March Member of the Month: Emilia Jajus
Welcome to Member of the Month, a new feature on the Scarborough Arts website! Every month, we’ll be profiling a different Scarborough Arts member. If you’re a member and would like to be profiled, send an email to news AT scarborougharts.com for more information.
How long have you been a member of Scarborough Arts?
I became a member of Scarborough Arts about a year ago when I was painting a big mural at the Danforth and Warden underpass. The mural (designed by De Anne Lamirande) depicts a history of Scarborough. As a resident of Etobicoke, I had not been very familiar with a history of this part of Toronto. The mural helped me to do research to learn about the Bluffs, Elizabeth Simcoe, Bell Estate, and other important elements. Working almost every day for four months and interacting with local people helped me to appreciate this community.
What kind of art do you practice, and how long have you been practicing it?
I have been practicing for seven years. My main avenue of art practice is painting murals. My murals can be found in public places (such as underpasses, retaining walls, Bell boxes, traffic signal boxes), restaurants, cafes, and other businesses, as well as private homes. Custom murals immediately create a powerful statement and make owners, guests, and customers alike feel welcome. I take pride in bringing together the location, elements, surface, history, and mood of each space into one cohesive, expressive work of art. I enjoy working with every client to paint a piece that is uniquely their own using their vision, subjects, and personality. Murals and paintings instantly create an atmosphere of tranquility, hometown hospitality, creativity, or any mood to match a home, business, or community. Clients and customers are constantly amazed and intrigued by 3D murals and the exceptional realism they create as well as the beautiful, engaging effects of traditional artwork on an unconventional display.
My other avenue is painting animals—mainly pet portraits. I enjoy working with pets and their person to express the unique bond that exists between them. Every pet is as unique as its owner, and I love painting the signature personality of each companion. I combine a keen eye for character with expert techniques to create lifelike textures, expressive eyes and soft, animated faces. The unique energy and affection of each pet glows through with genuine illustrations of their outward appearance and spontaneous poses.
Tell us about the piece we’re featuring today.
In 2012, I was selected to paint a Bell box at Danforth and Woodbine (beside Value Village). The theme was “Danforth History.” I had found an old photograph from 1912 in Toronto Archives that really inspired me. Only when I was signing the painting did I realize that exactly 100 years had passed…
Where is your favourite place in Scarborough to go for inspiration?
Kingston Road—I love driving along this street trying to spot all the murals along the road. They beautifully portray a development of the area. I have enjoyed doing it with my friend De Anne Lamirande, who grew up in Scarborough and is very familiar with a history behind the paintings.
What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve ever gotten?
In 2008, just when I started practicing my art full-time, I met Stephen Gillberry, a well-established artist. Despite being very busy during the Artist Project show, he took his time and told me about his artistic journey. I will never forget what he told me: “You will struggle for the first five years, but it will get easier after.” These words have helped me many times throughout the years. And yes, it does get easier after five years! My last two years have been very successful.