Few things in life are as healing as art and nature. Through her journey of depression and mourning her first miscarriage, Vaughan-based mixed-media artist and illustrator Yolanda Fernandes Ly found solace in expressing her emotions creatively. “Looking back, I just kept painting and painting,” she says. “Much of my work was initially inspiring for me in a self-healing way. It was my catalyst to be able to do all of this.”
After continuing to paint regularly for five more years, in 2016, she decided she had to do something with her massive collection of work. “It needed to go somewhere,” she says with a laugh, reminiscing how she had to summon the courage to start selling her paintings. To her surprise, she received an excellent reception, with many customers excited to buy her art. According to Yolanda, this success made it clear that this was the path her life was supposed to take, and so she decided to dedicate her life to focusing on her passion: living a creative life.
As the owner and artist behind YFL Fine Art & Home Decor, Yolanda offers a wide range of items, from resin dishes to trays, gorgeous wall paintings, and budget-friendly downloadable prints. All of her pieces are locally handmade in Kleinberg, Ontario.
Similar to many great artists, Yolanda’s work has constantly evolved with the ebbs and flows of life’s highs and lows. Moody forests and landscapes appeared in her paintings when she struggled with mental health. And in joyful life stages, like after the birth of her children, Yolanda gravitated toward creating bright pieces filled with lively florals and botanicals. Today, Yolanda’s art is a collection of colourful and vibrant abstract works, with nature continuing to be a driving force of inspiration for her work.
Yolanda was always aware of the healing nature of crystals, as her family used them to bring good energy into their home since she was a child. Once crystals became more mainstream and piqued her friends’ interest, Yolanda started researching more about them. “Having struggled with anxiety and depression for many years, I wanted to learn more about how I could use them for my art and healing,” she explains.
After further research, she found crystals’ natural aesthetic, vivid colours and powerful spiritual properties impossible to resist. “Crystals have incredible properties. And if you tap into it, it’s something truly special,” Yolanda says. Her epoxy gemstone pyramids use rose quartz, amethyst, and tourmaline, known for healing, protecting and removing negative energy.
The ocean is another one of Yolanda’s biggest inspirations in her work. “I immigrated to Canada in 1997. I’m originally from Dubai, and we were always around the water. It was always a calming force,” she explains. “It is a huge note in all of my art, especially the turquoise and blue hues in many of my pieces.” Some of her most striking resin pieces include ethereal hand-poured resin trays that are a birds-eye view of dreamy beachside scenes. (This tray would be the perfect gift for the coastal grandmother in your life.)
In the future, Yolanda is looking forward to giving back to her community by hosting workshops on how art can help us all take better care of ourselves. As a mental health advocate, mother and proud woman of colour entrepreneur, she’s hoping to use her journey to inspire others to take the leap in living creatively despite any barriers people may face. “With the pandemic, mental health for everyone has taken a hit. So we could use more aspects of healing in that form,” she explains. And with her expertise in everything from resin art to watercolour paintings, we know that Yolanda will continue to inspire the artist in us all.
Photos courtesy of Yolanda Fernandes Ly.