Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Once Had a Friend!

I Once Had a Friend –

Well, actually I once had a student. Her name was Gail. It was my first year of teaching in an Addiction Counseling Program in Toronto and I was such a newbie in 1986. I suspected everyone could see how scared I was. Gail was different (I didn't know then how true that statement is.) And she was a good student, who challenged me as much as I challenged her. Somehow we became friends. And over these many years we have kept in touch. As she worked as an addiction counselor we shared horror stories and commiserated about the stresses of the job. We’ve maintained separate lives but have always kept the lines open. Well, Gail gave up her life as an addiction counselor (or, as they write in Canada, Counsellor) and has blossomed into an amazing exceptional artiste.

As she likes to say she draws her work from some of the experiences of her past work. I am hoping some of her pieces are not reminders of the horrors she suffered in my class. To say her work is offbeat would be an amazing understatement. Some of her pieces have given me nightmares. And some have so touched my heart. (My house is chock full of her paintings and painted boxes and painted sneakers. The woman will paint anything that isn’t moving.)

I have watched her grow from an artist who painted in her spare time to, as she says, keep her from sending her husband through a wood chipper, to a private show in a gallery in Toronto, to exhibiting in a juried show in Caledon, Ontario at the Headwaters Arts Festival ( September will be her third year) where last year one of her paintings won a juror's award, to this year where she is in two major shows on the same weekend. The second show is the Silvercreek Open Studio Show ( Her work has been exhibited and sold from several galleries in the Greater Toronto area.

I love having artists in my life. They fill me with hope, they are there to commiserate when the inspiration has flown the coop, and they are there to share the joy when a piece is completed and someone loves it.

I invite you to visit her website (, or check her work on Facebook, or look her up in the show listing for the Headwaters Arts Festival ( She is an amazing artist and I know you will enjoy seeing her work.

Painted Bags:

Painted Boxes:


  1. Even though I haven't yet met Gail, your description of her, and her art, makes me feel like I've gotten to know her. I can't wait for her to come down for a visit.