Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Squiggy's Journey

I like to review the studies I do for a painting because I find it interesting to see how different each study can be (even though it is from the same image source).

source image

charcoal and graphite on paper

chalk pastel on paper

oil on paper

Squiggy, 48" by 36", oil on canvas, 2017
I like the feeling of the large painting. It's kind of squinty and twitchy. The title comes from the vague memory of a character from Laverne & Shirley.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Compare and contrast

I thought I'd put my two most recent paintings side by side and see how they compare and contrast:
Raphus Cucullatus Nebula

-loose brush work that evokes emotion
-strong contrast of lights and darks (high key)
-off-centre focal point/composition

-Raphus looks like it's a shallow window whereas Manscape has a more ambiguous space
-more imagery/elements in Raphus

I feel like these could almost go side by side in an exhibition and hold together. They are painted in a similar way which I think ties them together. I enjoyed painting both of them and I'm very excited to see how viewer might respond to them . . . now if only I could get some shows ;)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

New batch of collages!

I'm working on a new batch of collages for this series of paintings that start from a fractured image.
Here are some samples

I'm excited to try my loose brushwork with these images! I'm still not sure what these paintings mean or how they will be interpreted by an audience, but I'm intrigued enough with the process to keep going.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Opus Demos!

Last weekend I did a couple of demos at Opus Art Supplies in Victoria. The demo comprised of me going through the process I used to make my series of portraits. More info on that series here.
I was rather nervous being up in front of 20 people who were looking over my shoulder while I painted, but once I got into it, it was rather fun.
Here's what the set up looked like.

Here's the step by step.
Step one: wash and light contour drawing

Step two: block in colours, thin paint

Step three: destroy image with big brushes

Step four: intuitive bring back in the forms, abstract marks

Demo 1 result

Demo 2 result

It was a pretty good experience that'd I'd love to do again. I was also appreciative of the audience because they were enthusiastic, engaged, and asked some really good questions.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Dodo or Dodon't?

The Raphus Cucullatus Nebula, 38" by 28", oil on canvas, 2017
This is another work in the series of paintings of mine that start from the fractured image/collage source. One of the things that I'm liking about this process of starting from collage is that through free-association, I can begin to develop meaning in the painting as I work. One image leads me to another thought which is countered by a thought conjured from the image next to it. This piece became about memory and dead or dying dreams. I really like how loose the brushwork is in this piece which is something I want to push more as well.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

6 or half-dozen?

I seem to be caught in the battle of the two impulses when trying to find subject matter for my paintings.
1. to paint from observation of 3d subjects, the impulse to use "real life" as a vehicle for emotion in paint
There's a romantic appeal to going out into the wilderness (could also be the "wilderness" of Quadra Village ;). I have had good experiences with responding / reacting with my paint brush when working from nature. I have also enjoyed still lifes in the past when I was really into Cezanne. The reason I resist going in that direction is because of the "so what" factor: everyday objects and scenes are pretty boring. Also, because I've been warped by art school (sort of kidding) I'm looking for "the big idea" that will launch a thousand works. The small ideas aren't worth the time and energy. 
On the other hand, I can see myself giving this direction a try because of the same reasons, just the other side of the coin. Like the challenge that Cezanne made "I want to astonish Paris with an apple."
2. using 2d images as a vehicle for emotion in paint. questioning what is "real life", also for more formal concerns, helps to free myself from the tyranny of the image.
This direction I feel is more in line with "the big idea." I can see it appealing to the intellectual aspect of art appreciation. The downside is that it may lack the spark that would draw a viewer to the work and may seem cold and distant. Also, the flip-side being a good reason to try this vein.
ugh! it's just in my nature to be two minds about everything.
Here's an astonishing apple(s)

Four Apples, c.1881 - Paul Cezanne

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Like Adele

If You Want To Be Adele, You'd Better Learn To Sing, 36" by 30", oil on canvas, 2017
Here's the latest painting from my collage studies. I'm really liking where this is going so far, even though the doubts keep coming back. It must be something new for me for my inner critic to be so vocal. I'll keep at it and see where it takes me.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The sitting queen

Cassiopeia, 40" by 36", oil on canvas, Pete Kohut
I thought that I would stop here with this painting before it went off into something else. This is an example of an image that I discovered the meaning as I was working on it. This piece speaks to the idea of vanity and the pressures related to that sort of persona.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Starting to pick up steam

These self-doubts that I've had about this work that I'm making right now are the flip side to this slow and steady ball of energy that's been building up inside of me: it's just about ready to rip! I wrote a list the other night of things I can remove from my work, as a guideline almost:
I don't want to make:
-pure abstracts
-painterly abstracts
-hard-edged works
-narrative/folk tales
-big heads
-drippy portraits
-single figures in photographic space
-still lives

I do want:
-painterly marks
-soft edges
-something new (that I haven't seen before)
-visual tension
-beautiful colour interaction
-no critiquing
-autobiographical (can't escape it)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Good ol' self-doubt

I've been chatting with my good old friend Self-doubt a lot lately. Ol' Self-douty can't seem to find any redeeming factors in the painting studies I've been doing of my collages. It's quite unnerving.
Luckily I stumbled on a podcast called the savvy painter ( and listening to the interviews of other artists has been very helpful for me. The long and short of it is: don't overthink it, just paint, make things, keep at it and eventually it will become clear. It's sort of like the saying that it's harder to hit a moving target. So if I keep making stuff, I'll avoid getting sniped by ol' Selfie.
This, I think, is the unfortunate draw back of going to art school. A person becomes more cerebral when making art because you learn that you need to have an explanation for the marks you are making. When really, you need to let go of it and let things happen intuitively.
So . . . just keep at it.
Venusian Blinds, 30" by 24", oil on canvas, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Collages on going

I made some revisions to the collages that I want to use as starting points for paintings that act like visual poems. I felt that the collages needed a bit more "oomph" so I added some painterly elements and that helped me to open up to the images. Now I feel like there is something interesting happening in the collages that I can hopefully translate into paintings. I'm going to make some small scale pre-paintings (painted studies, I guess) before I make any larger works . . . if it indeed gets that far. I do have school coming up in 10 weeks.
Oh yeah, and I've decided to go to school full-time in the fall and finish up my Bachelor's degree. I then plan on pursuing my art career instead of doing design work. I know that design is a good, marketable skill, but I really want to give this whole artist-thing a go. It's been my parallel life since I can remember so I'm excited at the chance to start now (at the ripe age of 42) and give it my full attention.
Here's a shot of the reworked collages.

And here's a painted study I finished the other night that I think is pretty decent.
Jovian Mermaid, 42" by 30", oil on canvas, 2017

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Another work in progress

Here's my first attempt at making a painting that is more like a visual poem. I'm trying to make something new; I'm bored of painting faces. I've been experimenting with collage and want to start from a source that is already fragmented/intervened upon and see what the results are. First I wanted to make a painting of a sketch I did a few years ago. This type of thing is more akin to stream of consciousness writing, so . . . I need to do a lot of it and not worry if it's bad or good.
Source material. A combination of a figure, Stuart Davis forms, and a duck mole.

I stopped here because I think I've overpainted it already. What I'm planning to do is start a new one using what I've learned from making this one. I think I like the 3rd stage best. Exciting possibilities though :)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Channeling de Kooning

Here's the results of my experiment in painting an unabashedly de Kooning-esque painting.

I think that I like the earlier stages better. All that dense paint and brushwork that comes later on clogs the visual flow of the painting. I wonder if it might be worthwhile to hit it again and try to clear up some of the congestion. At any rate, it was a good experience.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How to be a drawer

I've been making quite a few graphite on paper studies of male models that I found in a fashion photography book and I'm not sure what I want to do with them. I was hoping it would lead me to figure out how to incorporate drawing into painting. Seems as though it as only solidified how separate I feel these two mediums to be.
A drawing is like a thought made visible. It is a measurement of an observation. It is an unfiltered response to the perceived world. It can also be a diagram, a working out of thoughts in visual terms. Drawing can be many things actually, some might argue that drawing is everything, but I digress.
What a drawing can't do compared to painting is have a solidity, a weight (at least I haven't solved that problem yet). A drawing doesn't smell like a painting. A drawing doesn't have the same object/presence as a painting on canvas. A drawing doesn't have the same body/motion of a painting.
Maybe it's good for me to keep them separate as perhaps they are filling different creative needs. It is certainly much sexier to say I'm a "painter" and not a "drawer." I might get confused with a piece of furniture. (ba-dum)

Looking at them now, I can see that they need some kind of context. Or maybe an context that is unusual or unforeseen? hmm . .  .

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The search for imagery

In my efforts to find some new imagery for paintings, I thought I would try to make some small collages and see where that takes me. (they aren't getting a lot of love on IG right now :() I like the juxtaposition of incongruous fragments of found images. There's something very Modern about that and I think that's something I'd like to explore.
Below are some samples

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

In memori-mom.

The second anniversary of my mother's death just passed so I felt it was a good time to talk a little bit more about the series of drawings I did last semester that were about her.

What I wanted to do was to create a large graphite drawing on paper (6 feet by 4 feet) using the various photographs and images of my mother that I had found around my apartment. I started doing small studies from the photographs (like above) and found myself getting very emotional. At some points just looking at her image overwhelmed me. Feelings of loss and sorrow. At times elation and a feeling of release. There was more repressed emotions then I had realized inside me about my mother's death.

At other times I reminded myself that I had issues with my mother being controlling and found that it was good to let out this frustration. I had a chance to practice my new-found interest in collage by scanning a few of the studies, printing them out, and then pasting them together. I had decided that this would be the basis for the larger image.

As I was coming to terms with the remembrance of my mother (still ongoing) I remembered that she was also a person; with virtues and failings like the rest of us. In coping with her death, I had built her up in my mind as a kind of saint. A natural response to losing a loved one.
As I worked on the piece and workshopped it with my prof and classmates, it struck them that the larger version of the collage was lacking a certain spark that the studies had. My prof suggested I continue to push the larger drawing by trying to take it beyond an enlarged study but also to incorporate the studies in the finished presentation. He said that what was most interesting about my work was the way in which I work through an image; the "final" product falling kind of flat. I thought that was particularly acute of him. I interpret that observation as a piece of art being open or closed. If it is open, it is open to interpretation by the viewer, it leads to other thoughts and feelings. A closed piece is to be read in a specific way and has an air of presentation about it.

I learned a few valuable things last semester.
a) find a way to keep your art open
b) displays of skill are off-putting, show the struggle behind it (based on fellow student comments)
c) nothing is ever really "finished"

Which brings me to this thought: When we lose someone we love, we never really get over them. We just learn to live life without them.