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This is the Toronto artist making mesmerizing sand art videos – blogTO



Four years ago, James Sun was a mechanical engineer working at a job he hated. 

Then one day the North York resident saw a video of sand art on the Internet. “I said, oh my god, I want to learn this,” says Sun. 

Sun quit his job and flew back to Hebei, China, where he’s originally from. Over the course of a month, he learned the art of creating 2D and 3D images using only coloured sand from three different teachers.

The 34-year-old a.k.a. FallingInSand now has over 3.2 million followers on Tik Tok and nearly 90K on Instagram, where his work—portraits, logos, and animals made up of millions of grains of sand—has gone viral numerous times.

He’s worked with a slew of huge clients: the NFL, where he made art for all 32 teams this past Super Bowl, the NHL, to promote the playoffs, the NBA, and Universal Music UK are just a few. 

It’s not surprising that Sun gets around 20 to 30 e-mail requests a day for his work. Watching timelapses of Sun painstakingly push around sand in a glass over the course of hours, culminating in a big reveal, is incredibly satisfying. 

Sun has a studio but due to COVID-19 now works from his home at Yonge and Finch. 

He uses around 66 colours of sand to create his art. It takes about 6 to 10 hours to bring portraits to life, like incredible depictions of Kobe Bryant, Kanye West, and Angelina Jolie.

James Sun’s sand art has become incredibly popular on social media platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok. Photo via FallingInSand.

Sun’s favourite project so far, a promo for the sports YouTube show Dude Perfect, took a whopping 80 hours to make. 

For logos, it’s easier, averaging around a couple of hours. He gets a least several hundred dollars for those, and way more for intricate pieces.

FallingInSand’s transition to success isn’t that shocking, considering social media’s ability to propel just about anyone to global fame.

What’s most impressive is, aside from the meticulous artistry, the one-track mind that got Sun here in the first place.

“When I was a mechanic, I didn’t like the job, I felt like I was wasting my time,” says Sun. “This is what I love.”

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Art Fx #10: "Spring Melt" by Janine Marson – Huntsville Doppler – Huntsville Doppler



Art Fx is a year-long series on Huntsville Doppler featuring Huntsville-area visual artists.

“Spring Melt” is a framed original oil on birch board measuring 8″ x 10″ and is painting #7 from Janine Marson’s Rural Roots Collection, for which she created 50 paintings to honour her roots at Oxtongue.

“Spring Melt” was painted on location at Boyne Creek in Dwight during the spring melt. “The deep mysterious blues contrasted beautifully with the bright white snow and caught my eye enough to want to paint it,” said Janine. “I pulled off to the side of the road and grabbed my trusty paint box to head down closer to the water to sit and paint. I’ve seen this annual melt year after year and it always cheers me up to see the melting ice and trickling waters usher in the promise of spring.

“Next time you drive out towards Dwight, take a peek on your right hand side and you may just catch a glimpse of this ray of hope.”

“Spring Melt” is painting #7 from Janine Marson’s Rural Roots Collection. It is available for $375. (supplied)

About the artist:

Janine Marson is a seasoned artist with a B.A. Fine Art from the University of Guelph and a Diploma of Art and Design from Georgian College. Her art career spans over 30 years creating works of art in all media. Janine shares her wealth of knowledge with students at the Haliburton School of Art and Design and out of her own studio in Huntsville. She created a wildly successful exhibition in 2017 of 100 paintings to honour the 100-year anniversary of Tom Thomson’s death. It was followed by another series called Rural Roots, 50 oil paintings that honoured her roots at Oxtongue, which was revealed June 29, 2019 at the Oxtongue Craft Cabin and Gallery. In 2020 Janine exhibited in the group show LANDED: a Gallery Exhibition Celebrating the Land with her colleagues at The Barn, Hillside.

Janine’s studio is at 2-6 West St. N. in Huntsville. Connect with her at 705.789.6843, online at, or on the following social media channels: Facebook @JanineMarsonArt, Instagram @janinemarson, Twitter @throughtomseyes, and LinkedIn @janinemarson.

See more local art in Doppler’s Art Fx series here.

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How home-office video calls are helping to boost art sales –



Videoconferencing has become so common during the pandemic that “Zoom” is being used as a verb. We zoom friends and colleagues, and they peer inside our bedrooms, basements and condos, perusing our bookshelves and decor.

Many of us worry about what’s there, what it says about us, and want a change.

“People are finally looking at what’s behind them as they stare at their screen,” said Andrea Rinaldo, co-owner of the Butter Art Gallery in Collingwood, Ont. “And they don’t like what they see.”

That has prompted something of a renaissance for the gallery, and the local artists it represents, in what has become the best year for sales in its existence.

“What we’ve introduced is the idea of Zoom Art,” Rinaldo said.

“Something that might also offer the people that they’re on the call with [some] eye candy,” added her business partner Suzanne Steeves. “Something to look at besides the books.”

Art sales are booming at this Collingwood, Ont., gallery co-owned by Andrea Rinaldo, right, and Suzanne Steeves, with customers wanting ‘something other than books’ for the background of their Zoom calls. (David Common/CBC)

Sales have skyrocketed at the gallery as customers have sought to spice up their backgrounds. From smaller pieces for $45, to larger works of fine art selling for well into five digits, the gallery aims to be accessible to all buyers — even those who just want to browse options on social media.

Exponential growth in videoconferencing

The use of videoconferencing ballooned during the early months of the pandemic, with Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Go To Meeting and a series of other services showing enormous growth in both the number of users and amount of use.

Zoom ended 2019 with 10 million daily meeting participants, for example. When the pandemic was declared in March, that rose to 200 million. By April, daily users surged to 300 million, and have kept growing.

Simultaneously, people began to focus on the backgrounds of their calls. Social media feeds posted some of the best (and the worst), and people passed judgment on RoomRater on Twitter and other forums.

“Instead of the power suit, it’s now the power art,” said Steeves at the gallery.

Andrea Rinaldo said the gallery-going experience has changed for some. ‘If they don’t see something on the wall here to stand in front of, we just lift one up … and they stand in front of that piece so they can make that comparison and see which piece behind them makes them look the best.’ (David Common/CBC)

Working from home has fundamentally altered the gallery experience for some. People used to come to look at the art — now they come to stand with their backs to it.

For those who come into the gallery, “if they don’t see something on the wall here to stand in front of, we just lift one up … and they stand in front of that piece,” Rinaldo said. “So they can make that comparison and see which piece behind them makes them look the best.”

And during lockdowns, they’re offered Zoom or Facetime tours of the options available.

There are also some additional considerations when choosing art for a wall featured in Zoom calls, said Rinaldo.

“Is it too distracting for the people who are viewing you? Are they going to be paying attention to what you’re saying or are they going to be focusing on the art?”

As director of sales and group services for the nearby Blue Mountain Resort, Helen Stukator wanted something bold to help boost online pitches and client interactions.

“I’m very used to being face-to-face with my clients, entertaining them, wining and dining and having those opportunities to really build a relationship. And if it’s just a boring wall or a white wall behind me, it doesn’t have the same effect.”

Stukator went with a painting from Ontario artist Grace Afonso, and said she is delighted by the response.

“People really like it. You can’t not see it,” she said. “It’s a conversation starter and it’s personal.”

Helen Stukator, seen on a video call with her new background painting by Grace Afonso. (David Common/CBC)

Expanding audience

Artists are also surprised by the extra attention.

“It’s fun and exciting for me,” said the Hamilton-based Afonso, stunned by the sudden exposure of her art to far more people. “It’s bringing a little cheer to everybody else and it’s bringing cheer to me to paint it.

“Hopefully they’re getting a little peace and happiness by looking at it, because Zoom calls can be quite stressful,” she said.

The artist knows a lot about stress herself, working as a full-time charge nurse at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. She works on crisis and psychosis cases in the hospital’s eating disorder unit, which has seen a substantial increase in patients during the pandemic.

So back in her art studio on days off, it’s an “opportunity to recenter yourself … go back to that place where you’re peaceful and joyful and calm.”

Grace Afonso said her income from painting has at least tripled since last March, with many customers buying larger and more expensive pieces for the background of their video calls. (Ousama Farag/CBC)

The artist is also excited that her art is being seen by more than just visitors to someone’s home. They’re now being shown to a much wider audience through the video calls of those who have purchased her works.

It’s not what she expected from the pandemic.

“I thought with COVID, everything for art would kind of die down and it would just be quiet time for us artists in the studio just to paint,” she said, “I didn’t expect everybody to be so interested in what we’re doing right now.”

Afonso has painted about 75 works over the pandemic year — similar to an ordinary year — but this year all have sold quickly. The greatest difference is size. In COVID times, there has been demand for larger pieces, which equates for the artist to a higher selling price. She said her income from painting has at least tripled since last March.

Meanwhile, a banner year was not what the founding partner of Butter Art Gallery expected when the pandemic first hit.

“We were very worried,” Steeves said. “We were having discussions about how long do we stay closed and not make money. But surprisingly, we did make money.”

Butter Gallery co-owner Suzanne Steeves worried how badly the business would be hit by the pandemic, but 2020 would turn out to be its best year yet. (David Common/CBC)

The gallery’s contemporary art collection has also caught the attention of a growing internet-based community, who peruse the ever-changing collection online.

“We had a conversation with a couple,” Rinaldo said. “They [told us they] got their glasses of wine, put up their big screen together, and flipped through our repertoire of art. And that’s what they did for the whole evening.”

The couple called up the next day and arranged to pick up two pieces curbside.

The success has trickled to artists across Ontario and Quebec, with surging demand creating a constantly revolving selection of available pieces at the gallery.

“I just think it’s really important to support local arts,” Stukator said, with her new painting prominently hung on the wall opposite her laptop. “It keeps the community going. It shows appreciation and it makes our community beautiful.”

WATCH | The National’s feature on video calls driving sales of art:

A small art gallery in Collingwood, Ont., has seen a boom in sales during the pandemic and it’s at least in part from people buying ‘Zoom art’ to make video calls a little brighter. 4:22

Watch full episodes of The National on CBC Gem, the CBC’s streaming service.

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Victoria art centre offers free therapeutic art sessions – Goldstream News Gazette – Goldstream News Gazette



The Bateman Foundation hopes to harness the healing power of creativity with a series of free therapeutic art sessions.

Materials are provided for the free drop-in sessions, and an on-site art therapist will be available for assistance or mental wellness insight.

“It’s learning about art and nature and using those as tools for wellness,” says Lauren Ball, spokesperson for the Bateman Foundation. “We (wanted) to help people to feel a bit more powerful in their daily lives.”

In the summer of 2020 the foundation launched the Wellness Project, adapting its annual Nature Sketch program for the pandemic and providing it free of charge to small groups in the community.

The new drop-in therapeutic art sessions are an extension of that program, says Bell, and a direct response to the effects of the ongoing pandemic.

READ ALSO: Nature Sketch program returns in Victoria with COVID-19 safety protocols

“Knowing that anxiety and depression are on the rise on this mass scale because of social isolation, we wanted to help in some way,” she said.

“It’s not about being a really great artist, it’s not necessarily about the final result of what you create, it’s about tapping into the creative potential and creative energy that exists within all of us, and using that to find some sense of joy, some sense of peace.”

Art therapist Kaitlin McManus will be on site to help participants who want to discover meaning in their artwork while they are creating.

All ages and experience level are welcome. Four people can participate simultaneously for 30 minutes each, unless there is no one waiting to join, in which case artists can stay longer.

Sessions run twice a week at the Bateman Gallery at 300-470 Belleville St. on Tuesday evenings from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Appointments are not necessary.

READ ALSO: Renowned photographer’s work captured at the Bateman Gallery

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