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Art in Action – Burlington studio tour

Donna Grandin with her paintings during Art in Action Burlington studio tour 2014
Donna Grandin with her paintings during Art in Action Burlington studio tour 2014

This year my studio was on the Art in Action Burlington Studio Tour for the 3rd time. It was nice to see both new and familiar faces, and to have some great art conversations.

Thanks to those of you who came from near and far – especially my supporters from Toronto,  Whitby, Hamilton & Caledonia!

Saturday morning was grey and windy … with the first snowfall of the season! So, we had fewer visitors than last year, which was a pity.

However, the first reports coming in are that sales were about the same as last year, so I guess a little snow and rain didn’t deter those who really enjoy visiting local artists in their studios and shopping for unique, hand-made items.

Some of Donna’s newest paintings

The blue peacock-inspired painting on the top right was painted to live music during the Culture Days event in front of Burlington City Hall.

It was very difficult to photograph (shiny), so I had a professional photographer do it. Then I had technical issues with my laptop and had to go without it for a few weeks, but I still plan on doing a blog post about the Culture Days event later this month.

Some art from the “30 paintings in 30 days Challenge” that Donna did in Jan and Sept this year.

A few of these little daily paintings sold during the tour, others are going to a new store opening later this month in St. Lucia. More details to come.

Catching up with fellow artists


Lois Shaw and her still-life oil paintings

Lois Shaw’s realistic still-lifes were very popular on the tour, as were her necklaces with slumped glass pendents. Unfortunately, Louise Young, the jeweller who was supposed to be the other guest artist in my studio, had to cancel. However Lois and I had more than enough paintings to fill the space.

The rose painting above the doors was on my easel during last year’s tour. It’s 48″ x 48″, and so far it’s only been out of my studio for the Culture Days event.




Thanks to Teresa Seaton & all the other Art in Action members who each contribute to making this event go smoothly each year.

Some people came alone, some in pairs & others by the carload – or in this case a convoy of 3 cars!


My cousin Patrice and her daughters came to show their support. And pick up some more of my blank art cards.


Ursuline & her friends came in from Toronto. Here she is putting her Christmas contest entry into the box.

I decided I’m going to do a draw for a dragonfly painting (“Watching”), on Christmas day.

There were entry forms available on the studio tour, for those who subscribed to my Blue Roots Art Studio Mailing List.

Look out for other opportunities for you to enter the Christmas contest, through social media.

There are refreshments at each of the studios, usually I make hot apple cider.

There is still time to pick up something special for under the tree, just take a look at the paintings still available, and send me an e-mail to arrange pick-up/delivery.

Art in Action Burlington Studio Tour – Nov 1 & 2, 2014


It’s that time of year again, where I give the studio a fresh coat of paint, hang my latest paintings and invite the public in for the Art in Action Burlington Studio Tour. This year – Nov 1 & 2 – my guest artist is Lois Shaw with her realistic still-life paintings. Unfortunately, jeweller Louise Young has had to cancel again.

However there will be more than enough art to view, and perhaps collect. Lois & I will have original paintings in a variety of sizes & greeting cards, perfect for gift-giving – especially if you’d like to treat yourself to something special to put under your own tree!

Art in Action pre-tour exhibition, Art Gallery of Burlington
Art in Action pre-tour exhibition, Art Gallery of Burlington

On Oct 19th we had a reception for the pre-tour group exhibition at the Art Gallery of Burlington. The Mayor of Burlington, Rick Goldring, said a few words, and so did Denis Longchamps, chief curator of the AGB.

Thanks to CHCH for filming – my brother-in-law texted me to say he’d just seen me on the news, I think my street-cred just went up with the family! The AGB show runs until Nov 13th and is a sampling of all the art that will be on the tour. It is not just paintings and sculpture, there is wonderful jewellery as well.


Donna at Art in Action pre-tour reception,  Art Gallery of Burlington
Donna at Art in Action pre-tour reception, Art Gallery of Burlington

Take a look at the Art in Action 2014 map and plan your route – we are in studio #8. Carpool with your girl friends, or make it a date – or double date – and try to see as many of the studios as you can. You can win $100-$200. towards art by your favourite artist by filling out the ballot on the Art in Action brochures.

See you soon!



The Art in Action Burlington studio tour through my eyes!

This weekend will be two weeks since the studio tour, and I’m surprised to say that life is just as busy as it was before. I was looking forward to taking a breather after, but if it’s not one project it’s another, and the trip to Paris is coming up FAST!

My studio set up for Art in Action Studio Tour

Here is a short (41 sec) Video of my art on display for the tour. If you want more details on individual paintings, you can find them on my website.

I had a wide selection of paintings this year, now I have to decide which paintings to send where…. some to the galleries in the Caribbean, some to local group exhibitions – like the Burlington Art Center’s Annual Art Auction in February.

Here is a behind the scenes photo taken when much of the studio debris was already cleared out. I simplify so that the attention is on the artwork, but if you want to know what it’s like during the rest of the year, just make an appointment … I’ll need time to clean the floors, because that’s the first thing I let go to make time for painting AND family life.

Preparing for the studio tour

The last couple weeks before the tour involves lots of preparation – ideally I’ve completed all painting for the show by then, so any artwork I do in that time is not done under pressure.

This photo indicates a fraction of that prep – varnishing paintings, framing small works, placing greeting cards in clear envelopes, and spending endless time on the computer doing paperwork (eg. labels), as well as getting the word out through social media etc.

Art in Action as an organization does a lot of publicity for the tour, but I wanted to invite everyone I knew in driving distance because it’s the only time of year so much of my work is shown together locally.

And as with any event that you plan a long time for, there are the inevitable last minute crises …

The boys carving pumpkins ... on my packaging material!

Like when I realized my husband had used my roll of plastic (for packaging), to lay under the boys while they carved their pumpkins for Halloween. Two nights before the tour!

Or when he realized something was burning in the kitchen and filling the room up with smoke (an hour before visitors were to come through). My bad. We had to open up all the windows  & let the brisk November air in.

The first few people who arrived, complimented us on the cinnamon candle we’d lit to cover up the burnt smell. And later on there were a couple comments about something baking … & I could see visitors looking around for home-made cookies! I smiled and nodded. But I had to wonder about their baking skills … just saying.

Donna Fratesi with her work at Art in Action 2013

Donna Fratesi set up her watercolour paintings the day before. It was a good thing we had a lot of paintings because Louise Young, who was going to be exhibiting her jewellery with us, had to back out due to health issues.

I’d seen Donna do a watercolour demo a few years before when she was a guest speaker at the Burlington Fine Arts Association monthly general meeting at the Burlington Art Center. FYI, there is a guest speaker or artist demo at each of these meetings, and they’re free to the public.

She worked casually and loose, making it look easy, but we knew we were watching a master at work. Recently she has been painting in acrylics though, so it’s interesting to see her make the transition after working for more than 25 years in watercolour.

Artists are lifelong learners – researching, experimenting, observing, discovering and growing … that’s why art is so much more than a job, it will take as much time and resources as you can give, and more.

Sam & Amanda, our high school student volunteers on the studio tour

Sam and Amanda were our high school student volunteers, each studio had two students who were earning credits for helping out in their community. We were happy to have some extra hands to take photos, greet and keep tally of visitors, and to explain the draw.

Visitors get their brochures signed at each of the studios and if they’ve been to at least one studio and turn in their ballot, they could win $100. towards product by an artist of their choice, and if they’d been to all eight, it is $200!

Ursuline & Mary took the train in from Toronto & made a day trip of it.

Mary and Ursuline took the train in from Toronto to come see my new work. They made a day trip of it and had a great time. Thanks for coming ladies! Also, thanks to Melissa & Greg who came from Toronto as well. It was lovely to see so many familiar faces, many artist friends showing their support, as well as new, curious faces. I love meeting people.

Ursuline, a long-time collector of mine visited from Toronto

Ursuline is a long-time collector of mine from Toronto. She came up to me at a St. Lucia Toronto Association Gala where I was introduced as the St. Lucian artist currently exhibiting at Toronto City Hall by invitation of the St. Lucia Tourist Board. It turned out she went to school with my Mom in St. Lucia!

Donna Fratesi with some Art in Action visitors

Donna talking with some ladies interested in her work. It was her first time doing the tour and I think she was surprised at how well she did!

Me with Angela Paparizo (City of Burlington, Arts & Culture) and Rosanna Dewey (Burlington Fine Arts Association)

Here I am posing with Angela Paparizo (City of Burlington, Arts & Culture) and Rosanna Dewey (Burlington Fine Arts Association). Rosanna is a wonderful oil painter I know from BFAA, actually we first met at a life drawing evening class at Sheridan College. Angela I met through the process leading up to the Burlington city council’s unanimous passing of the city’s first Cultural Action Plan. Rosanna and Teresa Seaton (Art in Action) were both on the Steering committee.

There were lots of meetings along the way, and it has been awesome to be part of a movement where local artists, musicians, actors, dancers etc. are coming together to form an arts community for the first time in a place where everyone is accustomed to having to do their own thing. I’m excited to see what we can make of this opportunity. For now, if you’re interested in Arts & Culture in Burlington, I encourage you to join this Facebook group.

My son shows up to check out the refreshment table ... hot apple cider, yum!

One of my boys shows up to check out the refreshment table … hot apple cider, yum! The other monkey showed up a couple times to show off his gymnastics moves & grab the spotlight.

Great to chat with so many people during the studio tour

Thank you to everyone who made time for us that weekend, braved the bad weather on the first day, made a purchase, or just came to take a look at what we’ve been up to. Everyone who signed up to our contact lists, who gave us a hand (Sam & Amanda), who helped us get the word out, who sponsored our event, and thanks to all of the other Arts in Action participants this year who did their part to make it such a great event! And of course, thanks to my husband and kids who put up with me and my crazy art life!

Are you on your way? Waiting for more guests to join the party ...

Hope to see you all next year!










11th Annual Art in Action Burlington Studio Tour

Tulip mound, 24"x36", acrylic on canvas, © Donna Grandin, 2012
Tulip mound, 24″x36″, acrylic on canvas, © Donna Grandin, 2012

This year I’m opening up my studio space to the public for the Annual Art in Action Burlington studio tour for the second time. I’m hosting Louise Young with her jewellery, and fine artist Donna Fratesi who will be demonstrating in watercolours. We all submitted applications to get into the tour, and were matched up by the organizers, but I already knew these ladies from the Burlington Fine Arts Association. Ours is studio #1 on the tour map.

I like to do this event because it is so well-organized, with each of the 29 participants in 8 studios this year doing their part, it generates a lot of publicity, and of course, it’s local.  Also,  I have a great time meeting so many people who love and appreciate art and craft.


Art in Action pre-tour group exhibition at Teresa Seaton Fine Art Stained Glass Studio & Gallery
Opening of Art in Action pre-tour group exhibition at Teresa Seaton Fine Art Stained Glass Studio & Gallery

This year we held a pre-tour group exhibition at Teresa Seaton’s Fine Art Stained Glass to kick off the promotion for the tour. This exhibition is great for people who can’t make it out to the tour, but want to see a selection of art that will be available.

painting of frangipani flowers
All for one, 8″x8″, acrylic on canvas, © Donna Grandin, 2013. Sold

One of the fun aspects of this group exhibition was a wall of 8″x8″ works that we each contributed to as a sampler of our work as a group. I submitted One for all, and All for one.

One for all, 8"x8", acrylic on canvas, © 2013 Donna Grandin.
One for all, 8″x8″, acrylic on canvas, © 2013 Donna Grandin. Sold

Thanks to photographer Mary Dilly of Snapd Burlington who came to the Opening of the pre-tour group show & featured many photos of the event in the October issue. My paintings & I are in at least one. And thanks to Mayor Rick Goldring for coming out to show his support.

Donna Grandin, interviewed by Deb Tymstra of Halton Insider, TV Cogeco about Art in Action Studio tour 2013
Donna Grandin, interviewed by Deb Tymstra of Halton Insider, TV Cogeco about Art in Action Studio tour 2013

Teresa Seaton, myself and Cheryl Goldring (in that order) were interviewed by Deb Tymstra in Teresa’s studio/gallery last week, so that we could let more people know about the tour. Jeff Haddow of JAWS video shot & edited the video clip and did a great job of getting in all the pertinent information.

So, if you’re in the area put Nov 2 & 3 on your calender, come on out and pick up some art to give as Christmas gifts (even if they’re all going under YOUR Christmas tree!). The studios will be opened 10am-5pm Sat and Sun.



Welcome to a whole NEW bluerootsartstudio.com!

One for all, 8″x8″, acrylic on canvas, © Donna Grandin, 2013. SOLD

If you’ve been to this website before, you’ll be thrilled to see I have FINALLY updated it. The first version of the site was created by my brother & I in 2010, thanks to Skype, since he is in England & I am in Canada. He’s not a website developer, but he does know his way around some code!

In fact, he’s pretty good at it, and that meant he was traveling more & more for his job, and so I needed to get my act together & figure out how I was going to take care of updating my own website. Of course, it wasn’t easy to commit to stepping away from the easel & hunkering down at the computer to learn what I needed to … but I’m happy to say, I’ve finally made some headway!

To be honest, I’m very excited about the opportunity to talk to you in the first person now, to be able to share my creative process and insights with you. Art is a means of communication, it does not exist in a vacuum. Hmm. I suppose that point may be debatable, but I’m speaking for myself as an artist. So, I look forward to hearing from you … let this website be a portal between us!

I’ve migrated posts from a career highlights type blog that I previously had attached to the website as my “News” page, commenting on some of them, just to give a little background to those of you who may have wandered onto this site for the first time.

What I like about this format, is that the website will be a work in progress, mirroring both my journey into harnessing the technology of the day, and my own artistic exploration.

By now, you may have figured out that I enjoy writing. I like to think through words. When I can SEE my thoughts in front of me, they lead to deeper understanding. My writing process is very much the same as my painting process, and I’d love to talk about that right now, but I’ll save it for a future post.

I brought the subject up because I know I can be “wordy”, and the trend today is to be brief (140 characters) – stick to the point and sell, sell, sell. Hashtags instead of sentences. The way I see it though is this is who I am, and if you’re a skimmer, I hope you’ll be engaged by my visuals. And if you love nothing more than curling up with a thick book or even the electronic equivalent, and savouring the words as you get caught up in a story … then I hope to communicate with you through words AND images.

So please, come back often … follow me in the format you prefer – Facebook, newsletter, RSS feed, I’m adding more all the time, I’m evolving, the website is evolving and I expect my art will continue to evolve as well! Take the trip with me, virtually or irl by attending my exhibitions and events. I look forward to connecting with you.

View available paintings




10th Annual Art in Action Burlington Studio Tour

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 Grandin at her easel, in studio #10

view of studio #10 during studio tour

Jessica Gneth with the proud collector of one of her wire sculptures

Art in Action 2012 Artists Cheryl Laakes, Donna Grandin, Sarah Carter

Thanks to everyone who came out to the 10th Annual Art in Action Studio Tour in Burlington, Ontario, on Nov 3 & 4, 2012! www.artinaction.ca
Donna was pleased to host Cheryl Laakes, fibre artist & jeweller of www.cheryllaakes.com, Sarah Carter, watercolourist of www.watercolorartbysarah.com, and Art in Action scholarship winner – and current Sheridan College art student – Jessica Gneth, in her home studio for this event.
Thanks to online newspaper Our Burlington for great coverage of the tour, and for writing about Donna & her art. And thanks to photographer Teresa Baerg  for taking photos in our studio for SNAP Burlington.
Art in Action Brochure 2012

Donna’s acrylic paintings of tropical plants were also featured in lots of promotion for the tour, including the brochures, and newspaper ads.
Special thanks to Teresa Seaton of www.teresaseaton.ca, who steers the ship that is Art in Action! And what a well-oiled machine it is, we look forward to participating again next year.
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