“A Day in the Life” with Toronto Mixed Media Painter Teri Donovan

The paintings of Teri Donovan are fleshy and real, not realistic. Sometimes they employ collage, and sometimes they go beyond collage toward filmic montage – sharply cut images spliced together forming a narrative. And when they are strictly painted, depicting real people living in imagined or real architectural space, the figures and background merge to become a single story. Just like her depictions of people, objects and figures are placed within the picture plane or window, like one might place a doll in a doll house, the paintings act out a scene. Technique, content, and meaning merge together.

Painting pictures is what Teri has been doing all her life. With degrees in visual art and teaching, she is currently producing the best work of her life. I first met her when we both were artist-members of Propeller Gallery in Toronto. I recall a piece she did for a show curated by Olga Korper (Refuse to Die). Teri’s piece emerged from the wall, literally, it was a cascading dress made up of crumpled rejection letters. Teri is powerful and vulnerable. Two important characteristics for those who dare to express themselves in public. An artist does many things, but it is who they are that counts the most.

-Written by Dimitri Papatheodorou

Teri Donovan
A typical day working on a painting in my small studio.
Teri Donovan
The studio wall.
Admin work at the computer. Adjusting an image in Photoshop.
Current pile of books and magazines already read, or about to be read.
Mixing colours, and getting ready to paint.
Two paintings recently installed at Gladstone House, on view until the end of 2023.
Teri Donovan
Keeping up with social media.
Teri Donovan
Coffee break in the backyard with partner David.


Which neighbourhood are you in?

I live in the east end of Toronto on a street that’s two blocks long. It’s a wonderful place, where people know each other, and the kids play together. There are people who’ve been here for decades and whose children have moved on, as well as families with teenagers, and new families with babies and toddlers. The highlight of the year is our annual street party where everyone gets together to enjoy food, music, games, conversation, and laughs. The window in my home studio looks out on the street and it’s nice to see some of the comings and goings while I work.

What do you do?

I taught art for many years, but now that I’ve stopped, I have much more time to spend in the studio. I’m primarily a mixed media painter, and over the years have incorporated various combinations of encaustic, oil, acrylic, and collage in my work. My paintings are generally realistic, but there are always abstract elements, along with pattern and texture. I usually paint on wood panels, but also use canvas. My favourite substrate is Mylar because of the way the paint glides on it. I’ve worked in a range of sizes from as small as 8 x 8 inches to as large as 70 x 84 inches.

What are you currently working on?

Currently, I’m working on a series of still-life paintings around issues related to climate change, as well as the ensuing implications, specifically those concerning food. I plan to make approximately sixteen of these paintings and present them in a two-person exhibition next Spring. I’m also completing another series of small still-life paintings for a group exhibition that will take place during the Christmas season.

Where can we find your work?

At the moment, I have seven paintings on view until the end of the year at Gladstone House in Toronto. Also, one of my largest paintings is included in an exhibition at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, “Alexandra Luke: Push and Pull.” My work is a painting of Alexandra Luke herself. Another of my works, a large encaustic called Greenhouse Effect, is in the Aird Gallery’s online exhibition, “Abstracts”. At present, I’m not represented by a commercial gallery, but my work can be seen on my website and on Instagram.


About Emilea Semancik 105 Articles
Emilea Semancik was born in North Vancouver. Emilea has always always wanted to freelance her own pieces and currently writes for the Vancouver Guardian. She is also a recipe author working towards publishing her own series of recipe books. You can find her recipes on Instagram. @ancestral.foods