Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ryerson Grad Studies Mural Time-lapse

Artist Pam Lostracco paints a mural at the YSGS office featuring the winning entries of the GRAD 6-Word Contest, which asked "What are the best things about being a grad student at Ryerson?"

Friday, July 29, 2016

Outside the Box

Discovering Eastern + Carlaw inside-out. Far from my West-end hood, my first impression of this single corner of Toronto transformed as drastically as my traffic light box. I arrived with the intension of adding life to a lonely, gray intersection—only to discover how much life was already there! I began to realize there is a soul to every spot of the city—although some aren't as obvious until you get to spend a bit of time with it. 

Over 4 days of painting, the loud sounds of traffic were softened by dozens of friendly interactions. Pedestrians paused to ask questions, friends visited to say hi, joggers waved on their way to the Lakeshore, cyclists chatted while they waited for the lights to turn, and truck drivers gave thumbs up from their windows! The guys at Downtown Auto kindly gave me water and space to store supplies. CBC came by for an interview, followed by CTV a few hours later! Click here to see the clip

THANK YOU to all of you—and extra-special thank you's to: StreetARToronto for making our city so much brighter, Urban Barn for sponsoring me to do a second painting, and Benjamin Moore for supplying the beautiful paint. 

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Tuesday, June 07, 2016

A Boat, a Box, and BC

June’s Art Letter is here!

This months topics include:
*Muraling in the Mountains
*Views from a Boat
*Outside the Box Program

Read the latest issue or sign up here to get it sent directly to your inbox.

The iheart is a monthly, light-hearted, photographic Art Letter. 
Thank you for reading! 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Mountain Mural at Grouse Mountain

Best job yet! Painting + traveling is my dream combination and it actually came true at Grouse Mountain Resort.

Here's the day-by-day progress of my latest mural adventure:

Day 1: Had a beautiful, sunny flight. Warmly picked up at the ferry and up the tram to my amazing cabin. Shown the chalet's wall and introduced to staff. Sorted out a few logistics then visited my grizzly mountain mates:
Flying to Vancouver, I saw the mountains from a higher perspective. 

Airport to train, to ferry, to car, to tram, to... my very own cabin!
Meeting some of the mountain wildlife.
Day 2: Thanks to jet lag, I was up before the café even opened! Started taping up the wall at 7:30am and had all the paint mixed by noon. Layer 1 complete:
Measuring and taping up the wall. 
Mixing the paints to create an even gradient in tones.
Day 3: A steady stream of visitors were coming through after hiking up The Grind. Some commented while others named out the mountains they recognized. Met one of the staff members who had life stories to tell. Layer 2 complete:
Admiring all the people coming through the chalet.
Met Willie, one of the staff standing in front of The Lions,
also known as The Sisters. 
Lots of progress today, only 1 more layer for tomorrow!
Day 4: Finished up the last layer of pine trees and Grouse Mountain's identifier. Patched a couple holes, painted the baseboard and final touch ups. It's finished!
This added detail is called The Cut, indicating Grouse Mountain.

Captured at work from above. (Photo by Ainslie Fincham)

Day 5: Since the mural was painted on time as planned, I spent a day in Vancouver. Sushi in Kitsilano, walk on the beach, saki tasting on Granville Island, boat taxi and the best gluten free pizza I've ever had at Bella Gelateria! Arrived "home" late to catch the last (empty) tram up the mountain:
Enjoyed a perfect day off in Vancouver with my friend Jacqueline.
Without any visitors on board, the tram ride back up the mountain
was eerily dark and silent, while the wind whistled through. 
Day 6: A slow morning to watch my surroundings deeply in a sketch. One last look at the real mountains and then the mountain mural, before I headed off back to the airport:
Savouring one last look at this spectacular view. 

Taking final photos of the completed mural. 

It was so much fun, I want to go back! If you're in BC and would like a mural for your home or business, email me here. Let's make it happen!

Let's make more murals!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Art = Nature

I have a theory. Tell me if it's true. I believe art and nature are the same and cannot exist without the other. Nature is an art in itself, creating perfect colour palettes and harmonious shapes. Within all its organic-ness is perfection. How can nature be wrong? It holds an endless supply of lines and patterns. Nature is a terrific source for artists to "draw" from.

My inspiration has always derived from the world I see around me. While going through my photos from Vietnam, I noticed this connection for other artists as well. A figure drawing class in the middle of (what seemed) an abandoned garden. A monk who found eternal youth and happiness from painting thousands of mountain scrolls. A boy who used large leaves as his paint palette. A Canadian example, the iconic style of The Group of Seven. The documentary Painted Land, shows how they loved the natural landscape and spent their lives painting it. It's hard to know which they loved more—painting or being in nature?

Homes and Gardens: 
Look who popped up at the Home and Garden Show!

My little garden-in-a-vase integrating with the Gold Bird Mural.
A sweet bunny adds fun decor to a hydrangea garden.
Beautifully designed metal palm trees by Designer Palms
and they have coconut lights!
Sculpture Gardens at the McMichael Gallery. 

My friend Juli Lyons and I enjoyed a Spring afternoon photographing.
We walked among welcoming sculptures that seemed to
blend perfectly into the landscape.
A jar containing a Haiku poem hangs from each of the sculptures.
6 of The Group of Seven artists lay to rest here,
in a protective circle of rocks.
Check out my available nature-based artwork...

Art, Artists and Nature in Vietnam: 
Surprise Appearances in Gardens.

Mountains of mountain paintings made by a monk
(Dalat, Vietnam).
Nhat paints my portrait (Saigon, Vietnam). 
Mr. Thuc, the monk artist, looks much younger than his 65 years. 
Leaves used as a paint palette (Luang Prabang, Laos). 
Carving in the back garden of a restaurant run by an artist
(Kon Tum, Vietnam). 
This figure drawing class was completely hidden in the massive gardens of the Forbidden Purple City (Hue, Vietnam).

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Vitamin Sea

"The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul." —Robert Wyland

I just had an incredible break. For an entire week, I began each morning, with sunglasses on, and looked out onto a bright, beautiful view.

The air was so warm and the water so blue—it made me feel invigorated, alive and refreshed. The perfect escape from the cold—and... it was here, in Toronto!

No need to step on a plane to warm up those winter blues. Sweet Olenka's new shop on Queen West makes a fantastic selection of ice cream and chocolate, best eaten by the sunny beach mural!

The mural was painted onto a piece of fabric that hangs in front of a wall-sized light box. When backlit, the colours from the translucent fabric paint, illuminated the whole shop. 

The lights emitted heat, that felt like rays of sunshine on my face. I couldn't help but feel warm and cheery all day. 

Oh, and the couple of truffle breaks may have contributed to that feeling as well :) 

Would you like your own mural? Email me for your custom quote, or check out more murals on my website.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

In Love with Contrast

Whenever I go to the AGO, this painting always catches my eye. The precision in detail, the mysteriousness of the mist, and the illumination from the moon.

The faces are aglow, despite it being the middle of the night. Dark shadows in the foreground, fade into a bright light in the background. A calm atmosphere softened, from all the gradating tones between black and white. The dark underside of the boat against the light on the woman's front, gives the illusion that she's levitating. A triad of bright points, creates the perfect composition...

All of these qualities achieved, through the use of—contrast.

"Simultaneous contrast is not just a curious optical phenomenon—it is the very heart of painting." —Josef Albers
Black and White

The greatest contrast of all—black and white. I saw a greenhouse filled with orchids in Bogor, Indonesia. This branch in particular stood out, the bright petals highlighted against a dark background. I decided to paint these orchids in regular house paint, to see how photo-realistic I could go with my murals. What do you think?! Email to purchase this painting—or get it painted on your wall...

Lights at Night

Peeking through. From painted colours behind silhouetted plants, to bulbs contained within their shades, to tiny pinholes in a suitcase. No matter how large or small, contrast is everywhere! Where have you seen it lately? Check out murals at

Shadows from Light

Inspiration from 10 Years Ago. Whether drawing or taking a photograph, the condition of light is key. With light, there is shadow, and the two interplay with each other in varying tones. Other factors can be the time of day, the weather, the quantity, or the source of light. Both this sketch and photo were taken at midday, when shadows have the greatest contrast. Follow my current Beach Mural on Instagram...