As a mother of two busy toddlers, I knew that returning to the corporate world of graphic design wasn't for me. So, I followed the advice of friends and swapped my computer mouse for a paintbrush and a corporate boardroom for an atelier. In 2005, I began teaching art classes in my backyard studio and discovered a passion for working with children. "Whenever I hosted playdates, I'd get the kids creating something fabulous. Friends encouraged me to teach art classes, so I went for it, starting with a three-week session of summer camp," I said. "I'm grateful to be doing what I love: working with kids and creating art."
With a background in illustration and fine art and a degree in Graphic Design from OCAD University in Toronto, my experience as a graphic designer included designing logos, identities, collateral, websites, and branding for corporate clients like Ironside Technologies, IBM, Scott Paper, and Sprint Canada.
In 2005, I opened Picasso's Garage, a studio dedicated to inspiring creativity. What started as a three-week summer camp blossomed into a thriving art school offering three 11-week-long after-school art classes five days a week, along with an additional annual five-week-long summer camp session (2014-2018). My loyal following of students returned year after year. "They are a constant source of inspiration and have challenged me to broaden my knowledge of art history. I'm so grateful for a job that doesn't seem like work most of the time," I said.
Enrollment in my programs flourished over the years. Over 600 students explored more than 300 different artists through my classes across time thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied parents and students. Demand led me to expand into a larger venue at Toronto's Evergreen Brick Works during the summer camp months (2014-2018). Children who attended my summer camp were immersed in creative projects inspired by various artists and techniques, including drawing, painting, sculpture, and printmaking. In addition to three-and-a-half hours of hands-on, artistic expression, my students benefited from the tranquil natural surroundings of the Brick Works.
In 2017, I expanded Picasso's Garage services by offering art-based psychotherapy. Due to the pandemic restrictions in 2020, group art lessons were no longer feasible. So, I have since shifted my focus exclusively to providing individual art therapy for children and youth facing challenges related to parental separation or divorce, childhood anxiety, and childhood depression. Using imagery, colour, and shape as a part of this creative therapeutic process allows children to express thoughts and feelings that would otherwise be difficult to articulate.
Through my studio, I strive to nurture creativity as a way to improve children's mental health. I believe that being creative is integral to a prevention model, actively promoting artistic expression in my studio and community. My commitment to inspiring creativity has earned me recognition and accolades, including being named one of the top five "Things for Kids to Do This Summer" by Toronto Life Magazine (2016) and a top ten "Best Summer Day Camps in Toronto" by SavvyMom.ca.
TATI | Toronto Art Therapy Institute · Art Therapy Masters Diploma Jan. 2015 – Sept. 2018
OCADu | OCAD Universiy · Bachelor Graphic Design (BGd) Honours Jan. 2013 – Dec. 2014
OCA | Ontario Collage of Art · Communication & Design Honours Sept. 1992 – Jun. 1995
CPR | St. Johns Ambulance · First Aid Adult – CPR+AED Feb. 2022
PRAXIS | Dr. Janina Scarlet · Superhero Therapy - Full course Sept. 2019
OISE | University of Toronto · Solution Focused Brief Therapy (2/6) Jul. 2019 – present
ASIST | LivingWorks Applied · Suicide Intervention Skills Training May 2019
RP | CRPO · College of Registered Psychotherapist Feb. 2019 – present
Feb. 2005 – present
Picasso's Garage Art Studio; Owner & Founder, Art Therapist & Instructor
Sole proprietor. Managing all company dealings, including all communications, social media, website design & management, SEO, student admissions, lesson plans, studio management, management of staff ()
Jan. 2020 – Mar. 2020
Red Door Shelter (Level 1 families in hiding) Art Therapist
Art Therapy Group for children to manage stresses, anxiety and anger through creative expression. (Open Group)
Jan. 2019 – June 2023
Youthdale Integrated Education Day Program (IEDP); Art Therapist
IEDP is a TDSB partnership program for students 14-21 to earn credits in addition to mental health treatment. As the onsite Art Therapist, I develop and manage all aspects of the art therapy program. Responsible for the planning, implementation and evaluation of group sessions and individual therapy occurring weekly during the school year. (Closed Group)
Sept. 2016 – Dec. 2016
Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic and the Gardiner Museum; Practicum site, Art Therapy Intern
Co-facilitator for the Expressive Arts Therapy group, Transformation by Fire: Women overcoming violence through clay. Participating in all group aspects from planning to execution and taking the lead on social action and media efforts creating press releases and the first exhibition booklet for the program. (Closed Group)
Sept. 2015 – May 2016
Hincks Dellcrest (Children's Mental HealthAgency); Practicum site, Art Therapy Intern (Presently SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health (CMH))
Clients' treatment services include assessment, individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, and single-session therapy. Interns provide treatment services to a broad range of clients, increasing independence and supervisory support and oversight.
Sept. 2005 – Jan. 2015
LolliPop Art; Principle & Senior Creative
Managing all company dealings, including sales, project management, and client services. LolliPop Art produces Andy Warhol style digitally created portraits from original photography, printed on various materials.
Sept. 1999 – Jul. 2003
Clarification Inc.; Principle & Senior Designer
Sole proprietor. Managing all company dealings, including sales, project management and client services. Design and produce print and web projects for well known corporate clients including Ironside, Scott Papers, Disney, Days Inns, Time Magazine, Bell Canada, Via Rail, RIM, EndGame...& more
Nov. 1997 – Sept. 1999
Ember; Senior Designer
Managed & produced print and web-based projects for major corporate clients such as BMO, Canada Trust, IBM, Ontario Government and more.
Dec. 1995 – Nov. 1997
Realm Communications; Manager & Designer
Independently run the Toronto office for a Vancouver-based firm. Responsibilities included all aspects of the business for this location. Managed & produced print and web-based projects. Clients included Sprint Canada and Discover Canada.
As an art therapist, I primarily work with children who are experiencing anxiety, depression, self-regulation issues, and social or behavioral changes related to their parents' divorce. I practice art therapy using a Humanistic approach and offer skill-building as a psychoeducational component to strengthen their resilience. In addition to treating these specific challenges, I believe that nurturing creativity is crucial in a prevention model to improve children's mental health. That's why I actively promote creative expression in my studio and community, encouraging everyone to find joy and healing through the arts.
Picasso's Garage Art Studio was recognized as the #3 best place for "Kids at Play" in Toronto Life's Top 300 "the City's Best" (2014). In 2016 Picasso's Garage Art Camp ranked Top 5 "Things for Kids to Do this Summer" in Toronto Life Magazine and as Top 10 "Best Summer Day Camps in Toronto" by SavvyMom.ca.