Last year, I almost moved back to British Columbia. My Mom was diagnosed with cancer and I felt this urgent pull to pick up and move across the country. I wanted to be closer to my family. It was a very difficult time and I just thought, “Okay, let’s go!”
But my vision was blurred. I was still healing and undergoing heavy treatment from my car accident, and I was trying to find balance with my career and side hustle. It was a lot. Art of Marina was slowly becoming a thing. It was making my heart sing to put time into my business, and it finally started to take off and in the end. So all in all, it wasn’t the right time to move back to BC. Instead, I flew back and forth a lot in 2019. I was there to support my Mom as best I could during her treatments, as she was supporting me too in my healing… and she thankfully went into remission. Life settled again. It was a blessing.
I got my groove back with #FreeArtFriday
I kept on painting, and so many miracles happened; some were more growing pains while others were pure blessings.
There were learning curves and a humongous healing journey through self-care and a new appreciation for life. Then March rolled around again as it tends to do every year, and I was presented with another opportunity to move West — but life happened again!
The Coronavirus spread its ugly reach around the globe and sheltering in place became the new normal for longer than any of us could have anticipated. I stayed home, I painted more, and I shared my art with the world through #FreeArtFridays on Instagram. It was my way to stay connected and “put the rainbow in other people’s clouds”, as the great Maya Angelou so aptly put it.
I found a greater appreciation for art through coming together with so many amazing people on the internet. It lasted nine whole weeks and it was wonderful. But that, too, inevitably came to an end.
Change is good.
As the world changed, so did we.
The opportunity of going west presented itself again. But this time, it actually happened. And This time, I did it for me, for us; Ryan and I are excited to be back in BC. While Vancouver is the BC I know, we are excited to be living in the Okanagan. It’s slow living, less driving, more time for nature and more creative energy to make beautiful things.
Toronto will always be in our hearts and the future is uncertain, so who knows where we will end up. But for now, we decided to take what was once so painful of a journey through fertility and shattered dreams of having the perfect family home, to just living. After the tumultuous first months of COVID, we’re looking forward to a bit of freedom. And making other dreams come true…
The Art of Marina Studio & Gallery
I prepped all summer long, and now Art of Marina has its very own gallery in Naramata wine route in beautiful BC! Right next door to Three Sisters Winery, my brother’s vineyard, and I am So. Freaking. Excited. It was time to have a special space to share my work, teach watercolor workshops, and offer social soirees! From my new perch in the rolling green hills of The Okanagan, I’ll be working continuously on my Fine Art Collection and new Limited Edition wearable art line.
And soon I will be hosting Wine and Watercolour nights at the Tasting Room. Stay Tuned.
When I arrived, there was A LOT of work to be done on the space—it’d been pretty much abandoned, was filthy, and in need of some serious love. Ryan wasn’t here yet, I had zero budget to pull this off, and as with so many other people’s lives, COVID was making making a living, difficult. Artists and Makers were in trouble. Most of us do it all on our own and weren’t eligible for funding because we didn’t have any staff.
I had spent the winter making and preparing loads of inventory to sell at the spring markets—which were all cancelled. Our show investments were rolled over or lost altogether. EVERYONE, including the people putting them on, was having a tough time…and pivoted to online. But I’d never been that big online, what was I going to do?
The Art of Marina Pop-Up Shop Saves the Day
I asked Three Sisters if I could Pop-Up at the winery and it was a lifesaver—and where I spent my summer, connecting with wine tasters, Canadian travellers exploring their backyard, art collectors and Kimono lovers. I shared with them the story of Three Sisters and my own personal journey as an artist. I felt at home. It all just made sense.
So, after a long hot summer, I got a few new freckles and wrapped up my pop-up shop at the Tasting Room on September 12th. Exactly one week later, on Art of Marina’s 2nd Birthday, we officially opened the Gallery.
Painted from top to bottom, got my dream wallpaper printed and installed (Thanks SpeedPro!), custom rods for hanging my kimonos (Thanks Everything Steele!), even had my furniture from my studio in Toronto shipped out. Everything worked out, as it tends to do with a little (a LOT) hard work, passion and perseverance. I got the shop open, and it will be open until Christmas!
And my beautiful little niece Mara wants to work with me! How can I resist?
To my Old and New BC friends, I can’t wait to see you and hope that you will come and visit. To my Toronto loves, don’t worry, it’s not for always, it’s just a little change of scenery. You’re in my heart.
I’ll be back, and I’ll see you soon!
For a full tour of the Gallery, click this link as I went live with the Refresh Market:
And stay tuned for other updates and the launch of my new, Limited Edition kimono line!
Love you always!