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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Featured Artist: Laurel Douglas Shugarman

Born Laurel Douglas....known for years in York Region as “Dr. Shugarman” still using both names, Laurel Douglas Shugarman. (sorry, it’s a big mouthful) Almost 20 years ago, I decided that I had always been defined by one external or another, geography, profession, marriage, parental status, decided it was time to become a kite without a string....and see where the wind would blow me. I ended up in Austin Texas at a wonderful spot called Laguna Gloria. An old mansion, converted to museum and art school, where peacocks ambled along the banks of the river. I took my first art classes there....and knew that this was what I wanted to do.

The practice of medicine is a very extroverted pastime and the practice of art is just the opposite....solitary, introverted and contemplative. How blessed am I to have this balance in my life. I used to be a doctor who did a little art, now I am an artist who does a little medicine. I have been a student of art for the past 20 years and will be a student of art for the rest of my life. The path has led to the Haliburton School for the Arts, The Toronto School of Art, the Academy of Realist Art, the studios of some wonderful painters in San Miguel de Allende, Jonathon Williams, Donna and Tom Dickson, Britt Zeist, and most recently mixed media with Jane Dill. 

My first mentor and inspiration was a wonderful Canadian painter named Jean Townsend. Jean died in 2006, but had always encouraged me to go to San Miguel de Allende and join the art community there. I finally took her advice and have been wintering there for about 10 years now. Many of my paintings reflect my Mexican experience.

My work is varied. My oils and watercolours are largely impressionist realism, and I have started producing giclee prints of some of the pieces that have proved more popular. I have been doing ink on ricepaper for several years and have recently incorporated that technique into the mixed media pieces, which combine calligraphy into the mix as well. Always, always, the goal is to find beauty in the ordinary. I look forward to sharing what I do with you at the Studio Tour. I am very excited as this is my first year participating. I am trying to finish several new pieces for the Tour. With art cards, photo prints along with the originals, there will be something for every price range.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Featured Artist: Ona Kingdon

Hi Everyone. Here are three fun facts about how I work:

1. Many people say people’s dreams are a way of ordering, processing and filing away events that happen in their daily lives. I do dream a lot, I guess because I have such a vivid imagination, but painting is my method of ‘filing away’ things that I have seen or done or that happen to me or those around me.

The idea for ‘Spinning a Tale’ began one hot summer’s day when I visited our local pioneer village. My subject was a volunteer who was an excellent storyteller. She told us a tale of how the wool would have been shorn, collected, washed, spun and turned into blankets or clothing in days gone by. Later, as I painted, I wanted to incorporate not only her actually spinning the wool but also include at least part of her story. 

The painting not only won an award earlier this year in an International Exhibition but also sold to a woman in California who got in touch with me. I loved hearing her tale as she excitedly told me about her father the spinning wheel that she remembered them having when she was young.

“As a child we had an antique spinning wheel in our home in New England, and my father told us a "tale" about it. There was some deep red staining on the wheel, and the story he told was of a pioneer woman spinning at her wheel as an Indian approached shooting her with an arrow. The staining was her blood as she lay across the wheel, dying (as the tale goes). Of course I believed every word, and that spinning wheel held such mystery and romance for me. I have been looking for a spinning wheel ever since, and finally have found it. I believe I was meant to find your beautiful painting. She now hangs in the perfect spot where I can see her all day long as I move about my house.”

2. I do not use white paint at all when I paint. All the whites that you see in my paintings are the white of the paper so I have to plan where I want my highlights to be and keep those areas clean of any paint or lift the colour back off the paper by gently using a magic eraser, a brush or by scratching out the highlights.   I often use several of these methods in each painting I do.

‘Mind the Step’ Transparent Watercolour by Ona Kingdon.  I am often amused by the Ducks the visit the ponds in our area. They seem to forget that they can fly sometimes, especially when they encounter tricky things like steps.  This painting sold just before the Studio Tour last year when someone saw my publicity for it.  

3. Mosquitoes and all things small and flying seem to have a magnetic attraction to my paintings as I am working on them. I often work in watercolour using a technique called ‘wet on wet’.  Basically I wet the paper first with clear water, and then the wet paint is applied to this. For a while after each layer of paint is applied the few centimetres just above the painting is just the sort of damp microclimate that tiny insects like. This isn’t a problem until one of them decides to rest on the painting itself. The surface tension of the water on the paper is very strong for a small insect. In fact usually it is too strong for them to escape so they are trapped there until the paper dries. I can’t swot them or I get an added gruesome tail tale splodge on my painting so I end up picking them off oh so carefully with tweezers and then, if needed, rewetting the whole area again and smoothing out the pigment unless I think I can get away with it. Now I will have you all looking really closely at the smooth background washes on many of my paintings to see if you can spot any insect signature footprints as well as my own signature 

You are the Sunshine of my Life’. Transparent Watercolour. This was a commission that I did for 2 very special people to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.

Tell us about your most memorable moment that has happened in a previous studio Tour

When I had a Ted themed exhibition last year, I asked each of my visitors to choose the Ted painting that they could most relate to.  There was much laughter in the room as they each selected and compared their choices with friends and family. It was lovely seeing people of all ages finding a personal connection to the paintings. Many enjoyed sharing their connection with me too.
This year my theme for the tour is going to be based on our senses. My section of the tour will be designed to encourage visitors to discover the art through many senses not just our sight.  So come and visit me at Boynton House on Richmond Green on the 17th 18th or 19th of October and see how many of your 5 senses you end up using or see being used in the paintings or drawings. There will even be nibbles to tempt your sense of taste and music to listen to as you look around.  I often use music as an inspiration for my paintings or to help me set the mood as I paint. Maybe you can identify which music I listened to for some of the pieces on display.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Featured Artist: Masha Toosi

Mahsa Toosi always had a passion about drawing and painting. She achieved a Master’s Degree in Graphic Design. Being interested in drawing and painting from early on, she draws from her imagination to express her feelings. Karim Nasr, a famous Iranian artist, is her most important influence.


Mahsa is taking part in Studio Tour for the first time and is looking forward to connect with new people in order to promote her artworks.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Featured Artist: Daniela Anzil

Tell us about your most memorable or funniest moment that has happened in a previous studio Tour.

The tour is such an enjoyable experience because of the interesting people I meet.  My most memorable moments are working on specific pieces of jewellery for people I have met on the tour.  For example, one lady loved my work and asked me to design a necklace and bracelet set for a vintage dress she had just purchased.  She brought me the dress, together we chose a colour scheme and I sketched a design.  She was thrilled with the end result and I loved the experience from beginning to end.  Another time, a lady brought me a watch that belonged to her father and asked me to "reinvent" it.  The watch was a gift her mother gave to her father before they were married.  On the back of the watch face was an inscription and date, 1918.  I was so honoured to work on such a sentimental piece.  I included a picture of it.

Also give us 3 interesting or unusual facts about your chosen art form or the materials you use or the way in which you work.

People are usually surprised that my work is done by crocheting wire.  The process itself is interesting.  I simply use a crochet hook and jewellery wire, then I crochet.  It is similar to knitting.

I approach each piece as though I am creating artwork.  I have a background in fine arts so its instinctual to consider complimentary colours, contrasting textures and tones, the symmetry of the piece and other factors that make the jewellery I create so visually pleasing.

My work is international!  A lady who had purchased a unique silver crochet sphere necklace was wearing her piece at a market in Croatia.  A couple of people stopped her and asked where she got it.  She gave them my contact information and they contacted me to purchase some of my pieces!   I was very excited.  It validated the uniqueness of my work.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Featured Artist: Irina Zaretchnev

Tell us what you are most looking forward to about this year Studio Tour

I’m always looking for the feedback about my creations. It’s exciting to see how my pieces of jewellery look when tried on – after all, it’s wearable art, as my fans say. Of course, I like compliments, but when it comes to the critiques – it’s even more inspiring because of the challenge and opportunity to make my jewellery even better.

Tell us how you got started in the world of art and who inspired you.

I am the younger partner in the mother-daughter team behind Alira Treasures. My mom was creating jewellery for over a decade, and about 4 years ago I joined her. I tried it, liked it, and stuck with it up to this day. With every piece I make I get the thrill of working with natural stones and of bringing something beautiful to this world. I am a self-taught artisan who loves to experiment with different styles and techniques, though wire wrapping and wire crochet have always been my favorite. 

Irina Zaretchnev

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Featured Artist: Don Downer

What is your most memorable/ or funniest moment that has happened in a previous studio Tour:

Parking to unload in front of the Heritage House in Richmond Hill last year was a bit precarious. The trees in front of the house were loaded with huge butternuts that kept raining down all around us in the wind as we moved pictures inside. We moved our cars out of "danger zone" as soon as we could. The next morning, the sidewalk was laden with fallen nuts which we had to sweep up to clear a safe way for our guests!

Can you give us 3 interesting facts about your chosen medium or the materials you use or the way in which you work:

I enjoy taking pictures of flowers almost more than anything else because they don't fly away before you can take their picture and they don't turn and walk away showing only their backside.

I enjoy taking pictures in nature because it gets me outside all the time and you never know what you're going to see next.

I always take at least two, and sometimes three, cameras with me wherever I go - you just can't have too many cameras.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Featured Artist: Wendy Cho

Tell us about your most memorable/ or funniest moment that has happened in a previous studio Tour

Last year a young art lover came by specifically looking for me. He picked a couple of pieces and asked if I would take a picture with him:)

His mom took the photo of his purchases with me, it was such a special moment !! To see such a young person interested in art, reminds me why I started down this journey.

Also give us 3 interesting/ unusual facts about your chosen medium/ art form or the materials you use or the way in which you work

At first glance, most people think I paint with acrylic or oil paints to achieve the grainy effect in my work. At closer view, one can see that stippling effect is actually the texture of the paper I use. It's one of the unique properties of using this medium. It gives a tactile visual to each piece. It invites you to look closer.

My subject matter is mostly my animal babies at home. AKA all my pets! From frogs, cats, dogs, an albino hedgehog and even an "alligator" in my basement...or maybe that was just a dream? :)