Stanzie Tooth is a painter & curator. Her work has been exhibited in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, including a solo show at the Canadian Heritage Building. She graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD) in 2007 with an award of distinction for excellence in painting.
This is one of Artscape’s first buildings. Artscape’s a not-for-profit that manages artist studios in the city for lower market rents. It’s a really great organization. They’ve had this building for 20-something years and the space I’m in used to be their offices so I literally work in the space that was someone’s tiny office.
Because of the limitations of my space, I’ve started painting right on the walls. It’s interesting how you adapt to the space around you. My brushwork started to get a lot tighter and more intricate. I work on unstretched canvas so that I can roll it up and store it away. There’s probably 100 paintings in the corner. It doesn’t crack because I’m not using varnishes or anything. It’s pretty flexible but you still have to be careful with it.
I’m always painting. People have different processes but I’m always working and after awhile, the paintings become self-referential. It’s a continuation. Some people work on set series but I’ve never thought that way. There’s consistent imagery in a lot of my work but it’s just the development of the painting of those things over time.
I work at 9-5 at an art gallery, at Lonsdale Gallery, and I come to my studio for full days on my two days off. I also try to come in at least three nights a week after work. When I come here after work, I’m just here to paint. On full days, it ends up being more of a meandering process. I paint for awhile, get a coffee, paint for awhile and then read a book for a bit. I wish I had more time like that because that’s when you get the best work done, when you’re not forcing it.
I have a lot of art journals and magazines around but I read a lot of fiction. I’ve been re-reading Kurt Vonnegut lately. I have such a Vonnegut crush. Half of my paintings from my last show are titled after phrases from his books. I’m totally in love with him.
I listen to a lot of music in here too. My boyfriend is a musician and a DJ so he puts together mixes for me. It works out nicely with us because he DJs at night so I come here to paint. I think if I was with someone who didn’t have a similar crazy schedule it would be a little harder.
My wall is a collection of images. There’s no real rhyme or reason to it. I use photos as a starting point. Some of them are my own photos, some of them are found photos online or other places. This is really bad but sometimes, when I was in university, I would go to house parties and steal a photo off a fridge if I really liked it. I felt really bad about it later.
I leave stuff up and forget about it. There’s a Sally Mann photo. I really like her work. There’s a lot of alt process photographers that I like because their process is almost like painting. Another photo I stole from a friend’s computer. I think I like it because I dropped water on it and part of it started to dissolve. There’s some photos I’ve had up on my walls for so long that they’ve gotten paint on them. I threw away some crusty ones when I moved studios and I regret it.
It’s therapeutic to come here because I get really cranky when I don’t get time to paint in the week. You need that outlet, right? Especially when you’re so busy. It’s nice having those things that are relaxing for you. I think people end up choosing to do this because it’s a big part of their life. Because you love it. I thought about it the other day–I work in an art gallery, I paint at night and then I read art journals while taking breaks. It’s kind of ridiculous but you get so into it that you end up immersing yourself completely.
–Stanzie Tooth, as told to Studio Beat
Photos by D.A. Cooper