The two tiny items hung around my desktop for the last couple of years. As I looked at them from time to time they drew me in. The plastic manufactured quality of the bull. A bull that small, it made the pin look large. Thoughts about bull fights where the bull is killed by stabbing it. To stab a bull that small one would only need a pin?.... Bull Pin not bullpen.....the black of the bull with white horns & a red topped pin. The red a foreboding?…..Why did I painting this?..... freedom to entertain my non linear thoughts..... seven has been considered a lucky number, but maybe not for this bull...... structural drawing & painting to support an open ended entanglement of two random items that have fermented in my thoughts.
Digging with a Puck
Recent observations with a little carpentry. I still have all my fingers.
I returned to the subject of a bridge recently. It was again on highway #3, the Crowsnest Pass through southern British Columbia. The orange of the structure is what drew me in, as did the graphics of the signage. I find the graphic orange colour & structure acts as a bridge between the two dimensional nature of the signage and the environment. The bridge is both subject and a link for me.
My inspiration for working on the Suzuki motorcycle piece titled “Gixxer” is from model kit box art, and the love of process. In developing my drawing for the final art I have been frustrated at times with the drawing process being lost under the painting. The thinking and construction lines are a layer of record that can add a depth. I’ve used an approach in constructing my own panels for years in this piece. It’s a laminated panel that layers-in my original drawing with a top coat to seal the drawing. In painting colour I want to capture the drawing and painting in equal parts.
Flower & Tiger
It’s winter and my activities are more inside. The sun’s low in the sky, and the days are short. A breath of warmth is through an orchid that resides on our kitchen table. The little gem holds it’s bloom for quite along time. At least compared to other potted and pampered offerings. When having a coffee or sitting to eat, this little friend pleasantly offers it’s beauty. It whispers warmer days are ahead.
Camaro & Dirt Bike
I think it was the combination of the flat bone white bleached paint with dry grass, plywood clad garage, the tar papered house, in a yard that looked forgotten & sadly beautiful at the same time. The car, a Camaro, looked as though it had not moved in quite some time. The plates seem current, but the registration tags didn't. If a car could have a personality this one seemed to wear a mullet. A hero of an era that had passed. The symbol of earlier muscle cars that had roared, then faded to be replaced by a pale stand-in like this one. A symbol of main street cruzin’ cool, and V8 power that had long ago been castrated. Hmmm …brings to mind the song by The Dead Milkmen, Bitchin’ Camaro.
I've been exploring my own framing the last few years. I see some very interesting history on the backside of framed pieces of artwork in galleries. The handmade craftsmanship that went into some of the older pieces has been inspirational for me to take my own thoughts into framing my own work. It's an extention of my interest and thoughts about materials. Also frames have provided a bit of protection from the enviteable shuffling of paintings in a gallery setting. Kind of a merging of a subtle intention of the artist in materials, presentation, and practicality.
And on another note;
I do really enjoy working with vector based graphics. My old Mac was eight years and could not be upgraded. Thank you Apple. So after recently updating the OS on my new refurbished computer, I had to deal with the inevitable fallout of solid running hardware(Scanner, printers, tablet, optical drive, monitorâ€¦) being turned into landfill by software â€œupgradesâ€. It was a lot of work, and frustration, but itâ€™s all hanging together. I do not enjoy pouring my funds into a computer. They hold their value like a bucket full of holes. Iâ€™m running the latest OS now, but I had to do a lot of research to keep my version of Adobe CS6 running. With Adobe moving backwards to a 19th century feudal payment system where workers no longer own their work. Like serfs working the land for the lord(corporation). Never mind the sales pitching from their website(how great the new CC isâ€¦blah blah), and being squeezed with updates into a forced obsolescence. So I recently took the step and purchased new Affinity software(Photo & Designer). Itâ€™s been a learning curve, but Iâ€™m really starting to enjoy some of the new attributes of what I see with their offering. Not to mention a MUCH more rational cost of ownership. Thatâ€™s right you own your own copy. Still lots to learn though.
Driving through southern Alberta last June, I stopped to use a public washroom. Another road that I’ve been over what seems like a hundred times in my life. Highway 2 the longest highway in the province. The highway splits into two roads in the town of Nanton. Each road has 2 lanes in one direction. The east side road going north, and west heading south. This image is from the west side road looking east. One of the few remaining phone booths still in service. The assumption of a world full of iPhones is somewhat a sad joke, but it grows.
Another roadside artifact that I've driven by many times. The sign and others like it brought back many memories of late nights ordering in and childhood holidays. Also even the effects of the morning after having food in the fridge to reheat for another day. Order in or take out? The take-home boxes of leftovers or doggy bags also come to mind. The sign itself is a leftover as the restaurant behind it was demolished long ago. It now sits on an empty lot full of weeds with an old concrete slab. The text on the sign is a throwback to another time, a near recent past still with us today.
Ties & Trees
While driving through the southern interior of British Columbia last summer I noticed an unusual type of machinery parked off the side of the highway. The day was overcast with light showers, and the result was that the colours in the landscape all seemed heightened. The machinery was a combination of an open top boxcar with what looked like an excavator grafted on top. I pulled over and trudged back through the wet grass, and took some photos. From what I'd gather, it was machinery for removing old railway ties. The old ties are stacked at certain points, then lifted up into the boxcars. The tags on the sides were a record of urban stops, now parked out in a forested mountain valley.
Another trip had me looking at a tree that extended over the road in a very sculptural way. The road was a sleeping secondary one out on Vancouver Island. It was a three way intersection that seemed almost forgotten. I explored a looser approach in painting this one.
I'll be showing some paintings this June in Calgary, Alberta. The show opens June 6th at the Midtowne Gallery. For those in the area I hope you can make it.
Almost getting run over, or just having some passer-by looking at me gawking on. Then fumbling out my tiny cheap camera, yes it's digital. No phone though. I have one at home that works without thumbs, you can simply speak into it. Pulling over on the side of a busy road has others thinking I'm crazy, or up to to no-good. A security guard looking at me staring at patterns in the pavement. One security guard at a construction site told me that some guys photograph the equipment on-site for stealing later. He said that there are thieves that steal to order. Having a record of potentials helps them shop the targeted machines to prospective clients. Many client/customers are out of country. Wow, an export market. I wonder if those thieves use phones to photograph. Or would they prefer a more precise photographic record of quality. Hhmm… yeah probably not. Maybe there's an app they use, hell maybe tweetin' out, hahaha better yet a facebook page for stolen construction equipment. Moving on…..not the quickest way there, more of an alternate route. Wandering into a light industrial area there's a lawn mower repair shop….
I've been by this Totem many times. In the summer people are stopped and photographing it, or having a roadside break from their travels. The front tells a story that must end up on thousands of cameras & phones from all over the world, but the back tells another version. From a roadside stop on Vancouver Island. A stretch of highway know as 'The Malahat', or 'The Hat', it's part of BC Highway 1. The Totem is carved from cedar, it sits along a ribbon of asphalt, and concrete barriers, with scenic beauty on either side.
Promotional Poster art;
For the Arena Stage's production of King Hedley II, the powerful ninth installment of Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s “Century Cycle,” a scarred and haunted ex-convict has the chance to lock away his past and achieve an entrepreneurial dream, but will life in Pittsburgh’s unforgiving Hill District let him?
Art Director - Nicky Lindeman
Arena Stage, Washington, DC - 2014-15 season
KING HEDLEY II
Written by August Wilson
Directed by Timothy Douglas
February 6 - March 8, 2015
4 Paint & 1 Vector
Out on the newsstands now for Cycle World magazine;
I'm enjoying getting out of my studio these days. A painting from running around old back roads here on the west coast. When I do get back to my studio, it's an opportunity to look over any of my photos. Smaller paintings have been a chance for me to explore my approach further. Taking a sketch directly to a painted stage has me going back to some of my illustration approaches. Painting with oils on heavy weight paper was my traditional approach. I started laminating my own panels years ago. I've some illustrations that are thirty years old with this approach. This one's a small simple box panel, 8.75 by 9.75 inches. Materials are from the hardware, and art store.
I've been working on a few more pieces for exhibition. Looking to have them up for the first of March at my local gallery. The show is of a smaller number of my recent paintings. The opportunity to show is welcomed, and yet it seems to focus my schedule in a way that can be a little stressful/negative. I'm use to the deadlines in my illustration work, just not something I want too much of in these paintings. Working with a heavier weight canvas on these. The canvas suface had me doing some subtle shifting in edges.
Walls & Stairs
After scraping and heat gunning the old paint from some of our old house last summer, and then prepping, and painting, then going on a road trip to help in painting some rooms at my in-law's, I've noticed a theme in my life; walls, walls, and some stairs. In my studio I've been painting with doing another gallery show in mind. The feedback from the gallery has been positive, but the request for larger scale work has been made several times. Working with different scales, and surfaces. Some of the surfaces have been light weight finely woven cotton canvas, contrasted with a heavier duck for larger canvas, as well I still enjoy the panel boxes which I construct. As the scale goes larger the panel paintings seem to run up against the issue of weight, and being somewhat cumbersome. I've done some painting on linen as well. I do enjoy the attributes of each. As the scale has increased, I've experienced a new physicality in my painting(not to mention the house painting). It's demanded a different approach in how I literally must stand while painting. I understand it's good for digestion, ha-ha. It's possible to sit for intervals while working on appropriate sections. Well the studio, and house painting has me thinking of buying an old used panel van. It'll help transport materials as well as larger paintings.
Shape & Size
In one of my recent paintings I wanted to capture a feeling of visual perspective, and explore the shape of object/art. I built a cradle box with a tapered shape that echoed the perspective in the visual subject. The edges of the top and bottom were from the subject as I saw it from across the street. The shape also was interesting to deal with, and a departure from the squares & rectangles I've been working with. I worked with elements in the subject that struck me such as the white graffiti on the dark galss. The details in the subject reminded me of the graphic elements I'd so enjoyed as a kid building model kits. Yes, I did build a few of my glue-thumb-printed masterpieces in my youth. Exploring the details, and interpreting the shapes furthered my awarness of the dialogue between them. The subject for me is influenced by painters like Edward Hopper, and the shapes by painters in the geometric abstraction spectrum.
The following painting was subject I gathered several years ago, but always stayed in my mind. I photographed the subject on a hot day. The pavement had a bleached quality. The painting was again on a cradle box I made. The smaller size felt appropriate, and I wanted the scale of the object to be more intimate when viewed. It's a common urban subject, but by making the painting smaller, I felt it drew me in.
In my own work my sketches, or drawing ends up gone. Wallpapered over with oil paint. I've had a passion for the idea of edges , whether soft or hard in painting. The purity of drawing is something lately I've wanted to feel again.
My painting Rail along with another of my recent pieces, will be in a group show opening on January. In this piece, I'm embracing the horizontal nature of the scene, and subtle levels of distortion. It's also influenced by a Kenneth Noland piece I'd seen last summer. I wanted to express the stark horizontal bands, and lines of the foreground. Also the subtle tones of the grain cars with faceted breaks between them divides the foreground from the large blue of the prairie sky. The light pole had a mild waver to it. Which gave it an organic nature much like the bright green grass around the tracks. I do miss the summer heat during these short days of winter.
Last July, while out running errands on my motorcycle, I pulled over to take a break. I stopped near a venue with a lot of cement, and spray painted surfaces. Of course being just off a main highway, and with a couple of fast food establishments near by there were the ubiquitous paper cups about. The day was beautifully warm with a modest amount of humidity. The light was strong, but the shadows were not black. The grass in the field near by had burnt off to it's summer gold from the green of spring. I know that garbage as a subject is not new, but hell this cup looked good. No, it was not my cup, I took my trash with me.
Well I have my first full show at the Winchester Gallery here on the west coast. A few singular pieces have been sold through the gallery, but this is my first show of a group of my paintings. The title of my show is After Print. It was exciting, and very rewarding. Also interesting to hear the reactions from the people who dropped by. My subject matter and influences are eclectic, and I wanted to enjoy the process of making the paintings. There were a number of pieces in the show I've posted here before in my Gallery Work category, and some new pieces. The show is up Oct. 1st - 22nd.
Winchester Gallery's site; http://www.winchestergalleriesltd.com
Straight to Paint
The last while I would develop a digital rough when developing a painting. I've skipped that stage in my recent oil paintings. Working pencil sketches up to an acceptable stage, I moved on to prepping my surface & paint. Using my own life, and surroundings as subject it's been a very satisfying mode of working. The computer is a powerful tool, and I still use it, but wanted to do my adjusting within the stages of painting. The computer ironically really has had an effect on how I view my painting.
An Anchor Point
As an illustrator, I've worked for a while now with digital software. The adobe illustrator software has been my favourite. The clean lines I was striving for in some of my painting is more readily accessed through the vector based algorithms of the digital software. Many see it as cold, or not expressive enough. This relates back to the now old complaint about the artistic "truthiness" of the brush mark. Something the great American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein had fun skewering in his work. I've found in personal work the satisfaction of realizing an image in oils, or as a digital print. With painting I've found that the process of pencil drawing base, with layers of oils built-up results in it's own "skin". The physical painting itself becomes an object in the singular. Alternately, when I worked through a piece with software, and then producing a print of the file on quality paper, there is a great sense of satisfaction as well. My process for either is quite different, but working with both media, informs my overall thoughts concerning process, and objective. The process of interpreting, and editing in an observational manner takes me out of the conceptualizing approach of an editorial illustrator. The subject is there, shutdown your mental conversations, and look. Park your ego, and open your eyes. For me there is a two dimensional elegance that vector software can achieve. I know there are many other artists that work, and feel the same. A digital piece, even vector has it's own flavour. It's that flavour that has me going back to it.
Finished another personal piece. The painting is of an old local movie theatre from the back. The name of the theatre is the Roxy. It's fate is up in the air these days. It's an independently short run venue that charges a percentage of what the bigger chains do. It may be streaming video, or death by blue ray for the Roxy. Title for the piece is, Roxy's Back.
My neighbour across the street has an old homebuilt utility trailer. It's used to carry old furniture, soil, building supplies, and any other thankless tasks. It follows an old Ford, and it reminds me of one my Father had. Although my Father's was a weathered box off an old Studebaker truck. The main frame of this trailer is from an old truck too. The sides are angle iron, and 3/4" plywood. All the metal is painted black, but it's the custom plexiglass fenders that give this trailer it's own look. The plexiglass is old, & cloudy, probably quite brittle now. Still there's no cracks in them. Oh, yeah that spare tire is probably quite old too! The battle ship grey paint job seems to have been refreshed recently. When it's parked across the lane, it just makes me smile, as it sits under the dappled light of the oak trees. I suppose this image is more nostalgia in tone than I first intended when started.
3 East is the name of my latest gallery painting. In my gallery work, I've been trying to deconstruct the subject matter from my own personal engagement. As an illustrator, I'm asked to interpret other's thoughts. Also a stepping out of my heavy use of line in my illustrations. Line is a construction of the mind to explain something in a subjective manner. Our brains are doing the "seeing", not our eyes. The eyes when allowed to see with a purity that quite often is forgotten as we age. In seeing the shapes of what I'm looking at, it's been an exercise to put down my visual prejudices, and just look for a time. In closing, a book I read years ago now, had a title that has stuck with me. The title is "Transfiguration of the Commonplace". Yes, also I very much enjoy working with line, but I'm exploring elsewhere lately.
Had a holiday break for a spell in late January. After that in February I've been working on several charity based projects lately. Still one to go, and a couple of illustration assignments. The one I'm posting is for the St Louis AIGA chapter, and the American Heart Association. The Heart, one of those two special organs. I leave the second to your choice. I've painted the heart a couple of times before, and wanted to try push another direction. This painting is oils on wooden panel, with gold leaf on the sides/edges. The heart is supposedly the seat of love, maybe it's the love of life. Hope yours keeps pumping.
I've finished another canvas. The subject was a photo I shot out the window of an airport while waiting for our flight. I developed my sketch from elements in my photo. The tarmac/concrete had subtle bands of tone. I worked up a pencil, and did a colour study in vector. The most time consuming part feels more like the stretching of the canvas, and pencilling in the base drawing for paint. The opacity I want takes about 2-3 coats per colour. The final canvas is 24 by 40 inches. The colours in the photo of the canvas are somewhat too vibrant, the final painting is a little more neutral than the image on the monitor. I painted the sides of the canvas as well. The depth of the stretcher gives a feeling of object that I wanted. The painting has a quality the digital colour study just does not have. I do enjoy them both for different reasons. And yes Mr. Rogers, no masking tape was used.
I finished this painting about a month ago. I was out and about in an industrial part of my home city. The infrastructure of cities does interest me. The unobserved is interesting to me for it's unassuming aesthetic. The wires, and neutral tones struck me. The linear qualities of the cables have direct abstract qualities. After developing a sketch, I did a color study in vector. I decided to drop out the sky for a more graphic feel in the cables. The painting is 30 by 40 inches, oils on canvas.
Recently finished gallery work. Oils on wooden panel, 24" by 12". I'm looking toward a subtle level of abstraction. I'll being pushing in that direction with a more reductive look on my next one.
Still working on my illustration assignments, but stayin' up a little later to do some of my own stuff. I painted a grain car that was parked on the rails in my home town. I was back visiting family in Alberta. The western prairies are home to a lot of grain, barley, flax, and canola. The cars wear the markings of their journeys. I wanted to distort the car, and get that big sky. It's oils on a wooden panel. Horizontal formats are my favs, and usually don't fare well in the print world, or on monitors. I added a detail to try, and offer a feeling of the surface.
Back of My Studio
Outside of my illustration assignments I've been doing some personal directed painting. I feel as though I'm working back, and forward to a point in my past when art was about the process, not a paycheck. I've gotten some thoughts, and still working on more. Small post.