Saturday, May 09, 2015

10 Years Ago

I'd like to share a journey with you, a trip that I took 10 years ago...

I left Toronto on May 5th, 2005 and experienced a year's worth of adventures, friendships and stunning views.

Several months prior, I had this strong desire to do something different. I knew I wanted to see more of the world, to draw new things, to meet people from different cultures, to see unusual landscapes and to experience different ways of living.

Then I started reading travel books, and emailing artists from Singapore to New Zealand, and figuring out a budget. The more I researched, the more feasible it seemed to become! I made a decision: to travel around the opposite side of the world for 1 year.

It became a mission, there was no stopping me. And it probably gave me strength to get through the harder parts. Saying goodbye to everyone for a whole year isn’t easy! I left a good job, sold almost everything I owned and relied on a Lonely Planet to help guide me where to eat, sleep and how to say hello in every language.

So I put everything I needed into a backpack and flew to Hong Kong. It wasn’t until I was on the flight, and the pilot announced, that I realized the day… “Welcome aboard, on the 5th day of the 5th month of 2005… 05.05.05!!! Andrea's Number says 5 means big change—and May 5th also happens to be her birthday :)

Throughout the year, I took about 20,000 photographs and filled 11 sketchbooks. I did keep a blog, although this was right before Facebook and social media, when most things were shared privately. So now I’d like to share those photos and sketches that many of you never saw. And I’m looking forward to reliving every day of those experiences and conversations and beautiful things from 10 years ago.

I hope you enjoy this 1 year journey!

Follow me here on Instagram, as I post a photo a day...

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ta Da... The Gold Bird Mural!

It's here, it's here! A couple months in the making and now The Gold Bird Mural is complete. My studio has been transformed into a brighter, more uplifting space to work and live. Every time I look at it, I feel very glowy inside :)

Now I'll finish showing you the process from where I left off in my last post...

After testing a couple types of gold paint, I prepared the wall. It had several nail holes from the picture frames that had been up so they were filled in with Polyfilla. After smoothing the patches with sandpaper, the whole wall was rolled over with my last bit of left over paint. 

The wall was marked into square feet with bits of painter's tape. The squares are replicated on my digital illustration so that when the image is projected, I scale it until the lines on the wall, match up with the lines on the image. Then I know it's placed exactly as I designed it! 

The drawing begins...

Then I get to paint with liquid gold...

It's a beautiful feeling, to paint and witness the changing reflective qualities... 

Now, I get to watch shiny, flying birds, a perfect view from where I work all day :)

What image would make you happy while you work? I'm always thinking of more mural ideas, so let me know in the box below!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Warming up by the... Mural

The pigeons that sit outside my studio window have become quite a source of inspiration for me. When I first moved here, I couldn't help myself from taking countless of photographs of them flying together in the open sky. Then, those photographs became a piece of artwork. Then the artwork became an Art Scarf...

Now, the pigeons are becoming a mural!

The pigeon's sounds and movements have been quite comforting. I'd love to enjoy their company more by inviting them inside. Their flying forms remind me of freedom and adventure--the perfect vibe for my work space.

As this mural idea was brewing, the weather was becoming colder and the skies greyer. I imagined how much warmer I'd feel if I could create the illusion of sunlight. I thought if I used gold paint, it's metallic qualities will reflect natural light into a brilliant shine. As well, the gold hue will cast a warm glow around the room!

After the idea was confirmed, it was time to start the design process. First, I selected my favourite flying bird photos. Then the photos were simplified into a 1-colour graphic and placed into a scaled line drawing of my wall with the furniture. I ended up with 4 different design options and asked my friends to help me choose:

The votes were super helpful--thank you friends! With #4 being the top choice and #3 a very close second, I blended a bit of the tree branches into #4. Voila--now I can't wait to start painting!

I got so excited that I bought 2 different brands of paint to make sure I selected only the best colour and shine. Here's the swatch test (in progress) showing 1, 2 and 3 coats, which I also tried with and without a yellow base coat:

Next step will be transferring the image onto the wall. Stay tuned and I'll show you how! Or, follow my process on Instagram.

What image would make you feel warmer? Let me know by commenting below!

View more murals at

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Little Gift of Gift Tags

Thank you to my friends, readers, customers, clients and art show visitors! You've made this year a very special one which makes me look even more forward to 2015!

Please enjoy these holiday gift tags. The printable PDF can be downloaded here.

Happy Holidays and see you in the New Year!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Same Same but Different"

It's a popular phrase I heard several times while traveling in Thailand almost 10 years ago. (Yes, you can buy a t-shirt!) I interpreted it as, two things that are essentially the same, except slightly different—like cilantro and coriander. Or humans—our DNA being 99% the same but our individual traits make us unique from one another.

Or mountains! They appear all around the world in similar forms, yet each are different in shape, colour and element. They may look: smooth and white from sheets of glacial ice... or jagged and grey from layered shards of granite... or misty and green from fog in a rainforest.

Marsha: 1. Framed in meditation, 2. Excited about a real live mural,
3. Dreaming of travel.

My point being, every Mountain Mural may look like it's from the same drawing but each mural (like each of us) has it's own personality. Shapes, colours and elements in the design are customized for the people using the space. Photos above: The design may frame a piece of furniture (or Marsha!), or radiate certain emotions through colour or transport your thoughts to a far away land.

Here are 3 Mountain Murals that are "same same but different":

Mountain Mural #1: My very first :) Painted in my own bedroom, I wanted an image that would calm me while going to sleep and motivate me to rise in the morning. The neutralizing grey and taupe were selected to blend with the tones in my bedspread, curtains and furniture.

Mountain Mural #2: Nash needed a mural to inspire play time and match the room's Canadiana theme. Forest greens with pine trees and geese made the room feel larger and turned it into a very fun space!

Mountain Mural #3: Marsha lives and works at home and requested an image that would influence productivity during the day and relaxation at night. Blue itself has very calming qualities, while the brighter tones make the mountains appear cheerful and lively. We even decided to paint the stairs to match!

Just one wall can change your world. 

My travels have brought me to many a mountain and every one of them has left a lasting, positive impression. When I'm not traveling, memories of their views, trails, sunrises and sunsets reminds me how excited I felt when I was experiencing new adventures. These emotions become even stronger while I paint, which is why my new quest is to paint as many walls as possible!

What colour would you like me to paint your mountains?!

View more murals at and calendars on Etsy.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

My Secret Found at the McMichael

Exhibiting at the McMichael's Autumn Art Sale was an amazing experience.

My booth display.

As soon as I drove into their entrance for the very first time, I felt like I belonged. All of my art-show-preparation-anxiety completely dissipated. Suddenly, the noisy traffic was behind me. The speed limit slowed down to 25 km/hour. Rounding each turn felt like being on a new adventure.

Above, a canopy of Autumn-coloured trees stretched into the distance. Below, spots of warm sunlight splashed upon the long driveway.

Autumn maple tree.

What a perfect welcoming!

After my booth was set up, I checked out the MLM exhibit "Morrice and Lyman in the Company of Matisse". I've always admired Matisse's confident lines and bold colours and then discovered similarities in both Morrice's and Lyman's style.

Long grass around Professor's Lake, Brampton

I was further captivated by all the quotes that adorned the walls. This one in particular really spoke to me:

"Slowly I discovered the secret of my art. It consists of a meditation on nature, on the expression of a dream which is always inspired by reality." –Henri Matisse

Gingko tree, Toronto.

Perhaps that's also my secret?!

Nature has always been my source for ideas, adventure and clearing my head. Photographing nature feels like my own form of meditation. Transforming those photos of reality feels like creating a dream.

Maples painting with reflection. 

It was a weekend of connecting... with 50 other artists, with their nature-based art, with the trees that surrounded the gallery and... with Henri Matisse. How honoured I felt to exhibit my own artwork right around the corner from his original paintings.

Thank you to all the staff, volunteers and artists at McMichael, for providing such a warm and friendly atmosphere. And thank you Matisse, for helping me understand even more, my reason for making art.

Click here to view available artwork or email me with any inquiries.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Summer Skies

I think September feels more like the beginning of a new year than January. There's more changes—the air becomes cooler, the city fills up once more with everyone back from their summer holidays, students go back to school and the rest back to work. There's new energy in the air, literally, as the CNE marks the end of summer with their annual air show.


Or, maybe it's just me! My birthday's looming, only one week away. Each year drives me into a cycle of reflecting on the past several months and then strategizing on how to make the next few even better—usually whilst sifting through my Instagram photos :)

The Snowbirds at the CNE

Perhaps coincidently, many of these photos were of beautiful and unusual, wide-open skies. Their infinite vastness deliver an offering of questions and possibilities. Who do I want to be? Where do I want to go? The answer could be there, right in the clouds.

Warm sunrises and sunsets may say "allow time to relax and free the mind"...

Sunrise on Lake Ontario, on the train to Montreal

Sunset in Christie Pitts Park

Brush-stroke clouds shows there's a purpose in creating and experimenting...

Outside my front window
Outside my back door

Moody storms travel fast, reminders of exciting adventures...

Wavy clouds

The clouds that never rained

These skies may also be suggesting that I create a new series of cloud paintings :)

What does the sky say to you?

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Dressing Up Japanese-Style

I wonder if it was back in Grade 5, when I tried on my first Kimono at a friend's house, that I started to love all things Japanese? And then years later, I found myself in a similar situation while traveling with my friend Sandra, wearing this Kabuki (dance) costume in Japan!

Sandra and I, June 2001

Then just last week, I was part of the Matsuri Toronto Japanese Summer Festival showcasing my 100% silk Art Scarves:

Migrating Monarchs Art Scarf, photo by Che Rosales
Feathery Ferns Art Scarf, photo by Che Rosales
It was a celebration of Japanese and Canadian artists, drummers, dancers and designers. The second year running, they included their first fashion show, a new experience I also had to give a go!

Styled in a Japanese-inspired bun and a Bon-Voyage-Birds-blue skirt, Jen flowed down the runway wearing two Art Scarves:

Jen in Migrating Monarchs and Bon Voyage Birds,
photos by Che Rosales
Jen and I after our bow on stage:

Jen and I, photo by Aniqa Rahman
Over at the booth, people of all ages were drawn to the mountain cards and watched the time-lapse of me painting the Mountain Mural:

Mountain Cards, photo by Che Rosales
The new Art Cards were popular, especially the sakura (cherry blossom) image:

Art Cards, photo by Che Rosales
Art Cards, photo by Che Rosales
Original Artwork, photo by Che Rosales
Art Scarves are currently for sale on my Etsy shop or you can email me directly. Art Cards will be there soon too!

It was a fun show and there were many who helped make it happen. An extra special thank you to:
Luke and everyone at Kurakake Company; Kelly who helped shop, style and seem to be my personal assistant; Jen my beautiful model and friend; Siobhan, Hoann, Sharona, Janice and Erica who took care of my booth and displayed my products in unexpected, creative ways; all the positive comments and encouragement from everyone; and Julian for inspiration, set up, take down and for always making me laugh!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Condition of Light

Without light, we wouldn't see anything--but without darkness, what would the light play with?

Intricate lamp in the Sultan's Tent
It's the combinations between light and dark that make a compelling composition. Infinite possibilities emerge from different weather conditions, the time of day and the time of the year. Changes happen in the sun's angle, intensity and colour.

Haunted chandelier in Balzac's, The Distillery
Recently, I've noticed many intriguing indoor lights from elaborate lamps casting their shadows onto different surfaces.

Shiny reflections give the fabric canopy more depth...

Hanging chandelier in the Sultan's Tent
Shadows sliced onto walls and ceilings...

Stairwell chandelier at the Gladstone Hotel
Shadows bend and elongate into layered tones...

Wall lamp at Verity
Now imagine how light and dark play outdoors...

  • The last glimmer of sun just before it sets behind the ocean's horizon. 
  • Light slanting through a wooden fence, painting white lines across your face. 
  • A canopy of leaves waving in the wind, casting dancing spots of light and shadow on the ground. 

What have you seen when the condition of light made the memory worth remembering? Please comment below!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Nature on Nature

It's that time of year again! The cherry blossoms have already come and gone and now I get to post my annual photoshoot with the trees. Although this time, I brought something of my own...

I've been anticipating these awesome blossoms for months so they could meet my Art Scarves. It seemed like the perfect juxtaposition—to combine the scarves' nature-inspired artwork with nature itself. The artwork was created from fleeting experiences immersed in nature during my travels—just like the blossoms only last for a brief period of time during the whole year.

The delicate blossoms were as soft as the silk.

Together they danced in the long branches,

and waved hello in the breeze.

The scarves hugged the tree trunks,

and petals sprinkled to the ground.

We'll have to wait another year for the cherry blossoms but Art Scarves are here to stay!

Now available in Toronto stores at Craft Ontario (Yorkville) and Distill (The Distillery) and on Etsy.