What A Summer!

This past summer was incredible. A whirlwind in fact! I had my first solo show, at King City’s beautiful Heritage and Cultural Centre. What a great experience it was, and the opening was stellar!

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The weekend of Art in the Square, at the Don Mills Centre was incredibly hot. But winning this award made it well worth it! I was incredibly shocked but even more honoured. Thank you to the Toronto Artist’s Network for doing all that you do to support local artists! And wow, I never thought I could be the person to win that award….

best painting award

Gallery News

Excited to share that I began working with a new gallery. Butter Gallery in Collingwood. They have a second location called Mad and Noisy in Creemore Ontario. They recently shared some images of paintings in the gallery spaces with me and so I am sharing them with you. I’ve also recently sent some new paintings to Koyman’s and a picture of one grouping is also below. Don’t you love how they have displayed them?

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Gesso

Not the most exciting artist topic at first glance. But I am pretty excited about gesso these days. Especially after realizing the wide range of gesso products and figuring out how to use them in a manner that enriches my paintings in a meaningful way. Gesso is a layer of paint that literally comes between the surface you are painting on and your painting technique of choice. While painting with oil or oil and wax it ensures that the painting can adhere to the surface and that compounds in the wood don't come through and distort the painted surface.

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What is Cold Wax Painting?

I get a lot of questions about cold wax. Makes sense. Despite being a technique used by Rembrant and believed to be in use in ancient Egypt, it feels pretty new. Contemporary artists have discovered cold wax and are exploring many creative ways to integrate it into their work. 

The image below might be hard to read.... so here is some information.

What is Cold Wax Painting?

Any painting that heavily utilizes Cold Wax Medium into oil colors is a cold wax painting. Not quite oil painting or encaustic painting. Cold Wax Painting can be used in ALL types of painting styles, including landscape, abstract, still life.... anything from realism or abstraction, Experimentation, texture and the physicality of paint layers is the what I love most about working with cold wax.

What is Cold Wax Medium?

According to Gamblin.com, Cold Wax Medium a mixture of natural beeswax, solvent and alkyd resin. The term “cold” in Cold Wax Medium and Cold Wax Painting refers to the fact that heat is not required for working with this wax medium – as it dries by solvent evaporation, rather than the cooling of the wax, as in encaustic painting. As the solvent evaporates, the soft wax hardens to the density of a beeswax candle.

Cold Wax Painting Techniques

Cold Wax medium is a dense paste, and lends itself to creating textures within a painting and allows for expressive brushmarks and the ability to carve into paint layers with palette knives. Cold Wax also gives oil colors a beautiful translucent quality, layered lightly working with transparent paints, a seductive surface similar to encaustic paintings can be achieved. 

cold wax information

This is Your Brain on Abstract Art

If you don't like or feel confused by abstract art then this blog post is for you!  Straight from the burgeoning field of neuroscience, some compelling reasons to spend time with abstract art have emerged. It seems that abstract work may offer viewers some neurological advantages. I want to help you take advantage of these benefits.

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Getting Ready for the Riverdale Art Walk

Now that all the painting is done, I'm enjoying writing far more then the million things I should be doing to get ready. I am super excited and nervous about this show. This one feels very different from my usual. First of all, there are a lot of artists in this show, over 150. Many of them are artists who I have admired and secretly worshipped from afar. Okay, maybe not that secretly or that far... To be sharing my work at the same venue as them is an incredible honour.

The other element that makes me both excited and nervous is the large amount of people traffic that typically attend this show. (I won't mention car traffic - because when I visited the show last year, on a glorious sunny day, I had no problems finding a parking spot... Just sayin'!) Getting to meet so many people is really exciting and a bit of a scary. Anyone who comes up and says hi, will have no clue (unless they are reading this) that I am anxious in these kinds of social situations. I love people and connecting with others once I am in the moment, but the days and hours before I wonder if I'll remember my own name or say something incredibly stupid. Oh wait, I made a sign with my own name, so it's just the saying something stupid part I need to worry about. 

 Thank you vista print for an amazing banner!

Thank you vista print for an amazing banner!

After I finish writing this, I will get to all the things on my to-do list for the next 4 days... Things like sanding and painting edges,  buffing paintings, attaching hanging hardware and then packing my paintings in these envelopes...

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I made some fancy painting envelopes. Some were made from insulation (bubble wrap in silver foil....) and some out of flooring underlay. The big ones needed the heavy duty insulation but I think the smaller paintings will be okay with underlay... 

I may have neglected to mention that I've been creating some new works for the upcoming show. I am always influenced by the seasons, and come spring (well sorta Spring) I have begun working with brighter colours.

 Calling this one "This City is For the Birds"  It is 36x48 and will be at the Riverdale Art Walk...

Calling this one "This City is For the Birds"  It is 36x48 and will be at the Riverdale Art Walk...

Also been working on a series of 12x12 square paintings. 

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You can see how messy my studio is these days. Household chores have become an all or nothing thing lately. Once I start cleaning I won't stop, and then I never get any painting done. So I have had to give up cleaning. : ( And I feel guilty (no joke) and uncomfortable about it. But I am realizing that when I share the mess, I don't feel quite as bad. So here  I am embracing the mess and my bright green crocs. Absolutely embracing those too. I love love love this quote by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

“I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write... and you know it’s a funny thing about housecleaning... it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectabilty) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she “should” be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.”
— https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/901977.Clarissa_Pinkola_Est_s

 

Buddy has also been getting the cold shoulder. Between me being so busy and the weather being so... crummy, he is getting shorter walks then he would like... He follows me around the studio, staying in my view no matter where I am until I finally take him out... Here he is photobombing me again.... 

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I would love to see you at The Riverdale Art Walk, this is the link with more information including a site map of where to find me. Remember booth 21 11-6pm inside the community centre.... Riverdale Art Walk Event Info

The Same Sky

I like looking up. Looking up at the sky and clouds offers an ideal escape from the suburban tangle of brick houses, wood fences, metal garage doors and rubber tires that all compete for my gaze when I cross the street. Sometimes an orange and purple sunset, with clouds highlighted in yellow, literally cause my jaw to drop. Sometimes, on a clear day the sky proudly displays well-defined fluffy clouds on a backdrop of brilliant blue. This is the kind of sky so joyful that only a child's drawing could do it justice. The only thing missing when I look up, is a haphazardly drawn smiley face on a yellow circle with rays vibrating out in all directions from a top corner of the page.

My first cloud painting was on the ceiling of my daughters' bathroom, which I painted in soon after they were born. While floating in their baths I wanted them to look up and be able to imagine clouds above. Painting clouds in my current body of work wasn't a strategic decision like the clouds on the ceiling of that bathroom. I noticed little bits of sky popping up in most of my paintings over the past couple of years. The pure enjoyment of creating cloudy textures, subtle variations in colours and working with interesting edges compelled me to do it again and again.

 

And so, I began spending more time looking up at the clouds and the sky for inspiration.. I spent car rides (while a passenger) looking up. I sat in the backyard while it was still winter, wrapped in blankets stolen from the couch, so I could sit on a frigid adirondack chair and just look up. One thing that struck me while I was looking up one day, was how no matter where I have been in the world, I see the sky that I see from home. It struck me how people from different continents who speak languages and live lives I will likely never know of, all share in the very same sky that I see. They see blue and clouds and on some nights see the moon and stars. I like to imagine that there are other people studying evocative clouds, discovering shapes, dreaming about the future and feeling part of something greater then myself. I imagine that we are all doing this together. 

 At the King Heritage Centre and Museum, King City

At the King Heritage Centre and Museum, King City

 Some of my Sky paintings on display.  

Some of my Sky paintings on display.  

JCC Visual Arts Instructor Show

I really enjoy my teaching gigs. After working in solitude in my studio, the opportunity to get out and meet other artists who are passionate about creating art is so enjoyable. When I'm working I have to stay so focused and it sometimes even feels selfish. So helping and sharing in the classroom creates an opportunity to remain balanced. My point is, that I teach because I really enjoy it and find it personally enriching. That the art school wants to support us teachers by sponsoring a show is a wonderful gift. I've posted a few of the paintings I have on display.

 

On display at Prosserman JCC, in the  visual art instructors art show. so are the paintings below. 

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Coming Soon...

The blog post I intend to write, after I complete a very enjoyable commission painting currently in progress, is almost written in my head. But I want to wait until I can actually share with you the completed painting.

Until then, here are some detail shots of the painting. 

 

Art Shows, Free Workshops and Classes, Oh My!

Fall seems to be the busiest time of year! Am I right? It is also the most fun. There are so many great fall festivals, there's apple picking and the yummy baked goods that emerge.... And so many opportunities to show off one's creativity. Have you visited a local haunted house? The ones I have seen are so creative and a true labour of love. Me personally, I won't be turning my home into a haunted house, but I will be opening it up for the Richmond Hill Studio Tour during the weekend of October 15th and 16th....

But before that there are some other events I want to tell you about. This weekend is the Schomberg Street Gallery, taking place this Sunday, from 10 - 5pm. http://www.schombergstreetgallery.ca/

Then on Saturday October 1st, in celebration of Culture Days, myself and a few of my favourite artists will be offering FREE workshops. But of course, there is a catch! The catch is that there are only 20 spaces, and these spots are filling quickly! This is the link to sign up. Each workshop needs to be signed up for individually. Sign Up Here

As far as classes go. Today, a three-week mixed media mini-session started, but the good news is that the fall class does not begin until October and there is still room! This class is Monday mornings from 9:30-12:30. The course code is 617475. Internet Registration

I will also be continuing classes at the Schwartz Reisman Centre from 1 - 4pm. This class entitled Creative Painting, is a lot of fun. Last I checked, there were only spots remaining. Creative Painting Info.

If you are interested in signing up for any of these classes, or require more information about any of the events described above, please contact me at info@sharonkirshart.com. Check out my events page below for more information about all these events!
 

Redefining Intuition in Art

It makes sense that intuition be a key ingredient for successful art making. To me, it's always meant that if you just listen to your gut, you will know the right thing to do. I've always found however, that when I struggle most, I feel as if though my intuition has left the building.  So, I was a bit surprised during my artist residency at the Mill Pond Gallery, when a friend who stopped by in the midst of my art making wildness, (which was wilder then usual because I was still painting at 9pm at night), asked me if I was an intuitive painter. In my painting/exhausted buzz, I said, "sure, yes, that is exactly what I am." 

 Wild Woman Painting. I was feeling quite wild at the time.... 

Wild Woman Painting. I was feeling quite wild at the time.... 

But when I evaluated that statement against how I have defined intuition, since my early 20s, after reading "Women who Run with the Wolves" I felt a bit like a fraud.

With the wild nature as ally and teacher we see not through two eyes but through the many eyes of intuition.
— Clarissa Pinkola Estes

You see, when I paint, I rely on my understanding of composition, design and colour, to guide my decisions. I know the rules, and love to cling to them. That doesn't sound very wild natured....  But there is a wildness to the way that I work. I can't deny that. To me, the red orange pink combination feels very wild and bold. 

 Red Orange Pink

Red Orange Pink

Personally, I believe that intuition is exactly as Pinkola Estes describes, it is my wild nature, but when that wild nature has been strongest, and bravest it recognizes when I don't have enough knowledge to do what it is I am meant to do, and has encouraged me to seek out more knowledge and more wisdom, from working with amazing teachers or studying inspirational artists and visiting art galleries and museums. All this has encouraged me to experiment, play, be wild, but then measure that against my knowledge and experience. So, when I came upon this description of intuition, which takes into account that their isn't one single way of knowing, I felt like I hit the jackpot. 

ntuition is not a single way of knowing - it’s our ability to hold space for uncertainty and our willingness to trust the many ways we’ve developed knowledge and insight, including instinct, experience, faith
and reason.
— Brene Brown

So now I am wondering.... How do you define intuition?

Mothering the Artist

Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest, forever changed my perception of what it means to be a mother. Fortunately, my own mother, was no Joan Crawford. Instead, she was a rigorous advocate of my art, and cheered on all my creative activities. She was momentarily playful and unencumbered when she participated. She loved to sit at the table with me, and while I painted she doodled and sang. 

 My mom as a child in costume. I am guessing this photo was taken in 1933.

My mom as a child in costume. I am guessing this photo was taken in 1933.

On a very tight budget, she always managed to have money for art supplies. She let me turn the kitchen table into my own studio, which she quickly cleaned up before my father got home and she even encouraged me to paint murals on the bedroom walls of our semidetached home. During my teen years, as Cancer, then Parkinson's, and finally early onset Dementia began to erode her mind and spirit, her support and encouragement faded. I didn't realize until recently how this unintended withdrawal impacted my youthful decision to not pursue art as a career. Between the ages of 15 and 30 I rarely picked up a paintbrush. I just stopped thinking about art.

 Me and my mom. I'm guessing 1995.  

Me and my mom. I'm guessing 1995.  

When my mother passed away in 2007, I was 39 and already working in Interior Design. I had taken courses at the Toronto School of Art, and was slowly beginning my journey back to myself. Since I had lost her to Dementia a long time ago, I was surprised by how deeply her death devastated me. I was equally surprised by  the flood of memories I began to slowly unpack. The memories of her singing along in the kitchen while I painted, her letting me bake a Strawberry Cake all by myself, and then how she splurged on an expensive cab ride, because I had taken too long, and we would be late for the Baking Contest, if we took the bus. I remember how proud she was, when that Strawberry Cake won a first prize ribbon and a hardcover copy of Laura Ingalls'  The Little House Cookbook. I also remembered her stories about growing up in Romania, some charming, and others so sad.  

When she died, I  grieved for her and for myself. For the nurturing that I'd lost when I was 15 years old. However, going back to those memories at that kitchen table brought me back to my easel. To that place, once upon a time, where I had unconditional love and support. While creating art, I found that I was able to nurture myself, and eventually turn my grief into appreciation, gratitude and joy. My mother's nurturing voice never left, I just needed to listen.

 Early painting that incorporates an image of my mom.

Early painting that incorporates an image of my mom.

Going to classes, joining artists groups, making friends with other artists resulted in another discovery. That there are so many wonderful, kind and supportive people in my life who nurture my artistic spirit. Becoming an artist, meant finally finding my tribe. There have been art teachers and mentors who gently encourage me to push myself further, friends who cheer me on, students who explore and play with me, family members who come out to every show and of course, my husband and daughters who help with the physical demands of each show. And also the art buyers. Individuals who believe in supporting local artists in their community, who believe that what artists do is important and worth recognizing. These people all nurture my spirit and motivate me to keep on going.

It's because of my mother that I left art. It's also because of her that I came back. And I sincerely thank her for both of these things. The seeds were planted and I believe, are blooming at just the right time. When Mother's Day rolls around I think of my mom, I think about how she passed on her caring ways, which I strive to share inwardly and outwardly.  I also think of my dear teachers, mentors, art students, friends, family and the wonderful lovers of art I have met. Thank you for nurturing me and loving my art. For feeding and nurturing my passion. Although I am not my mother, and these wonderful people are not my mother, they have mothered me in the most important of ways. It is to them and you, that I am most grateful for this Mother's Day. 

Today in the mixed-media classroom...

After a busy, and wonderful weekend exhibiting at the wonderful Heintzman House Art Show, I woke up tired this morning. And early. Lots of things were on tap for the mixed media class I teach for the Town of Richmond Hill. 

 

We started off sharing our work. With everyone inspiring one another with their unique creative direction and ideas. Love what people have done.. These are some wonderful snippets.

 Student works in progress. Made with acrylic pastes, mediums, papers and acrylic skins.  

Student works in progress. Made with acrylic pastes, mediums, papers and acrylic skins.  

Then I demoed some new techniques for creating and manipulating skins. 

 Acrylic skin - they make an interesting composition!

Acrylic skin - they make an interesting composition!

 Different acrylic skins layered and woven.  

Different acrylic skins layered and woven.  

Then we made these beautiful and unique collage materials.   

 Student creating tyvek collage materials.  

Student creating tyvek collage materials.  

 Some of their glorious results.  

Some of their glorious results.  

I will be teaching a one day floral collage workshop for the Town of Richmond Hill on Saturday May 28th. Contact me for details.