I am a painter of the world – it fascinates me.
I paint traditionally realistic portraits, figures, landscapes and still lifes (i.e. anything that stays still long enough for me to capture it).
I studied art on a partial scholarship in 2011-2012 in France with renowned teachers, Timothy Stotz and N. Michelle Tully at their school, Studio Escalier and am continuing there in 2013. Before that, I was almost entirely self-taught.
In my head, there is a world that is spacious, calm, grounding.
It’s a world where your spirit runs free and kisses the wind, where you dance in the rain, and fling your arms wide and the world can hear your cry, “I am alive and I am here!”
It is a world where your wounds are soothed and healed, where your tears are cradled and your dreams are supported. It is a place where the simple divinity of an orange is just as magnificent as the glory of crashing waves.
It is a world where there is space for your soul.
That’s the world that I paint.
How I got here.
I grew up near Niagara Falls, Ontario, in your average suburban city. My childhood was pretty normal – good grades, ballet classes, friends, braces. And drawing, always drawing.
My dad would bring home art history books and I’d look at paintings from the Renaissance and Baroque and dream, secretly. I’d informed the rest of the world that I was going to be a brain surgeon*.
*I’ve pretty much always wanted to help people. But it’s best if you don’t let me near you with sharp objects. I’m frighteningly clumsy for an ex-dancer.
Then right before my 13th birthday, my life flipped upside down.
I went to bed one night feeling fine. I woke up 3 hours later feeling sick, dizzy, feverish, foggy. Then the pain & exhaustion started. It never went away.
Six weeks later, I was tentatively diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. They said, wait 6 months, see what happens. I might be fine.
Six months passed and I was definitely not fine.
I doggedly carried on, yet year after year, I kept getting worse. Everyone just kept telling me that I was young and I was going to get better, really soon.
And then in the space of 2 months, I fell into an intensely toxic & abusive relationship and started having inexplicable seizures that left me sick and bedridden. (Coincidence? I think not. My body knew that shit was not right.)
Unable to leave my bed & refused aid by the school board, I dropped out of high school. I tumbled into a sinkhole of depression.
The day after my 18th birthday, I sat on the floor of my bathroom, sobbing. It felt like the world was closing in on me, like the walls of my life were collapsing and I didn’t know what to do or how to cope. All of my dreams, all of my plans for my exciting future were fading away before me and I didn’t know what would be left. I’d lost myself in the disease and hated what I’d become. I wanted to die. I wanted it all to just end.
I made a choice, sitting on the linoleum of my bathroom floor, staring at the blue flecks in a sea of white. I decided that even if I couldn’t think of any reason to be alive for me, my family needed me. My family loved me. I had a little sister to look after.
And so I shut the door on that choice. Shut it, locked it, destroyed the key.
I decided to live. I chose possibility.
Within a few months, my toxic relationship self-imploded. I walked away.
I started praying.
I don’t know who to. I would walk for hours, and sit beneath trees, and pray. I wanted guidance. I wanted hope. Maybe I was just praying to myself.
Slowly, I began to rebuild. I fell in love with my best friend. I kept painting. I painted my way out of the hell in my heart. Voices of hope whispered in my ears and told me that better things were coming.
In 2009, I moved to Prince Edward Island with my love to start a new life. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. Here, I’ve found the beginnings of space for my soul.
Then in 2011, I did the scariest, most amazing thing I’ve ever done – I went to France for 6 months to study the kind of art I dreamt of as a child at Studio Escalier.
Now, I’m embarking on a new adventure – I feel called to spend more time practising my craft at Studio Escalier. In May, I’ll be giving up my apartment, selling off most of my belongings and heading to France with my boyfriend. Our plan is to spend the next couple of years splitting our time between France and Canada with tasty bites of the rest of Europe in between.