Last year I entered a call for submission for street banners to be created for the Lakeshore Village BIA.
The call for submission was facilitated by STEPS Public Art that created a public art program called ‘I HeART Main Street’ as a way to re-energize main streets across Canada after decline in business and revenue due to covid lockdowns. ‘I HeART Main Street’ is presented in partnership with RBC Royal Bank and the City of Toronto, and generously supported by Canada Healthy Communities Initiative funded by the Government of Canada, Canada Council for the Arts, and Ontario Arts Council.
I was lucky enough to be one of four artists to be chosen by the Lakeshore Village BIA to create brand new work that reflected the BIA’s close proximity to Lake Ontario.
I was happy to see that the Lakeshore Village BIA reused the banners for a second year and were remounted along Lakeshore Boulevard during the summer of 2022!
On May 27th, 2021 the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc announced that with ground penetrating radar, they found 215 remains of children on the grounds of a former residential school.
The announcement shocked Canadians, most of us whom knew about the horrors of residential schools, yet couldn’t fathom the thought of so many children losing their lives away from family and loved ones and not even being acknowledged with a grave or headstone.
Like most people, I felt helpless but also sad and guilty for being able to live my life as a Canadian settler without the knowledge of these unmarked graves and only learning more about residential schools outside of a Canadian public school curriculum.
In response, I decided to paint 215 wild flowers found in the Kamloops area as a tribute to pay my respects to the children who never made it back home.
I was lucky enough to have a friend I met through Instagram express interest in this piece. In exchange for the painting, Sharon made a donation to an organization that supports Indigenous people of her choice: the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society.
Sharon is a professor at the Fashion Design and Technology Department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and she has even used my painting to discuss Truth and Reconciliation.
Change is slow but hopefully settlers can keep our government accountable for all the promises toward reconciliation it has made and we’ll be able to see past wrongs rectified.
One of the personal upsides to being in a lockdown during this global pandemic, is that I have more time to paint! I created a whole new series, thanks to being forced to stay at home.
While I am fortunate enough to have secure housing and food and a very stable family unit, the pandemic lockdowns were still emotionally stressful. These extra stressors took a toll on society as whole and globally we found ourselves facing unrest and clashes on many social issues.
I decided to host a fundraiser where 30% of all sales of my new series would be donated to 3 organizations. I also decided to personally match 30% of the donation amount, so that I could double the amount of funds that would be donated to:
This was my third time showing work through Toronto Public Library’s Art Exhibit’s program – a program that allows local artists to exhibit 2D pieces in select libraries across the city. It’s a great program for artists who may not be signed to galleries and need walls to showcase their art. While you have to take on everything yourself and be artist, curator, promoter and art installer, the program allows artists to show their work for a whole month and attract audiences that they may not receive in conventional art gallery spaces. I really believe it’s an invaluable program and I feel really lucky that my last three submissions were accepted (I tried and failed 2 times before getting my first acceptance).
That being said, the space at the Bloor Gladstone Library made for a departure in terms of exhibition experience, compared to my shows at the Runnymede and Northern District Library.
First, the exhibition space is a multi-purpose room where the furniture is constantly being moved around for library programs and sometimes even used as storage space. This created a more transient feeling for the space, compared to the Runnymede and Northern District library exhibit spaces which were areas of the library dedicated to showcase artwork.
The second thing that made for a less than stellar show experience was that things that I would usually have available at my exhibitions would always go missing! I always had a comment/feedback notebook and pens, along with some promotional brochures (and this time a Slate Art Guide magazines). By the end of the show I would have a collection of comments and messages from not only my friends but strangers that happened upon my show. Sadly these kept on going missing, despite me replacing them whenever I noticed they were missing. Were my items being stolen? Or removed by an overzealous janitor?
Despite this, I find it is always so humbling to be able to share art work with my friends and also complete strangers. And the staff at the Bloor/Gladstone Library were very supportive of myself and the Art Exhibits program.
I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity to show my work and thankful for all my friends who took time out to visit the library to see my art 💖
2017 was actually my 2nd attempt at Inktober (a 31 day drawing challenge started by illustrator Jake Parker) but my first time actually being able to successfully complete it.
Here are some things I learned from completing a 30 day challenge:
1. Have accountability
I made my challenge public by announcing it and posting all my posts on Instagram. Knowing that I made my intention public, held me accountable for actually sticking to the challenge and having to showcase something every day!
2. Have all your tools and materials ready
Attempting to draw everyday takes a lot of time and when the tip of my one brush pens started to split, I’d to go out to grab another one. During any other time, heading to the art store to buy a pen would be a fun excursion, but when you are scrambling to find time to finish a drawing and running on very little sleep, anything that diverts time from actually making art is a huge waste of time. So stock on up art supplies and materials before hand!
3. Pre-brainstorm Ideas
Try to have as many concepts and ideas ready to go before the challenge starts. When I was in the midst of Inktober, so much of my time everyday was spent thinking about what to draw. Thankfully there were a handful of daily prompt lists that I could peruse and look for something that interested me. If I had, however, my own list of concepts, more time could have been spent on the execution of each drawing and probably more sleep time, too!
Interestingly, Fran Meneses (aka Frannerd) just posted a video discussing tips for successfully completing 30 day challenges. Some of our ideas overlap!
Despite getting sick while attempting this challenge, I went in just wanting to draw every day with no expectations of what I wanted to get out of it. So while my number one goal was just to finish the challenge, I came out of it with a whole new painting style and series! Inktober was a hard but definitely invaluable experience, that I’d love to try again one day.
I started my 52 Portraits Project as a self-directed, self-imposed year long project to get myself drawing more.
While I have been drawing a bit more than years past, drawing 1 portrait as week has been a bit of a challenge for me. I’m woefully behind now, but perhaps in December (after my first ever fight camp for Muay Thai is over), this can become a daily drawing challenge!
Nevertheless, I am happy with the way some of my portraits have turned out!
Will I be able to complete the challenge before the end of the year? Stay tuned (or check out my portraits on Instagram with this hashtag #52portraitshyedie!
Although I couldn’t attend the opening reception of ‘In the Round’, I did check out the show when I returned to Toronto. There were so many different styles, ideas and uses, however, most people created a 3 piece series with their birch rounds.