Reflecting on an Ottawa Local Artist


By Jennifer Horvath on April 5, 2017

Last week we had the pleasure to meet Tiffany April, a Montreal born local artist now painting in Ottawa.

Walking into her studio at The Rectory Art House on Murray Street, you could feel the passion that this young artist had as if it were spilling off the canvas. If her colourful floral blazer was not enough of a hint for her enthusiastic desire for art, her studio sure was. Art pieces of all different sizes lay stacked against the wall of her sunny studio, and in a neat row, her collection of brushes were laid out on the desk. The brushes themselves were clean, but the handles were all layered with each piece of art it once created.


Tiffany did her undergrad at Concordia University in Montreal and stayed an extra year to work on her art. She then did 3 months in Berlin for the Takt Artist Residency. Takt is an independent art organization where artists from all over the world come together to partake in a hub of creativity to curate their work and explore their ideas. The city and other artists around them in the program inspire the students and allow them to expand their imagination. It was in this program that Tiffany was introduced to reflective surfaces and materials. She was walking by a storefront and took a photo. The result was a still of that moment with the camera lens captured in the reflection of a store window that had clowns in the background. It was then layered by the reflection of the streets that the facade faced. This stacked composition inspired Tiffany, and thus where her signature overlay of paint began.


The styles of painting that Tiffany creates are brightly coloured portraits and reflective pieces that have a combination of people, place, and things layered in them. She has an ability to capture it all on a single canvas with such detail that it allows you to experience all elements individually and differently at every glance. You become mesmerized, and can’t help but get lost in her art as though you too were a reflection in her painting, still and observing. The precisions in her paintings are incredible and so real that she even Face Swaps with them on Snap Chat to her friends.


When I asked what painting was her favourite, she pointed to a navy and yellow portrait of a man shaving, “François”. The loose brush strokes and basic colours of this large portrait demand the question, who is he? Smiling coyly, Tiffany explained that it was an ex-boyfriend that she began to paint of him while being together. The reason for this piece being her favourite was not about the subject, rather it was about the movements she experienced while creating this portrait. It was the first time she allowed herself to move freely and not be so precise with her strokes or brushes. A beautiful sense of unmethodical abstraction amongst this realistic relationship was found in the mix of oil and acrylic paint. This feeling of it looking ‘unfinished’, but stopping before it became too neat is a feeling that Tiffany is still trying to capture and recreate in her future paintings.


For being a young artist, Tiffany has many works under her palette already. I was intrigued as to what her process was when eyeing the beginning of a new painting she was just beginning to work on. There are five thought out steps:

  1. Tiffany begins her paintings by choosing an overall colour for the entire canvas. It is a colour that she finds within the photo, which she took of the subject.
  2. She then sketches out the entire piece in detail.
  3. She then patches it in and focuses on different areas of the canvas.
  4. Tiffany adds order through layering her paints and subjects.
  5. Lastly, some of the collaging effect, the style of art she began her career with, comes into play. She tapes off sections of the canvas to get crisp lines amongst her organic strokes. This adds to the dynamic and layering of her work.


Tiffany has a true talent for portraits and while other artists avoid painting hands due to their difficulty, she has mastered them beautifully and often draws many different hands in a single piece. Why hands?


“ You get a feeling about a person by looking at their hands.” – Tiffany April


Tiffany was recently accepted to Ottawa University in September to do her Masters in Fine Arts. A very exciting journey lays ahead for this artist, and we are excited to see the beautiful works she creates along the way.