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Creating art and community: Dundee Doodle Art Studio

Owner and artist Jill Bossence turned her passion for people and art into a fulfilling business
Dundee Doodle Art Studio 2-26-2020
Jill Bossence, owner of Dundee Doodle Art Studio (Photo by Susan Cook-Scheerer)

For Jill Bossence, it feels like art is part of her DNA. "I've always loved painting and drawing, even when I was really little," she says. When it came time to make a career choice, Jill knew that art was the path she needed to follow. "I always liked working with kids, but I also had my passion for art," she says. "The art was pulling me much more, so I just had to go with it." While many of her friends were pursuing more traditional career paths, Jill was accepted into the Interpretive Illustration program at Sheridan College. While she was there, she began to be commissioned to create paintings. Eventually she entered one of her pieces into a juried art show in Brampton, and to her surprise she won. It was that win that made her feel validated as an artist.

After graduation Jill launched her first business called Scrambled Arts which she describes as a 'little bit of everything' - primarily commissioned water colour and acrylic paintings. However, the work wasn't enough to pay the bills, so eventually she took on other jobs. She continued with her art on the side, doing commission pieces and leading art classes for kids and adults. Jill married, had a son, and eventually she and her family moved to New Dundee. It was during an evening walk through the town that the vision for a new artist dream seemed to appear in front of her.

"I saw this building that I'd never really noticed before," she explains. "It was for rent, so I went back home and told my husband about it."  Jill had family members who had been encouraging her to start her own art studio; and this building seemed to call to her. A few weeks later on another walk, Jill noticed the building was still for rent. This time, the lights were on and the owner was there. She knocked on the door and asked if she could see inside. "I took one look, and thought 'Oh my gosh - this is perfect!' 

Excited, she went back home to tell her husband about the space, and the rental cost. His response? "He said 'Jill, this is a no-brainer. You've got to try it.' " And with that, Dundee Doodle Art Studio was born. 

Everything came together very quickly. Jill says she didn't really have a plan, but things just seemed to fall into place. "I just kind of dove in, and it evolved."

Dundee Doodle offers Morning Doodle and After School sessions for kids in grades 1 through 7. There are also full day camps available during PD days, March Break and during the summer. Jill (or Miss Jill as the kids call her) has also been able to provide day camps during the recent strike days, providing a place for the kids to work on their projects, play, and have fun. The day camps offered at Dundee Doodle provide a full day for the kids, where they'll do four different art projects throughout the day - everything from painting and drawing, to creating objects with air-dry clay and even learning how to weave. In a day and age where technology encourages kids to multitask and do things quickly, Jill says art teaches them to slow down and focus. "Sometimes I have to remind them that art is not a 'race' - I tell them to slow down, and take their time. They learn to relax - and, they end up with a better end result when they take their time." And for times during the day when the kids are full of energy, Jill takes them outdoors to a nearby park where they can burn off steam. 

Dundee Doodle also offers Social Paint Nights, where adults get a chance to let their inner artist out. Jill also offers corporate Team Building sessions, where participants are put into groups and need to work together to create a piece of art.  And twice a week, she leads art classes for dementia patients at Highview Residences in Kitchener - work that she says is very fulfilling. 

While she admits being in business for yourself can be hectic, Jill says she loves what she's doing. "How many people can say they love their job? I get excited about the work I do here: when I first started the studio I wasn't sleeping at night - not because I was stressed, but because I was so excited planning what I was going to be doing next!" She also realizes she's a role model for the young, aspiring artists who come to Dundee Doodle. "I never thought I could do this - open a studio and have a business. I just thought I could be an artist," she says. "I think it's good for the kids to see a woman doing this - having her own business and enjoying it. They've actually asked me if I get paid to do this: I think because it's so much fun here, they forget this is really a business!"

Spaces are still available for the studio's upcoming March Break art camps. For more information, contact Dundee Doodle.

Dundee Doodle Art Studio
1454 Bridge Street, New Dundee

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