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!!!
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Rob is a professional artist, lover of vintage stuff, part time smart @ss and compulsive pancake eater!