Mindfulness is a hot topic in healthy living. And it should be. Our mental health is So. Damn. Important and I'm happy to be living in the age where our society is starting to recognize this and take action to remove some of the irrational stigma associated with mental health.
This movement could not have come at a better time either. We have become so overwhelmed with… well, everything. Crazy jobs that we can never seem to disconnect from, family, keeping the house clean, eating healthy, exercise, making the mortgage/rent, keeping up on social media, visiting friends, information overload… seriously, there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day.
Yet, if you're anything like me, those last five minutes of yoga… savasana… or those ten minutes you set aside for meditation… well, it's rarely a success. It's become so hard for us to focus our minds in the present, even for ten short minutes! I suppose that's why they call this a "practice" because it ain't easy and practice and persistence is what it takes.
For me, right now, there is only one thing in this world that can truly bring me into the present moment. (Hint: it isn't in a sweaty yoga studio and it's not sitting in silence, cross legged with my eyes closed). It's watching the sun set.
Sitting on the dock with a tea in hand watching the sun dip down and listening to the sound of water lapping against the wood is beyond peaceful. I forget about nearly everything… there's no stress, worries, or fear… all that matters is the colours, slowly changing as the sun gives a beautiful show on it's way out. I feel a combination of gratitude for the beauty and peacefulness. I also know it won't last forever so I need to enjoy the moment...to be in the present.
I'm the weirdo at our cottage who, mid conversation, will drop everything, to catch a photo of the sunset. Just when I think I've balanced the colours correctly on my camera, a new palette will appear and I'll have to get another shot. I see this with others as well. The way we take photos of the electric or soft colours. To try and capture that special moment. However, the photos never quite do it justice....and so I paint.
Sunsets have become somewhat of an obsession of mine as I try to capture that small moment of mindfulness in my own unique manner. To bring that feeling of being present into my work and thus into the homes of my collectors.
I thought I would share some of my photos that have helped to inspire my "Sunset Series". My main 'muse' for this series is our family cottage up in the Kawartha's, yet there is also inspiration from Lake St. John (the most fiery sunsets I have ever seen), and a few paintings from my cottage kickoff contest inspired by sunsets on Lake Huron, Georgian Bay, and Lake Muskoka.
I try not to be biased when it comes to sunsets… although I tend to be a sucker for bright, fiery colours. In my series, I've tried to balance out the bold with more subtle tones in a few of the pieces. Here's a few of the sunsets that served as inspiration for the series:
light and golden
bright and bold
I believe a stunning sunset can crack even the most harsh person. The next sunset you see, I challenge you to grab your favourite beverage and simply enjoy the show…in present time. And if you're heartless and hate nature and the explosion of beautiful colours... well... I hope you find your own 'sunset' that will help bring you to the present moment and allow you to take care of your own mental health… because that stuff is important!
Leave a comment below and let me know your favourite type of sunsets!
Check out the sunset series here.
Well, here I am… writing a blog. LOL at myself since I’m more of a painter and less of a writer. So bring on the trolls calling me out on my spelling mistakes and poor grammar.
Welcome to my inaugural blog post! This has been a long time coming with the intention to support my art and give my followers and prospective collectors access to what goes on in my head (honestly, most of the time I'm still trying to figure that out myself). So naturally, the first blog post will be about me...a quick history. (Side note... I hate talking about myself but slowly trying to work on this in order to get my art out into the world!)
A snapshot of my life…
I spent the first decade of my life growing up on a lake and practically living in the water; I spent the second decade moving to a small, suburban city; and in the third decade, I moved to Toronto and have been a city dweller ever since (enjoying many weekends \at the cottage, of course). All throughout, I've had an on-again off-again relationship with art (which I’m sure I’ll dive into at some point). Currently my relationship has been on-again for about a decade, and I don't see it going anywhere soon. After trying to avoid art, thinking I could never make a living, I've finally decided that I may be wrong…
My introduction to art…
Art has always been a part of my life. Growing up in the country, it took my brother and I an hour and two busses to get to school… one way. Until summer rolled around and the lake filled up with cottagers, there weren’t many kids in the area, so we had a lot of time and opportunity to be creative. Even from a young age, before I knew what the term "flow state" meant, I would find myself engulfed in a drawing, unaware of how much time had passed.
I was lucky to have teachers and family that would compliment my drawings, giving me confidence in my work and encouraging me to continue my artistic pursuits throughout elementary school.
Post-Secondary: ‘starving artist’ vs. architect vs. business woman
My parents wanted the best for us and post-secondary education was mandatory. I remember considering art school, but was discouraged by the social construct of the "starving artist". The fear of struggling for money and letting my family down wasn't appealing to me. I did love to create, and I loved to build things… math was a strong suit… Architecture! Signed, sealed and applications accepted, I headed to the big city to become an architect. George Costanza would have been proud.
Unfortunately, architecture wasn't for me (sorry, Georgie) and still wanting to obtain a degree, I switched to business school. Definitely didn't see that one coming. Alas, a Bachelor of Commerce was practical, and the option of starving artist (balls deep in post-secondary debt) was even less appealing. I actually tossed art out the window entirely for a while… putting my efforts into business related leanings.
Reunited…and it felt so good.
So, there I was, a business grad. I found employment quickly after school and started a career in marketing and membership which went very well for many years. I was lucky to find a company with a positive culture and a mentor that encouraged me to grow professionally. Time passed and I found myself ready for the next opportunity. After settling into a new position that wasn't inspiring me… and after months of wallowing in my own sorrow, I realized my business career wasn’t everything… I could put more hours in at the office, or I could do something that made me happy. I decided to pick up a pen and sketch. Eventually I picked up a paintbrush again. I bought a few canvases and started to paint. Shaina the artist was back and ready to grow.
The Side Hustle
Never one to settle for something I didn’t enjoy, I soon left the less than appealing job and found myself in a new role, running membership for a private golf club in the city. I loved that Club. I loved the people I worked with and the members (Islington Golf Club - if you're looking for a private club in the Toronto area, check them out). A good work-life balance afforded me time to paint on the side and boy did I start taking advantage of that. I spent many nights up late after work with a glass of wine, music, paint and a canvas. Eventually I worked up enough courage to post a picture of my work and was overwhelmed by the support I received. I had people reach out to commission and purchase both drawings and paintings. I soon realized I could start a side hustle... And so, I did.
If you know me, I am not a creature of habit… so when I start to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, I got restless. I felt that I needed something more in my life and if I wanted to progress both financially and career wise, I would have to consider another option. And then one came.
I was moving up the career ladder, but once again I found myself missing something… this time it took only a few short weeks to recognize it. I was starting to get closer to figuring out what I wanted. But i did what I do best... and initially ignored my gut, trying to make it work. After six months, I knew it was time to move on.
The more I reflect, the more I recognize how much I wanted to build something of my own, with my art. I wasn’t looking for a blazing career in business… I was looking to blaze my own trail in my own business. To build something with my creativity. So I decided to trust my gut and jump.
The Full Hustle
Now, here I am with a very unique opportunity to pursue something I love and to try to smash the stigma of starving artist. It's a risky venture, but it excites me, and I have confidence in both my work and what I've absorbed from a business standpoint. It’s thrilling to build something on my own. To be accountable to myself and my craft.
There you have it… a very brief snapshot on my life and how I got to this moment. I hope you will continue to follow me on this journey. To see my development as an artist or even to be encouraged as a human to follow your own passion.
I am and continue to be incredibly grateful for the support and encouragement I have received from family, friends, and even strangers who discover my story.
Quick Update: In the Studio…
I've spent the last month in my studio (hybrid living quarters with my wonderful boyfriend) working hard on a new series which will be released near the end July. If you see something you like or if you know someone who may be interested in my work, let me know or share my story! Your support means a lot (and allows me to continue making art!). I love this new chapter of my life and I love creating unique pieces of art that bring joy to others.
Click here to view my current gallery (updates coming soon!).