Thursday, August 20, 2009

Brand Spankin' New Website + New Drawing

I finally got off my keyster and redesigned my website. I ditched my original idea of another dark background set up, and decided to use a handsome mid-toned grey with a clean design aesthetic. After watching the documentary "Helvetica", a wonderfully geeky look at the world's most ubiquitous font, I felt that it would be an appropriate choice for my site. It is a clean, non-descriptive little fella, and doesn't distract from the work like many other more decorative fonts do. So now the font you see on your tax forms (both Canada and the U.S) can point you in the direction of my drawings and paintings, instead of to the box with the gut wrenching "amount owing" box! Check it

As Art Toronto 2009 quickly approaches, I've finished a study drawing for my latest canvas.

I wanted to create a painting with multiple figures, and luckily found a great location for the photo shoot 10 minutes before my models showed up. I don't usually speak much about what I'm trying to say or convey in a painting (as I don't want to ram my own interpretation down anyone's throat), but in this work I wanted to touch on the strange dynamics of friendship. The
bonds we form with each other, balancing loyalty with independence, can be difficult to maintain, to sever, or even find reason for from time to time. But instinctively we group together protecting each other from whatever we fear, be it a tiger or a boring Friday night.

Today I'll protect you from looking at a blank sheet of paper. You owe me, big time.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Paintings

So I finally got around to varnishing and shooting my most recent paintings. The two paintings of Kelly in the kitchen, "Blue Cup" and "Green Mug", are available for viewing at Ingram Gallery, so if your in the area stop by and check them out. It is the first time I have ever used silver frames, and was very satisfied with the results.

The painting "In the Woods" was one of my more detailed works, and I had a blast really pushing the realism of the different textures. I think it my one of my most successful canvases to date in that regard.

In "Woman in White" I was dealing with a very limited palette, and it became quite a challenge. Rendering Carol's coat was particularly difficult, the gradations of colour were very subtle and surprisingly strange. But painting a dog is always a nice release from painting flesh, and it was the most entertaining part for me to finish.

The portrait "Holly In Yellow" was painted for a local portrait competition, and again was playing with using a limited palette. By exploring the huge range on tones within one colour group, an unparalleled sense of unity can emerge. I really wanted Holly to radiate, a golden summer light bathing her hair and gently warming her face. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

For the Love of Carbon Pencil

I have always done preparatory sketches for my paintings, but it wasn't until recently that
I've moved back to using carbon pencil. The brand I use is Conte, which last year became unavailable in Canada, to the horror to a handful of us carbon junkies. When I was in Florence last October I spent over 100 Euro on them, and had to haul them around the rest of the trip with me. Recently I've heard rumours that they are available here again, but it was worth it anyway. Now those pencils are precious to me, and makes me add pressure to myself to not waste them by creating less than incredible work.

Carbon is a fantastic medium to work with. The Conte brand has the consistency of charcoal and pencil crayon combined; the slight waxiness allows both subtle gradations and rich darks to be laid down easily. I use the 2H for the lighter tones, it is an extremely hard pencil and it great for ghosting in my big forms. I switch to the 2B to finish the drawing with the darkest darks. Using coloured paper with the carbon and some white charcoal for accents is an old favoured technique made famous by Pierre Paul Prud'hon (1758-1823), and gives a must wider range of tone than using graphite alone. This magical combination of elements has made me fall even deeper in love with the pure qualities of drawing.

Here is the study drawing for my "White" painting. I really wanted to capture the haunting quality of the image, so allowed much of the green of the paper to show through. This gives a unity to the drawing, allowing the figures to become part of their surrounding environment and vice- versa. I chose these poses of Carol and Linux the dog because of the pure strength of them, a hard beauty that is both regal and honest, qualities that I hope will shine in the final painting.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Brush with War

On Sunday we went to the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario. I hadn't been there before, and it was quite a different experience compared to our AGO visit. First off, the gallery is set back into the woods, with a gorgeous stretch of driveway leading into the parking area. All the trees were weighted with snow, the forest appeared begging to be painted by one of our beloved Group of Seven fellows. The gallery itself has a real "country bumpkin" feel, tons of lacquered pine, stonework and off white paint, a far cry from the modern slickness of the AGO. However, I found it much more comforting environment, like a visit to Grandma's cottage or something. The permanent collection had many gorgeous works from The Group and others, and boasts proudly their %100 Canadian content, which I thought ruled.
The specific reason we were there was to celebrate the inaugural public viewing of the exhibition, A Brush with War: Military Art from Korea to Afghanistan. Our fellow painting family member Scott Waters was involved in the exhibition, displaying several works based on photographs from either his own experiences in the military, or from those he captured while spending time with soldiers in training through the Canadian Forces Artists Program. The Exhibition explores the two military art programs that started more than twenty years after the Second World War, the Canadian Armed Forces Civilian Artists Program (1968–1995) and the Canadian Forces Artists Program (2001– present).

It is a truly amazing and haunting collection of works. My favourite painting of Scott's from the exhibition is entitled "Keifer on OP", 2007. His use of hot pink and lime green is constant throughout the series, but the combination really sings in this one.

Go check it out. The show runs until June 19th, and then travels onwards to London, Ontario.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

AGO Visit

Since it was Kelly's birthday on Thursday, we gave ourselves a well deserved afternoon out, and used our shiny new memberships down at the shiny new Art Gallery of Ontario. I've been a few times since it's re-opening, and I gotta say, it looks fan-flippin-tastic. From the funky swerves and curves of the pathways in the main entrance, to the "holy crap I've just been eaten by a wooden whale" rib-like swoops that form the dramatic face of the building, it is by far the greatest step forward in Toronto's quest to become a "World Class city".
Sure, the ROM and the pencil crayon building of OCAD look dramatic from the outside, but fall short when you you get inside with their cheap looking "Zellereque" decorum. I think the AGO has succeeded in forging curves and spirals around the hard angles of the existing building in a way that compliments itself and the artwork in a really cool way. High Five AGO, I'll be back soon.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Website Coming

I've decided that 2009 will be the year that I take hold the dusty reins of my web presence. I've had a good friend update my website for me for few years now, but he's currentlyworking the cruise ship circuit out of California, so I'm sure he'd rather get tagged in the Facebook albums of young blond women than html the night away for me. I'm trying to keep the site graphic and simple like my current one, but with a little more bow-chicka-wow-wow, and a lot less two year old exhibition info.

We artists in general are always so busy producing work, that we often forget the importance of getting our work out there, via competitions, UPDATED websites, sending portfolios to other cities. I think now, especially with "The Economy" being the way it is, we better dust off our hats and grab out dancing canes, because it might take a moonwalk or two to keep our audience's attention.

Monday, January 26, 2009

On my breaks...

When I'm in a serious work period like I am in now, I only leave the house for supplies and food. How do I keep the spirits up and not turn to Whiskey Bacon you ask? Well thank the military for the Internet I tell ya.

Almost every Nintendo Entertainment System game can be played easily, download free, and with the use of your regular old keyboard! The site is, and it was created by a 15 year old kid named Jamie Sanders. Big ups to the modern high-schoolers. After a couple of games of Double Dragon or Super Spike VolleyBall, I'm as cool as a cucumber and ready to put in a couple more hours of the old brush pushin'. You da young adult Jamie.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Frozen Photoshoot

Today I was able to take pictures for a painting I've been planning for a month or so. I have been a craigslist junkie ever since I successfully procured a certified 1993 "House of Pain" poster from the "free" section a few weeks ago. I usually check it over a few times a day, just in case someone is giving away plane tickets to Amsterdam, a cotton candy machine
(with attendant), or anything else that I can go pick up, bring home, realize that it's crap, and throw away myself a week or so later.
Checking over the "artist" section, I read a post from someone looking to have photos taken of their white German Shepherd, in return for copies of said photos. I immediately thought of how amazing a painting of this beautiful creature amongst all this snow in Toronto would be.

Our good friend Carol has been a long time supporter of ours, and with her striking features I knew she would be perfect for the painting. After scoping out a few locations, Kelly and I found a white picnic area building right on the beach in "the Beaches" area of the city. So with Minus 20 weather, we all braved the wind whipping off of Lake Ontario and got down to it. It was freeezing, but Carol was a real trooper and I took some great shots. Thanks again to Stephanie for the use of our good pal "Linux" the dog, and to our friend Ebony who came through with Carol's wardrobe right off of her own back.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

February Exhibition

Ingram Gallery represents my work right here in Toronto, and starting February 5th several of my drawings will be included in a group show. Entitled "Works on Paper", it will include a few of the gallery artists rockin' and rollin' on one of humanity's most loved surfaces. Click the link for more....

First Post

Right now I am feverishly working towards an April 1st deadline. A gallery in NY has asked me to submit 4 paintings, which may be chosen for an exhibition in June. Trying to juggle this alongside of designing two websites and completing 20 architectural renderings has been proving to be a little overwhelming, but solitude from friends and pints of Dr.Pepper are helping things along. Posted above are study drawings for two of the works in progress.