Today’s blog will be a brief one, but an important one (to me at least).
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve always thought that I’d go to post secondary school for art and become a children’s book illustrator when I was… well the age I am now. Instead, I chose a different route, but I tried to promise myself that art would be an ongoing hobby or possibly more if I tried hard enough.
After my teenage years, I practised art a little less – this made me lose some of my artistic confidence. At the age of 26, I have now regained the confidence that I once had as a 17-year-old aspiring illustrator and have been putting myself out there art-wise. What does that mean? Before landing my marketing job, I had been taking a number of custom illustration commissions! I loved being creative again and pushing myself by trying new techniques. Then I contacted a shop about displaying my work.
The town of Millbrook has a delightful café called the Pastry Peddler with a unique Bike shop on the second floor. I’ve often admired the building for it’s beautiful interior architectural structures like the gorgeous old staircase at the back of the building that leads up to Frog Cycles. The hallway from the café section to the washrooms, as well as the back staircase, features different artists each month and this month I’m lucky enough to be displaying a collection of my own work!
I created a handful (maybe a little too many) of hanging layouts ahead of time and am happy with my final choice. I’m proud of myself for this small accomplishment, we should allow ourselves some personal pride on occasion. It’s not an art gallery show, but I’m putting my art in front of the public-eye – putting a part of myself on display to be judged. Art is personal and I know mine won’t be for everyone, but if it makes one person stop to take a double look (one that doesn’t read as “ew, gross”), I’ll be a happy girl!
(I did not take photos of the paintings and the ones I am using do not do the colours or texture of the real things justice – this exhibition is a must see)
This past Tuesday, Chris and I had afternoon plans in Toronto so we decided to make a bit of a day out of it. We live approximately an hour away from the city and don’t go downtown very often. I am someone who really loves her hometown and usually visits small town antique stores rather than busy city boutiques – this only makes my treks to Toronto all the more special.
Fun Fact: I love crosswords and keep a pen in my purse just in case I happen upon one.
When we arrived at Union Station, we went upstairs to the Pilot Coffee stand where Chris bought me a hot chocolate (a child at heart) and a coffee for himself. We took our warm drinks and headed to the subway to save time. We rode the University line to St. Patrick and walked the short distance to the AGO.
After getting our tickets and checking our coats, we climbed the stairs to the Mystical Landscape exhibition. We chose not to opt-in for audio headsets; although the audio files are educational, I find that they can take away from the viewing experience. Instead, Chris and I moved to the paintings at our own pace, viewed them in our own order, shared discussions, and read the descriptions of pieces that we liked.
The spaces were dim with picture perfect gallery lights that highlighted the masterpieces that were hung on the wall. It was incredible. The rooms were packed with art lovers, listening to their audio sets, and taking in the different forms of expression. I was so excited to see pieces that I had once studied in art history books displayed right in front of me. As soon as
we walked in, I saw Paul Gaugin’s Vision of the Sermon (1888) to our left and couldn’t wait to see more. The first room really started the collection off with a bang, there were famous paintings that I recognized every few feet. Claude Monet pieces were outstanding, I hadn’t imagined them to be so large! as a fan of impressionism, I couldn’t get enough of the colourful shading in person, you could really see the flecks of warm colours mixing with the blues and purples to represent
shadows – no use of black. Two of Monet’s haystack paintings were there and were a favourite of mine, but they also had some water lilies and two of the Rouen Cathedral series (allowing us to see his practise of painting the same building at various times of the day for light and colour study).
One section featured four or five different artists that depicted scenes from World War I (WWI) – Chris deemed this the Battlefield 1 display. My favourite WWI themed painting was Frederick Varley’s Gas Chamber at Seaford (1918) and Chris’ was Felix Vallotton’s Verdun (1917). It’s always fascinating to see artists’ drastically diverse interpretations, as well as how subjective viewer’s tastes are. I really enjoyed seeing which pieces Chris liked and thought about how great it would be to study a person’s psychology based on artistic preferences. If this already exists, please lead me to a link for further reading!
Without a doubt, the most anticipated and most enjoyable painting to see was Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night over the Rhone at Arles (1888). It was incredible to stand mere feet away from the colourful textured strokes
that are much more beautiful in person than they are in any art history textbooks. I pointed to the man and woman in the bottom right corner and told Chris that they were us and we should paint our dog Summit in. We made sure that we really allowed ourselves to take the piece in because it’s quite likely that we’ll never get to see it in person again.
If you are in or near Toronto before February 12, 2017 (the last day of the exhibition), I strongly encourage you to see Mystical Landscapes. You will not be disappointed, it was truly exceptional.
Other favourites (see below) between Chris and I were: Henri Sidaner’s Moonlight, Bruges (1900); Eugene Jansson’s Dawn over Riddarfjärden (1899), Edvard Munch’s The Sun (1909); Lawren Harris’ Decorative Landscape (1917); and Georgia O’Keeffe’s Red Hills, Lake George (1927).