For Christine Hirtescu, finding happiness through art was more important than finding money.
“I didn’t pursue art initially for fears of financial gain,” the Ontario College of Art and Design student said Saturday. “But … ultimately everyone needs to do something that makes them feel good about the talents that they possess.”
Hirtescu was glad for the chance to exhibit her work in what was her first art show, which has received positive feedback, she said.
“I’m really proud of the show,” she said. “I had heard about this great opportunity that the Toronto library has to showcase artists’ work in one of their many locations.
“They insure your work, and the artist gets to keep what they earn from what they sell.”
Hirtescu’s exhibit featured pieces that draw on her childhood and the Willowdale neighbourhood where she grew up. Some were paintings of park scenes, others of the sun glowing off buildings, including one called “Golden Red Sunrise, Forest Laneway”.
This oil painting, which depicts two buildings catching the sun’s rays, is her favourite piece, she said. Hirtescu walked past the buildings every morning on her way to the Sheppard subway station to get school downtown. Then one morning, she said, the sun gave the buildings a glow she knew she had to capture.
“I carried it with me for a long time,” she said. “It was my pathway.
“I carry those memories to this day [and am] happy to memorialize them.”
Hirtescu said she’s had an interest in art since she was a child but only started taking it seriously a few years ago.
She attended Earl Haig Secondary School, well-known for its fine arts program, then went on to the University of Toronto where she graduated with a degree in English and art history. After that, she took night classes at George Brown College to get up to speed with her art.
The library holds exhibits every month but turnout greatly fluctuates, Librarian Winnie Leung said.
Artists wanting to show their work submit an application about a year in advance of the date of he exhibit.
Hirtescu said she draws inspiration from walks in places that are personal to her. She also draws on literature, music and colours.
Her influences, she added, include Lucian Freud, Edward Hopper and Mary Cassatt — artists, she said, that are able to say a lot in a single composition.
“It’s like watching a movie and seeing what can be created in one frame,” Hirtescu said. “Artists can tell a story with a single image.”