Thursday, April 12, 2012


It's been a bit of a crazy year (I usually count the year starting at the beginning of the school year, so in this case, I mean since September).  Sean and I spent 5 months trying to a buy a house in our neighbourhood--it wasn't the easiest transaction.  In mid-January, we finally purchased our new house (it's not new) and sold our current house.  We don't move until the end of June.  It's a crazy long closing date but we are all soooo excited to start again, especially the kids because they don't remember our last move (it was 8 years ago--a super long time by our standards).

acrylic on canvas
36" x 36"

The "new" house is awesome or at least it will be at some point.  It's really great structurally--needs a ton of help in the bathroom/kitchen departments.  The lighting is abysmal--dull, warm, yellow light everywhere.  Yuck.  I've been doing my best to purchase pretty much every light I can on the internet.  I've almost lost count of how many I've purchased.  I may be able to open a lighting store.  It's a perfect project house and we are up for the challenge.  We may fight (a little) about how we want to decorate but usually we are on the same page.

Did anyone happen to watch "The Novogratz's" on HGTV over January and February?  They became my latest obsession.  Cortney and Bob Novogratz created their own design/build business based on their own eclectic and interesting tastes and just happened to have seven children along the way.

"The houses that Bob and I have designed and built over the years are testaments to what we've been through, representatives of the chapters in our life together, and concrete proof that having faith in ourselves and one another can accomplish great things.  The houses we've built for ourselves mean far more to us than just having a roof over our heads.  They are an expression of where we've been and all of the people that have been a part of our lives.  Sure, this may sound sentimental, but talk to anyone whose home truly represents who they are and what they value, and they will tell you about the joy it brings them.  Believe me, that feeling can't be underestimated."   - Cortney Novogratz

Being the daughter of an architect, I have always appreciated my parent's love for creating, maintaining and changing their homes.  I completely fell in love with the Novogratz philosophy about home and what it means.  Creating a warm, welcoming environment for our children to grow up in something that Sean and I are both fortunate enough to do and to both feel the same way about.  

The Novogratz feel very strongly about two things close to my heart--colour and art.  With every renovation they work on, they always incorporate at least one focal piece of original art.  We are looking at our new home as a sort of "gallery" for our art (the majority of which are my own paintings).  We are sticking to white walls and neutral furniture and all the colour will come from the paintings adorning the walls.  

One artist that the Novogratz featured was a "glitter" artist from New York (blanking on her name now).  I was fully inspired by her use of glitter and language, so I thought I would put my own spin on it.  Let me tell you, working with super fine glitter SUCKS.  OMG--it is unweildy and messy and horrible--but it looks SO GOOD when finished!  My first attempt was in the painting above, "YES".  How powerful can one little word be?  I incorporated several things into this piece-language, glitter, "squares" and the use of fluorescent orange and pink (the photographic reproduction really does not do this piece any justice).

4' x 5'
acrylic on canvas

Three years ago when I was working on my pop culture series, I drew portraits of Elton John and David Furnish on a large canvas but I never got to painting them.  Pulling this canvas out, I added the large words "HOME" across the middle and set to work using all of my favourite colours and my own painting techniques.  Somehow along the way, I started thinking that David resembled Sean and I was starting to resemble Elton!!!!  I threw my large black shades on Elton and ta-da--a sort of portrait of Sean and me!  

"Glitterizing" the word HOME proved to be super difficult.  I painted everything I wanted to paint first, then went to task on gluing and glittering the 4 letters.  Sounds simple enough, I know, but due to the size of the canvas, I had to balance and perch over the edge of it.  I was shaking and hating it but thankfully it turned out okay.  We're going to hang it in the front hall of our new house.  It'll be a testament to so many things.

An old friend of mine recently made a great point...

"Appreciate what you've got and chill out when things seem overwhelming."  - K. Watson


Sunday, November 13, 2011

How and Why to Buy Art

Wow--it's been a really long time since I've updated my blog.  I hate to risk overexposing myself and as such, I've cut back on posting on Facebook and sending out email blasts.  I've decided to only send out one mass email a year to let people know of my now annual 'Tis the Season sale.  10 days into my third year of this and I've sold 7 pieces.  I'm overwhelmed by the response, to say the least.  It's a great way to clear out my studio to make room for new work.

30" x 36"
acrylic on canvas

I'm super excited to start working on some big new pieces come January 2012.  I have become extremely infatuated by strange doll art and have come across some amazing sculptural work.  Last winter I purchased my first "doll" by London artist Sarah Legault.  I've named her Annette and she's a permanent fixture in our living room.  Some kids/adults are a little freaked out by her but I'm certainly not.  She makes me so happy every time I see her, which is why I thought of posting about why one should buy art.

Ode to Missoni
24" x 24" x 3"
acrylic on canvas

A friend suggested to me that I read Gwyneth Paltrow's latest GOOP entry about purchasing and displaying contemporary art.  I've taken the liberty of reposting a section of this article below.  I think it's a great exposition about why one should start buying art.  

36" x 24"
acrylic on canvas
Some people like to match art to their decor (most serious art patrons will say that you NEVER match art to your room, but I say if that makes you happy...why not??).  Most people are intimidated about buying their first piece.  People wonder why pieces are priced as they are--too expensive??  It all depends on the degree of an artist's success in the art world.  Most paintings are actually priced per square inch!

20" x 40"
acrylic on canvas

Anyhow, enough of my this over and see what you think!

xx Justine

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Happy New Year and My New Love

Happy New Year!  Wow-it's 2011 and I'm forty years old.  Crazy how time flies.  I was kind of nervous about turning 40 to be completely honest.  I was trying to go with the fact that yes, I am very fortunate to even have lived for the past 40 years--I'm blessed with a great family, amazing husband and two great kids.  Life is great...only the sound of "40" was scary.

You know what?  It's no different than life at 39, or 35 for that matter.  The thing is, it seems to be getting better.  The kids are lots of fun and waaaay easier now.  I think my 40's will be a great decade.  I hope so at least.  I try to be grateful for everything I have.  Sometimes it's easy to lose perspective.

Anyhow, I had another great pre-Christmas season with my paintings.  I have been working on steady commissions for as long as I can remember, really.  I am very grateful to my extremely loyal clientele.  I have "collector's" now--there are several families out there who have purchased several of my pieces.  Who would have thought?

One of my very favourite pre-Christmas paintings last year was my very first dog portrait.  Lauren Gesualdi trusted me to paint her loyal and incredibly special black Lab Jersey as a Christmas gift for her boyfriend.  I only had to look at one photo of Jersey to get an understanding of her warmth and spirit.  Her big liquid "doggie" slanted eyes said it all.

acrylic on canvas
20" x 20"
commissioned by Lauren Gesuldi

The portrait was so much fun to work on.  I fell in love with Jersey during the process although I haven't even met her!  My kids now want me to paint a portrait of our dog Murphy.  My sister-in-law Nicole suggested that I paint portraits of our very beloved family dogs Megan and Josh (deceased many years ago now).  We still talk about Meg and Josh all the time--what perfect subject matter!

Sean and I also had an amazing bulldog for 5 years named Owen.  Walking with Owen (when he would allow you to take him for a walk) was like walking with a celebrity.  We would get stopped left and right for people to meet Owie.  He was an awesome dog--with the exception of the flatulence, flank alopecia (he went bald on his sides every summmer-cute), cherry eye, head twitch, shedding and of course, drooling.  He was the epitome of bulldog--65 lbs of pure bravado.  He was our first baby and we spoiled him rotten.  Owie wasn't happy when Tristan arrived on the scene.  He actually went into a total depression.  It was terrible.  Shortly before Carter was born, we made the very difficult decision to move Owen to Ottawa to live with another Sean and a pug named Otis.  We used to get pictures of Owen on his bed at Christmas, surrounded by new dog toys.  The new Sean spoiled him rotten too.  We stopped corresponding with his new owner after several years because we preferred to think that Owen would live forever.  He'd be 13 on Feb. 13, 2011.  Carter sometimes still misses him, although she never actually met him.

Our current dog Murphy, is a 3 year old Havanese.  The kids love him to death and that love is really mutual.  He is extremely affectionate and an overall great dog.  In the morning, he goes crazy with excitement when the kids get up.  He even waits at the bottom of Tristan's loft bed ladder for him to come down.

There is nothing like the unconditional love of a pet.  I think that's why I found Jersey so easy to paint.  I really, really want to take off with pet portraiture.  If anyone knows of anyone who is considering a pet portrait, please send them in my direction.  I would be honoured to take on that job.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Blythe and Me

I am happy to say that finally, my first series of Blythe doll paintings is completed.  It has been a labour of love that I started in July 2010. Funnily enough, I chose to paint the series to commemorate my 40th birthday (which is coming up on December 25) because the original Blythe dolls were born the same year. Upon doing more research about the dolls, I found out that they were "born" in 1972, not 1970. Whoops. Oh well, my friend Trish has told me that because it is within the same decade, it's still okay:)

Ilonwi Blythe
acrylic on canvas
30"w x 24"h

Aside:  If I hear Jessica Simpson singing another Christmas carol on tv, I may just freak out.  She's terrible!!  I listen to tv while I'm painting and because she is just releasing a new Christmas album, she's been on every single talk show for the past week. At least at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade she's not singing live.  

Anyway, if I had to pick a true favourite in the series, I'd have to go with Ilonwi Blythe.  Part of the fun for me in doing the series was naming the dolls!  When I was younger I used to want to name my daughter Ilonwi.  What?  I don't even remember where I heard that name (it was some random princess) but my roommate at university, Lisa, and I used to laugh ourselves to death about that name.  I actually find it quite fitting for the doll in this painting.  Working from photographs (like usual) I chose to paint Ilonwi with tattooed skin and ethereal white hair.  She's so gentle and peaceful.  Her eyelashes turned out so "feathery"--they worked!!

Tabitha Blythe
acrylic on canvas
20"w x 24"h

I named Tabitha her name purely because she looked like a Tabitha to me.  I think her eyes worked the very best out of the whole series. They are very liquid and yet plastic looking at the same time.  She's a good blend of sweet and spooky--two of my favourite things. I wanted to incorporate many of my "styles" into the paintings, so I created Tabitha's background with layer upon layer of green and yellow orbs. She's kinda got my hairstyle too, but mine is longer now.

Lizzie Blythe
acrylic on canvas
24" w x 48"h

Lizzie is the largest of the five paintings.  I had actually painted her face with a multitude of colours at first.  Then I had a dream that she had a pink face, so I had to redo her with a fluorescent pink face.  Now she's a little bashful and reserved--appropriate with her frilly, girly clothes.  Lizzie kind of reminds me of my daughter Carter for some reason, not that Carter is bashful or shy.  I really love the background for Lizzie too. The pink/white/gold squares is one of my signatures these days.

Fairest Blythe
acrylic on canvas
20"w x 24"h

Who's the fairest of them all?  Fairest of course!!  There has been a lot of interest in Fairest.  People seem to like her little hand in front of her mouth.  She's such a polite little doll and would never say the wrong thing.  I love the strange proportion of the Blythe dolls.  GIGANTIC head and eyes and tiny little hands and feet.  They are a little bobble-headish.  I chose to paint Fairest on a simple black background.  There is so much going on with the golds, whites and blues in her hair and her CRAZY eyes that there didn't need to be anything competing in her background.

Middleton Blythe
acrylic on canvas
24" x 24" x 3"

Last but not least, we have little Middleton Blythe.  What a fabulous name that is, isn't it?  I want another daughter just to name her Middleton.  When I had a friend over to see the series before I was quite finished, she suggested that I pick a "current" name for this one.  I always felt that Middleton looked quite British with her little yellow slicker.  Since Prince William and Kate Middleton had just announced their engagement, I thought that Middleton would be the perfect name for this little girl.  Middleton actually looks the most like a true Blythe doll.  I used the blue halo effect that I have used previously in several family portraits and on Oh Bama.

For some reason, I chose to work on the whole series at the same time.  I'm not sure if I would do that again.  It seemed like it took forever to make any progress with any one painting.  I normally do work on several pieces at once, but they are usually all completely different from one another.  Working on 10 little eyes, 5 little mouths, 5 different backgrounds etc. seemed to be a bit tedious.  I am ALL about instant gratification and in this case, it was a bit of delayed gratification.  Live and learn.

I currently have all the dolls at my house, waiting to hear what I'll be doing next with them.  Drop by if you are in the neighbourhood to meet them in person.  In this case, the photos really do not do them justice--they are much more colourful and full of personality in "real life"

I'm actually extremely attached to the girls and I'm going to have some trouble with letting any of them go.  Perhaps I'll do another series of them at some point.  Several years ago my friend Laura suggested that I paint a Blythe doll.  Maybe I'll see if Laura has anymore suggestions for me!!  Actually, once I finish all the Christmas commissions I think I'll take my dad up on his idea and do a series in the style of "The Garden".  We'll see.  I'm just about to start my first dog portrait which I am so excited about!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

heARTS for Pakistan October 18, 2010

eARTS for Pakistan is a silent art auction and fundraiser for survivors of the Pakistan floods. The event will take place on October 18, 2010 at the fabulous Gladstone Hotel in Toronto and 100% of the proceeds will go to the Humanitarian Coalition’s flood relief efforts in Pakistan.

The young and independent volunteer organizing committee along with event sponsors, OCAD University and Gladstone Hotel, and well known & emerging Canadian artists, bring you a fabulous evening of art and jazz for a worthy cause!  I have donated my painting, "Little Squares" which is a small 16" x 16" piece made up of a multitude of multicoloured squares.

Tickets Available Online:
Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Take pART Fundraising Benefit & Some New Portraits

I have really been a bad blogger lately.  It's been crazy getting back into the routine of daily life with kids and all their 6000 activies.  I myself have embarked on a ridiculous new fitness regime which has almost killed me so far.  Whatever ever doesn't kill you...

There are a couple of things I thought I'd write about today.  On Thursday, September 30, 2010 I will be taking part in a large fundraiser put on by the alumnae of Branksome Hall entitled, "Take pART".  The show will be held at Arta Gallery in the Distillery District of Toronto from 6-9pm.  It's a pretty cool premise.  A whole bunch of different artists were asked to create a 10" square gallery canvas in any style/subject they desired.  The paintings were delivered unsigned (signed on the back only) and will hang for the one night in the gallery and will be sold for $100 each.  All proceeds go towards sending kids to Branksome that would not normally be able to afford it.  I am looking forward to the event.  Anyone who knows my work will be able to spot my piece effortlessly.

I have had the privilege of working with an incredible gallerist, Alison Goodwin of The Village Gallery and Art Beyond Walls for the past 1 1/2 years.  Alison has been instrumental in getting lots of media exposure for my paintings (Fashion Television commerical; segment on Breakfast Television; spot on Rogers Daytime TV to name a few).  Ali had the summer of her life this year, getting married to her true love David in Italy over the summer.   I had the amazing opportunity to paint a portrait of the two of them that Ali gave to David for a wedding gift.  Here is that portrait:

Alison & David, July 22, 2010
acrylic on canvas
36" x 30"
commissioned by Alison Goodwin

Not only did Ali and David go to Italy with all of their best friends and family, but they brought their beautiful 3 month old (at the time) Hudson Sophia Hedon with them!  I painted a small portrait of little Hudson for Alison for her birthday this year.

Hudson Sophia Hudson
acrylic on canvas
16" square
gift from artist

I'm starting to feel like I have lots more to say again...if I didn't have the personality of a potato today due to my cold.  Back again soon.  Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

10th Annual Upstream People Gallery Online Gallery Show - 3 "Special Recognitions"

Hi everyone.  Wow, I haven't blogged in a very long time!  Summer has been fantastically busy and relaxing at the same time.  I can't believe it is coming to an end but I'm feeling the need to embrace our usual routines and get back into the swing of things again.

I haven't painted a ton this summer which has been kind of a welcome break from the frenzy of the past year.  I will be taking part as a guest artist in the charity event at Arta Gallery (in the distillery district) entitled "Take pART" on September 30, 2010.  I can't tell you which piece is mine...but my local art enthustiasts will no doubt recognize it.  More details to come.

Whilst on the beach in Cape Cod in the beginning of August, I received notification that I received three "special recognitions" in the 10th Annual Summer All Media Juried Online International Art Exhibition put on by the US gallery Upstream People Gallery.  Laurence Bradshaw, Curator and Professor of Art at the University of Omaha and Juror of the show, stated:

"JUSTINE ELIZABETH FERNIE of Toronto, Ontario, Canada deals with portraiture in a delightful and fascinating manner. As a Canadian it is interesting to see such a work as “My Sarah (Palin)” which shows the awesome use of mixed patterns and the colorful face treatment. “Oh Bama” and “Pixels” are also wonderful depictions."

I've got a whole bunch of goals for myself over next four months as my big 40th birthday is at the end of December 2010.  One of my goals is to paint a brand new series of portraits of the iconic Blythe girl dolls.  Blythe girls were launched in 1970, the year I was born...and they didn't sell at all.  The brand was reborn in 2000 and since then they have become ridiculous collectors items.  I am obsessed with their gigantic eyes.  I'll be sure to post them all when they are done...6 in all.

I hope everyone's summer has been amazing.  I'll return to normalcy, whatever that is, next month.