Monday, December 30, 2013

doing lots of this lately

oil, portrait, painting, artist
8" x 10 ", oil on canvas

"..she always had that about her,
that look of otherness,
of eyes that see things much too far,
and of thoughts that wander off the edge of the world.."                      
                             ---  joanne harris

figurative painting, oils, portrait, black and white, monochromatic,
11" x 14", acrylic on canvas, WIP

"...take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic.."
               --- frida khalo

Saturday, December 21, 2013


the newest member to the di leo clan:

oscar diego ignacio paco di leo
born november 12, 2013

he comes home to us on december 31st.  and yes, that's his full name because we couldn't decide on just one.

he's a chihuahua and won't grow to be more than 5 - 7 lbs (if that), which is why we chose him.  it sort of just happened over the weekend.  we've know for a while that we wanted another puppy, the rest of the family were waiting for me to give the go-ahead.  i needed time to grieve samson, and to not feel as if we were replacing him.  i wanted time to be ready for a new little guy.

not sure how this is gonna be having such a little munchkin after being so used to a 95 lbs galoot running around the house.  i do know that samson would have loved having a little companion, he was such a gentle giant.  i never really understood why people seemed so scared of him.  he wouldn't hurt a fly, well, unless of course you tried to rob my house, or hurt any one of his family members, well then, yes, he would have torn you apart.  but really, he was such a good boy.

we have so much to prepare for oscar.. his crate, his bed, his blankies, his food bowls, and of course his sweaters for the cold.  chi's need their sweaters in the winter. and of course, it has to be angora for my little schmuckers.

let the potty training begin!  '...just when i thought i was out, they pull me back in...'  ;)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

press on

i was reminded this morning of something very powerful.

i remember, back in the day,  tucking this quote in my text books during my university days as a reminder that i could do it :

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. 
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

nothing can take the place of persistence and determination.  

i always distributed this quote to my students during my high school teaching days (at the beginning/middle/end of term.  i'd make them read it, and understand it, and told them to tuck it into their books as reminders to them.  if they failed a test, they had the 'choice' to either continue to fail or to 'keep on' studying, trying, putting some sweat into it to improve.  it gave them the choice of whether they wanted to pass or fail, as opposed to thinking they weren't 'smart enough'.  it gave them the 'choice' to do better.

and then on facebook i saw this TED talk that was posted, and would you look at that!  calvin coolidge and i were on to something....  here they call persistence and determination, 'grit':

now i apply this to all areas of my life.

if you want to do better you will do better.  just 'press on', and it will come.

and so should you.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

the 12th house in aquarius

venus will be touring my 12th house for many weeks...

the 12th house in astrology is the house of secrets and things hidden.

apparently, "i may be a closet artist who finds it difficult to exhibit my work or tell others about my creative passions while at the same time indulge in fantasies about being validated in my creative work and experiencing success as an artist".

hmmmm.  yeah... that just might be true.

and that "i seek love, vibrant abundant soul love, that transcends the physical body.  i want to meet my soul mate, i want someone who can touch my spiritual self and i want to speak to them on a soul level.  i tend to fall in love with love or to love the image or ideal rather than the whole person.  i am attracted to the inner qualities of a person and to the fleeting glimpses i have of their soul, i often ignore the realities that would undercut the romance that I seek.  my concept of love, which is likely unrealistic, may be so unconscious that i continually confuse fantasy with reality, deluding myself about my partner and making the same mistakes over and over again".

ok.  i'm listening.

off to read some more on this 12th house thing.  they may be on to something.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

i straightened my crown and walked away like a boss

it's that time of year again where i need to sit and ponder my goals and intentions for 2014.  spilling my big dreams from my head into the world to let them co-mingle and devise a way to make them happen.  the universe is good that way.  it listens, when you speak.

“The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you
Don't go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth 
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don't go back to sleep!”

----- Rumi

i am inviting the following

a working studio (in progress)
work BIG, like really BIG in that new working studio
getting messy on a regular basis
creating a body of work
back to gallery hopping
introducing / exposing / rise / show / myself and my work to the toronto art world
take more risks
MORE travel (Italy, and Paris in particular)
moving beyond the fear and doing it anyway
freedom to make mistakes, and then make a few more, until you get it right
dedicate a day / evenings of the week to create that body of work
dedicate more time for family fun - more laughter, more joy, more ease
less computer time, more doing (reading, playing, walking, dancing, daydreaming, being still, frolicking)
more photography - back to taking my camera everywhere
less soda, less coffee, more juicing

my one little word for 2014

these words kept coming to me:  develop, materialize, rise, show, surface, flow, become visible, become apparent, come forth, come on the scene, make appearance.

but none of them felt particularly right until this word came to me EMERGE, 'coming forth from a place shut off from view, or from concealment'.  

and here i bid 2013 adieu

Dear 2013, you literally kicked my ass from the get-go.  You you were a very difficult year both personally and professionally.  You were the year my mother died.  You were also the year my Samson died (the same month after my mother).  And the same year that saw many changes at work, with new bosses, and a new location.  Nothing was the same..  It was hard to process it all. It was the year I learned that I was strong even through the tears.  That I could move past the sadness and find beauty.  That all that is gone is not ever lost.  It was the first year of my life without a living parent.  And the first time in 12 years without a dog in our home.  I'm still adjusting to their absence, but 2013, the sadness no longer overwhelms me like a tsunami, but more like gentle waves that come and go.

Thanks 2013 for it taught me how to walk away like a boss.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

everything carries me to you

painting is the perfect calling for me.  it allows me time to indulge in my own imagination, to run away without actually leaving home, and give me time to breathe;  in silence, with my own thoughts.  nothing is more appealing to me than that moment, when you lose yourself, becoming one with your brush and nothing else exists.  being pulled out of your trance by interruptions is so disturbing when you're in the zone making the reentry so hard.

i figure if i wasn't called to paint, i'd probably be a writer.  another very solitary way to revel in imagination and play, and getting lost in words.... words like these, by pablo neruda (1904 - 1973)

If You Forget Me
I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window, 
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
(and here's that part that speaks to me, i know this feeling well ::))
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists, 
aromas, light, metals, 
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad, 
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

funny that it took me so long to realize i'm not shy, i'm just an introvert.

i can get up in front of a classroom and give a speech like no other, rather i choose not to...  and that's why painting and writing appeal to me.  it's a solitary activity that requires nobody but me.

introvert, shy, quiet,
google image

i didn't realize how very much of an introvert i was until i went to north carolina to be with some friends and take a class.  being with people all day in a tiny classroom, and then going out to dinner with lots of people i hardly knew, and having to socialize all day was absolutely killing me.  i couldn't excuse myself because there wasn't any place else to go.  i remember sitting at the dinner table with about 15 lovely women at a nice restaurant, and there was lots of chatting and laughing and drinking wine and making merry.... and the entire while, i was planning my escape.  how the hell do i get outta here.  the talking and the laughing became so incredibly loud, that everything became a blur.  at that point i just totally zoned out thinking of all the other things i would have rather been doing.

introversion, bukowski,
google image

i'm sure the ladies thought i was a snob, or socially inept, or worse.  but it wasn't anything against any one, but for the fact i had had too much talking, and socializing for one day, and just needed time to retreat.  it was no wonder i was getting wicked headaches.

introversion, introvert problems
google image

being an introvert doesn't mean i don't like being social.  I like to be social.... for a little while, but i also really love getting back home to be still.  i hate the feeling of having to be 'on' all the time.  i find it so fucking exhausting, mentally and physically.

introversion, adrian michael,
google image

oh but nothing kills me more then when people ask me, 'are you ok?  are you sure?', or 'come on cheer up, smile'. huhhhh...  who said i was unhappy... or that something was wrong.

and please... please don't ask me to small talk.  haaaaate small talk.  so pointless and boring.  if i don't have anything interesting to say to you than i won't say it.  that's all.  i'm not being rude, or arrogant i just don't want to waste either of our energy on the banality of small talk.

google image

i really dislike, like most introverts,  having to explain myself.

google image

i am what i am.

it is what it is.

whatever it is.

got it?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

the art of truth

i'm becoming a social media snob.  there.  i've said it.

and i don't give a fuck, really.

i'm just getting  nauseated of seeing so much crap on all these social media platforms.  really folks, why is it (and i'm fully guilty of this), that as soon as we finish a project, and even if it's a work in progress, and even if the work sucks, do we have this inordinate fascination with posting it to social media... as if to say, 'look what i can do, isn't it grand'.  we have this excessive self-love of what we're producing and then proceed to prostitute via the web.  is it not sickening?  am i the only one who is really getting so sick and tired of all the self love and promotion?

i think i may be becoming a bit of a snob.  or perhaps i've always been a snob.  there are some really, truly talented artists out there who don't post their work, but post links to their openings, and shows, but you don't see them posting works as they're creating them.  they keep them close and release only the works that they feel represents their best work...  i have such a deep admiration and respect for those artists.

i'm the first to say that i've been guilty of this egocentrism.  before you send your hate mail, let me say it again, I'M THE FIRST TO SAY I'M GUILTY OF THIS excessive need for self-promotion. i was lured and sucked into the social media vortex.

perhaps i thought it necessary early in my artistic journey because i needed the confidence boost.  i needed to hear my 'friends' 'liked' it.  i needed some kind of permission, or approval, or encouragement, whatever you wanna call it to keep going.  but really folks, how many times have i 'liked' something that i truly did not. how many times have you done that?  let's be real here.

in hindsight, i would have started my journey differently.  i would have started a fb group with real live friends, and post my work to them if i really wanted sincere and constructive criticism.  i would have taken professional classes sooner. i would NOT have posted so much crap to social media...  god i have so much crap of my work out there. a lot of it was experimentation; it was about growth, and learning, and morphing into the artist i'm still working on becoming.  i want to show a body of work, not just bits and bobs to solicit likes.  i want to create real and meaningful work without having to 'sell' it to the fb world in order for it to be seen.

so much change required in the days to come in how i present myself as an artist.

so much passion to release into my work.

redefining my truth.

Friday, November 22, 2013

sewing fundamentals

this is where i'll be this sunday

you know i've always wanted to learn to sew.  my mom was a master seamstress, however, she never had the patience to teach me.  so i'm finally taking the plunge and going for it.  i've broken a couple of sewing machines already, the first was threaded wrong (damn that bobbin thingi), and the 2nd, well, who knows what happened to it, but the needle wouldn't go all the way down anymore.  !!!!!

so, i'm just praying that i don't break one of their machines cause god knows i don't want to have to pay for another broken machine.  oy.

a headband.
headband, sewing

a zippered pouch.
zippered pouch, sewing

and a pillow.

how hard could this possibly be?

i'll soon find out.

wish me luck.

POST-EDIT :  people can i just say i love the janome 625E machine.  it is sweet and easy to use.   no bobbin malfunctions, easy to thread...oh my.  i'll be sewing everything in sight in the next few weeks. sewed up a french seam, 1/2" seam, wide and narrow zig zag stitches.  best class i've ever taken.. :))))

Monday, November 18, 2013


the weather on sunday was gloomy, and the house was quiet (dom took the kids out to give me some time to paint).  they did this.

at the mad italian gelato joint on college street. **  if you're local, you need to visit this place **

for me,  it was the kind of day to stay in pj's, blast the music, and pull out the paints.

grisaill, acrylic, portrait, painting
8" x 10", acrylic on canvas
and that's exactly what i did. she's not quite finished yet, but almost.  for this one i used acrylics rather than oil so the drying time is really quick.  really can't wait to give this a glaze and then paint over top with oils.  lets see how far i can push this without destroying it.  :))

slowly but surely getting closer to how i want to paint.  ira glass was right about putting the 10, 000 hours in.

ira glass, painting, 10000 hours

Saturday, November 16, 2013

grisaille alla rembrandt

i had this image in my head.  and i've been dying to paint it for a while now. last night i stayed up late to release it.  as you know, my palette is always quite dark with strong lights.  i shy away from too much colour and love the earth tones, the umbers, and siena, and yellow ochers, alizarin, and paynes grey, with touches of titanium white.  my painting are moody, and atmospheric..  

portrait, grisaille, painting, black and white, oil, toronto artist
oil on canvas, 8" x 10"

yet. still not quite where i want to be in how they're executed.  so to help me out i'm taking this oil painting class at ocad.   and it's been helpful.  however, nothing has been more helpful than visiting some of the works of the old masters.  

rembrandt, oil painting, portrait, old masters

i figure why recreate the wheel and try to figure this thing out on my own...  i'll just visit some of rembrandt's work, to see how he did it.  my palette is very similar to this, as is my love of dark darks and bright lights...  his portraits just glow, absolutely rich and vibrant in a beautifully dimmed atmosphere..  

rembrandt, oil painting, old masters, portrait

i've learned he started off with a monochromatic (mixtures of black and white), otherwise known as a grisaille.  then he'd glaze over it...

so my friends... i'm sure as hell no rembrandt, nor will i ever be... but gonna give this a try.

let's see how this goes.

Friday, November 8, 2013

holiday in the hood

yup.  will be selling some of my handmade journals and art at the local holiday in the hood craft fair.  ::)))))

holiday in the hood, art, craft, fair

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

self portrait

self portrait, oil painting, painting, portrait
16" x 20" oil on canvas paper, work in progress
self portrait 1

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” 

Monday, November 4, 2013


one of the best parts of my week is being in the studio on saturday afternoons.

i knew we were going to be painting a still life, alla cezanne, and i was very excited about this.  i mean, how hard could it be to paint some apples and oranges..

cezanne, still life, fruit, oil painting
photo source

well in our case, it was an apple, a grapefruit and a pear to be exact.

cezanne, oil painting, ocad, fruit

we went through a very brief colour theory lesson (all in a matter of 15 minutes which could easily have been an entire course).

then the practical session came next.  easy peasy, right? a little red, a little green, a little yellow and orange.

ah.  not so much.

fuck.  i suck.

value, temperature, chroma...  better get more practice in.  good thing dom did a big shop this weekend, told him to load up on the apples and pears and grapefruits.  ::))

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

me: an aquarian, freedom seeking, introvert

this would be me.  freedom seeker.

don't tie me down.  don't box me in.  and if you do, i'll surely run for the hills.  far.  far.  away.  

being an aquarian with a sever case of eleutheromania with a dash of introversion makes for very interesting relationships, especially with my husband and kids.  they continuously want to keep me in this neat little box, and i'm constantly fighting for my space.  i love my family to my core, at the same time, i have a very difficult time giving them the time and dedication they need from me.  

it can feel so suffocating.  

have you ever been in the subway, when it's stalled mid-tunnel.  and you're in the dark.  and the train hasn't moved for the last 7 minutes... and slowly that sick feeling in your stomach starts to happen, and you get this lump in your throat like you're going to choke.  and you start looking around at other people trying to seek out the kindest looking person who you can turn to in case you need help.  and at that exact point, the walls start closing in on you, and everything gets blurry and you're ready to rip open the doors and run down those scary, dark tunnels just to get your bloody self out of that trap.  

well, that's how i can feel when i don't get my space.  i want my husband and kids in my life.  i just don't want to to be a wife and a mom ALL of the time.  

dom now understands my manias and tries to accommodate me as much as possible.  but, you know, there are times like last night where i just wanted to run.  to escape without anyone noticing.  dinner had to be made, school work had to be started, dishes needed cleaning, showers, lunches for the next day, school clothes prepared, ugh...   the banality, 'che maudite vie plate'.  when all was done, i crawled into bed, and hid under the covers for the rest of the night praying for hawk to come scoop me up and take me away.

if you've been reading my blog, you know by now my escape is my painting.  it allows me time to be in my own head space.  to think, to mull, to dream.  to be as i am without any demands.  a place to be still with my thoughts, my paints, my own self.  for intermittent short periods of time to be free to sink into myself and to reconnect with the self that makes me, me.  to remind myself that i don't have to live in a 'box', that i can do this, that i can exist within a family without feeling like a crazed tied up maniac.

travelling around the country going to art classes, meeting up with friends around the globe, and being on my own, doing my 'thang, is a life saver for me.  at first i was feeling guilty over leaving for a week at a time to squam, or artfest, or random arts...  but a good artist friend of mine reminded me that it's good for the kids to see their mommy happy, and being independent and doing the things she loves to do.  and indeed she's right.  right?  when i come back home, i'm recharged, refuelled, and ready to tackle being a wife and mom again.  and so the cycle goes...

tettering on a very precarious balance between duty (life), fun (family), and independence (self).  

a wobbly tightrope indeed.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

self portraits

saturdays class was great.   we finished off our portraits from the previous week.  getting the mannequins in the same spot, with the same lighting was a little challenging but we got close.  i desperately wanted to get rid of the two heads in the background, but paul insisted i keep them but make them farther off into the background so it didn't compete with the main image.

note to self: it's much more fun and animated when working with live models, not mannequins.  that was kinda disappointing.  but it is what it is.

self portrait, oil painting, monochromatic oil painting
my oil piece finished in class.  getting that skull look round was challenging.  more practice required.  

self portrait, oil painting, portraiture, painting
work in progress, self portrait, oils on canvas paper, first layer

i will be painting more self portraits.  capturing 'moments' of myself 'in the moment'.

i want to know if how i imagine myself in my head is really how i look on the outside.  what i imagine in my head isn't necessarily what is true in reality.  we all look in the mirror and see what we want to see.  but when you have to sit and stare at yourself, and paint your portrait, you have to paint what you see, all of it.  the reality of it.  painting what you see with no creative license to make changes.  painting simply what is.  me in the raw. unlike any self portrait aka selfie taken with smartphones these days...  setting up the shot so people see you how you wish them to see you.

after painting this first layer, i didn't realize how sad i look when i'm not smiling.  my eyes look heavy and my lips make a serious curve down at the edges.

the more i paint.  the more i want to paint.   i even paint when i'm dreaming.  is that weird?

Friday, October 25, 2013

misty scott and milt, oh my

remember my one little word of intention for the year:  forward.  well, yes, i'm moving forward in many fronts.  and it's feeling really good.  there was a time, when forward was too fast... making my head spin. but these days forward is feeling really good.

so much to tell you:

september 2013, random arts with misty mawn
i started off my adventure driving to virginia with my family.  misty invited me to stay at her place before driving up to north carolina.  my family dropped me off and i had a wonderful visit with her and her very sweet family.  i got to throw some clay on her potting wheel, in her potting studio, and got a tour of her painting studio (oh my), it was such a thrill for me.  she's like a superstar in my world, so you can imagine how excited i was. we then drove to north carolina (6 hr drive), and i nearly puked in her car... what a nightmare, i was so embarassed, but she stopped on the side of the road just in time for me to stick my head out the window to upchuck into the ditch.  ugh.  car sickness.  too much driving.  but we then finally made it to phyllis' house where we spent the rest of the weekend.  random arts is exactly as it looks like on their website.  small, cute and intimate.  the class was so much fun, and phyllis, our host was super gracious (as were husband bob and furry baby daisy).  all in all it was a brilliant trip one i'm glad i took.

see i told ya it looks exactly like it does on the website

me, misty, phyllis, kate

miss ruby getting into mischief in mistys painting studio

working large, on the floor

the ever ms gracious phyllis

october 2013, oil painting fundamentals, at OCAD with scott sawtell
my second OCAD painting class.  thrilled to be spending time in the studio painting for a full three hours of uninterrupted time.  nothing makes me feel more alive than when in the studio. i'm infatuated with painting with oils and am determined to start using it more and more in my paintings.

painting studio, oil painting
in the painting studio at OCAD, with our mannequins as models

self portrait, ocad, oil painting
this was my version of our monochromatic oil painting

and last but not least

march 2014, figurative painting, at scottsdale artists' school (scottsdale, arizona), with milt kobayashi
OMG.  i'm terrifed of this class.  it's for intermediate/advanced artists, which i don't yet consider myself, but i'm taking it anyway.  i love the way this man paints.  big patches of colour, tone on tone, bright lights.  i was instantly and immediately in love with his work the minute i laid eyes on it.  so happy i ran into his work.  so, yes, i better brush up on my oil painting skills so i can kick some ass in this class.

oil painting, portrait, scottsdale artist school,
milt kobayashi

oil painting, portrait, scottsdale artist school
milt kobayashi
so, moving forward, above and beyond my wildest dreams.  dreams really do come true.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

it's been a while

 getting back into painting.  working larger.  trying new things.  loving the process of creating.

acrylic, soft pastels, gold leaf, ink, on watercolour paper

these two pieces sat on my wall waiting to be completed for about 2 weeks.  i just didn't know what i wanted to do with them until finally.  it happened.  inspiration struck and bham, they were finished.

gouache, soft pastel, acrylic, gold leaf (on her crown), on watercolour paper

and i just realized i haven't yet posted any pics from my time in virginia and north carolina, and my time spent with misty and phyllis at random arts.  must do that soon.