Biographies


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Vivian East

Vivian’s passion for the arts is evident in her over 30-year involvement with and contribution to arts and education communities in Toronto. She has been as a trusted leader in the visual art department of the Toronto District School Board and served on committees at OISE/UT, the Ontario Society for Education through Art, and the Ontario Ministry of Education. Vivian has consistently been  looked to as a source of knowledge and inspiration for art educators in our city. Freehand School of Art allows Vivian to continue to bring her wealth of expertise and passion for arts education to the community. Vivian holds Honors Specialist Qualification in Visual Arts. Her artistic training is in drawing, design, printmaking and photography.


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Julia Ramdeholl

Julia brings current perspectives on the arts to the school. She is a graduate of the Primary-Junior program at the University of Western Ontario with Visual Arts qualification. Her visual art foundation began at Wexford School for the Arts and continued with art history courses at York University. Julia has more than 10 years of experience in teaching art to early years, primary and junior aged children in schools in Toronto, London, UK and London, Ontario. She has organized and lead community programs for at-risk youth in Toronto and has delivered numerous in-school visual art workshops with the Toronto District School Board.  Julia is a working artist with a focus on acrylic and oil painting.

Both partners are qualified teachers, members of the Ontario College of Teachers and the
Ontario Society for Education through Art.


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Natasha Ryde

Natasha has been at Freehand since 2011 as the Office Manager. After earning her BScH in Biology and her MSc in Forestry, Natasha lived in London, UK, for four years where she worked in business. When Natasha returned to Canada, she continued her career working for TD Bank and joined the Freehand team when her daughter began attending classes at the school. Natasha is a skilled crafter: she enjoys sewing, cross-stitching, and has taken many classes at Freehand including painting, sculpting, and stained glass.


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Brad Weatherburn

Brad is a Toronto-based artist who works primarily with ceramics. Since he began teaching at  Freehand in 2011, Brad has developed passion for helping students uncover their unique artistic interests and develop a love  for the arts. Brad’s art education began at Northern Secondary and Central Technical School in Toronto. He went on to study drawing and ceramics at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Brad is currently developing a new body of work in his studio that is comprised of drawings, sculptures and mixed media works inspired by the human form.


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 Francis Joseph Dvorak

Francis has over twenty years’ experience as a professional artist and art instructor. After graduating from the University of Toronto with a B.A. in philosophy, Francis studied painting in the atelier of Michael John Angel in Florence. Since 1999, he has been the resident art restorer for Old Master Gallery in Toronto, and he has worked as an illustrator for Integrate New Ideas Co. Francis is renowned for his portraits, murals and stained glass windows that decorate the city of Toronto. He is currently working on a series of plein air landscape and figurative paintings inspired by the Canadian shield. Francis is also a teacher with the Toronto District School Board.


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Erin Vernon

Erin is a Toronto-based artist and illustrator and has been teaching at Freehand since 2013. Erin holds a degree in New Media from the University of Lethbridge as well as a post-graduate certificate in Interactive Multimedia from Sheridan College. With specializations in computer-based vector illustration, watercolours and linoleum prints, Erin offers a wide range of expertise to her students. To see more of Erin’s work, visit out her Instagram page.


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Madison Rudin

Madison is a Toronto-based artist and student at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Madison began at Freehand as a student with a passion for the arts. As her artistic skill and interest in teaching grew, Madison began working as a volunteer and, soon after, an instructor. Madison is particularly interested in teaching at the primary level, where she works to instill confidence, basic artistic skills, and a love for art. Madison is currently developing a series of poured paintings using conditioned acrylic paints.


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Catherine Shea

Catherine began her visual arts study at Ridley College, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto. Catherine is known for her interest in abstraction and colour theory, which she explores in both her classes and her own art practice. Cultivating a creative and therapeutic approach, Catherine integrates her experience as a professional artist with her studies in health and wellness. Catherine aims to guide students through an intuitive process to discover new methods of visual expression and communication through the visual arts medium.


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Taylor Shanahan

Taylor is a Toronto-based artist and educator. She graduated from the University of Western Ontario with an Honours Specialization in Visual Arts and went on to complete her M.A. in Art History the following year. Taylor is passionate about making art history and theory fun, practical and accessible to students of all ages. Taylor specializes in printmaking, drawing and acrylic painting and is currently working on a body of stained glass work inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement.


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Lydia Porter

Lydia is an educator and self-taught artist. After receiving her B.A.(Hon) from the University of Toronto, Lydia earned her M.Phil from Oxford University, and her PhD from Harvard University. Lydia’s extensive teaching experience includes her work as a Teaching Fellow at Harvard (2009-2011), Sessional Instructor at UofT (2013), and tutor/course instructor for grades K-12 at Inspiration Learning Centre Toronto. Lydia specializes in plasticine illustration and origami, and has thematic interests in natural history. She is currently developing a series of large-scale plasticine illustrations of wetland and watershed habitats based on scientific drawings and engravings.


Richard Herman


Richard is a self-taught artist who has been working professionally for over 20 years. Richard
works primarily with oils and his paintings can been found in numerous private and corporate
collections across Canada. Currently, Richard is working with various digital media and is
developing a highly anticipated graphic novel.