A guest in Gloria Green’s home needs only to spot her paint-spattered dining room table to know an artist lives here.
The speckled piece of furniture is but one of the many corners of the Yorkville loft where the 48-year-old creates her abstract acrylic paintings — works inspired in part by her day job as a dietician in the pediatric oncology unit at Sick Kids Hospital.
Though she started painting seven years ago, Green says she found artistic inspiration working at a rewarding but often emotionally stressful workplace.
Green, who’s been at the hospital for 17 years, works daily with a range of families, including those with a child facing a new diagnosis of cancer, to children undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, and sometimes patients who are in palliative care.
“I might feel inspired because some of the children are so brave,” she says. “Hopefully I’m playing a positive role in this journey that they’re going through.”
The emotional release she found while painting on her downtime grew into an ever-increasing passion.
When she moved seven years ago Green set to work buying paints and canvas to create her own works of art.
“From then, I really liked it and I thought, ‘Oh, I think there’s possibilities here,’ ” she said. “And that’s when I decided I’m going to take some classes to see if I have something here.”
Enrolling at Avenue Road School of Art and later at the Toronto School of Art, Green began exploring the world of abstract. Apart from her job, Green says nature is another source of inspiration. She walks to and from work daily, and says she’s often creating a new image in her mind while moving about outdoors. Her works vary in style depending on her mood.
“Because things are always changing, and that could be from a clinical perspective, and from an environmental perspective,” she says. “The weather has an effect as well.”
Though she only started painting a few years ago, Green’s artistic inclinations go back to childhood. A classically trained pianist, she began playing the piano as soon as she could sit up. Her husband Bill Spratt is a firefighter whose pastime is playing guitar.
Their musical hobbies are as evident in their loft as the giant canvas that adorns the high-ceiling walls. In one alcove, one of Green’s latest works, a 1.2 metre by 1.5 metre acrylic on canvas titled “Endless Journey” is surrounded by Spratt’s collection of electric guitars. The wall behind Green’s grand piano is covered in colourful canvas.
Green often waits until her husband is working a 24-hour shift before getting down to the business of painting. Because she works with such large canvas, the petite artist spreads her work out everywhere and on everything, covering with tarp anything she doesn’t want to get paint on.
Though she loves her current space, Green says renting an art studio would be a dream come true.
Today, she’s happy to showcase her work wherever she can, and pace herself as a growing artist.
“I think it’s probably a long process, unless Oprah Winfrey buys one of my paintings,” she says with a laugh.
And she’s giving something back to the place that continues to inspire her every day. She donated her work “Waves of Hope” to Oncology Day Hospital Unit at Sick Kids.
“I’m so passionate about art, so I thought it would be nice for me to show that passion and provide another kind of inspiration to the families,” she said.
Green has just wrapped up her first solo exhibit, which ran at the Wellington Street Art Gallery. Now she’s gearing up for the Toronto Art Expo, a juried exhibit set for April.
“There’s endless possibilities in abstract to me,” she says.
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