Saturday, March 26, 2011

Claire Loves... Enoteca Sociale and Retro Whale!

Good afternoon!

It's sunny here in the T dot, but I'm not fooled. Mother Nature is on a mean streak and she's made the city so cold it could freeze her titties off. Not nice, lady. Anyway, I have to keep this short as Ronaldo and I have to brave the cold to go bottle the brunello we ordered 5 weeks ago. A big HIP HIP HOORAY for having a huge supply of wine in the house again!! That is a love I will get into another day. 

Today, I want to share an incredible restaurant that I've recently been to in my hood. Ronaldo and I have walked past it for nearly a year, always mentioning as we saw it "we really need to try that place out". I've had their postcard pinned to my peg board forever as well, serving as another reminder. 
Finally on March ninth, the 35th anniversary of the birth of the hottest man alive, I had my chance to go. I don't know what I was waiting for. The Restaurant, called Enoteca Sociale, specializes in authentic, home-style Roman fare. During my blog absence in the fall I turned 30 and to celebrate Ronaldo and I went to Italy and we spent the majority of that trip in Rome. The food was exactly as I remembered it to be when we were there. The only downfall to this Enoteca is that I couldn't eat everything on the menu, and frankly I think this is more to blame on my stomach than the restaurant.
I decided to go with a classic carbonara. Funny enough, the wine here is a brunello! I savoured every sip and bite. Check out their website to see the whole beautiful menu and to make a reservation. On Sundays they offer a special "family style" dinner that I am hoping to check out in the not too distant future with some "family style" people. Anyone up for it?

Beyond the incredible food, the design and decor of the joint was fantastic. The lighting was warm and there were lots of wood accents. Very homey. I have to say that the best part of the whole place was a focal wall COVERED with the most amazing, eye-catching, "oh-my-gosh-that's-SO-cute" artwork. There were probably a good 40 to 50 little to medium  sized pieces. Thanks to knowledgeable wait staff and my iPhone I very quickly found that it was all done by one artist- Retro Whale.
 Out. Of. This. World. Retro Whale is based out of L.A. and, as described on their website, their inspiration comes from "animals, movies, outsider art, skate and surf culture, and anything that makes them laugh". I sat beside this beret wearing boston terrier and was in awe all night. Upon further investigation I found that they have not only a website, but a blog and a very active and affordable Etsy store. THIS is the business that one day I want to be able to say I have. Last week I made another step towards this goal by actually uploading my first sale item to my OWN Etsy page! That's right- it's not going to be "coming soon, clearly" anymore. I am selling my ABC giclee prints on it to start, but I am developing some other products to sell and will likely upload other prints soon. I've also added links to PayPal from the paintings that available for purchase on my website. EXCITING! Hopefully I can find some loving homes for my artwork. 

In the meantime I will sip my homemade wine and dream about the next time I will go back to my newly found neighbourhood gem.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A big green thank you.

A very belated happy St. Patrick's day to you! I hope that you celebrated as the Irish do. As I posted last week, my big ECO arts exhibition at Gallery 1313 was the same evening. I was excited to be invited to be in the show. Once I arrived at the opening and saw the caliber of work that my work was sharing wall space with I was totally honoured that I was picked. The gallery itself is a total gem- amazing space and great atmosphere. The curator and director of Gallery 1313, Phil Anderson, did a spectacular job of balancing the varied styles, mediums, and sizes of the works. It was beautiful, and so Phil gets my first big green thank you. My second big green thank you goes to all my wonderful friends and colleagues that came out to the event. I know that were many other places to be and pints of green beer to be drinking so I appreciate that they were there. Actually, thanks to EVERYONE who came out. I hope you liked the show! Here are a few shots from the night.

If these have tickled your fancy to see it all for yourself it is not to late, my friend. The show runs until March 27th, next Sunday. You can find Gallery 1313's hours of operation on their website. Lots of fun stuff to share with you next week, including an amazing artsy Toronto chow spot, a new blog discovery, and some work news. For now, go enjoy the rest of the first day of Spring!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sometimes when a door closes....

I have had a small stroke of luck!

The piece that I wrote about last week that I missed the deadline to submit to a certain show is actually going to be displayed at another show starting next week. I was on Akimbo last week (which is a great artist resource, by the way) and found another gallery's call for submission that had a deadline that I could meet no problem and that's show theme fell into what I had just painted. I submitted and was accepted! Totally lucky girl, eh?

Sourced from
The show is at Gallery 1313, at 1313 Queen Street West here is Toronto. The show is called ECO ART exhibition 2011 and will feature artists from across Canada depicting ecological and environmental issues and subjects through their work. This show is leading up to Earth Hour, where the world's occupants are to turn off their power sources for one hour between 8:30 PM and 9:30 PM. It's really neat to see in a city as big as Toronto. The whole place goes dark! It's a statement with impact to say the least.

The show opens on Thursday March 17th. This is possibly the greenest day of the year, even if it's not so linked to the environment. I would be honoured if you would join me at the opening from 7-9PM that night. If you can't make it that evening do not fear. The show runs from March 16th though March 27th. Please visit the Gallery 1313 website for details on location and hours. 

Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The life of a painting.

I spent this weekend working on a new piece to be submitted to a gallery show call for entry. Yesterday at 5 was the deadline. I realized at 3 that I was not going to make it. Big bummer. At the end of the day it's my fault for leaving it so long, but all is not lost. I really loved what I created. I took pictures along to journey from concept to final and wanted to share my process.

So, first is the concept. The theme of the show is hybrids. I started working on rough concepts a couple of weeks ago.

Usually I start by writing my ideas down and drawing super duper rough sketches. This is how I narrow down to one idea. At this point in this particular case I had to set everything aside to work on another project.

I came back to this painting a week after my first sketches and did another round of roughs. These ones are based around the best idea I had from the first round. I wrote down my palette colour ideas as well.

One last final sketch. This one is pretty much exactly as I want the final painting look. I'll usually write down where I want to see each of my palette colours so I can be as efficient with my paint as possible.

Next step is to transfer my idea to the final canvas. In this case it's a stained wooden panel. Here I used a pastel pencil to sketch it out but usually a pencil is my tool of choice.

Paint time! I try to lay down the large blocks of colour first.

My first painting teacher in college said to us once that if you're going to paint, then use paint. It's not the time to scrimp. So I went out and bought some new paint! My talent takes me far but the paint itself is so important!

From that point it's hard to describe. I don't start from the top and move my way down. I'm all over the place! Wherever my mood strikes me. It's hard to say how long this will take me. This particular situation took me the better part of a weekend.

I also started using this awesome water dish that my Mom gave me years ago and it was promptly put in a dusty corner of my book case. It's got grooves to lay your brushes down without crushing the tips and a ridged section to help remove paint better. I LOVE it! Thanks, Mom!

So, though I didn't get it done in time for the deadline I did finish it today, and my furry intern totally approved.

It turned out as I hoped it would. It's been a while since I've painted so it was good to get back into it in the least. I'm already working on my next one!

Thursday, March 3, 2011


So, I was wrong.

Pancake Tuesday, better known as Shrove Tuesday to the religious or Fat Tuesday to those in New Orleans, is actually THIS COMING TUESDAY. I say this because I caused a ruckus in a friend's household that ended in spontaneous pancakes. This, I believe, is a good thing. So, this Tuesday March the 8th get out your frying pan 'cause it's pancake time! Since my sweet is not down with sweets for dinner (hence my sad last post) I think I'll try this savoury style cake I found initially on Apartment Therapy's The Kitchn but is originally from Spabetty...

Sourced from Spabetty
These babies are gluten free (as is the Spabetty blog) and are mostyl spinach. How could Ronaldo say no? I really love how she made an egg sandwich out of them. Click the Spabetty link above for the full recipe! 

Now that I've set everything right, here's an update from a while back. You may remember my goal to make lots of Christmas presents. I gave you sneak peeks of one gift in particular. Well, Christmas came in February for my dear friend Morgan. The reveal for you..
 I sewed and embroidered a tree skirt!
 I'm very happy to say that Morgan loved it! I had no pattern. By the seat of my pants I flew with this one and it turned out better than I could have imagined. I know no one is going to want to make a Christmas tree skirt this close to Pancake Tuesday so I will re-post about this in the fall with a full description of how I made it so you can make one too! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

We have a winner!

Guess what? It's pancake Tuesday!! Did you guys have pancakes for dinner? I didn't. It's kind of a sore spot right now, especially because instead of making delicious pancakes I made a carrot soup that didn't taste very nice. And, straight back to colour theory here folks, when you blend yellow carrots with orange carrots and purple carrots you get something that is shit brown coloured. I wish I had pancakes.  

Enough potty talk- on to business. Yesterday was my third official "Claire" day. It was the first of my me days that I actually illustrated something. I am working on a project that I can't give you the details on as it's not yet a confirmed gig. I had one of those days yesterday when it seems that you just can't get what you want down on paper. It was not an easy day, but I got what needed to be done completed. Here is a little sneak peek:  

 I also, fingers crossed, found my new web hosting site! I've signed up to be a member of Cargo Collective!

I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to make sure that they were "the one" and after some playing around, I think they may just be. This site runs much smoother than my other site, bigger and simpler. It's got the same "plug and play" aspects of my old site but I will be able to do a lot more customization as I'll have access to CSS and HTML. This probably means that I'll need to learn a little about scripting in the not too distant future. For the time being I can make due with the coding they supply. Cargo Collective has a screening process when giving out their sites. They are aimed at the creative community and wish to maintain a high quality of sites under their umbrella so I'm pretty happy they accepted my request. The best part of it all though, is that it's more than half the price of my last site per year. With me trying to pinch my pennies this is a way awesome thing. I'm pretty pumped to get right into it and set it up to it's fullest.