Introduce yourself and tell us what you do!
Hello! My name is Maxine and I’m a painter and illustrator based in Toronto, Canada.
What are your non-negotiable morning rituals Before Life Happens?
Every morning when I wake up, I call my dog up for a quick snuggle. He’s like a teddy bear, and I think it really brings both of us into the day with a better mood after we get a little cozy time before we get up!
Can you describe a typical day in your life as an artist?
I usually have coffee at home, walk the dog, then come home to answer emails and do computer work. I’ll then pack some lunch and walk over to my studio where I paint til the early evening. I love to balance working at home and in-studio and separate each practice as much as possible. That way, I can keep the real creative stuff for when I’m painting and not feel too drained before I get started.
Your background in both New York City and Toronto likely exposed you to diverse cultures and artistic influences. How have these two environments shaped your artistic style and the themes you explore in your work?
Growing up in New York and as the child of a Haitian immigrant (my mother,) I was exposed to lots of folk art, bold colors, and lots of artistic freedom. I think that’s what spawned my “maximalist” tastes and the feeling that there’s never enough color or texture in a piece. Being here in Toronto feels like I’ve gotten to tighten up my practice by coming to love the great Canadian painters and printmakers whose work I visit often at the AGO: they also have a keen eye for boldness and color but in a superbly refined way.
Your studio in Little Portugal must be an inspiring place to create. Can you share some details about your studio setup and how the physical space impacts your creative process?
I feel so unbelievably lucky to have the studio space that I do! It’s definitely the space I would have dreamed about having when I was younger. I was invited to share the space by the absolutely incredible artist and now friend, Johanna Reynolds, who had already done so much of the leg work to get the space in working order. Joey has this great big antique easel that I’m lucky enough to use, which has been a game changer for painting the larger canvases I’ve been interested in painting on lately. We keep it pretty simple, though; we basically have two comfy chairs, the easel, and the rest of the space is really just art supplies and plenty of empty space to move and spread out in.
Art often serves as a means of self-expression and storytelling. Is there a specific message or narrative that you consistently aim to convey through your artwork, or do you prefer to leave interpretation open-ended for the viewers?
I am so excited when buyers and viewers come to my work with their own interpretations. I think every piece of art can be viewed and interpreted in so many different ways and that is one of my favorite things about art: there’s no wrong way to make it or to view it. That being said, I think the art that I make is firstly very healing for me, in that I can highlight the parts of my life that I find to be the most important. I love that I can create scenes that inspire warmth and magic and joy both in me and in those who view my work. Life is certainly more than dinner parties and pleasure, but in the worlds that I paint I can ignore all the ugliness in the world and focus on those precious moments we get to experience where everything is delicious and warm and joyous!
Is there a special cafe or restaurant in Little Portugal you frequent? Tell us your recommendations!
I love 135/Rooms Coffee, Forno Cultura, Bernhardt’s for special occasions, and Rhum Corner nearby for a fun cocktail and a cod patty.
How do you end your day? What rituals or routines do you have to set your future self up for success?
I love to come home, have a cup of tea or a glass of wine, (depending on the day) make and eat dinner with my partner, and then relax to watch a movie or read a book. I’m pretty low-key and love more than anything sleeping really well and waking up feeling refreshed! Taking a few extra minutes to brush my hair, floss my teeth (I always floss, no matter what!), wash my face and do some light skincare really makes me feel centered and calm and sleep more soundly.