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

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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Dear Diary

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And just like that, it’s finally here. I feel like I’ve been living in #Heaveninhighpark for years and years, but the truth is I worked pretty hard to have it ready for a reveal this quickly. I knew the only person who could truly bring the space to life was Scarlet Oneill and with her baby on the way (due any second) I knew we had a bit of a time crunch!

I have waited so many years to really pour myself into a space that I knew I’d be able to call home and grow into for years to come, so I really went all out when I moved into #heaveninhighpark. I had the privilege of working with so many dreamy creators and retailers in my city and beyond, and watching everything come together as my friends and I scrambled to build furniture, hang light fixtures and paint the flooring upstairs white (yes, that happened) was one of the best experiences of my life so far.

I don’t want to give too much away because you can read all about it on The Glitter Guide here, but I’ve shared some of my favourite snaps from the shoot and listed all of my brand partners below!

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Photos by Scarlet Oneill

A very special thanks to:

Toronto Pro Moving for getting me here

Home Depot Canada for providing the marble kitchen counter, cupboards, painting DIY supplies and for the always helpful Tool Rental Counter.

King size mattress and pillows from Leesa

Delta Canada for the bathroom and kitchen faucet and accessories

CB2 for furniture

Rainbow Symphony for the rainbow window decals

Wall decals in pantry, bathroom and laundry room from Urban Walls

Mashi Moosh for Moroccan accents

House plants & curation by Wildhood

Simple Human garbage and recycling bins, smart mirror & smart soap dispenser

Google for Nest and Home

Make Moves Vintage for chandeliers and custom made headboard

Dear Diary

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I don’t want to give too much away because my official #heaveninhighpark home tour goes live somewhere super special THIS WEEK (keep your eyes out!) but I couldn’t help but share a sneak peek.

The last few apartments I’ve lived in I never bothered to throw a housewarming party. It’s not that I wasn’t proud of each space, because in every place I’ve lived I’ve added my own special touches, but I never truly felt like I had a home worth celebrating (never mind one that would fit everyone I care about!)

When I moved into #HeaveninHighPark everything felt totally different – I knew I was finally home. After a month of intensive decorating, painting, furniture shopping and art hanging I was finally ready to show off the space, and went to town planning a big housewarming party to celebrate this next step in my life with all of my nearest and dearest.

Just like the apartment itself, this pastel party came together so perfectly and I don’t think I’ve ever agreed so clearly that home is where the heart is. I seriously can’t wait to show you guys the rest SO SOON!

Special thanks to our event sponsors:
Ace Hill for Beer
Hey Y’all Spiked Iced tea
Fresh Wines
Subway for catering
Balloon Bar for Installations
Wildhood for florals

S/O to Delta for making our sink of drinks look extra pretty with that dreamy gold faucet!

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Dear DiaryDress Up

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It’s been awhile since I bared all on the internet here (three years to be exact). A lot has changed in that time with both me and my body, and with so many changes to come it felt like the perfect moment to get a snapshot of where I’m at.

To be honest, this is the most comfortable I’ve ever felt in my skin.

I’ve never really had any sort of self loathing issues when it comes to my body, but I can’t say I’ve always had the healthiest tactics when it comes to staying in shape. For years I built up habits of over indulging and then punishing myself, trying to stay so busy that I “forgot to eat”. I think as someone with OCD fuelled anxiety and depression, depriving myself of food when life got really rough was a way to gain control over something, and in that twisted way it momentarily made me feel better to feel hungry. When everything was spiralling out of control, food was the one thing I knew I could always get a handle on. It started as a teenage angst thing, but by the time I hit my 20s I was also using cigarettes to stay thin, coveting the moments when my bones poked out a little more than before. This wasn’t fit or healthy, this was skinny, the kind of skinny that eventually makes you sick. Again, it all came back to control – how much COULD I deprive myself? How different could I make my body look based sheerly on will power and sadness? It’s not something I’ve ever really spoken about here before, but today sharing it just felt right.

I’ve been steadily working on my mental health for, well, my entire life really, but this past Christmas was a major turning point for me. I made a lot of big life decisions, quit smoking cold turkey (6 months next week!!!) and made a commitment to start actually taking care of myself. No more days without food, no more replacing breakfast with tobacco, no more lazing around crying over TV shows instead of getting outside or heading to the gym.

For the first time in a long time, I didn’t just want to look better, I wanted to be better.

I can’t tell you how much my life has shifted over the past six months, and these photos are a celebration of that shift, a time stamp of this new season in my life. I’m loving eating well, drinking less, and moving my body more (see you guys at Soul Cycle for spin class soon?) and my mental state has never ever been better as a result. Scarlet O’Neill captured this moment so flawlessly, somehow balancing over me with her pregnant belly like a warrior AND making me feel sexy the entire time. Stole My Heart provided the most insanely gorgeous, intricate lingerie pieces to shoot, and Wild North hit the floral game out of the park. Everything came together in one enchanted afternoon celebrating health and happiness.

I no longer feel the need to control my body, and I can’t wait to see all the beautiful ways it changes in the years to come. After all, women’s bodies are magic.

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Photography by Scarlet O’Neill
Lingerie via Stole My Heart
Florals by Wild North
Tarot Deck by Labyrinthos