Can you help us? If you're local to Toronto, you might just be! We're on a mission to authenticate this painting and find the sitter! I purchased this unfinished canvas in June of 2018 from a woman who said she had bought it from the estate of late artist, Lynn Donoghue. Lynn was a well-know, accomplished artist who worked out of her home studio in Toronto, Ontario. She began exhibiting in the 1970s…
When moments in life have rich detail and luscious depth to their unfoldings, you may just happen to be falling in love. Oxytocin rushes past your receptacles of perception and puffs out the parachute of presence to slow things down round you, while butterflies settle within. Such moments become beacons of light where you can't help but linger in the layers and fibres of self revelation.
I took these portraits of Amanda last week in preparation for her Moon Masters course beginning online this fall. I love taking strong and beautiful portraits that help celebrate, elevate and empower us. Photographs can make us 'feel' deeply, and once we feel it, well... we're already there! You can read Amanda's words below and find links to her online community.
In 1963 this group of students stood in the brand new gymnasium of their rural school and smiled for a photographer and for posterity. That year, enrolment at the Webb School was fifty-seven students and two teachers. If you're from the Stouffville/Uxbridge area, you will recognize some of the family names in this class!
When the school was decommissioned in 1980, it was rezoned as a rural dwelling and for the next 35 years owners tried to make the building their own. It went through major growing pains and wasn't always loved and I will admit (having grown up down the road from the schoolhouse), it was a scary and tired building on our long stretch of country road.
Mission #1: Own the Schoolhouse
When the schoolhouse went up for sale in the fall of 2016, the gymnasium wasn't even shown in the listing and I understand why! It was a mess. It was taking in water, the flat roof was leaking, the electrical was a colossal hazard - the gym needed complete gutting and it likely scared a few people away!! But as soon as we saw it, we were in love and within days, the battered old gem was OURS! Then the REAL work began!
Mission #2: Show me what you're working with!
In an old building, you really need to know what you're working with - for better or for worse. So, we started by hiring the experts to peal away the layers. Ryan Pickering and his crew at Custom & Quality came in and expertly uncovered the gym and other parts of the schoolhouse! They were brave, very, very brave!
Mission #3: Let the energy flow!
With no more layers and the power cut, the gymnasium went into a period of dormancy. Like every deep transformation, we had to deal with the deeper issues that we often would prefer to ignore. Our schoolhouse needed a new flat roof to stop the water dripping into the master bedroom above and the studio below and the doorway needed serious structural love. So we got a crew up on the roof and called Kevin Rainbow & Jeremy Brown from Rock Solid Services to give the studio entranceway an overhaul. They worked all hours with no power and all heart!
Then it was time to let it settle into it's new self - fresh, unencombered and ready to be something special!
Mission #4: Listen & Leap
Despite the state of the gymnasium, clients who came to the studio were often eager to check out our future studio and were divinely positive and encouraging. It was hard at first, but as I listened, I realized that the space was picking up momentum. Even in it's state, I began to use the space with my adventurous clients.
Musical Conductor, John Kraus was open and kind...
Industrial Trainer, Marley Hurtado was enthusiastic and encouraging...
...and dozens of friends and family visited to help us build the momentum to take the next step. It was time to get serious.
Mission #5: Let there be Light
Electrifying the studio was a project that could only go to a team of passionate electricians, because an old building like this has lots of secrets and demands creativity. We called Karl at KHB Electric Inc. and they knocked it out of the park!
The day after they were done, Becky Morrissey from One Step Ahead came in to help me organize, sort, clean and turn a construction site into a working studio space. (She's a machine and a magician!) Just in time for the bright and electric energy of actor, Keegan Comar who loved the industrial vibe!
Mission #5: Decide and it is Yours
The studio project has been evolving alongside a number of other projects here at the schoolhouse so while we have the pros working some jobs, we have been knee deep in the rest ourselves. But one day we decided, without being fully prepared and without having worked out many of the kinks, to launch a workshop series and open up the studio - WHY NOT!!? We knew that if we put our heads down and focused on the vision that we'd get there. It was time to get our hands dirty and we were happy to do it! A month until opening. Here we go!
Floors, walls, electrical, plumbing, carpentry - there was nothing we didn't do in the four weeks leading up to the opening of the first workshop!
Mission #6: Know when to Stop
Because he doesn't read my blog I don't mind saying that my husband is an angel and my creative soul mate! He thought it wise to get me away for a few days of rest after the feat that we had managed to pulled off. 2 days until opening. Breath deep mama. All is well.
Mission #7: Enjoy every Minute!
Yesterday we opened for our first workshop which, for me, was a dream come true! From the day we first moved in, I have felt the ring from every corner of the building to give it love, with the promise that it would give back ten-fold. It has already done that. I'm about as happy as I can be in a creative space I get to share with energized people like this, who bring me joy and challenge and creative blocks that we happily help to bust through, so that the artful energy can flow as it should!
Welcome to the NEW Dukát Studios! It's UP, UP, UP baby!
Won't you join us?
Forever yours in love and light,
WHAT a year!
This week last year we were just settling into our century-old schoolhouse and coming to terms with it's eerie late-night thuds, 13 degree morning wake-ups and how to divert the leaking roof in the future bedroom! From the outside it may have looked like we were way in over our heads. One short year later we are a good deal closer to our environmentally sustainable, creative schoolhouse and we're ready to invite friends in to feel her creative warmth and experience the #schoolhouserevival in it's perfectly imperfect transformation.
Registration is open for our spring workshop series for newbie photographers!
We're keeping it small so that you get a great experience and walk away feeling in love with your camera and inspired to create!
Hi, friends! I'm Angela :) I'll be teaching these workshops out of our schoolhouse studio using natural light and your own camera so that you can keep your creative momentum going long after the workshop.
I HOPE YOU CAN JOIN US!
OH glorious bliss!
HOW I WISHED IT WAS ME.
On a mission, to make the biggest mess, the tallest splash, the muckiest toes. Freedom!
I shot this series of portraits of Meredith's daughter B out in schoolyard this past summer as part of the PORTRAIT OF A LADY exhibit. B had been tugging at her mother's jeans all morning, asking if it was time yet to go play in the mud. "Just after we get this indoor portrait just right," we promised. Yes. We bribed the kids with a mud bath. High five!
I'm in love with the wild, self-actualizing, radiant B,
all too happy to get lost in the squishy trench and shed all those stuffy rules about
lady-likeness, keeping clean & sitting pretty.
And instead adopt new ideas about
self-expression, stretching upward & being in the moment.
And as her mom sprayed water like rain from the garden hose, she grinned from ear to ear and shouted to her daughter in mid-flight, "get as muddy as you want baby!"
Permission to let go!
It all comes down to this for so many of us. How much more abundance could we welcome? How much more good could we do? How much more could we create if we gave ourselves more permission.
That's what I'm working on friends! I hope you enjoy these.
If you'd like to see the image we chose for the exhibit or to see the rest of the exhibit, click here.
Photo: Angela Durante Dukát
Tomorrow is Travis and Kristen's BIG DAY so here at the studio we're gearing up to hit the road for beautiful St Mary's, Ontario, where we'll be capturing their "I Do's" and a bash that will surely go down in family history! Excited, I pulled their country engagement shoot from the archive and loved it again. So, here it is for you - a very cool laid-back couple in a place they love to be, probably in anticipation at this very moment - the day before their Wedding Day.
Keeping it real and having a good time were key when Matt and Melissa planned their wedding weekend at Camp New Moon. The drive up to Baysville was all Canadian shield and pine trees and it didn't take long to see that Matt and Melissa were going to do this Canadian style - laid back, fun and surrounded by nature! Family and friends arrived to the smiling faces of wedding party camp counsellors who, in addition to being the engine of the party, took care of everyone around them like family. It was warm, funny and never EVER dull!
Since we like our images to tell the story I'll leave you hear to indulge in the gorgeously heartfelt wedding of Matt and Melissa... and one particularly hairy guest!
I love asking couples about their history. It always brings out inspiring stories about how and where they met and a it's a reminder of the serendipity of it all. How on earth we end up where we end up could be so wildly different if we had only made one choice per day differently. For Renata and Cameron, a series of choices and challenges define the 25 year road they've travelled together. They began as two young babes, on September 15th, 1990.
When I asked Renata her story, she began like this:
"I was 16 years old living in São Paulo. One night I went to a party with school friends which was to be a blind date with my friend's brother-in-law. I remember thinking, "He better be nice, because I'm going to marry him." He was 20 and was in university. He thought I was 18. When he realized how young I was, I guess it was too late.
We dated for four years before moving in together and lived together for four more years before deciding, on a whim, to get married. We began thinking about moving to Canada, and thought it would be easier to stay together if we were legally married, so four months after his proposal, we eloped. We had decided to sell our car to buy our tickets to Canada, but our car got stolen, so the Canada dream had to wait another two years. One day we decided it was time to move, so we quit our jobs, packed two suitcases each, closed the apartment and moved to Toronto, Canada."
"Oh, those first years! You know those wedding vows... for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part? We started off with with the bad... the 'worse', 'poorer', 'sickness' part. The first 19 years were a rollercoaster. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. At the time it seemend like a never endingbad luck streak, but it's so nice to look back after all these years and see how far we have come... Yes, we made it! We also probably hold the world record of longest time together before having a child. Our son celebrated his first birthday just after our twenty year anniversary of being together!
Because of that "poorer" part, we never got to have decent pictures of our elopment. A cousin was nice enough to take pictures for us, but then I destroyed the kiss photo by opening the camera thinking the film had been unwinded, when it hadn't. So, when we celebrated 25 years together, all I wanted was some great pictures. We are a bit heavier, there's less hair, but oh, how I treasure these images!"
There are so many ways to tell a story. Today I want to share a different way than usual. The MacCormacks, always up for something new, agreed to sit in the studio after their family session, and without preparation or direction, shared the story of their joint life together. It's a tale of love and commitment and following your path that reminds us that no life experience goes without challenges and that anything worth doing requires some grit.
We recorded this story in our studio recently. It's the first I've done and although it may lack finesse, it really satisfies the historian in me that believes strongly in recording our stories for others to hear. The digital whimsy is all Jeffrey's work. They are pieces he's created in recent months that we thought added another layer of awesomeness to the story of these very cool people! Hope you enjoy their story :)
If you know them, then you already know. Averill and her husband Brendan are adventurous hearts - it's what brought them together (meeting while employed on a cruise ship) and it's what underlies the way they raise their kids and live their lives. Most people don't come to the realization that life is short until later on, but Averill and Brendan are teaching their kids in a not-so-subtle way that life is for living. They've sold off the contents of their home and packed up a suitcase each to move their family to Australia! Granted, Brendan is from Australia, but they don't have a place to live, jobs or even a plan. They're going where the wind takes them. It's going to be an amazing lesson for their kids to watch, because no doubt, they'll land on their feet, problems-solve through challenges and love their way into new circles of friends and neighbours. Don't we all want our kids to be a able to do these things? Someday, without us to guide them.
Today is a special day in Averill and Brendan's history - it's their 10th Anniversary! A significant day from which they have no photographs because they "sort of eloped" in Averill's own words. With Averill being a photographer, I thought this was sacrilege of the nth degree and so when they asked me to photograph their family before their big adventure, I enthusiastically accepted and vowed to capture something worthy of a tenth anniversary!
Dear Beautiful Bell Family,
We are so proud to know you! Aspire widely.
Life as a working artist, mother-partner and household juggler is tricky enough that staving off the social pressure of taking a job outside of our craft is sometimes unbearable. When an artist realizes that their art is not a calling, but a chronic insistence of the soul, something clicks. And then - the leap! Artist Meredith Blunt takes us through her journey of fear, viability and the art of happiness. Meredith's fearless work and artistic adventures can be followed here on her Facebook page.
Today, I am glad to be seen as a fearless artist in my home with a tiny kitchen studio full of my paintings and my family bouncing around me. It all gives me such confidence, insight and joy in my journey.
I am glad as it has not always been this way.
For years, my fear told me I would fail, not to waste time. My perception of the world told me that denying my art was the correct choice to make. I lost something to expectation, obligation, and responsibility. Those big, grown up, weighty words that I could not apply to my passion but could apply to everything else like the laundry. I lay down my brushes and put away my box of paints and built a career that brought in a salary, benefits, normalcy, security. In the midst of a happy, normal life I felt lost and unhappy, despite my best attempts to be who I thought I needed to be. I had become useful and viable.
I had vanished.
A long time passed.
Then, one day, not that long ago, that passion which comes from a hardwired mysterious core that is as unique as our fingerprints, became utterly impossible to ignore any longer. Simple, basic pleasure had me put my hand to my still-wet canvas. I savoured the feel, the smell, the touch of the paint. My fear would no longer be the loudest voice. I would no longer be unkind to my honest self.
I learned that living your creative passion does not take away from your viability - it contributes to your life! I am so much more in tune with my family, so much more alive, so much more ME. Much like how relationships found within friendship, marriage, children, family can add intrinsic loving elements to complete the portrait we build of ourselves, Art is filling in the spaces that had been emptied by my own harsh choices. Without painting in my day-to-day, I was absent from my own life.
The price of avoiding failure is worse than the stumble. Failures will come and they can change fears into experience, pain into expressive beauty, change loss into a gain of what you didn’t know before you tried. Embrace them as a greater measure of your quality. They are fuel for passion and big or small, over the course of a life, they contribute to that honest portrait.
Don’t be afraid.
meredith's note to self
I see you.
I know it when I see a kid who sees unicorns in the snow. I know it when I see a kid who hears music and stories in colours. And, I know it when I see a kid, a person, who diminishes themselves because they want to please, they want to fit in, and they're afraid of failing, because they are afraid.
Failing at what?
Afraid of what?
When you get a little older, when you learn a little more, you'll come across the paintings of a woman called Georgia O'Keeffe. What you'll see is colour, bright, strange, interpretative, dissonant, and wonderful. What you'll keep of her is this:
"I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do."
It is okay to be scared. We all feel it at times. You are bigger and louder than that fear.
Remember that and always conquer it with your colours flying. They are something to be seen. Don't be afraid.
This time last year we were waiting for a barefoot bride to walk down a sandy beach aisle to her longtime love and I thought, it just doesn't get better than this! Love, family, a stunning backdrop, the smell of salt and the sound of crashing waves - it's a shame that a camera can only record the equivalent of one of ours senses. For non-traditional, outdoor-lovers Daniela and Edvard, a beach wedding with some of their favourite people seemed like the only way to go. It was a vision Daniela had locked away in her head when she had visited Paradise beach nine years earlier and true to the power of imagining what you want, here she was, walking toward a draped pergola and her husband-to-be standing beneath it. In a gorgeous place like this there are a lot of wedding formalities that can go by the wayside - décor, stuffy shoes and one formality that Edvard was all too glad to dispense of - a suit! One thing they did not do away with was dancing! With their family around them they danced about as hard as anyone could... and if you look closely, you might even see Daniela dancing her way to getting married! This month, Daniela and Edvard celebrate ten years together and their first wedding anniversary and we raise a glass to them - cin-cin e cent'anni! Cheers to 100 years!
We were so happy to be part of your love and light.
Angela & László
As we inch our way toward winter our palette in the Dukát Household tunes to wine. We find wines to be so cozy, unique and creative that anytime we get a chance to enjoy a bottle of something beautifully made, we are IN! We love wines so much that on our wedding day we had a skilled sommelier teach us and our guests about the six different wines we had chosen to pair with our wedding day feast!
So, we were thrilled to be invited to Queen's Park to cover the Lieutenant Governor's Awards Reception for excellence in Ontario Wines. To be surrounded by some of the best wine-makers in the country was a lesson in persistence, perfectionism and passion! We wanted to share these with you, because, if you love wine too - or if you're simply vino-curious - this is an excellent place to start. A stipulation of wine nominations was that they be commercially available for purchase so pick something to celebrate tonight with someone you love and bring home a bottle of excellence! Salut!
Angela & László
Riddled Sparkling, 2009, Flat Rock Cellars
Riesling, 2010, Hernder Estate Wines
Riesling Icewine Reserve, 2013, Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate
Sauvignon Blanc Signature Series, 2013, Peller Estates Winery
Small Lot Riesling “Wild Cask”, 2013, Thirty Bench Wine Makers
Gravity Pinot Noir, 2012, Flat Rock Cellars
Riesling, 2014, Creekside Estate Winery
Chardonnay, 2013, Ravine Vineyard
Gamay Noir Private Reserve, 2013, Peller Estates Winery
Small Lot Block 12-140 Syrah, 2012, Rockway Vineyards