The Dalmatian Cooler

I could’ve sworn this cooler was blue yesterday, I thought to myself.

Standing in our kitchen, I was looking at the small cooler we often use to haul gatorade, ice, and cooling towels for our son’s baseball. My eyebrow was gently cock-eyed as my mind tried to decipher what exactly I was looking at here. 

The cooler was looking like a reverse Dalmatian. It had obvious white spots on what had previously been a pristine royal blue exterior.

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Artist Spotlight: Maria Iva

I really enjoyed my conversation with Ontario-based artist Maria Iva. Her art is colorful and truly captures her passion for each Ontario nature-focused landscape she chooses to paint, especially dunes.

Maria was born in Germany, moved to St. Petersburg when she was 2, and eventually emigrated to Canada in her early 30s, settling in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). She has had a unique life — three lives, as she calls them (you’ll find out in our chat) — and is currently in the process of transitioning into a full-time artist.

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to learn a small piece of her story and what makes her so passionate for art. I hope you get a glimpse of that from our interview below.

[Featured Artwork: “Through Dunes” by Maria Iva.]

Maria Iva
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This Colorful World

Before I was married to an artist, I saw the world in simple colors. 

Green was green. Whether it was your run-of-the-mill fescue grass you find on suburban Canadian prairie lawns or the coarse baize covering a billiard table, the color was simply green. 

Same for blue. Whether it was the crystal-clear sky on a cloudless day or the inimitable, googly-eyed Cookie Monster, the color was simply blue. 

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Artist Spotlight: Darcy Hunter

Darcy Hunter is a fibre and quilt artist based in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She is unique among the artists to have been featured in this space because her paintbrush is actually a sewing machine.

Her original art landscape wall hangings are visually striking but often reflect the subtlety that can be found in nature.

She came across to me as a very genuine, kind person. We also both got distracted easily and went down a few rabbit holes that didn’t make it into the below conversation (like a lengthy chat about the Rocky mountains where I offered her travel tips if she ever travels to them).

But, enough about those rascally rabbit holes, I hope you enjoy the our chat.

[Featured Artwork: “Split Rock Trail” by Darcy Hunter.]

Darcy Hunter
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The 12 Gallon Mural

“Yay, networking,” my artist wife said last September.

She was sitting in the corner of our living room in her navy blue easy chair. She had completed a mural the previous week. In my super casual, completely stealth, I’m-hunting-for-story-inspiration way, I was asking her about how the opportunity had come about in the first place.

Apparently, the opportunity to paint this mural came about quickly. And it came with the added pleasure of collaborating with another artist. 

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Artist Spotlight: Shelby Willis

You know how you meet people and they’re just so happy that it’s infectious? That would describe Edmonton-area artist Shelby Willis. I had the joy of chatting with her recently while she escaped the loving rigors of caring for her newborn daughter.

Shelby has a distinct, colorful style that can turn anyone into an animal lover.

By the time our 20-minute chat ended, I could hear her daughter crying out in the background and I could hear Shelby’s heart wanting to go to her. So, we said our farewells and I hope her daughter will learn as she grows up how lucky she will be to have Shelby’s art available to inspire her.

[Featured Artwork: “Aztec Bear” by Shelby Willis.]

Shelby Willis
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