Category Archives: Uncategorized

You Are Here Show at the John B Aird Gallery

“You Are Here” is a show at the John B Aird public gallery created around the theme of exploring our individual approaches to navigating urban space and emotional experiences.

This show intersected nicely with one piece from a series I am creating — the piece shown above, titled “Takonto Imagined Post-Anthropocene.”

To create the piece above, I deconstructed and reconstructed a city guide map. I was thinking about the ways in which Toronto has changed and the ways in which it will change in the future as a result of climate change, political changes, and social changes. I know that Toronto will not float away as an island, but that was the metaphor that consistently came to mind as I explored what to do with this map.

This map also contains a cartouche, which is the name for the label that appears in the top right corner. Map cartouches typically show symbols of the place in the map, as well as mythical associations for that place. So appropriately, this cartouche has the CN Tower, a streetcar, the iconic city hall silhouette, and the city’s flower, a columbine. Will these symbols survive the current changes, or will they be markers of what we had and lost?

The name, Tkaronto, is the original indigenous peoples’ name for this place.

I love printed maps and everything about them, and they have provided the foundational materials for a series I am working on called The Cartography of Late Capitalism.

Light Party

The Light Party Show was a huge success. This show brought me back into working with some wonderful artists I have worked with in the Trapeze collective in the past, and also a few new faces. Barbara Bailey, Karen Bailey, Bonita Johnson and Diane Taylor-Sexton were all part of the Trapeze collective. Fred Fowler, Tobi Asmoucha, Amanda Rowe, and Jiri Tomiska were new to me when I joined this group.

We had a wonderful space at 2014 Dundas Street West, and the weather was perfect, allowing our guests to enjoy the outdoor terrace behind the gallery.

We curated our own space, and I was pleased to have one of my pieces nominated for the front window. That’s me in my “hanging the show” clothes! Before dashing home to change, get buffed and polished and return to host guests at the opening.

If you ever wondered if you are welcome at an art opening, the answer is yes! We love to have a crowd, that’s what makes it exciting. And we want to show our art to people, so we really appreciate anyone who takes the time to join us at a reception.

A one night show is a lot of work, but also great fun. We had everything packed up to go shortly after 11 pm.

We have another group show planned for 2021, on the theme “Home.” Stay tuned!

Bayview Art Tour, 2019

I participated in the Bayview Art Tour this year for the first time. It was fun to set up my courtyard garden as a gallery, with a tent just in case it rained.

Good thing we had the tent, because it did rain! But people dropped by anyway, to look at art, eat cookies, drink coffee and wine, and talk about art and life.

The tent worked! Thank goodness for Canadian Tire and Coleman. Note one of the paintings is in a plastic bag on the easel!
With rain in the forecast, I had things a little bit jammed in the sunroom!
Coffee is still being made, but wine is all set to go! Got to get your priorities straight.

Don Mills Library Show 2018

So much cool stuff is happening in libraries now. The day I went in to hang this show, there was a guy demonstrating 3D printing. You can take classes at the library in 3D printing now, and rent time on their machines. Cool, right?

I’m not quite ready to abandon paint yet, though. Here are the installation pictures.

This exhibit will be there to see until April 27.

Here’s the list of works: Don Mills Library Show List of Works

Who Are You? Show at Red Head Gallery for Nuit Blanche 2017

I’m delighted to be part of Red Head Gallery‘s Nuit Blanche exhibit this year, called Who Are You?

There are two pieces, part of a series I have planned called “The Cinderella Stories.” Here’s the artist’s statement I provided to the gallery:

“The Cinderella Stories” is a series that explores the mythology, culture and experience of corporate capitalism through my personal lens of a female participant. 

After I left a corporate career in 2001, I spent a lot of time re-evaluating my beliefs about myself and about the world of business. Art was a natural way for me to tackle working through these thoughts and emotions. This work started as individual artist trading cards, created by laminating a set of casino playing cards with old book pages, then collaging and painting on them, while preserving meaningful words.

Mounting them together in the form of ‘quilts’ provided a feminine form to contrast with the comments on corporate capitalism embedded in the small pieces. The addition of objects of personal significance provides a dimensional and archival quality to the pieces. The links evoke for me the need for personal armor in the organizational context.

Each of these quilts is conceived of as a chapter in a book that charts the indoctrination and path to enlightenment of the artist.

The “Who Are You” exhibition is the first time these very personal pieces have been shown in public. They were created over a period of time, then mounted together as you see here.

The Cinderella Stories Chapter 5: I am Enlightened – Copyright 2006 Susan G Abbott, All Rights Reserved

Mounting these artist trading cards was a tricky process. I created this form, which I call a “quilt” because of the way pieces are assembled.

I no longer use the casino playing cards as a substrate, because they warp easily, even after being laminated. So now I use heavy watercolor paper as the starting point. The images collaged onto the cards come from a wide variety of sources, including my own photographs and rubber stamps I have created.

I do love making these, but have gotten away from them in recent years. In part because I was not sure I would ever be able to show them. When I saw the opportunity with Red Head Gallery, it seemed like a perfect fit. So I may now be inspired to do a few more in the series.

Thanks for stopping by!





Why paint something more than once?

© Susan G Abbott - Looking South From Pelee

I have painted this scene from the southern tip of Pelee Island three times so far, but could be quite happy painting it again. A guest at my opening reception asked me why.

It’s simple really — there is no one best way to paint any given subject matter, whether it is a person or a landscape or even a concept for an abstract piece. The shapes of the geometry, the possibilities offered for simplifying and changing the colors and values, and just the simple beauty of the curves are all very appealing for me in this scene.

Many great artists have painted a given subject many times. Monet painted his garden and water-lilies about 250 times. Cezanne painted Mont Sainte-Victoire some 60 times. Here’s one example, from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1902-1904 Paul Cézanne, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Here’s another example of the same subject, painted several years earlier, from the Courtauld Gallery.

Paul Cézanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire with Large Pine, c. 1887, (The Courtauld Gallery, London)

By working with a familiar subject, he would have been able to try many different approaches to the subject — different brushwork, different color selections, different levels of abstraction. Over time, he pulled away from impressionistic approaches of capturing the moment, and became more studied in his approach. Cezanne was greatly influential on other painters of his time and now, although he was not tremendously successful in his own time.





Hot days in the Kawarthas

© 2017 Susan G Abbott - Hot Wind in Kawarthas

Hot Wind in Kawarthas | Acrylic on wood panel | 18 x 18 ins | $225 | 2017

Driving home from the Haliburton region, there’s a little diner by the lake in a tiny place called Cameron.

It’s in the Kawartha Lakes district, which is part of the Trent-Severn canal system, so you can take a boat from Lake Huron to Lake Ontario. At one time this would have been used for commercial shipping, but now it is primarily a route for pleasure boats.

There’s a small deck, a docking area for the little marina where the houseboats stop on their travels. I love the marshy edge of the lake, and this odd tree that is bent over by the wind and looks oddly tropical. This day in August was very hot, with the kind of humid overcast that creates a lot of glare and haze. It’s not really clear and its not really cloudy. You just know there is going to be a thunderstorm by late afternoon on a day like this.

Far too hot to be outside on the little deck, we sat inside the diner for our fish and chips. I had a lovely chat with the server who was very interested to learn more about my art, and has done some painting herself.

Only a short stop, then we bought some cold drinks, and headed back out to the main highway. Once back home and ensconced on our own little deck, sure enough, there was a thunderstorm. Something we can enjoy from a safe and dry spot.

This piece is currently hanging in my home, until it finds a new home. Here’s a little picture of what is looks like in my hallway. You can see the cradle mounting for these panels sets them off the wall nicely, even if there is no frame.

painting of tree and water with colorful sky

Hot Wind in Kawarthas installed view | Acrylic on wood panel | 18 x 18 ins | $225 | 2017



Paintings are happy in their new homes

I delivered two more of The Highway series paintings to the new owners yesterday, and both were so pleased, it made my day.

One has a new home overlooking Bronte Bay near Oakville, and is thrilled to have Pelee in Blue to hang as soon as she moves in. She’s starting a new chapter in her life, and something about this long path into the horizon captured her heart (as it did mine!)

© Susan G Abbott - Pelee in Blue

Pelee in Blue, 20 x 20″, acrylic on canvas

Pelee in Blue was the larger painting, made from this small study, which was purchased by another artist I admire. For her, the smaller painting has a freshness and energy that she valued. Dropping off the work at her home yesterday, it was wonderful to have a tour of her other paintings; she owns many wonderful pieces. And I was proud to have my piece taking its place in her home.

© Susan G Abbott - Pelee Study

Pelee Study, 12 x 12″ Acrylic on Canvas

A collector is scheduled to come by to see the latest work, and so I have a selection of pieces I think she will like all ready in my little sun room. Are the paintings happy to be there, instead of stored away in shelves? That is a whimsical idea, but I like it. Surely objects want to be useful and loved, just as we do.

A friend asked me why I would paint the same subject multiple times. More on that in the next post.


Inspiration for Paintings in The Highway Series

© 2017 Susan G Abbott - Below Ritchie Falls, Spring

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Below Ritchie Falls, Spring | Acrylic on canvas | 20 x 24 ins | $350 | 2017

People are asking me what inspired the works in The Highway series of paintings. That’s easy to explain in one way — it is the view of the countryside I can see from the passenger window of our car as we drive to various destinations when we travel in Ontario.

I’ve been taking a lot of photos from the car, putting my camera or phone up through the sunroof. (Not while driving!)  The horizon line you see in a car is invariably slanted, and this is starting to show up in my paintings.

When I was working en plein air (fancy artist term meaning outdoor painting) I was often right at the edge of a highway, because there is nowhere else if the forest is thick. Take Algonquin Park, for example — most of the time you are parked just off Highway 60, the main corridor through the park, painting something that is visible from the highway.

I did do some growing up in the prairies, and lived in Calgary for many years, so that landscape is always present in my imagination. And some of the works have that sense of spaciousness of the prairies, such as Big Sky, shown below. But they were still based on the Ontario countryside.

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All the inspirations are Ontario countryside with one exception, which was purely from my imagination, the diptych Avery Beach.  It is actually based on remembering English Bay in Vancouver. But it is called Avery Beach because I was studying the work of Milton Avery at the time, so the title is a tribute to that influence.

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From an artistic point of view, I am exploring the ways of capturing a sense of space, and the interplay of colors, while simplifying the landscape.

Some of my artistic inspirations are the works of people like these amazing artists:


New art works on display at DVAC Fall Show

I have four pieces in the Don Valley Club’s fall show, shown here. The show is at Todmorden Mills, and runs from 16 November to 27 November.

These first two are part of an ongoing series I have been doing experimenting with words and image transfers, and some gentle humor or wit. They work well alone or as a pair. If you only see one hanging on the wall, ask to see the other, which may still be in the back. These are unframed, but are painted on 1.5″ gallery canvas, with the edges painted in gray, which I find hangs quite nicely with no frame.

I love imagining that these birds have the same idle conversations that other neighbors have when we chat on our street!


“Online Chat” 12″ x 12″ Mixed Media and Image Transfer $144


“Online Update” 12″ x 12″ Mixed Media and Image Transfer $144

If you’ve ever been to Pelee Island, you’ll love this view as much as I do. Pelee Island is the southernmost point in Canada, and a beautiful place to visit. There is a very long natural spit that seems to connect to the distant horizon, making lovely shapes. The small piece was the study for the larger piece, shown below.


“Pelee Study” 12′ x 12″ Acrylic on Canvas $144


“Pelee” 20″ x20″ Acrylic on Canvas, comes with a narrow black floating frame, $275

I painted one more version of this image (not in the DVAC show), called Looking South at Pelee.  For this one, I used an oblong format, simplified the composition even further, and changed the color scheme to be even more calming.

It’s hanging outside my office right now, and I love it, I think you would too. (If you are interested in this piece, contact me directly.)

"Looking South at Pelee", 20" x 24", Acrylic on Canvas

“Looking South at Pelee”, 20″ x 24″, Acrylic on Canvas, $350