Dress Up

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I’ve had a fascination with Blair Waldorf and her legendary style long before she came to life on the TV screen. I was all about the books as a pre-teen, soaking up every designer-laced word, and though the TV show version came out a bit too late for my obsession I still re-watch for style inspiration! You seriously can’t go wrong with pastel berets and little bows right?

When I saw this baby blue dress at the Ted Baker SS18 preview months ago I my mind automatically sprung to Blair. I knew she’d approve of the jewelled statement collar, delicately glittering patterned fabric and skater style cut. It was a little bit NYC Upper East Side, and a little bit whimsical Cinderella – these are a few of my favourite things! The best news? This fairytale prep dress is now on sale here! You can also find my black suede mules with gold details on super sale at Hudsons Bay here if you’re one of the lucky sizes left!

Scroll down to shop items inspired by the look

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Dear Diary

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Buying art is intimidating for just about anybody, especially when you’re young and unsure what it’s all about. I’ve always known I wanted to be the kind of adult with a well-rounded art collection, but what does that even mean?

Over the years I’ve spent so much time around art and artists between partners, friends and colleagues, and I even worked in at an art shop for a short time packing up precious works to mail all over the world. I’ve come to have such a deep respect for artists and what they do, often pulling entirely new realities out of their imaginations and turning them into something tangible. I have never second guessed the value of investing in an artist and their work, but I’ll admit even with everything I know from connection in that world, I’ve always been unsure where to start when it comes to investing outside of my friend circle.

My best friend (and artist! Check out her work here) Johanna often introduces me to new bodies of work and creators, inviting me to gallery openings and sending me links to installations she’d like to visit one day. When she invited me to go see Rebecca Chaperon’s work last summer I jumped at the chance, automatically drawn into her spooky pastel world on Instagram.

From the moment I walked into Rebecca’s Toronto show I knew this was the kind of work I wanted to invest in, and when I met Rebecca herself the need got even stronger. At the time I didn’t have any space left on the walls in my sad Toronto condo, so I shelved the idea, but her hauntingly beautiful pieces never really left my mind. For me, art should evoke an undeniable feeling, and in my case the feeling I reach for is escape. Rebecca’s rainbow slides that lead out of the frame of her paintings, or mysterious portals do just this – they suggest an escape, like if you look into one of her canvases long enough you might find yourself somewhere else entirely.

Also from Vancouver, Rebecca and I connected almost immediately, and stayed in touch over the past 365 days. Our conversations touched on upcoming shows and magical life milestones, and when I signed the lease on my new dream apartment I knew no one’s work could do the mantlepiece justice quite like one of her pieces. She ended up making me a custom piece, the most beautiful pink beach portal, and we both liked it so much that she made a a special limited pastel collection inspired by our partnership! They’re the first five works shown below, but warning, one has already sold, so get on it if you want to add one to your collection too!

Ways to shop + see Rebecca Chaperon’s work //

TORONTO, ON // Today’s Paper group show, Angell Gallery, runs July 27 to August 25 (opening reception is Saturday July 28th from 2-4pm)

ABBOTSFORD, BC // The Reach (public gallery), up until September

ONLINE!!! I have a *super special* discount code to offer you guys for the next couple weeks! Get 20% OFF all existing original art in Rebecca’s online shop here. Not applicable to prints, expires AUGUST 15TH at midnight. Use code “PASTELLOVE” at checkout!

Scroll down to see the pastel collection, and to read my interview with Rebecca too!

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How did you make the decision to commit to being a full-time artist? Did you come across any challenges getting started? //

For me, it’s been a process of becoming more and more devoted to making my art – to the point where it now takes up most of the space in my life. Before quitting my job to make art full-time, I was in a place where I felt that everything, except making art, was crowding my schedule. And, for a long time, I didn’t let the possibility of being a full-time artist cross my mind, though I really wanted more time to work on my art. I eventually understood that I couldn’t make art in the way that I wanted to AND have a job. I really love making my work and I’ve always had a lot of ideas but it took me a while to get comfortable with the logistics of selling art. So that was a learning curve! My work has always been a little unusual/weird so I really had to have faith in my creative vision and that it would connect with enough people that I could make my living. There have been many challenges (occasional breakdowns!) but many moments where my luck went the other way and I thought to myself “It’s really working!” I’m lucky to have been encouraged by some incredibly kind people along the way. It’s good to have a community of artists as a support system and I definitely have that.

Tell me a bit about your world, both within your paintings and in your real life. How are they the same, and how are they different? //

I have a bit of a one-track mind: making art ! So I often feel a bit boring because I spend most of my time alone in the studio. On the other hand, my studio is a pretty amazing and magical space. I have an area set up with a little candle altar and, lately, every day I meditate and do yoga to help balance out my brain. I think this balancing comes out in my work as well, in different ways. There is a weight to them and a floating, ephemeral quality as well. I use colour to create this relationship as well as composition. Other times I focus on building a world, a place with a strong feeling to it. I welcome people into these strange liminal spaces as viewers in an effort to share my love of all that is mysterious and magical. I’m here today, working as an artist, because I believe in finding time to dedicate to what I am passionate about and that has to be balanced out by movement and centering myself in quiet so I can let my mind get into a calmer and more spacious place. I want to offer a little bit of that magic and spaciousness to people through my art. A positive kind of escapism can be so useful at times.

How do you feel about the idea of using art as a way to escape within your home? //

I’m all for it. I think that it can be very therapeutic to have an image to “rest” your mind on. If you have an interesting image to look at and think about it can be a place to focus when thoughts and feeling are racing through your head. In my home I have a few, select pieces made by my friends that I will treasure forever–each of the pieces bring me a different feeling and the fact that they made these works with their own hands makes them seem to be brimming with friendly magic. I think that spending time looking at a painting over the years in your own home is very special. Your appreciation for it will change and grow and you’ll notice different aspects of it. It’s a good idea to move the art around after a few years and you’ll notice it again in a new way.

As a young person looking to invest in art, what should someone look for? //

Get to know artists you like and follow them through social media. Also, it’s not a bad idea to find out if those artists work with galleries and check out their work in the gallery setting so you can see it in person. If you really love an artist’s work then reach out to them and let them know. If you are ready to collect then set aside a budget and go do some studio visits with the artists whose work you are most interested in. I keep a mailing list of people interested in my work so that I can keep them informed about art shows, and new available work. The main thing to remember is that the art is one of a kind, so if you see a piece you fall in love with you have to be ready ~ get in touch as soon as you see the piece on social media or via their mailing list. If you don’t have a big budget for art then you can always purchase works on paper, that tends to be less expensive.

What are you thinking about when you’re working on a painting? Do you put intentions and feelings into your work, or is it a bit more methodical? //

I definitely put a lot of feeling and intention into my work. It still surprises me the way I feel when I am painting. There are times when I’m in a very strange state of envisioning as I work while being open to what is happening in case the painting starts to suggest another direction. There are other times where the work is very picky and methodical…for example, trying to get a colour to be perfectly flat or an edge to be very clean. I tend to think about stories from my life or books/news, films, music – things that suggest a narrative. I’m interested in conveying less of a specific narrative and more the general feelings I get from a story. Sometimes when the painting is coming together there is a real relief and release that can be very beautiful and so fulfilling and I hope that energy comes through to the viewer.

You have a great eye for pastel colours, but also employ a lot of darker colours and themes. Can you tell me about the battle there? //

I am such a hoarder of colour. I mix my own colours but I love premixed colours as well. I love is to switch between palettes to change the mood or feeling of the work. I find that it is nice to work for a while with dark colours and then switch back to light. Often in my work you’ll find a light composition with one very dark element or a mostly dark space with some brightly lit thing in it. Not all of my work is that way but I love the high drama of that contrast.

Any events or shows you have coming up this year that you’re excited for? //

I have 3 paintings on paper in a group show called Today’s Paper in Toronto at Angell Gallery that runs from July 27 to August 25 and the opening reception is Saturday July 28th from 2-4pm.
I also have a longer exhibition at The Reach which is a public gallery in Abbotsford BC which up until September – it is a show I am really proud of and has quite a wide timeline of my work up as well as some larger pieces.

If your body of work was a song, what would that song be? //

I’m going to choose the song Gunung Bromo by Faru. It’s a dreamy ambient soundscape that goes on for about eight minutes and contains a very dark rich heavy feeling and then part way through the track there is a slow shift to long uplifting major notes. My work often contain light and dark moods so I think its a good fit. If you have a chance to listen to the whole album Through Darkness Comes Light – it’s transformative : )

When you picture your work going home to a new space, what does that space look like? Where do you think your art belongs? //

I think my art goes into spaces in every form they take but I’d like to imagine that some people are using them to “create” a space that has a little more magic. So perhaps my art is just a part of a space they are curating with other beautiful objects. I like to imagine my work in resting spaces – like living rooms or near sitting areas. Also mediation “nook”s if you have one of those. Of course I don’t know if I have ever seen the art matching the space as well as it did in yours Alyssa ! Your home is a pastel dream : )

Here’s a few Canadian female artists doing exciting things: Aimee Henny Brown, Genevieve Dionne and Annyen Lam

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Home tour photos by Scarlet O’Neill, art photos provided by Rebecca Chaperon

Dress Up

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Holy moly it’s been a hot Summer! Most of my outfit choices as of late have involved being as naked as possible without literally looking like a naked person. Though I can’t say I’ve totally mastered the balance (there have definitely been some nudish days) my secret weapon has definitely been wrap dresses.

Wrap dresses are seriously the perfect summer staple: they come in all shapes, sizes, and cuts, feel loose and airy on your body while still showing off your shape and they’re easy to loosen on the go if the heat is turning you into a sweaty marshmallow puff (it happens to the best of us!) I have lots of different versions of wraps in my closet, but I love this Needle and Thread Rainbow Rose Wrap Dress from Hudson’s Bay for a number of reasons. First off, how beautiful is the fabric? There are so many magical rainbow flowers and delicate ribbons of colour woven into the pattern. Plus… it’s pink, and in my world that’s an easy sell! Add some ruffles and a a bit of lace trim and I’m totally in! Bonus? It’s now on super sale too!

Paired with dressy high heels and a clutch this piece is perfect for a wedding or evening affair, but I prefer to wear it in the daytime with a simple bucket bag and mules or even sneakers. Insider tip – it also came with a really cute slip dress layer that’s detachable and can be worn on its own too!

What’s your hot summer weather staple?

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Random

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Moving into an older home always poses a couple challenges, and when I found #HeaveninHighPark I had a feeling a lot of work was needed in key areas like the kitchen and bathrooms. Initially I wanted to rip everything out in all 3 rooms but that quickly became a project that went way beyond what I could handle budget-wise and time-wise. Renovations are a huge undertaking, and in my limited experience they always end up way more complicated than you plan for. The last thing I wanted to do was get in too deep right off the bat, so I compromised – rip out the kitchen to start from scratch, and do what I could with the two bathrooms without any demolition.

Turns out there is a lot you can do to update an older space without ripping things apart. I was worried the wood-handled melamine cabinets were a lost cause, and though I lucked out on mostly white tiling in all three rooms, the sink situation definitely left something to be desired.

KITCHEN //

When it came to the kitchen, I really went for it. With the help of my landlord and a trusty handyman, I swapped the backsplash for white subway tiles, the countertop for a faux marble slab (quartz based) and the old melamine cabinets for clean white wood with gold hardware. The real show stopper? This epic Delta Smart Kitchen Faucet! Everything really came together the moment this champagne beauty was installed, and showing guests my “faucet magic tricks” when they come over never gets old. You can turn the sink on and off by touching anywhere on the faucet’s body!

Check out the before and after here! Who doesn’t love a good makeover story?

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BATHROOMS //

In both bathrooms I chose to work with the existing cabinets and sinks. We painted the cabinetry pink (see full details below if you’re wondering how!) and drilled holes to add fun knobs to the doors. Details like bright towels and a patterned shower curtain added some life to each space, but the biggest transformation really came down to the hardware. I replaced the faucets with champagne bronze single handle bathroom models to match the kitchen, and then swapped out the towel racks and towel hooks to match.

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IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS //

If you want to spruce up your old melamine cabinets it’s not as difficult as you think. First, give them a rough sand to create a bit of traction. Next, do a base coat of Zinsser Bulls eye 1-2-3 primer, and when you’re selecting paint make sure it’s alkyd enamel based (they can mix it any colour!) I was super happy with how ours turned out, especially with the addition of some fancy knobs at the end.

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Dear Diary

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And just like that, 102 web pages later, it’s been 5 years of RAOP here on the blog. I have poured myself into these pages, whether I’m just musing about a cute outfit combination or spilling tears over a recent heartbreak.

It’s not often I take the time to look back on what I’ve published over the years, but this past long weekend I decided to take a trip down memory lane, back to page 102 where I published my very first introduction post. It’s funny how much has changed since July 3, 2013: I lived with a partner I fully intended to marry in a house just around the corner from where I live now, I’d just finished school, and I had no idea how to edit a photo (see the hazy nature of my photography for the first chunk of posts!) Even with all the changes, so much of what I set out to make RAOP into has remained true.

The last sentence of my intro post reads, “May I ask, do you like glitter? Ballet slipper pink? Baking cakes from scratch? fresh cut flowers? If you answered yes to any of the above, stick around: I think we might just be friends already.” I want to take this moment to thank all of you, whether you just stopped in for the first time today or you’ve been here from the start, thank you. Without your support, my magical pastel world would stop turning, and I can’t wait to show you what the next 5 years will bring.

Below I’ve listed some favourite posts from over the past five years! Let me know your RAOP favourites in the comments below.

Vegan Mint Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches Recipe

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Rainbow Magic Outfits for World Pride

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Pastel Pool Party

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Fiesta Burrito Bowls (still one of my favourite lunches to this day)

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One of many Disneyland posts

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DIY Bejewelled Tights

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Las Vegas City Guide

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Cut From The Same Cloth

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Disco Ice Cream Social

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Gingerbread Cookie Cocktails

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Pastel Christmas Par-tea

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The Madonna Inn

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City Guide to Nice, France

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Apricot Jam Recipe with Kitten and the Bear

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Hound Collection and Honey (this one makes me tear up now)

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Pink Moon Party

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#EatYourPastels Coconut Ice Cream Recipe

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