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Michael O'Toole was born in Vancouver, B.C. in 1963. He grew up on the North Shore near the Capilano Canyon. As a boy, Michael was so taken by the beauty of the canyon that it became a jumping point (not literally) in wanting to capture that grandeur on paper and canvas. It was one of the first emotional experiences that Michael had for the love of nature. Nancy O'Toole, his mother, was becoming a well-known artist at the time and Michael would learn to develop his own skills by watching and studying with her.
Years later, architecture became a passion for him and after finishing high school Michael studied architectural design. After moving to Toronto in 1985 to seek work in that field, Michael became aware that he could combine architecture with art by doing illustration work, also known as rendering. This specialty became great for learning about perspective and proportion.
Michael returned to Vancouver in 1992 and became a full-time artist. It was a turning point in his life; one he never regrets. Painting in a wide variety of media including acrylic, watercolour, pen and ink, graphite and gauche, his subject matter is also quite varied. Ranging from landscape, seascape, marine, architectural and portraiture, they all reflect his impressionistic style.
When he was 14, Michael submitted a portrait of Leonard Bernstein to the FCA (Federation of Canadian Artists) and received high honours as the best portrait in the show. In 2001, Michael was elected to the status of Signature member of the Federation of Canadian Artists. The FCA was created by Lawren Harris, leader of the Group of 7.