Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I was born in Parskville, NY in 1947. My grandmother owned a kosher hotel and farm, which was run by my father, aunts, and uncles. My interest in art began early – I was around 10 when I received my first lessons and was supported by my mother, a dedicated nurse. My mother was always presenting art books to me and my sister. I inherited the gift from my father, who was a very creative man. In the neighbouring town of Liberty, there was a Fire Prevention Week poster contest which I won three years in a row. In high school, I majored in art all four years and received an award upon graduation. I received a scholarship to NYC’s Fashion Institute of Technology, where I majored in fashion illustration and advertising. I became interested in portraiture in one of the fine art classes. After graduating in 1967, I studied portrait painting at Art Student League with William Draper, Everett William Kintsler, and painting with Julian Levy. I was fortunate to win several scholarships from ASL – I became a life member. I lived in Israel, where I continued with my art and was influenced by the people there. For the past 46 years, I have lived in Toronto and work as an interior designer.
What inspired you to become an artist?
Nothing in particular, it just happened.
What is your specialty?
I am currently concentrating on pastels, especially oil pastels but enjoy painting in oil as well. I have also worked with watercolour, pen and ink, and pencil.
How and where do you work?
I work primarily in my studio at home.
What is the most indispensable item in your studio?
Me. If I don’t get myself there, it will be difficult to produce more artwork.
Where do you take your inspiration? Are you pursuing any themes?
Oftentimes, when I see a photograph or a scene from real life, I get inspired. I enjoy Jewish themes and like to dress up my subjects in Hasidic garb, but I also love still life, landscape, and portraying children.
What are your favourite items in your current collection?
My children paintings. There is one oil I did around 11 years ago of my granddaughter with a solemn expression, standing outside my studio door. I recently completed an oil pastel of three men in taleisim with a little boy forming a moustache with the tzitzis. I like to do things with a bit of humour.
How do you know when a piece is finished?
That’s a good question. When you know you don’t want to overwork it and your little voice says, “It’s enough.”
Do you do bespoke work?
What was the first artwork you ever sold?
When I was 17, I sold a pointillistic oil painting of an old woman on a bench with pigeons.
Which project have you enjoyed working on the most so far?
Last Pesach I was in Tuscany, Italy, where everything was inspirational! I did a few of the scenes from Pitigliano, San Gimignano, and Siena – all beautiful.
What do you want to achieve with your work and what are your wishes for the future?
I like when people appreciate what I do.
Where can we find your work?
© Sima Weinreb