Tuesday, October 25, 2011
On Saturday, I was featured in The Ottawa Citizen newspaper, online and in print. The article was called Ottawa's Fashion Bloggers Extraordinaire: Meet six from the sisterhood of the travelling iPhones. One of the questions asked who my inspiration was. That was an easy answer—hands down, the person who I find most inspiring is my mother.
My mom had a passion in life. Her passion was to be an artist. Although she grew up in a rather strict Greek household, in which education was the most important thing of all, (and the arts not highly valued as a 'real' career choice) she never gave up her dream to pursue her passion. She would hide her drawings in the middle of her school notebooks, so her father wouldn't see. Although she never went to school for art, she was born with talent, and a desire to paint.
Every day people give up steady pay-cheques to chase their dream. My mom did this when she was 30, when my sister and I were both young. She quit a secure job working for Ottawa's Doctor Keon, and jumped into her art career full force, with determination and a positive attitude. Her best friend who later died from breast cancer pushed her to chase her dream, telling her how talented she was.
In the days before social media and the internet, my mom literally walked into a prestigious art gallery with paintings in her arms. As she was showing the gallery owner, someone walked in and said: "I'll take it!" and right there, my mom was accepted into her first gallery.
Her career took off. She is represented in fine art galleries throughout Canada, and in the Koyman Galleries here in Ottawa. Her paintings brighten the halls in the maternity ward of the Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital as well as the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Princess Diana, former PM Jean Chretien, Julio Iglesias, Roger Moore, Mila Mulroney, and Nana Mouskari are collectors of her art, and she's been awarded a Governor General Women of Distinction Award for Women in the Arts. She's been featured in The Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa At Home Magazine, Odyssey Magazine, Magazine D'Art, and more. She's worked with United Nations on art campaigns, with Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, and has been the face of UNICEF holiday cards since 1993. She's also working with the Children's Wish Foundation on a series of holiday cards this year, raising funds where they're needed most.
She recently illustrated a children's book that has sold in book stores like Chapters, and it's a dream of ours to write and illustrate a children's book together one day soon.
My mom also inspired my sister to start painting, and my sister is busy selling her children's art work, too. I guess we're an artistic family of sorts. Complete with craziness. (You should see how loud we are around the dinner table!)
The best part of her success story is the fact that she's been able to help many people through her art. I've read the letters she's received about how people of all ages relate to her work, how they feel comforted by the children depicted in the paintings, and how certain pieces bring back memories of childhood. Most touching of all, though, are the stories having to do with children.
It's personal stories that really touch my heart—like finding out a couple donated over a dozen paintings to the children's hospital after their child had passed away. Or the story about a man who, after losing his home to a fire, asked my mom to create a painting of his old house, so the family would always remember it. Every day, there are stories that make the fact that my mom followed her dream so worthwhile.
This weekend, here at Ottawa's Koyman Gallery, Rideau Centre location, my mom is having an art show with her latest pieces. She'll be in attendance, as will I, since I am her number one fan.
I'd love to see you there, too. The show takes place on Saturday, October 29 and on Sunday, October 30th, from 12 to 4.
If you can't make it to her Ottawa show, she's having a show in Toronto at Artworld of Sherway in the Sherway Gardens mall, on December 3rd, from 12 to 5.
Sometimes, chasing after your dream is worth it, and my mom inspires me to do the same with my writing.