Neighbourhood Spotlight: Bayview Village Artist Carol Knowlton-Dority - Distinctive Advisors Inc.

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November 13, 2015

Neighbourhood Spotlight: Bayview Village Artist Carol Knowlton-Dority

Awakening #1

Every neighbourhood in Toronto is rich with culture and talented residents who form a unique community that people come to know as their home. We met Carol Knowlton-Dority, a local artist and educator in the Bayview Village neighbourhood who offered to take us on a journey into one of her many masterpieces.


When I look at a painting, I ask myself, “What do I see?” I begin simply to make a list of whatever comes to mind. As the list comes to fruition, I become aware that the painting is becoming a mirror to my personal thoughts and feelings.

I showed my painting, Awakening, #1, to my friend, Irene.  When I asked her what she saw in the painting, she said, “I see a woman in an ambiguous landscape. But unlike the landscape, the woman has a defined, positive form.” Irene’s observation was that the woman in the painting moves from darkness to light, as though she is encountering and negotiating the uncertainties of personal experience.

My paintings invite you to step into an awakened state of inner consciousness.

They offer a way of entering and exploring the known and unknown reaches within us.

We live in a complex world: always changing, yet ever the same.  Our life experiences challenge our values, disturb our thoughts, expose our vulnerabilities, make us laugh and inspire us to love.

I asked others what they saw when they looked at the painting:

Kimberly saw a woman on the side of a cliff. “I’m not sure if she is going up or over something, but she is looking back for guidance.” Don saw the setting as fearsome and foreboding. Madeleine felt drawn into this woman’s journey. The moment depicted in the painting shows a pregnant pause in the action. Madeleine asked, “Will we travel together from this point on, or is this the place where we go our separate ways?”

When we allow ourselves to look at a painting and consider what we see, the experience becomes enlivening. We come to know ourselves more intimately.

When hearing what others see in a painting, I receive a view into their inner thoughts and feelings. This is a dynamic process that has the potential to develop in me a deeper sympathy for others.

Knowing ourselves more intimately, and feeling empathy for others are markers of an awakened state of inner consciousness. The value of the simple practice of asking “What do I see?” when looking at a painting, I feel contributes greatly to my ability to negotiate a complex world.

Carol Knowlton-Dority

Visual Artist/Educator  |  Follow me on Twitter  |  Visit my Blog  |  Connect with me on LinkedIn

Learn more about Bayview Village or find homes in the area.


  1. A terrific painting by an accomplished artist. I love the colours of the sky and the use of shade and lighting on the entire painting, especially the sky and the female subject. Bravo! Did you know she also painted some of the Toronto Moose?!

  2. I see a young woman leaving her past behind and entering a bright future.
    Of course I am an optimist.

    An insightful article Carol!

  3. A beautiful painting. I love Carol’s use of light and dark. It seems to tell a story of a woman who needs to leave her past and move forward to an uncertain but better future.

  4. I see a wise, courageous woman – representing all women – pausing on her journey to acknowledge how far she has come before continuing on to the light, returning to where she set out so many lifetimes ago.
    Thank you for painting this Carol, for all women.
    With gratitude,
    Carol F

  5. Insightful, as always, Carol.
    My eye is drawn to the skies … the gods eye opening light to the heavens.
    Surrounded by the darkness, I sense the relief that lies ahead.
    Her expression leaves me wondering what’s next? So onto the second phase …. the journey to be determined.

  6. I see a woman about to embark on a journey from darkness toward light. And, I find that inspiring. Thank you for your work!
    Joanne SM

  7. Your painting wonderfully provokes thought. I see an insecure woman daring and desperately hoping her significant other asks her to return. Her threatening to leave is a ruse.

  8. Carol, in all the ambiguity in this narrative/painting there is an outstandingly clear exception: the eyes. They speak of determination. They say: “I can do it myself and do not get in my way”. Whatever she is doing is unclear and one can only read one’s own story into the interpretation. It is like an inkblot test and it would be a great image to have in a psychotherapy office where a person could be invited to tell the story of the image. The eyes would speak to the one thing that is certain: this is my decision!

    There is darkness and light, certainly turmoil that stirs the observer and creates unease. It fascinates and provokes which makes it difficult to move away from it and leaves the observer in thrall. The eyes, in the end, grab the attention and gives a window into the viewers soul. The observer feels like an intruder into the woman’s private struggle but feels self conscious as though the self-awareness has shown her/his private ambiguities but leads the viewer to determine his/her own fate.

  9. Life is always changing its true. The small glimpse of blue sky may soon be once again covered by the dark clouds, but in this moment isn’t it better to believe instead that the sun and lightness will win out and that this woman on the edge of the world will be bathed in sunlight as she carries on to her next adventure.
    Beautiful and evocative work as always Carol!

  10. As always, Carol’s work challenges us to redefine our assumptions as we determine our relationship to the vision presented to us. Angel or demon, false temptress or trusted guide, final moment of despair or the beginning of new hope – what do we see here? What do we want to see? Thanks for provoking our thinking so beautifully!

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