Tag Archives: St. Lucia

Corporate commission and a tale of Connectors

Photographs of ceremony honouring top travel agents in Canada in the PASS programme for 2013 – held March 25, 2014 – courtesy of St. Lucia Tourist Board.

The life of an artist has its ups and downs, but one thing is for certain – whenever you show your art, you open up the door to new opportunities, and to unique experiences.

I learned pretty early on in my art career that there is a snowball effect that happens when you exhibit, and when you talk about your art. In 1998 I participated in 19 group and solo exhibitions, even though the year before I did not know any of those opportunities existed. As an International student, I knew no-one in the city of Hamilton and spent most of my time in a little bubble on campus, but that had to change once I graduated, because I married my Canadian fiance and needed to start seeing the city as my new home.

I began with volunteer work, and ended up on the organizing committee for Public Hanging, a 3 month long exhibition on the empty top floor of a downtown mall. For security purposes we had teams of 2 participating artists located at either end, and I signed up for two 3 hour shifts a week – a great opportunity to meet and network with local artists. Now I look back I guess it was like speed dating!

Anyway, each exhibition led to another, and before I knew it I had paintings on the set of the morning talk show of a local television station, a solo exhibition in the atrium cafeteria of a hospital, and I was part of a short-lived artists’ collective exhibiting in a pop-up gallery in an empty storefront (long before that became a thing). Even before that I had a exhibition in a library which led to an interview on a Caribbean radio show and participation in a Caribbean Arts Showcase.

Each new person who sees your work has the potential to become a collector or a connector, and there is no time limit as to when that might happen. My best friend from University used to invite her high school friends from Toronto to party with us on the weekends. Fifteen years later she forwarded my exhibition invite to one of those friends who remembered me and my paintings. She came out to the exhibition and went on to become one of the biggest collectors of my work, AND a wonderful friend and supporter.

The path ahead is never completely clear, which is both daunting and exciting, but when you look back at the way you’ve come, your footprints form a pattern.

So a call out of the blue from the president of the St. Lucia Toronto Association to invite me to participate in the 35th Anniversary Independence Arts Showcase leads to me exhibiting at the Gala event as well, and to an e-mail from Alison at the St. Lucia Tourist Board – which leads to them ordering these plaques as awards. Saint Lucia Tourist Board Director of Tourism Mr. Louis Lewis and Saint Lucia Tourist Board Deputy Director of Tourism Tracey Warner-Arnold presented the award winners with their plaques.

Then I did a blog post about the Gala (which was re-posted on the St. Lucia Consulate website), and I forwarded the link to people who signed my guest book at the event, and one of them contacted me to order “The Sunday Hike” – the original painting of Pigeon Island National Park in St. Lucia that was chosen as the image for the plaques.

And the tale does not have to end there … now there are 8 plaques, 1 original painting, and this blog post all going forth as ambassadors of my art. How can you add to this story?


If any of the travel agents get to read this – Congratulations, and I would love to receive a photo of your plaque on display in your office – maybe I can do a follow-up photo collage!















St. Lucian Arts Showcase in Toronto


Feb 22nd was St. Lucia’s 35th Anniversary of Independence, and the president of the St. Lucia-Toronto Association – Ross Cadastre-Cadasse – invited me to exhibit my paintings in a Showcase of St. Lucian Arts.

I suggested the Brockton Collective gallery as a location because I knew from talking to Bruno Sousa, that their facilities were outfitted to accommodate the diverse needs of those participating in the Showcase. Ross, Bruno, Adrian Rajaram (v.p.) and I met at the gallery in December for the initial walk-through, and I want to take a moment to thank each of them for all their hard work making this event a success.

This is the flyer
Flyer for the event

Gilson Lubin had to cancel, so Felix Fontinelle stepped up as M.C., and did a great job with his x-tempo delivery, even roasting the Association president, to the great amusement of all.

Author Loverly Sheridan flew in from Florida to promote her three books, and even read from her children’s book on games St. Lucian children play.

There were spoken word performances by Destiny and Chevy X Eugene. There was a short film “The Coming of Org” directed by Davina Lee, written by her father John R Lee. This film was at Cannes last year, and this is the first time it was shown in Canada. Priscillia Mullings exhibited her watercolours, and Cuthbert Volney showed his photography.

Anna and her crew showed up with some delicious Caribbean food, and DJ Toxic did an awesome job with the music. Take a look at this QUICK clip near the end of the night, and you’ll see that the event got less and less formal as the arts & artists & audience mingled.

And another …

I exhibited a range of work, with tulips hanging next to hibiscuses (yes, that’s a word, I looked it up), but as the emphasis was on artists from the diaspora, it seemed appropriate.

Anyway this Saturday, I will be displaying a smaller selection of my paintings at the SLTA Independence Gala (see flyer below).

St. Lucia 35th Anniversary Independence Gala, The Brighton, Toronto

And I will be presenting a painting to one of the winners of the fundraising raffle – again, to raise funds for victims of the 2013 Christmas Eve flood in St. Lucia.

This is from the SLTA newsletter:

As part of our Disaster Relief initiative, the SLTA will be donating all proceeds from its fundraising raffle to assist with the recovery effort in Saint Lucia. The raffle which was launched on December 1st will be drawn on March 1st. Tickets are available from executive members, the Consulate or by emailing stluciatoronto@gmail.com.

Prizes for the raffle are:
1st prize – 3 nights all-inclusive stay at the Rex Resorts St. Lucia (value $1050)
2nd prize – 3 nights all-inclusive stay at Coconut Bay Resort St. Lucia (value $1050)
3rd prize – painting by Donna Grandin – Blue Roots Art Studio (value $1000)
4th prize – Apple iPad Air (value $600)
5th prize – travel voucher to St. Lucia compliments St. Lucia Tourist Board (value $300)
6th prize – custom made outfit designed by Femme du Fashion – Celia St. Omer (value $300)
7th prize – SLTA wine basket (value $200)
8th prize – Chairman’s Reserve gift basket (value $200)
9th prize – 2 complimentary VIP tickets to King & Queen Show Toronto Carnival 2014 (value $160)
10th prize – one official carnival book compliments FMC (value $100)

Tickets cost 1 for $10.00 & 3 for $20.00

And that’s all folks! Thanks for reading, I look forward to hearing from you. If my content is interesting to you, please subscribe to this blog, and to my newsletter.

Daily Painting Challenge, 30 paintings in 30 days. Day 22

The Sunday hike, 10"x8", acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin
The Sunday hike, 10″x8″, acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. Sold

This is a view from Fort Rodney at Pigeon Island National Park in St. Lucia. I grew up very close to this location, and I often do this hike when I go back to visit my parents. Long before it became a National Park it was a popular place to go for a “beach picnic” with family and friends.

We would hang out all day at the beach, in and out of the water (and in my case, reading under a coconut tree).  While the adults sat around drinking rum and playing cards or dominos, the kids would go exploring. The look-out point at the highest part of the island just had an old, shaky ladder in those days and it was quite scary climbing up or down, but the reward at the top was a fantastic view. Which is why there are also a couple of old cannons up there.

I encourage you to read this article about Pigeon island, it has some very exciting history of the place which includes pirates, battles (St. Lucia changed hands between the French and English 14 times) and even a period when the island was owned by an English actress (my Mom and her friends remember having to row a boat out there to go to parties). That was before they dredged up the sand and created the causeway joining the island to the main land.

The more I think of it, the more stories I have about this place. I even went there to take pictures on my wedding day. The red roofs you see in the painting are those of Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort, which attests to the beauty of the location as well as to its popularity.

If you’re ever visiting St. Lucia, I recommend Pigeon Island National Park as a great place to spend the day, or even a couple of hours.



Daily Painting Challenge – 30 paintings in 30 days! Day 15

Under the coconut trees, 11"x14", acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. $250 +tax & shipping
Under the coconut trees, 11″x14″, acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. Sold

I’ve wanted to try a monochromatic painting for a long time, and I really had fun with this. Some artists do something similar to this as an underpainting and then glaze on other colours. I  sketch in the basic composition with my paintbrush  to start off, but I usually can’t resist jumping in with colour soon after. This time I planned to keep the painting somewhat monochromatic, but I added a few extra colours to keep it interesting to me. I used burnt umber, raw sienna, titanium white and dioxazine purple.

I found that working on the 6″x6″ paintings I was using smaller & smaller brushes to get the detail I wanted, so I decided to work on a little bigger canvas so that I can loosen up. It really helped. Although I still painted on two days (last night & this morning), I wasn’t feeling as rushed because I was enjoying myself more.

I have a lot of great reference photos from this photo shoot, I’d like to try a much larger canvas some time. If that sounds interesting to you …e-mail me about a commission! We can work out payment terms to suit your budget. Also, please share this post to let your friends know about my work … maybe they’d like to follow my progress through the challenge as well.

Today’s painting marks the half-way point, two more weeks to go!



Daily Painting Challenge, 30 paintings in 30 days. Day 10

"In the courtyard", 8"x8", oil on board, © 2014 Donna Grandin.
“In the courtyard”, 8″x8″, oil on board, © 2014 Donna Grandin. Sold

There is just something about a random rooster crowing at any old time of the day that reminds me of growing up in the Caribbean. Watching a mother hen crossing the road followed by a long string of chicks. I’ve photographed several “wild” chickens spontaneously – while out on a photoshoot or just running errands – just pecking away in a garden or in all sorts of unexpected places. It is such a common sight, the soundtrack to everyday life in certain parts of the world … completely alien in others.

This painting is based on a snapshot I took of a rooster in the courtyard of the Pink Plantation House Restaurant in St. Lucia, owned by some good friends of mine, and a favourite place to hang out with a camera. Honestly, I could probably live there for three months and paint something new & beautiful on the grounds each day!

I don’t think I’ve painted in oils for about fifteen years, and the experience has confirmed that acrylic paint is best suited to my personality and way of working. The worst thing about oils for me, is the best thing about it for oil painters, it takes forever to dry! Oil paint somehow gets EVERYWHERE … I’ve had to wipe it off my laptop, my camera, my headphones, my chair, not to mention my face, hair & hands, the paint on the easel & rug are standard and at least it’ll wash out of the clothes. Several times I’d rub the board by accident and smudge the painting, once it actually fell on the floor and I ended up repainting much of it, which is why I spent so long on it. Time to donate my oil paints I think.

Anyway this snapshot just entrigues me, a moment frozen in time, there’s a narrative here that I keep coming back to. As you’ll see in the photo below, I have painted it before in acrylics … 11″x14″ … but it was at a time when I was doing a series of more detailed, more realistic close-ups of flowers, and it didn’t make sense. I tried to push it further by painting the subject larger & looser, but stopped at the point you see here because I realized I was on the wrong track. If I had had the outlet of selling daily paintings online, I would have known that the initial painting was enough.

Chicken challenge, Donna Grandin studio 2011
Chicken challenge, Donna Grandin studio 2011

At the time, I hadn’t embraced the fact that along with my more serious “gallery” work, I could also follow my own creative sidetracks, even if I knew they were going to be dead ends (single paintings, slightly off my artistic path). I looked at it as a waste of resources, instead of seeing it as full-filling my own artistic needs, and I didn’t know how to live with it lying around as a reminder of my foolishness, so I destroyed it. Now I look back & I have a folder of “experiments” that only exist as digital images.

And I realize that following that kernel of curiosity about a subject, and living a life where I am open to – and actively seek – inspiration from my day, is more important to me as an artist than boxing my artistic self/production into a single grandiose theme.

Authenticity is often its own reward. But the image below is a painting I did in 2000 (under my maiden name, Gomez), of another rooster … I see I called it Lonely Rooster, but it probably should just have been Lone Rooster. It was from another – similar – snapshot, and I followed my gut, even when my Dad called from St. Lucia to say the package had arrived, and “is the painting of the grass finished?”.  Despite his misgivings, he took it in to the gallery for me … two days later a visitor from New York bought it. I’m not sure it comes across in this photo due to the glare, but the green grass was seductive, and I think the painting says a little something about carving out a little bit of space for oneself. Space to breathe deep in the fresh air, lazy days punctuated by the crowing of a random rooster .

Lonely Rooster, 11"x14", acrylic on canvas, Donna Gomez (Grandin), 2000. Sold
Lonely Rooster, 11″x14″, acrylic on canvas, Donna Gomez (Grandin), 2000. Sold



"Floravision", The Inner Gallery, St. Lucia

The following is a post that I’ve brought over from my original blog where I wrote about exhibitions, career highlights etc. in the 3rd person.

From top to bottom: Donna Grandin with her parents Richard and Nancy Gomez. Stephen Shingleton-Smith, Peter Walcott, Rachael Du Boulay (curator of The Inner Gallery), Derek Walcott (Nobel laureate) and his wife Sigrid. Richard and Nancy Gomez. Donna with Rachael Du Boulay and Sir Dunstan St. Omer (Donna’s former art teacher). Donna with Sir Dunstan St. Omer. All photos courtesy of Terry Wedge and The Inner Gallery.

Donna Grandin’s solo exhibition, “Floravision”, opened on Feb 2nd at The Inner Gallery, Bois D’ Orange, St. Lucia. The Cocktail Reception was very well attended. Donna’s former art teacher (at the St. Joseph’s Convent Girls’ Secondary School in St. Lucia), Sir Dunstan St. Omer was present with his wife and son. He was also present at Donna’s first ever solo exhibition, “Aquavisions” in St. Lucia in 1996!

Donna was also pleased that St. Lucia’s Nobel Laureate, poet Derek Walcott was able to attend with his wife and son. Rachael Du Boulay, curator of The Inner Gallery presented Walcott with a belated birthday gift of a few canvases. He and his son, Peter Walcott, are also visual artists represented by the gallery. Some of the other Gallery Artists present included Christopher Cox, Janet Lang, Arnold Toulon and Alcina Nolley. Jonathan Gladding and Daniel Jean-Baptiste had both just left the island but wished Donna well on her first solo show with the gallery.

“Floravision” includes 24 acrylic paintings of tropical flowers, fruit and foliage, specifically hibiscus, banana, frangipani, flamboyant and croton. An online preview is available on the Gallery website.

The exhibition runs until Feb 27th. Regular gallery hours are Mon-Fri 9-4:30pm.

Donna would like to thank Rachael Du Boulay and the Inner Gallery staff, her parents Richard & Nancy Gomez, her husband Brent Grandin and their sons, the press (Radio St. Lucia, Helen Television Service, Calabash TV, The Voice newspaper, Choice TV), and everyone who attended the exhibition, collected her art and referred their friends.

Upcoming exhibition at The Inner Gallery, St. Lucia

The following is a post that I’ve brought over from my original blog where I wrote about exhibitions, career highlights etc. in the 3rd person.

The Inner Gallery, located on the beautiful Caribbean island of St. Lucia

Donna is pleased to announce that the Opening for her 2012 exhibition at The Inner Gallery will be held on Thurs Feb 2nd!

In fact, Donna has just returned from a short visit to St. Lucia where she soaked up the inspiration, and gathered more reference material on local tropical flowers and foliage in preparation for this exhibition.

Visit: The Inner Gallery, Bois D’Orange (1-758-457-8728), to view a new selection of Donna Grandin original acrylic paintings on canvas. The artwork hasn’t been added to the gallery website yet, so you’ll be one of the first to get a sneak peek!

Facebook: www.facebook.com/artbydonnagrandin

Email: donna@bluerootsartstudio.com for a pricelist of paintings currently available through Blue Roots Art Studio in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Paintings may be rolled to ship world-wide, and mastercard and visa are accepted.

Update: read about the exhibition here


Art donated to L.A. fundraiser for St. Lucia

The following is a post that I’ve brought over from my original blog where I wrote about exhibitions, career highlights etc. in the 3rd person.

Artwork donated by Donna Grandin, on display at Chapman University, Orange, California.

Donna’s art auctioned at ” Poetry, Music, Art: a Celebration to Benefit St. Lucia”, April 5, 2011. 

The following is from a blogpost from online literary journal dirtcakes.org, which included an image of one of Donna’s recent paintings:

“Did you know that the West Indies island of St. Lucia has more Nobel laureates per capita than any other nation and one of those –Derek Walcott – is a poet?Come celebrate Caribbean poetry, music, and art in a hot, hot, hot event on Tuesday, April 5, as dirtcakes sponsors an event to support Red Cross disaster relief for St. Lucia, an island devastated by last year’s Hurricane Tomas.


Join us in the Malloy Performance Portico at Chapman University’s Leatherby Libraries where Los Angeles poet Lynne Thompson, author of Beg No Pardon, will read work inspired by stories of her Caribbean ancestors, while Francis Lynch, from Trinidad and Tobago, adds a gentle steel pan cadence. Yes, you read that correctly, we’ll have a drummer in the library. And food. And art. Donna Grandin, an artist originally from St. Lucia, has donated two paintings for silent auction. Work from notable St. Lucian poets, including Derek Walcott, will be read and then, drum roll, Lynne Thompson will announce the winner of the dirtcakes First Annual Benefit Poetry Contest.”

There was a slide show projected on a screen behind the poets as they were doing their readings, which included images of Donna’s Hibiscus ‘n Bananas series. Donna was invited to participate in this event by organizor Natalie D’Auvergne, whose blogpost http://aphroditeares.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/poetry-music-art-a-celebration-to-benefit-st-lucia/ could almost have been written by Donna herself. Both the artist and the writer get inspiration from their Caribbean background, both observed how Hurricane Tomas devastated St. Lucia and her people last year, through the safety of Facebook, and felt compelled to help somehow. Proceeds from the event on Tues went to the St. Lucia Red Cross.

"St.Lucian ART 2011" at The Inner Gallery, St. Lucia

The following is a post that I’ve brought over from my original blog where I wrote about exhibitions, career highlights etc. in the 3rd person.

From the core, acrylics on canvas, 2009, 16×13 inch, Donna Grandin. Sold

This painting, and two others by Donna, will be part of “St. Lucian ART 2011: a selection of new and recent work by established, unknown and emerging artists from St. Lucia”. The group show opens Tues 25 January and runs till 5 February, 2011 at The Inner Gallery, Bois d’orange, St. Lucia.


Name change – Gomez to Grandin

The following is a post that I’ve brought over from my original blog where I wrote about exhibitions, career highlights etc. in the 3rd person.

Donna in St. Lucia at her first solo exhibition, in summer 1996.

Some time in 2009, Donna started using her married name, Donna Grandin, on her paintings. Art created previous to this would have been signed with her maiden name, Donna Gomez.

This exhibition was a milestone in my life, I received so much support from family, friends, the press, and the general public who came to see the art. It was held in the showroom of my uncle’s Suzuki car dealership at the time, Sunset Motors Ltd. The artwork was mostly from my third year of study as an art student at McMaster University, and the theme was water … the sea & its inhabitants, real or imagined. Some of the people who became my collectors in that first show are still my most avid fans, and I’ll always be grateful for their love and support.

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