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Updated: Mar 26, 2023

Dear Art Enthusiast, As we transition into the new season, I want to take a moment to reflect on the artistic process and its connection to the world around us. From current events to our personal experiences and relationships, everything we do influences our art. As an artist, I strive to create meaningful layers in my paintings that capture the essence of my experiences and emotions.

My latest work, "Portrait of Past and Present," is an example of this approach. Using a mix of recycled materials such as old maps, book pages, antique lace, and my own photos and technical drawings, I wanted to create a unique signature with selective colors and organic applications of acrylic paint and mediums. It is an invitation for the viewer to engage with the narrative and characters, while celebrating the past and embracing the future.

large square painting of a woman's face in mixed media acrylic collage
Portrait of Past and Present, 60"x60" mixed media on canvas by Sandra Iafrate on exhibit at Toronto Artist Project

I am thrilled to announce that this painting, along with other new work, will be showcased at the upcoming Toronto Artist Project, I'm honoured to be exhibiting amongst more than 200 independent artists selected from across Canada. The event will take place from April 13-18, 2023, and I will be available to meet visitors at BOOTH 918.

This is a great opportunity for art enthusiasts to interact with artists and purchase unique, contemporary artwork directly from the source. If you are interested in attending Artist Project please visit my EXHIBITS page and sign up to receive a discount code for tickets.

STUDIO VISITS - Niagara-on-the-Lake

Additionally, I'll be hosting an Open Studio Show at my Gate Street Studio in beautiful food-and-wine-country, Niagara-on-the-Lake starting May 12, 2023 and continuing throughout summer. To schedule a visit please check my exhibits page or the link below and let me know when you will be visiting.


a painting of Niagara Falls on an easel
Work in progress 24'X36" oil on canvas

I have also been keeping busy with interesting commission work. Currently, I am working on a painting of Niagara Falls that blends historical underpainting with contemporary techniques. It is always so inspiring to capture the essence of the region's beauty and history. This painting is a work-in-progress and awaits rushing water and mist lastly. Following this is another landscape of vineyards in winter and more landscapes of protected spaces such as Algonquin Park which I hope to update on my website in coming months.


I'm also thrilled to announce a few upcoming workshops, including my Sicily Painting Holiday workshop from Oct. 1-8, 2023, and a Full-Day Niagara-on-the-Lake Workshop on August 5, 2023.

The Sicily Painting Holiday is a magical week of art, food, and travel in the Baroque areas of East Sicily. We stay in a beautiful spacious villa with our own private chef. Daily studio sessions in our large bright studio on site, will include some observational drawing and painting from olive and pomegranate trees surrounding us as well as historical stone facades, doorways and windows. We also delve into contemporary and mixed media techniques and explore abstract processes from our endless inspiration during the week. The week's excursions visit stunning towns of Noto, Marzamemi, Ragusa and Modica.

For more information and registration on this and other workshops check out the links below.

I'm also offering shorter 3-hour workshops on mixed media (Niagara-on-the-Lake) and a Spring Flower painting workshop in Toronto, May 7th, 2023 (2 spots left!). Please check my workshop page for more information and registration details.


To Benefit Kids Help Phone

As you may know I've spent the month of January creating a painting-a-day along with fellow GOLDEN Artist Educators for my annual January Challenge. I find this daily painting practice to be very important for an artist's development while adding to this theme of the Artist's Process. Each of these works, the color palette, brushwork and composition speak to my influences from flowers, antiquity and Dutch flower paintings. In all honesty, the challenge was difficult to manage along with other studio work as well as work and life outside of studio, but the idea is to create a small input every day. I am so thankful that I was able to make some small work while I continue to grow and learn as an artist. These small paintings and studies range from sizes 5"x7" to 10"x12" and are now on my website available to purchase. Once again, this year I am contributing 50% of sales from these works to benefit Kids Help Phone.

Thank you for your continued support and interest in my artwork and of course the artist's process. If you have any questions at all about the art or events mentioned here, please contact me using the form below or by email. I look forward to seeing you this spring and sharing my passion for art with you. Best regards,

Sandra Iafrate

Updated: Apr 12, 2022

Spring is quickly approaching but there is a grey cloud as we process the dramatic events taking place around the world. It has been said that “art is an expression of the heart.” I have found that my work as an artist allows me to absorb world events and express my hearts desire for peace more poignantly. Whatever your craft, be it music, painting, drawing, sculpting or dance, embrace it with vigour and purpose. Below are a number of options to engage in artistic activities in the months to come. I look forward to welcoming you to several of these events!

OPEN STUDIO in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Book Your Visit

I will be opening my Niagara-on-the-Lake studio/gallery for visitors starting May 1st, Thursday to Saturday from 11AM - 4PM and Sundays 11AM - 2PM. If you are planning to come to the Niagara Region and would like to see some new work, please schedule your individual or group visit below.

New Work for Spring

In the gallery I have select works from a new series showing figure and floral inspired by George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion." Also, I have some larger landscape paintings in oil, inspired by protected land and iconic views of Northern Ontario and Niagara. Select works are also available in print in the studio and online.

Pygmalion Series by Sandra Iafrate

This painting series inspired by classical art and literature. It combines pencil and charcoal drawing with acrylic florals inspired by Dutch flower paintings. Entitled “Pygmalion” the series of 5 paintings evolved from the narrative of George Bernard Shaw’s play which was written to support the suffragette movement in the early 20th-Century, and to subtly influence the audience. Also, Shaw’s idea is based on the ancient poem by Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book X, where the artist, Pygmalion, creates out of ivory what he considers the most beautiful and perfect woman.

The composition takes the theme and character into a mix of a classical contemporary composition which conveys a confident woman who has discovered she can be herself in spite of having learned how to be something of a “perfect” person. The figure is a strong, confident, intelligent person who is really a regular “common” person inside. My hope is that the elements in these works are perceived as bold yet elegant and poignant. Here she takes pause surrounded by a contemporary rendition of classical floral paintings. It is an old meets new. Nostalgic yet fresh and current.

Behind the Scenes

As the lead-up to these works, I created several drawings and watercolour sketches to decide on positioning and colour. This involved a wonderful photoshoot in the studio, experimenting with vintage dresses, different positioning and gestures with a model.

Many thanks go to the Shaw Festival Theatre for the loan of the costumes for this photoshoot in my studio during the pandemic spring of 2021. Also credit goes to Rijksmuseum for several images and rights to the use of elements of Dutch Flower paintings as reference. I had also arranged several floral head dresses to be used as a reference prop.

drawing of a woman's head by leonardo davinci By Leonardo da Vinci - File:Leonardo da vinci, testa di fanciulla detta la scapigliata, 1500-10 ca., disegno su tavola, 02.jpg, Public Domain,
By Leonardo da Vinci - File:Leonardo da vinci, testa di fanciulla detta la scapigliata, 1500-10 ca., disegno su tavola, 02.jpg, Public Domain,

This series was also inspired by figure paintings by John Everett Millais, the ever so delicate da Vinci drawings such as La Scapigliata, Botticelli’s Portrait of a Young Woman and The Birth of Venus, and the drawings and figure paintings of Albrecht Durer. The work shows the figure in a surreal yet meaningful environment, visually aesthetic with the portraiture partially obscured at the focal point. Like these works I want my viewers to know and agree with the figure, feel the connection of that pause and gesture.


Toronto Artist Project exhibit and sale is back live and I will be there along with over 240 contemporary artists from across Canada April 21 - 24, 2022 at Queen Elizabeth Building. You can find me at BOOTH #605. Please visit my exhibits page for tickets to this great event and use coupon code : EXHIBIT 16 to save 10% off!


If you are feeling creative and dream of experiencing an unforgettable holiday, join me as I will be offering an upcoming painting retreat in Italy this Fall, as well as a full-day retreat in Niagara-on-the-Lake this

August. These workshops fill quickly and space will be limited to 8 participants. So please let me know if you are interested. For more information visit my workshop page.

Tuscany Workshop

Countryside Near Siena, Italy

Oct. 1 - 9, 2022 (3 spots left!)

Only a few spots remaining for this wonderful week-long painting holiday at a private Tuscan villa amidst olive groves and vineyards. All you will need is your flight. Tuition, meals and excursions included.

Artist Retreat

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada

The 3rd annual artist retreat will take place in Niagara-on-the-Lake August 6, 2022 from 10AM - 4PM. The emphasis is on composition and abstract. All you need is your creative spirit and to dress for mess. Includes an artisan farm to table lunch, local wine and all art materials.


Last call to get art and GIVE! As you may know I have been selling small works from my 31-day painting challenge with 100% of proceeds going to benefit Kids Help Phone (KHP). All paintings are under $100 each and include shipping. They will be on sale for this very important fundraiser until the end of the month. See KHP fundraiser paintings here.

I will be following up with another update next month and will be including some more information on work-in-progress as well as some great tips on how to hang and install art in your home or business. Until then, take good care.

- Sandra Iafrate

Let's welcome winter with more studio time. This is a great time to work indoors; find some forgotten work-in-progress (we all have those), try something new, or even clean up the studio. So if you are not into extreme plein-air painting, then its ok to hibernate for a while and let it snow! Winter for me is a time for reinvention. The post-holiday calmness brings opportunity to evolve as an artist, and I must say I do most of my evolving during winter.

I kicked it off this season with a winter landscape.

First off, I drew with fluid acrylic paint, blocking in the horizon with the focal point being just right of centre, where the creek meets the horizon. Then I washed the background with a very pale Alizarine Crimson and Hansa yellow, later covering most of it with an atmospheric haze of light blue/grey. Then I lightly suggested trees in the distance, lots of them, bringing the trees closer to the forefront with stronger contrast. The creek and rocks were mainly done with a pallet knife as was the settling snow. I brought more texture in the forefront with titanium white and light molding paste, yet I kept the background thin and grey. For the interesting texture of the bark and snow, I have GOLDEN Artist Colours to thank. I used the GOLDEN acrylic line of colours, mediums and grounds and found their molding and shaping mediums ideal for this. I loved getting the bulkiness of the snow using light molding paste and pouring mediums and conversly using the thin fluid acrylics for water and backgrounds.

I will be adding some of these techniques to my mixed media and landscape classes, and most definitely to my workshop in Italy this summer. Visit my workshop page and I hope you join me as we evolve in the studio this winter!

Discovery Trail in Winter

Discovery Trail in Winter - 30"x48" acrylic on canvas by Sandra Iafrate

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