EVERY year, I do a round up of all the things I am most proud of in my art career! TRUTHFULLY, I do it for myself...often the New Year cultivates a bunch of insecurity that has me questioning my life choices. This list of accomplishments HELPS me keep on!
My biggest change this year, came from painting a brand new series of work...as I keep mentioning, I have been taking photos of old neon signs for as long as I can remember. Until late 2018, I didn't really know WHY...(other than they are SUPER AWESOME to look at)! BUT THEN a concept came to me. Mix signage with movie quotes!
BLAM-O the magic happened!
Here are the 2019 artworks from my "SIGN LANGUAGE" series:
I worked hard in 2019 to enter new things, and to get press on the whole rebuilding/rebranding of my art empire! I was super fortunate to get the attention of The Jealous Curator, and The Canadian Art Junkie. These articles BOTH really helped my new series and my personal story gain some notoriety! I am so grateful for attention these articles brought me!!!
So...my sign series became my new obsession, and as such, I needed to halt production on a few other series' (cuz' momma's gotta have time to eat!) I made the decision to stop painting my "Sign of the Times" Series of Toronto/Hamilton neighbourhood themed artworks. I have renamed it the "Poster Series" and I am not moving forward with this series for the immediate future. I NEVER say NEVER....so I may be back to revisit this work....but not in the immediate future!
BUT don't be SAD, I needed to change. If you stay the same, you get stale and obsolete - AND THAT IS NOT FOR ME, NO SIR!
I also discontinued my 6” Mixed message Series...but I CREATED a paint embellished print of 4 of my most popular 6” pieces!
I AM continuing with my 8" "Mixed Message" paintings though! Here are a few with the brighter colours:
In total, I finished around 120 new paintings and commissions this year!
TAKE THAT IN!
ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY!!!
BOOOOO - FREAKING - YAAAA!
I also painted my first ROUND canvas:
I was featured in Blank Spaces Magazine, and even designed and painted a COVER for Quill and Quire Magazine:
The biggest news of 2019 was that in February I was FORCED OUT of my studio space on Wallace Ave in West Toronto.
We looked at a bunch of HORRIBLE places, some FAR locations, and a few nice but CRAY CRAY expensive places....in the end we decided on Studio 102 - 100 Sunrise Ave, Toronto - and as well as gaining a tonne of space and natural light....I also gained an in house GALLERY space! I had my first solo show in MY OWN DAMN GALLERY in May....
Studio 102 was one of the VERY BEST things that happened with my year. Thanks to Karen Taylor and Jessica Lin, my new home away from home is a DELIGHT:
...and speaking of shows....and delights.....YOU ARE STILL ABLE to see my latest (mini)show:
"THE REELNESS: QUEERS IN FILM"
NOW - January 6th, 2020, The Window Gallery YYZ, 558 Church Street, Toronto:
This year was full of commissions, but I also did a few BIG commissions...I finished my BIGGEST commission to date…..for The Daniels Corporation - it is hanging in the lobby of “The Logan” in Leslieville:
....I painted a mural at Ethel 20th Century Living...
...I also worked with Pomerleau Construction on a community engagement mural for "The Big Draw" in High Park....it was a new challenge....but a lot of FUN:
In 2019 I picked up new galleries in Ontario; Paula White Diamond Gallery, Mad and Noisy Gallery, and Butter Gallery. These fabulous places are great additions to my other gallery representation at Noodle Gallery in Caledon, LaBodega Gallery in SanDiego, Curly Tale Fine Art in Chicago, and my home base gallery...Blue Crow Gallery in Toronto! These galleries, in combination with the Rosedale Art Fair, The ETSY shows and the Riverdale Art Walk, made for an extra busy show season!
I also picked up two new retailers for my merch! SOHO Art and Framing gallery on Roncesvalles in Toronto and Framing and Art Centre in London! I still have my regular retailers; The Hamilton Store, Sonic Boom, The Papery, and The Spacing Store!
I was THRILLED to donate art to ARTAttack at Buddies in Bad Times, where my art raised $1200 for them to continuing to serve the LGBTQ community with fine theatre productions next year:
In my merch shop....I reached the end of the edition run of a few more of my limited edition prints of Toronto...and I am discontinuing a few of the less popular prints in my “Poster Series” - formerly “Sign of the Times” Series. I also released 3 new limited edition paint embellished prints for Sign Language Series and 3 lower end posters too!
I ended the year with a big decision.
I have decided that after 6 years at the Christmas One of a Kind Show, that I need a break for 2020:
It was a great run with OOAK, but I need a change. That show is all consuming for MONTHS, and in the end, I am tired and worn out for a month...so I am looking forward to changing my priorities and trying new things!
What shows will fill it's HUUUUUUGE shoes?? NO IDEA! But the opportunities that come up will be exciting and different...and I look forward to them!
TRUTHFULLY, I look forward to ALL the things that are gonna happen this year!! I am hoping for some big AMAZING and happy changes.....
I hope that you follow my antics and art in 2020, and that you too have a great new decade starting!!!
So here are the details of my upcoming show THIS WEEKEND....
ETSY: MADE IN CANADA
MaRS Discovery District Building,
101 College St, Toronto, ON
Saturday September 28th
(in West Atrium - at the bottom of the the stairs!)
At this show I will be showing a bunch of my merchandise and a few small paintings as well!
FOR THIS SHOW ONLY
I will be selling a bunch of my work at 2015 prices!!
Well, my newest series (the Sign Language Series) is a super big hit...and so I will be focussing my attention on this series. It's just that simple!
So, in the spirt of change and evolution of my art career....I have decided to DISCONTINUE all my 6x6 paintings...for $50 each! Which is a $25 savings! Check them out:
I made the announcement an hour ago and already one is SOLD!
So send me an email if you want something - and I will pack it up FOR YOU! Don't be slow...these will go lightning fast!
ALSO....at 2015 prices:
8x10 prints $30
16x20 prints $80
and even PILLOWS......
YES.....even these adorable 18" SUPER SOFT pillow covers will be priced at $50 each (UNSTUFFED!)
I will also be discontinuing some of my prints....so there will be a box of extra discounted prints for sale!
COME OUT AND SEE WHAT I GOT AVAILABLE!
(There are also a LOT of other GREAT makers who will be at this VERY BUSY show.....so come out for THEM too!!!)
See You Saturday!
Hi friends and art collectors!
Have you missed me??
Many of you have noticed that I have ‘downsized’ the number of outdoor art shows you see me at! That is something VERY INTENTIONAL FOR ME! I am doing more gallery and indoor and online sales. I feel like 15 years of showing in parks is quite enough.
Honestly, it’s matter of refocusing my energy...so not to worry.....I am far from gone! Infact, I am busier than EVER!
In the past 3 months, I have:
Created some great new commissions including this one for “Quill and Quire Magazine”:
I have also gained some new representation in galleries including...
Paula White Diamond Gallery
Mad and Noisy Gallery
I have also donated a piece for ArtAttack 2019:
Come out to this great art auction in support of Buddies In Bad Times Theatre! As you may know, I started my career scenic painting for theatre, and have painted scenery for Buddies a couple of times....so this event seemed like a natural fit!
AND speaking of great GAY events.......
I am now working up paintings for 2 upcoming solo exhibitions:
"THE REELNESS: QUEERS IN FILM"
The Window Gallery YYZ,
558 Church Street, Toronto
This little exhibition is a celebration of queer culture in movies. Essentially, it is my SIGN LANGUAGE SERIES with a big gay twist! I am excited about this small but mighty exhibition!
AND and upcoming February gallery show....
I will be announcing MORE DETAILS SOON!
ALSO before the end of the year you can see my art at....
ONE OF A KIND SHOW
November 21 - December 1, 2019
Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place, Toronto
Weekdays & Saturdays 10am - 9pm
Sundays 10am - 6pm
*Thursday, November 28, 10am - 11pm
MORE DETAILS COMING SOON!
AND FINALLY -- I also have my new(ish) studio, thanks to those of you who have stopped in - I ❤️ it! You are welcome to come by and see the studio BY APPOINTMENT! Or you can wait until December....
STUDIO 102 HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE
102-100 Sunrise Ave, Toronto, ON
Thursday, December 5th, 5pm-9pm
Saturday December 7th, 10am-3pm
MORE DETAILS TBA
Thanks for the support - its been a great BUSY year so far, and I look forward to a great finish to this year, as I continue to evolve in my art practice!
This is my commissioned pieces for The Daniels Corporation. For those of you who DO NOT know them, they are a great developer here in Toronto! They also go out of their way to showcase local artists! This big boy above (the painting) hangs in lobby of 'The Logan' on Queen Street East, Toronto.
Like with most commissions, I was given ideas as to what they would like to see....but I was mostly left to my own devices! The final painting "4 Queens" is 6 foot x 6 foot, and was a JOY to work on. Each corner is made up of a Queen themed phrase:
Queen of the Night
Logan and Queen (the intersection it is on)
I am THRILLED with the final piece - it was a super challenge to get the imagery in each corner to bleed together! A FUN challenge!
I was also commissioned to make a painting that encouraged people to take the stairs.....for this one I was told exactly what they wanted....and I think it works pretty well:
HERE IS A VIDEO TOUR of the site and my painting!!
All-in-all a GREAT EXPERIENCE working with Daniels on this project!
I am super happy that it looks so great, and that they are happy with the piece too! Hopefully the new residents enjoy walking past it each day!
ALSO....you too can commission me to do a painting for you! Just email me, and we can get to working up something GREAT that is customized to you and your space!!!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
So....every year I like to do a little recap of my wins and losses for the previous year.
Often, it feels like the best way to determine what WORKED and what didn’t...so that (IN THEORY) I can make smarter choices in the upcoming year! The thing I need to remind myself, is that my goals are MOVING targets, and I need to adapt and change as each year goes by!
The re-cap is also a way of very publicly patting myself on the back....and saying “Rob, you are awesome!”
If it seems a bit too self congratulatory - you’re probably right...but WE ALL need to give ourselves the OK to be proud of our achievements...no matter their size!! So here we go..in 2018....I created...
-SIX new paintings (and PRINTS) in my ‘Sign of the Times” Series...that’s 6 new Toronto neighbourhoods, and 1 new Hamilton piece.
- I also painted about 200 NEW 8x8 and 6x6 pieces from my “Mixed Message” Series...which was crazy.....
I tried a bunch of new colours and a new technique - which made it SUPER FUN to paint them...and they turned out so splendidly!!!! I love allowing little bits of change to help me grow as an artist! (I am also happy that they work within the confines of ‘my brand’!!)
- after 3 years of painting in 3 series, and STICKING to just those, I finally started a new series!
I have been taking photos of road-side signs for 2 decades, but every time I painted one - it never felt RIGHT.
Last year, it finally came together for me!! I would paint these signs but change them — usuing quotes based on movies! The first one was for The TOAE, and was so well received...that it was ALMOST bought by the city.....not quite a WIN.....but it’s honour just to be nominated, I guess???
- I then created FIVE more MASSIVE paintings in my new series - that I HOPE to have a show of in 2019!!
I am so thrilled with these pieces - they really feel like culmination of years of work. They fit my brand - and they involve all the things that I love;
LOOK for more from this series, as I devote ALL my creative energy on it!
— I also created 18 commissions in various sizes for clients!!
So in total, I painted a RECORD 250 paintings in 2018...which is ah-fucking-mazing!!
(insert huge pat on back here!) 🤣
I also created 2 new pillow designs, 2 new poster designs, and several postcards too!
IN OTHER great news, I entered a LOT of contests and shows....don’t worry - it wasn’t without failing a brunch
I was denied a LOT....
(10 times - not that I am counting - and 4 of which were from Create Magazine alone!!!)
HOWEVER, I did get to do the following art shows;
The Riverdale Art Walk
The Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition
“Marvel” and “Disney”, LaBodega Gallery in SanDiego
Pennello Gallery in Cleveland
McVarish Gallery in Oregon
Curly Tale Gallery in Chicago
“The Views are Different Here” at the Aird Gallery
“Play Up”,Noodle Gallery, Caledon, ON
It was pretty good to extend my reach into the USA - and I hope to further this reach in 2019!
I also joined the roster at The Patch Project. I joined in April, and in early May began to negotiate which paintings would be used in a project....but then....THIS.....
—- REMEMBER THAT ONE TIME? When my studio burnt down destroying 120 of my paintings, damaging another 35 or so....and destroying my booth, tent, supplies and all my Merch?!?
If you don’t know about this one...there is a blog post about it HERE
I am not gonna get into how awful things were. I am also not gonna tell you that I am “fully recovered”, because losing that much stock and replacing it - is taking quite a frigging lonnnnnnnnnnng time!
BUT I will say that the experience taught me a few things:
1. The importance to community - and of having artist peers to talk to!!! I met some great people - and was truely touched by the outpouring of help and support in the darkest days! I want to devote more of my time this year into building relationships, and strengthening my networks! I want to continue to help others, the way they helped ME!
2. The most awful career loss can lead to brand new and exciting things. For me, out of the fire is a new excitement about art and it laser focused me on creating new opportunities. I guess after 14 years, I was getting a bit complacent, and a bit too worried about changing things up....but NOW I realize that EVERYTHING in life changes....and am nervous and THRILLED about some new projects and directions.
3. You will always need to deal with loss in life. ALWAYS! Hopefully you can withstand the loss - heal - and maybe even change for the better - because of it! EVERY year will have AWFUL shit happen - sickness, death, loss, moving, divorce, a MILLION bad things happen every day in the world, BUT I think that if I can live through it, and try to find the good in the everyday successful moments.....my life will be happier!
OK- enough from old Guru Croxford...
Getting back to the good things......so April signed contracts for murals with Patch, in May lost ALL those paintings to the fire....but then 5 months later, after a bunch of repainting, and hard work and re-scheduling....BLAMO:
What a great opportunity! Swing by 99 Liberty Ave to see this massive installation!
Other great stuff from last year...
- SURVIVED the One of a Kind Winter Show
- got my Merch into Sonic Boom
- did a Show at the Hamilton Store in Hamilton
- did 2 great Etsy shows
- started my BIGGEST commission to date.....the details of which are gonna be revealed this month!
- and got a new (albeit temporary) new studio space WHICH I LOVE LOVE LOOOOVE:
2018 had a bunch of health scares and losses and family problems and sickness, and sadness...so sufficed to say, I am not sad to see a NEW year begin.
BUT, despite the shit storm of 2018, I am leaving last year stronger, and clearer, and more excited about the future...even though 2019 will not all sunshine and roses, I know that I will survive and flourish even when the shit storm begins again...and it seems impossibly hard!!
I hope your 2019 will be filled with new opportunities and NEW CHALLENGES....and despite new losses - sweeter wins.....and I look forward to all of us having a great year!!!
(INSERT DRINK CHEERS-ING HERE!)
A long time ago, my parents bought me an easel for Christmas.
(Sadly, I cannot find the photos from that Christmas)
IT WAS A HUGE gift (aka expensive) and I was shocked and thrilled to have my own artist easel. At the time, it felt like it was my parents endorsing my change of career. With their blessing (and their gift), I would transform myself!
In the years since this easel joined my life, it has moved MANY times and I have painted MANY paintings with it. (About 1200 paintings!!)
Yup. I DID become a full time professional artist.
On May 22nd, when the BIG WALNUT STUDIO FIRE HAPPENED....I rescued it and brought it home. IT WAS SAD. Part of me wants dto just throw it in the garbage with all the burnt paintings. it was too sad and too smelly to bring INTO the house...so....
for WEEKS on my front porch.
The truth is, after more than a month of airing out....it still smelled bad....and it looked just terrible. IMPOSSIBLE even.
I was beginning to resign myself to throwing it out.
But that just seemed so sad.
We had been through so much!
So a month in, I tried again....I febreezed it, and put baking soda on it, and let it air for another few weeks....sadly it still smelled....
I just figured it, like all those destroyed paintings, was part of my past. I mean, why not just start over???
Why put in the effort to revive something that was in such bad shape?
Why couldn't I let go of the past??
The truth is I couldn't stand the thought of throwing it out!
I mean, it was a gift from my folks, and it was the ONE constant in my career - in all the locations, in all the good times, in all the hard times....I had this easel!
So I thought I would spend some MORE time trying to fix it.
I started scraping at it, trying to get the layers of black char off it....it was 30 degrees and hot, and as sweat dripped into my eyes, I realized, that there was many layers of paint on it....enough that some areas could just be PEELED.....
So I started peeling off the layers of paint.
It was very satisfying. As I stripped back the layers, I saw paint colours that I used in the beginning of my career.
It was strange to remember these paintings from so long ago, and remember how I wondered then "Will I ever make it as an artist?"
So...I spent another day of striping...
I then put 3 coats of varathane on it.....BUT left one area black and burnt. I then moved it into my NEWEST studio....
See the top of the easel arm?
I left it black (with 3 layers of sealant) to remind myself of the lessons I have learned from the tragedy of the studio fire:
1. It's okay to hold on to the past sometimes. Don't rush to start over and throw things away, sometimes you can USE the past to help you build your future!
2. Sometimes, when you are stuck on a problem, you need to just hold on and a solution will eventually reveal itself! Time is a great healer, and a great teacher. LET IT TEACH YOU!
3. I also learned AGAIN, that a lot of hard work, a lot of time, and a lot of determination WILL yield results!
I feel like these lessons will help shape me going forward, and that is why I wanted to see that burnt area...to remind myself! I hope that works! ;-)
AND SO NOW, TRUELY, the second chapter in my painting career can START! THESE ARE EXCITING TIMES!!!!
Thanks for joining me!
Hey hey hey!
Well I DID it!!!!
Somehow, despite the fire at my studio, I was able to put together a booth of paintings for the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair in just under 6 weeks! It's a summer art-show MIRACLE!
Ok....it is true that more than half was from my galleries - so it took no additional painting work....and YES....a 1/4 of the booth was fire burnt discounted pieces....BUT STILL.....I got a lot of work done - locked in my dark basement for that last month....
HERE is a little re-cap of my weekend.....
It all starts with promotion....and this year the TOAF was hot on their new 'branding'.....so we all had to try to work it into our promotion....which was HARD given the bold (one might even say OVERPOWERING) imagery of the new TOAF "brand"...but I think my many posts did an okay job......
For the show I painted some new pieces....a few are still left....check my NEW IN 2018 tab above to see what's left to buy!
I have done this show 11 times, so it is very easy to compare the years....I TRY not to....BUT.....
This year was a bit of a strange show for me comparatively.....and I think part of my disappointment was from having so many of the pieces I painted SPECIFICALLY for the TOAF audience - DESTROYED in the fire last month.
Honestly, I was LEGITIMATELY shocked that the pieces BELOW didn't sell over the weekend.....Let's hope these guys get some LOVE this week after people go home and measure....
IF YOU WANT TO SEE ONE OF THESE GUYS IN PERSON....you can email me and make an appointment to come to my new studio!!!!!
OKAY ON WITH THE SHOW.....
Day one.....was quite a day.....it started with some serious hubbub...
I posted this photo immediately to my social media with the heading "look.....all three levels of government have come out to TOAF today!"....but then husband told me it was too political...so I took it down....but I still think it is kinda funny....
I am sure that Mr Ford can take a joke....RIIIIGHT??
It's a compliment for him....but maybe not for her....
ANYWAYS....Here I am in my booth:
The walls were organized by "kind" of art...
1. borrowed back from galleries
2. BRAND NEW
3. Fire ravaged
I was thrilled for the SECOND TIME in 11 years to be in the running for the Mayoral Purchase Award....but lost out again...always a bridesmaid.......still....had a long conversation with our Mayor about my work. He seemed to really like it:
So...all and all a VERY exciting day....
BUT THEN AT LUNCH....
There was this....
Deep fried mac and cheese balls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The best balls I've had in my mouth in YEARS!
You know, I've done this show - in this approximate location 3 times...and it is funny how the view has changed every year....SO MUCH CONSTRUCTION!!!
Day 2.....not quite as star studded and exciting as day one....lots of selfies and posing though for very sweet artist friends that visited....
All and all a VERY VERY quiet day for me....I enjoyed my lunch with the birds that day.....squatting on the cement.....trying to be zen......while birds flew around me like a dead carcass ready to peck....
ALSO just outside of the square was a pop up show called "Torontopia", that was run by my friends at The Spacing Store...so even though I did not have any of my limited edition prints with me....I DID have them in the pop-up:
ON THE LAST DAY...
.....and the HOTTEST day.....
I moved things around....
I ALSO put on my BRIGHTEST outfit....to give the impression that I wasn't TIRED and SORE and a little grumpy.....I think it worked!!
It also invited a lot of chit-chat - and set me up with a number of one liners.....encouraging people to stop staring at my melons....and telling them that I looked like the gayest picnic ever....
You know I love some SHTICK!
Mid way through the hottest day.....some selfish a-hole decided to let their dog crap and then WALK AWAY.....
Thankfully it wasn't right in front of my booth....
Thankfully it wasn't also RIGHT DOWNWIND....
....and it wasn't baking in the 33 degree weather.......so it filled my tent with the pungent odour for HOURS!!!!!!
I finally covered it in some garbage that another jack-wad had just thrown onto the ground.....
Sometimes people are a real disappointment.
BUT what can you do??
Sometimes people are surprising too....like this confident gent....
This photo was caught by the DELIGHTFULLY TALENTED Sherri Rogers...whose work I CANNOT get enough of.....
PLEASE go and check out her instagram and her site!
She is allllll the way from the West coast....and has great stuff...
AND SPEAKING OF GREAT STUFF.....
This client that really gets the cheeky-ness of my art took "Not My Cup of Tea" home....and put it with some of his other art....I LOVE this juxtaposition....
I am hoping to have more in-situ photos from clients of new paintings in the next few days....
I LOVE to see where my pieces end up!!
So....that was a wrap to the weekend.
It was good weather, lots of chatting, loads of cards given out...and hopefully lots of emails and calls THIS WEEK as follow up!!!
I want to thank all the volunteers that helped all day long....and the organizers for putting on a great show. Thanks to all my great neighbours, and my artist friends who were also at the show....and to those who visited and showed their support!
THANKS to all my clients - old and new that came out for support! It really means a lot -- especially given how the last month has been! :-)
I ESPECIALLY am thankful that husband was there to help me out over the weekend...I am not sure why he sticks around...but I am SOOOOO glad he does!!!
I move into my new studio and begin new work for the fall and winter.
IT IS GONNA BE GREAT! Stay tuned to my website for all the news - and my instagram for all the silliness......
So....it has been quite a month! I am working hard to get back to business as usual! The thing is, it isn't just business as usual. After the great burning trash heap of a month that we have had.....I am still struggling to get my business back to a pre-fire state. I feel like July will give me some time to decide HOW I want to move forward with my art career. BUT UNTIL I CAN TAKE A SECOND TO THINK ABOUT THAT.....I am in the midst of Toronto Outdoor at Fair prep...
As you may know the big show is this upcoming weekend!
Toronto Outdoor Art Fair runs
Friday July 6, 10-7pm
Saturday July 7, 10-7pm
Sunday July 8, 10-5pm
BOOTH - C232
(in the south- east corner of Nathan Phillips Square)
(see map below)
This month....I am also working to replace all the items I lost in the fire, so that I can move to my new studio - in this building:
But I AM excited about the beginning of something new. For some time I have been snapping photos of signs that I LOVE. And for some time, I mean....all my adult life! I have been to The American Sign Museum, and the Neon Museum...and I LOVE them both....they are serving as inspiration for a new body of work.
THE NEW pieces are going to be signs....some close up - some farther away....I am then going to re-design the sign to say something else. Something funny. Maybe thought provoking? But certainly 100% Rob!
I am going to call this series "Sign Language".
The first few are going to be liberating the text from MOVIES.
Now...why the change up??
1.) Because I love signs and fonts!
2.) Because I love all things RETRO and vintage!
3.) Because I love humour!
4.) Because I love pop culture and movies
5.) Because I FREAKING WANT to!
I thought the first one needed to blur the lines between my Toronto themed "Urban Landscapes"...and the new "Sign Language" series...So....I am pleased to show you the FIRST of this series....ahead of TOAF this weekend.
FIRST.....here is a little glimpse into the painting process:
THIS....is the final painting:
It's "Honest Ed's" as you've never seen it!
I used a famous quote from "Casablanca"....that really sums up my feelings about this great institution, and the loss of it.
I think it is a GREAT start at this new series, and I am EXCITED to get into my new space so I can get NEW works started!!!
Look for more in this series SOON!
What do you think?
You into it?
COME SEE IT THIS WEEKEND - LIVE!!!
I totally stole that tile from David Sedaris!
But It really sums up the feeling that I've had for the last few weeks. As you know, I had a fire that destroyed a LOT of my work. Paintings and prints that had taken me a DECADE to create/produce.
It's put me at a real disadvantage financially, but also put a real crimp in my show season. I have 2 more shows to get through...less like a phoenix and more like a slightly charred bird with a broken wing and singed feathers....and a limp....
The fire took my art and supplies and my booth and my tent and it really felt like it had also taken my desire to paint.
Weird, I know.
I have been hustling to get enough work together to show at my upcoming shows, and now that I am down to the last 5 "sellable" fire damaged paintings....I need to get back to work.
BUT I REEEEEEEEALLY HAVEN'T WANTED TO!
I KNOW that while I paint, I am often in a very serene, almost meditative place. I am not thinking about all the crap that NEEDS to be done, I am just thinking about the colours on my brushes. That is something I am truly grateful for! So...I forced myself back to work...because sometimes you just have to force yourself to keep moving....
So...last week I went into my basement and worked on a brand new painting. Truthfully, the process was PAINFUL! It is from a drawing I did about 4 months ago....that I loved at the time....but now it feels different. Kinda like I was moving back in time, not forward.
Here is the painting I worked up:
In the end, this piece is fine.
Am I IN LOVE with it?
But it has lead me to a painting on my easel right now that I like more! Yesterday I forced myself to do an hour of painting....and then 5 hours later, my husband came downstairs to ask if I was okay...I HAD LOST ALL TRACK OF TIME!! (HUZZAH!!!!) I was in the zone! This new painting has caused a lot less anxiety and stress for me....
(I'll show you it soon!)
So, it feels like my *MOJO is returning!!
*Mojo is thee "magic" that is created when I can paint JOYFULLY!
It's a great feeling that I hope keeps dragging me further and further AWAY from the fire, and into a new and exciting chapter....
I know it's a process! And once my July deadline comes and goes, I will get to really dive into the healing process and I will be able to reflect on what and HOW I want to rebuild!
UNTIL THEN....I have 2 NEW NEW NEW drawings that are ready to paint...and a tonne of work to do! Both the new paintings are slightly different - so that is exciting too!
I am EXCITED to get to work on them....
JUST WAIT for what's next!!!!
(and thanks for reading this, friend!)
I didn't know how to title this post....I wanted to call it CONTROL....but I thought that "Trial by fire" really gave the headline some zip! ANYWAYS.....here we go....
“This is a story about control. My control (issues). Control of what I say, control of what I do. And this time, I’m gonna do it my way!”
YES! I am channelling my inner Janet Jackson! As you know, 10 days ago the studio I share at Walnut Studios was ravaged by fire. I was 1 studio away from the “heart” of the fire, so my things got pretty burnt. This is what was left of my studio:
In the direct aftermath I went into my space and took out all the prints and paintings that seemed like I could “fix”.
(Silly, silly Rob!)
A day later, I started sifting through the wreckage....and over the course of the next 2 days, I realized that it was way worse than I had originally expected.
I guess as part of the process I needed to see the devastation with my own eyes, and then needed to exert “control” over an uncontrollable circumstance.
I have spent the last week using Febreeze, baking soda and dryer sheets to combat the smoke smell. I have cleaned and primer-sealed some pieces....and done everything I could to take CONTROL of the damage with varying levels of success. I have been social media-ing and talking to the press, and generally just begging for money on behalf of the entire studio. It has been humbling and hard for me to do so. I like to think that I can CONTROL that too! AND YET.
So now, a week later – everything is catalogued and I am left to ponder the devastation. In all, I was able to “save” only 9 paintings, and about 25 small paintings --- which means I lost about 110 original paintings that I had in stock…..Pieces that took me YEARS of work. That is the sad part. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful - even 10% of my stock is still better than some of the Walnut Studios artists fared. So that is why I am having a ONE TIME – FIRE SALE this weekend:
I will be selling these very few slightly damaged works at 50% off at The Riverdale Art Walk this weekend. As well as showing some NON-SMOKEY pieces that were at Blue Crow Gallery!! I gotta be honest though…..I have really struggled with my ego on this whole sale thing...I mean, what will people think? What will clients think? What will my galleries think? The truth is, I cannot CONTROL how others will perceive me and my level of professionalism. I just gotta get through a lousy situation and get back on my feet…..with as much humour as I can muster. Me finding the funny in this is NOT to lessen the horrible loss from this event, but rather to cope and to help find the GAINS in the loss!
People have been mostly wonderful, and supportive, and it has encouraged me to keep going! I am proud of my Walnut Family for really doing together through this, and I hope we call all RISE LIKE THE PHOENIX (I promised I wouldn't say that....and yet....)
I am still waiting for details on WHERE I am going next....hopefully it is with my Walnut community....I DO KNOW (or I hope) that in a year, I will mark this moment as a turning point in my 15 year old visual art career. It will be BF and AF (before fire and after fire)as in....THINGS are gonna be amazing AF!! (yup – I meant to do that! ;-)
And so…I am in CONTROL....and am getting my show face on…and I look forward to seeing you this weekend at The Riverdale Art Walk (INDOORS). THANKS MY FRIENDS! FROM THE BOOTM OF MY HEART!!!
**here is a link to a GoFundMe campaign
** More fundraising efforts for Walnut Studios as a whole and for artists who lost work due to smoke damage in the South Studio will be forthcoming. Let's help rebuild an important part of Toronto's independent artist community!
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Rob is a professional artist, lover of vintage stuff, part time smart @ss and compulsive pancake eater!