Experimenting with watercolour paints

After my Decanter series (which I wrote about here), I wanted to experiment with a medium I had not used much. Watercolours were always around, but I mostly avoided them and opted to use gouache instead. My ideas always felt too intense for the delicate paints. Even though I wanted to give watercolours a chance, I was still hesitant.

Before actually painting anything, I just observed other artists. I discovered some interesting techniques and was finally excited to try them out. Then it started to rain and inspiration struck. The transparent paints were the obvious fit for rain.

April Showers Splatter

First, I wet the page to create gloomy yet light clouds using blue and purple hues. Once the cloudy background was dry, I was eager to try to splatter the paint to replicate rain drops. I picked a bright pink colour to hint at spring blooms, and got started with a tiny brush. Then I grabbed a larger brush to create more depth and movement on the page. The watercolours perfectly captured April Showers.

April Showers.jpg

Sunset Drive Blow Painting

Later that week it rained again, only this time I was in a car. The experience felt completely different with the wipers pushing the rain across the windshield. It seemed impossible to replicate until I was reminded of the straw blowing technique. By combining the watercolour with a ridiculous amount of water, you’re able to quickly spread a paint drop with a straw before it dries. Once again, I painted a cloudy spring background as the first layer. Then I mixed colours to create a vibrant orange to represent the rain on a Sunset Drive.


Photographing Watercolours

When photographing April Showers for my shop, I walked around Toronto’s waterfront. My intention was to find a shady and green spot, but the painting looked best against a fairly sunny concrete step. I liked how the step seemed to have been affected by the elements, and decided my search was over.

Next I kept an eye out for a good location to photograph Sunset Drive. I looked around for a spot by the highway, but it felt it would distract from the painting. As I was walking home, I noticed a wire fence on the ground of a parking lot. I didn’t know if it was about to be put up or taken away, so I quickly snapped a few pictures. Even though I didn’t have the painting with me, I knew it would make for the perfect backdrop.

If the artwork looks like it’s floating above the fence, now you know why. One thing that helped combine the two images was flattening the painting before photographing it. Even with painters tape, the paper had warped a bit with the amount of water I had used. A large stack of books helped solve the issue, and glassine paper kept the painting protected.

It was definitely worth experimenting with watercolours, and I can’t wait to paint with them again. In the meantime, both April Showers and Sunset Drive are available for sale in the shop.

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The Five-Month Term

Toronto SkylineWhile checking out some local Toronto startups, I came across one that had an interesting take on the probationary period. They stated that the ‘project’ was for a five-month term, with the option to extend it indefinitely.

Outside of the startup world, it’s common to have a three-month probationary period. However, you can usually tell long before that if an employee is the right fit, especially within a small and nimble startup. After the first week, it’s pretty clear if the new hire can actually code or close. After the second week, you can usually tell whether they’re a good cultural fit.

If the startup has been burnt before by low-performing hires, then the probationary period would be shorter. Perhaps it’s based on some legal advice, or maybe the founders are simply being honest about their current resources. Instead of using the five-month term as a cop out, this might simply be a way of letting candidates know that they might be let go if the business doesn’t become profitable.

The honesty is refreshing, but it seems that some people might be turned off. Even after they realize the five-month term doesn’t have anything to do with a lack of belief in their skills, the thought that the founders are ready to give it all up in five-months isn’t very inspiring. Even if it is realistic.

Working with startups, you’re always ready for funding to run out. But you’re also ready to make compromises and eat ramen together until the vision finally becomes a reality. If you have the determination it takes to succeed, you don’t schedule an end date.


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SIFE Ryerson (Enactus)

My last year in university was by far the most rewarding year. I had the opportunity to join the award-winning SIFE [Students in Free Enterprise] Ryerson team, assist the marketing department and even co-manage the RU Green? Program.

One of my entrepreneurship courses encouraged students to volunteer at SIFE Ryerson, a student-run group, in exchange for bonus points. I went in to grab a couple of flyers, and was surprised to see such a high energy level in a student-run office.

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