment.

First off I have to say that I am absolutely excited to experiment with this new technique on everything now. The  unpredictability of how the paint goes on the canvas and the texture is so different than what I have been doing in the past. I’ve had to waste and scrape off a load of paint.  However even the mistakes leave traces of the old colour which itself adds  depth and dimension.  The amount of paint I am using is insane! I can only imagine how long it will take for this to dry.

Over the month and a half leading up to Christmas I am busy with commissions so I won’t have much chance to experiment much.  I am thinking that the next group of paintings for my April show will be done with palette knife if I can perfect a technique.

If anyone reading this works with oil paint and hasn’t tried using a palette knife, I highly recommend it.  I am not really sure if I am doing it right but I think it’s the combination of the texture and mix of colours that make my old paintings look a bit flat.

I am trying to blog more, so if I keep it up I will be posting the next collection of paintings for my show in April.

 

Upcoming Bar Collection

May 30, 2016

I am so excited to work on my new project.   Over the summer months I will be painting scenes from several bars and lounges from Toronto and various other cocktail lounges.  I want to recreate that feeling of a night out after I’ve ordered a glass of wine, pint or martini with friends and we’re in the city out enjoying the nightlife.  I want to capture the romance of a beautiful bar with all it’s lights, chatter, music, with both the patrons and the staff.

I had worked at the Park Hyatt for years and it was a special place to work. It used to be called the Park Plaza years ago where many famous Canadians would go. When I worked there people always had a story about The Rooftop Lounge.   So naturally this is the first place I went to do my photo shoot.   A group of my friends and I lived a decadent night of sparkling wine and cheese while I took photographs for this new group of paintings.   I wanted to post a photo of that night as an example of what I will be working on soon.

This will be my first painting of the new collection of works.   wordpress

A New Series of Toronto Paintings.

October 24, 2015

The last year or so I have been painting Toronto Streetcars.   I do think that I will always paint streetcars however I am more interested now in painting bars and cafes of Toronto.  My favorite thing to do is grab a glass of wine or cup of coffee at a bar or a cafe and sit and write about random things I think about or people that I meet.     Before I had my son I was a waitress (yeah yeah… i should be saying server or waiter) at The Park Hyatt Roof Lounge for 7 years.  It was the perfect place for me to work.   I love the whole culture.  The wine or martini glasses, observing people, talking to people, the constant bustle.  The Park Hyatt (formerly, the Park Plaza) had every walk of life come in there.   From  the travelers, the  extremely rich to people pretending to be rich, marriage proposals,  anniversaries, celebrities,  eccentirics, nutcases, regulars, at it’s peak-for the area-the film festival.   I got a lot of flack for being a waitress, it was surprising how much flack really, I have no idea why people would not think it a valued position granted you did the job well.  I would have withered in an office or a school.  Here I was always moving, there were always funny stories and my coworkers became really close friends.   I painted part-time,  but wasn’t a good enough artist at the time to fully commit.  Or maybe I just wasn’t ready to commit to doing one thing.  I think if you are going to be an artist professionally you really have to give it everything and it wasn’t until the last year or so that I decided that that was exactly what I was going to do.     Up until now I have focused on streetcars because I was able to get great photographs while taking care of my son, who also loved to ride them.   However now that he is old enough I can now go out and take photographs in a few bars and cafes.   I would like to do a group of paintings just on the Rooftop because of my connection to it and it’s history.  I have just begun my first painting of a cafe in Toronto which I don’t think I want to sell, I already feel very attached to it.   I do think until I get sick of it, this is my calling.   I am afraid I might not want to sell any of them.   Oh well, either way I am very excited about this new chapter.

Portrait of Lennox.

June 15, 2015

Portrait of Lennox

Portrait of Lennox

I typically don’t do portraits as commissions.     If I don’t get it right I am essentially giving them a painting of a different person.  However I find that painting children is easier than painting adults.   Someone told me once, I think it was my mother actually (she is no artist but she reads)  that children require less detail and this is why I am able to do portraits of children better than adults.  Lennox is my cousin’s grandson so I thought I would give it a try because they asked me.   I have to say I am rather happy about the outcome.

I was supposed to be better with the blogs but the last few months didn’t end up going according to plan.  In fact this was the first week where I took a few days off from painting since last September.    The Riverdale Art Walk was last weekend and so I decided to stop for a few days.   It was my first outdoor Art show  (well second, but the other one hardly counts) and I felt like my paintings were sub par in comparison to the work I had at my show in March.

I am  now preparing for the Queen West Art Crawl.   I have a bit more time and my goal is to work on some larger pieces.   Also I am interested in painting some more Toronto scenes that don’t necessarily feature streetcars.  We’ll see.

Painting # 3 – 1st and 2nd layer

May 5, 2015

#3 work in progress

#3 work in progress

Ok,  So back on the wood again.   I figured out a way to make it work with the wood.   I drew directly on the gesso’d wood and then put semi gloss varathane to keep the paint from soaking directly into it.   I suspected it might work and so far it’s been good.   Due to circumstances beyond my control, I will be lucky if I am able to complete 10 new paintings for the next show.   Either way now that I have discovered that the varathane works I am excited to work with wood.   Also, I am extremely excited about these next paintings.    They are still a combination of both styles.   I was thinking this collection would just be the rainy impressionistic reflection however I took some more photographs and fell in love with them as well.    I will continue to post each work in progress and then before the show I will post the finished pieces.

#2

April 21, 2015

Beginnings of  the second painting.

Beginnings of the second painting.

Back to canvas for this one.   I haven’t given up entirely on wood however I do think it will take time to figure out how to make a great painting on wood.

My goal for these paintings is to work on blending the paint.  I want to give the effect of softness with these pieces.   The last group I wanted to emphasize more texture and chunkiness with the paint.    Actually, now that I am thinking of it, I think I kind of jump between both styles in my work.     So far my interest is just in painting rainy street-scapes of Toronto just for this particular group.    It looks like I might not be able to have as many pieces as I’d like in the RIverdale Art Walk.  Although I am certainly going to try to have at least 10 new paintngs.   Hopefully by tomorrow I will have the canvas covered.

1st Layer.

April 20, 2015

Mapping the piece out in paint is typically the first layer of a painting.

Mapping the piece out in paint is typically the first layer of a painting.

I like to have 10 images ready for painting when starting a new group.  I like to do a layer and then move to the next canvas. This is the first layer.   Although I am not entirely sold on the wood surface.   It’s completely different to painting on canvas.  It soaks up the paint immediately.  Usually I know if a painting is going to be successful however on the wood I am not sure.    Over the last few months I have been trying to pull out the brightest colours I can in my paintings.  I have this fear that by the end of next year my paintings will have evolved to using just neon splotches of city scenes.   I will update when the 2nd layer of the painting is completed but for now I am onto the next one.

Side note:  Lately while painting I have been listening to biographies of various painters.  It’s incredible what you can find just on youtube.  I feel like my motivation increases while listening to their stories. There is a great show on youtube called “What Artists Do All Day”.  Well, yeah the title is pretty self explanatory, but one episode with Jack Vettriano (an artist that I love) which particularly made my day.    When I look at my past pieces I remember what I was listening to while I worked on them.   I am thinking that I might write that on the back of each piece.  With some commissions I have done for friends I tend to write current events on the back of the painting.   I might do that with all of them.   That way, years later someone can turn the painting over and know exactly what was going on in the world when the painting was produced.