Weekend Workshop with Artist Laura Culic

{Submitted by Eva Johnson who also organized the workshop}

On Nov. 4 and 5, Laura Culic led us in our first workshop of the year. Fifteen fortunate participants learned how to mix cold wax with oil paint to create layer upon layer of colour and texture. Laura compared her paintings to archeology as she scratched into the surface unearthing the beautiful colours that revealed themselves. There is always an element of surprise in this method of painting.

Laura showed us how to apply paint with wax paper, and how to use a bowl scraper, brayer, sticks, combs and many other devices to discover the hidden underlayers of paint. Our artists used their own creative juices to paint abstracts, landscapes, flowers etc. We went beyond our comfort zones and were all greatly inspired.

Laura was a very generous, inspiring, talented artist who shared her enthusiasm for her medium with all of us grateful artists.



Friday Night with Amy Walsh-Harris – November 24

(Submitted by Ingrid Mueller)



The last Friday Night Club for 2017 was a packed house…almost standing room only. We were all fortunate to have Amy Walsh-Harris join us for a presentation and demonstration, and she didn’t disappoint.

Amy Walsh-Harris is, admittedly, obsessed with Toronto. Born and raised in T.O., she “is inspired by the history, life and movement through the city streets”. As Amy seems to have lived in just about every neighbourhood in the city, each area has inspired her to paint the local life and architecture. Bars and streetcars are also a favorite subject. She also loves looking at vintage photos of the city, which inspire her to paint neighbourhoods and allies that most of us tend to overlook. Here is a link to some vintage photos:  https://www.facebook.com/pg/VintageToronto/photos/

Amy admits to taking hundreds of photos of neighbourhoods around the city yet will select, perhaps, ten that capture the vitality, colour and movement that she seeks when planning a painting.

As she plans and draws out her scene the tools she uses for perspective in her cityscapes are remarkably simple: a T-square and acu-eyeball. Once she has selected her images she tends to work on numerous paintings at the same time, claiming she may have ADHD when, in fact, she actually allows time for each to dry, as she works in oils and tends to put at least 4 layers of oil on each painting.

After spending hours actually drawing out her composition her first layer is acrylic, where she will start with her darks, lay in the primary colour and work towards the mixed colours.

Amy is also a prolific, professional painter who produces dozens of paintings every year and has had good success selling them.

After a few fruitless hangings at galleries, Amy decided to market her art herself, thus eliminating the 50% gallery commission and allowing her to price her work at a price suitable to her market/customers.

Art fairs, including the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, are among the promotional tools Amy uses to market her art. However she is also very active on social media like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well blogging, recommending the use of hashtags to draw attention to your work.  She also sells directly from her website and recommends posting prices for your work, as it eliminates the need for customers to seek information. (Links below)

Pricing is an issue for all artists and Amy recommends pricing that is not only sensitive to her customers but takes into account not only the size of the painting but the amount of work and hours she puts into her paintings. She has written about this subject in her blog which is available for viewing in the link below.

Amy grew up in the Beach and as a child enjoyed meals with her family at a restaurant called Good Food, affectionately known as “The Goof”. Nostalgia drove her to do a painting of this well known eating establishment which became an instant hit. Demand necessitated the need for prints and this is how another profit center evolved. Prints are a good source of revenue for artists and Amy uses the best materials and offers a selection to her customers.  Experience has taught her to use reliable suppliers that provide the best quality product in a timely fashion. Currently her supplier of choice for giclee prints is QSQ Giclee Boutique. (Link provided below).

It was a fabulous evening and refreshing to spend it with a young artist who has a gregarious personality, limitless talent and energy and zest for life.

Giclee supplier:        http://www.qsqinc.com/

Blog:   https://awalshharris.wordpress.com/

Facebook link:  https://www.facebook.com/awalshharris/

Website:  http://www.amywalshharris.com/

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/amywalshharris/?hl=en

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/amywalshharris


DVAC Club Night – Plein Air Show & Tell – November 17

(Submitted by Brent Arlitt)



The DVAC Plein Air ‘Show and Tell’ Night was led by our Plein Air Coordinator Franca Montalbetti who, assisted by able committee members, held 12 DVAC Plein Air outings over the 2017 season. The event was kicked off by Georgia Bowen who demonstrated her artwork and the small, light but very versatile Guerilla Box, mounted on an artist’s tripod for a very convenient way for artists to do plein air painting, even in a remote location. Artist Wally Lush showed his paintings and his use of a panel pack used to transport wet oil paintings after the painting session is over.

Other artists showed works created in various mediums including oil, acrylic, water soluble oil, watercolour, coloured pencil, egg white and various sketching materials including the use of palette knife. Over this year these creations were made on DVAC outings and in many locations such as Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Grand Manan, Arizona, Manitoulin Island and in Europe. It was mentioned that Plein air landscapes are much more difficult than painting in the studio but are especially successful because outside you connect with your environment and “you paint from the heart whereas indoors you paint from the head”. Some artists showed how their plein air work inspired them to other creative pursuits later in the studio.

Next year the committee wants to paint in some new locations, possibly in a member’s backyard, and possibly with an overnight outing outside the GTA. They are looking to all DVAC members to propose good plein air location suggestions. If you have a location to suggest that meets the criteria of accessible parking, washrooms and access by TTC, please contact Wally Lush and Franca Montalbetti.

Visit to Steve Driscoll’s Artist Studio – November 3

(Submitted by Brent Arlitt)




On Friday November 3, artist Steve Driscoll took DVAC club members on a private exclusive tour of his large artist studio in West Toronto, demonstrating some of the materials, processes and methods in creating very large format paintings. We saw dramatic visionary abstracted landscapes, created with intense colouration using pigmented urethane on white plastic panels, employing “wet-on-wet” technique. This is a method that Steve has uniquely developed over a number of years. Steve gave a talk on his educational background, materials, methods and the outdoor trips where he gets the inspiration for his beautiful painted scenes. He pointed out the features of many of the paintings on display, including a forest scene, that will soon be hanging in the atrium of the new Oakville Trafalgar Hospital. Steve had an exhibit at the McMichael Gallery this past Spring and Summer.

Steve Driscoll, an OCAD graduate, has emerged and is being recognized as one of Canada’s most exciting contemporary artists. Re-inventing landscape painting for the 21st century, Driscoll uses vibrant colour, monumental scale and industrial materials (pigmented urethane on plastic panels) to create ecstatic visions of wild places. Driscoll’s ground-breaking 2016 exhibition, Just a Sliver of the Room, captured national attention through an innovative gallery installation featuring a 40-foot long shoreline scene reflected in a 2,000-gallon artificial lake, complete with boardwalk.

To see more of his work, visit www.stevedriscoll.com

Friday Night with Margaret Ferraro – October 13

{Written by Hanifa Mamujee}


It was a perfect Friday evening at the Don Valley Art Club – everyone gathered to hear Margaret Ferraro speak about her passions – life drawing, pastels and acrylics.  This evening she was demonstrating underpainting and pastels.

There are many approaches to underpainting – her preferred method is using opposite colours underneath the pastel layer and to extend the range of value having the darker value underneath shifting from dark to light and from hard to soft.  Choice of paper being used matters – for her demos she used printing making paper (hot press) for one and a 140 lb. water colour paper (cold press) for the other (note 90 lb. water colour paper is too light and would have hills and valleys grooves in it that would impact the quality of the pastel artwork).

Part of the prep work for the demo included soaking the papers in water and stapling the paper to the board to stretch and dry out.  This step prevents the paper from having ‘bubbles’ in them and provides the right type of surface to work with.  Another step is to have several layers of newspaper underneath the paper as it is important to work on a soft surface.  Other tips included:  no hard edges to the value areas and rather than blending them together, have them meet each other in a friendly play over each other; composition is important; mixing paint and gesso for the underpainting creates a good base for pastel art; and, getting a feel for using hard and medium pastels for thumb nailing and soft pastels for the detail work.

Margaret currently lives in the Barrie area, teaches art classes in Toronto and hosts one to three plein air trips to countries such as Costa Rica, Peru and France.  She can be reached at margferraro@xplornet.ca if you’d like to get on her mailing list. You may view her work at http://www.ferraro-art.com