WHAT THE ARTIST WORE

I was stopped again on the street today by a well dressed man on his way to work. “Those are colourful pants!’, he said. Yes, yeah they are.  “You should sell those!’, he continued… and so the conversation goes…  It is not uncommon for me to get stopped like this on any given day while wearing my painting pants. I must admit, in the people traffic wearing black and grey and brown and blue, they are a conversation starter – in line getting coffee, at the grocery store, or out running errands. I’ve even worn them in the summer with sandals and a white linen shirt. It makes for creative evening attire and perhaps makes me more approachable. People are curious to know where I got them.

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I think my first pair of painting pants were an old pair of doctors pants, cut off at about the knee for more freedom of movement. I liked the drawstring which made it easy to get in and out of. The fabric was light and comfortable, but like jersey material, they didn’t hold the paint. Often, it would soak through to my skin, leaving me with thigh markings in a tribe all my own.

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I opted for denim jeans, choosing ones a bit too big for me made it easy to slip out of at the end of the painting day. Many times I’ve asked friends for their old jeans and put them to good use.  On several occasions I’ve been loaned pants with the request that I wear them while painting and then give them back. It seems some of my best work ends up on my clothes.

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I can’t exactly explain why, but I have saved all my painting pants since I started painting full-time and I keep documenting them when each pair are ready to be retired.  I sometimes wonder if they might look good framed and hung on a wall. There seem to be secrets and stories hidden in each of them. Other times, I think it would be fun to make a coffee table book with my art followed by the clothes I wore while making the paintings. It’s like keeping a bit of a diary in paint and fabric. If you look through some previous work, you can probably pick out what pants were worn during certain paintings. I think a fund raising auction would be amazing if it consisted of only artists’ painting clothes in large shadow boxes. Imagine owning the painting clothes of one of your favourite artists. What a treasure to have something so personal.

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For now, my retired pants sit folded on a shelf in my studio, and they’ll likely stay there until I figure what to do with them. If you have an ideas for a good use for them, feel free to leave a comment by clicking the speech bubble icon to the right of this blog title above.

…And for those curious, I wear a 36 waist and am always in need of new denim pants for painting. Feel free to email me and drop by the studio for a visit.

 

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ART STUDIO PLAYLIST: November 2015

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If you are in the northern hemisphere of North America, things have cooled off a bit, you might have a bit of Halloween makeup on your face still and you will likely be adjusting to daylight savings time for the next week. If you are in Canada, the leaves are clearly dead, it’s been rainy and cold and snow is inevitably on its way. These are times when an artist’s studio can feel a bit lonely, so… make some tea and invite over a friend or two. It’s red wine season, so a glass or two of that will also do.  Here’s a playlist to keep you company this November. There is something old, something new, something remixed and a cover or two. Enjoy and remember to always live juicy...

 

DANS L’ATELIER: WEEK 43 Downtown + High Park

So here’s what’s happening in the studio this week…

I’m working on concurrent paintings for different clients. Similar palettes with slightly different over paintings and top colours. Similar, but different.

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Downtown (right) is a little more grey and High Park (left) is a little more earthy. Both are 24×24 inches on canvas.  I’m getting to that fun stage where I get to light up the sky with colours so we’ll see how these go. I should be finished up early next week.

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As if I haven’t done enough paintings of Toronto, TORONTO FOUR is going to be fun. It is only 18×36 so it should be quick and I get to use a colour palette I’ve used before…

KOI    COI 1
KOI was painted in 2010 so it’ll be nice to revisit the colour palette again.  Something I like about KOI is, while abstract, it is designed to look at from a distance. By squinting, you can see what look like koi fish swimming in a pond as seen from above.

Picadilly and Covent Garden
The long rectangular format and a conversation I had with a client inspired me to start another work. PICCADILLY + COVENT GARDEN measures 24×60 and covers both areas of London. You can see the Thames  and Waterloo Bridge in the lover right corner. It could be available as early as December.

flag2FLAG has been knocking about since August and should be finished up soon. There’s been a lot of planning in this piece commissioned by someone who has collected my work for a decade. It will effectively look like a giant paint by number of a pride flag reflected in water. You can see the outlines of the shapes so far.

CastroMuppets Lastly, I am happy to share, after many years in the works, CASTRO STREET MUPPETS will be completed for December 1st of this year. It (and the idea behind it) has followed me around three studios over five years. If you look in the top right corner, you can see two densely packed neighbourhoods which are the only two complete, but already you can see the likes of Piggy, Kermit, Janis, Scooter, Gonzo, Ernie, Bert, Rizzo, Pepe, Fozzie, Staler & Waldorf, The Count, Rolph, The Snowths, and the list goes on. After much research, there will be over 60 Muppets included in this painting. If you would like to know more about the Muppets’ history and characters, there is a fantastic Muppet Wiki online.   Prints of CASTRO STREET MUPPETS will be available in time for the holidays. The original is for a solo exhibition planned for next September.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:
If you were to play WIN, LOSE, OR DRAW, which two artists would you like to have on your team?
   Leave your answer in the comments.  

 

 

 

 

OWL RIDGE ACRES: Artist Residency

OWL RIDGE BARNIn the Autumn of 2014 I received a commercial commission for a large painting to be installed in a new condo building in Toronto’s redeveloping Regent Park neighbourhood. The canvas, measuring 60×120, was too big for my Toronto studio, so I connected with a fellow artist, Joey Bruni, who had recent bought seventy acres of property in Bancroft, Ontario. Bruni is ambitious! He is turning the six bedroom farmhouse into artist accommodations and the barn into multi-purpose studio spaces. The entire space has become a hub for local artists with events throughout the year. Artists, writers, and musicians are invited to stay and work on projects, participate in skill sharing and even pay for part of their stay with a farm work program.

I spend most of the early winter there, helping to prepare the farmhouse for guests, peeling off wallpaper, painting walls, piling up wood and feeding an outdoor furnace that heated the house while Joey was away. The furnace became affectionately known as Baby because it had to be fed twice a day; in the morning and in the evening before bed. Failing to do so resulted in the fire going out and having to get the outhouse-sized furnace going again. This is not fun at 11pm or 6 am.

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I worked on the commission most days, walking the three kilometers into town by foot or with the neighbor, Bam (yes, that is really his name), in his truck. Because the barn wasn’t ready for artists yet, I was using a space in town called A Place For The Arts. It is an artist collective made of some of the most interesting people I’ve met in my life. It is full of creativity, love for the arts, spirit, enthusiasm and a fair helping of country wisdom. Cidiots, they call those from the city, but it wasn’t long before I fit in… well, almost.  I will share some particularly interesting stories in future posts including learning to make tintypes with photographer Don Wilson,  stories of Yurt-life with Harold and Dianne Eastman, and painter Tracey Lee Green’s joy of ‘ditch fishing‘.

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In addition to the commission work, I wanted to respond to the local community.  Since it was hunting season when I arrived, I worked on some small projects to responded to this local rural pastime. Hunting proved to be fertile ground for creative output.

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REGENT PARK 60×120 Acrylic on canvas. 2014

February came around quickly enough and I was due back in Toronto for other work so we shipped back the painting to be installed and bid my new winter friends farewell.

I am planning to return again in January to work on a couple video projects. One uses drones and the other is part of an installation using footage of nature with glitched video. If you are visiting or passing through Bancroft in January, please send me an email.

You can find out more about Owl Ridge Acres, the artist residency and other programs by visiting the website. To learn about A Place for the Arts, please contact them through their Facebook Page.

 

The Poetry of Being There: The Art Gallery of Ontario

Becoming a contributing member of the AGO is probably one of the best annual investments any Toronto artist can make. Not only do you get to go for free any day of the week with a contributing family membership, you can bring two friends with you each time you go. If you do the math on a few visits, it already adds up to well over the cost of the membership. Check out their membership options here.

DAVID BOWIE WAS…  Awesome!

 

I think one of the biggest spectacles they’ve hosted since the reno was the recent David Bowie exhibition. If you missed it,  above are a couple panos to enjoy. Be sure to click and drag your cursor over the images to pan left or right. For an even more exciting experience, check out this post on your iphone or ipad. Click on the image and activate the gyroscope that appears at the bottom of your device’s screen. Tilt up and down and spin around.  So…that’s what you missed.

I was really impressed with the RFID technology used for the audio tracks which accompanied the exhibition. Gone was the arduous task of punching in numbers to hear factoids about specific artifacts. Instead, the headset sensed where you were in the exhibition and played the appropriate music or audio track. I was fascinated and impressed by this integrated sound experience developed by Sennheiser.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 11.29.12 AMI’ve seen the current Alex Colville exhibition three times already and will be back again. It is an impressive survey of his work considering many of the paintings are on extended loan from private collections. Also, the connections drawn between his work and filmmakers Wes Anderson, Stanly Kubrick and the Coen Brothers is impressive – I’ll let you see for yourself. To not leave the work in the past, the gallery has asked several contemporary artists to create responses to his work. I had the pleasure of walking through the exhibition with Simone Jones who’s three channel video rests poetically at the very end of the exhibition. It’s a contemplative piece about place and identity. Two boys fight in a field full of powerlines. I couldn’t help but hear echos of ‘I’m gonna get you after school.’ in my head. Below is a pano of one of many rooms in the exhibition.

If you do get a membership, it has it’s privileges. The members’ lounge has WIFI so if you want to take a break and get out of the studio, you can take up an afternoon residence there, blog away, get some work done and enjoy their yummy menus. The members’ lounge has big couches and tables where you can invited friends to lunch or for a meeting about projects you are working on. It’s lovely.

One of my favourite rooms at the AGO is on the second floor. To get there, take the stairs before Walker Court, walk around and straight through to just before Galleria Italia (Room 218 on the Visitor Map) It’s been the home of paintings by Lawren Harris since the renovation and a place a go to nearly ever visit. It’s partly the paintings in the room, but also the size of the room. There’s plenty of space for the paintings to breathe and the natural light makes for a great view of the works.  I could sit in this room for hours.

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In fact, for some time, I’ve wanted to set up a pop-up painting studio in the corner of this room to create a response to these paintings. It would be nice to revisit them as seen from above, using the same locations and colour palettes as the originals. A month long residency here would be dreamy. So often we don’t get to see artists working in their studios. To spend a month here would be a like a durational performance with finished artworks at the end. Above are three shots of a painting of Sicily I am working on. While the land mass would be quite different in colour, the water might look similar, showing the depth of the icebergs underwater – something not captured in Harris’ original paintings.

If you know anyone who can make this happen, send me an email!

Do you have a suggestion for a place that should be captured in 360? Leave me a note in the comments below. Also, what’s your favourite room in your favourite gallery? Leave your answer in the comments and leave a link if there’s a photo online.

 

Dans L’atelier: Fujiya & Miyagi, Lili Allen, Artforum & Paws

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For those who love krautrock influenced brit bands, the new Fujiya & Miyagi release, Artificial Sweeteners, came out today. If you dig the harmonizing lull of Hot Chip vocals and the old school synth sounds of YAZ’s Upstairs At Eric’s, this might be the early summer release for you.  Here’s a taste from the new release…

And if that’s not your thing, there’s always Lili Allen’s SHEEZUS out now on iTunes and other online music distributors who rip off artists and continue to screw up the music industry. Her sweet and breathy vocals and bratty lyrics are par for the course, but the beats seem less Mark Ronson and more JayZ which is not good in a music scene that continues to homogenize its sound. I’m sure it’ll get some play deep in cottage country next week for MAY 2-4 while someone chants, ‘Shots! Shots! Shot-shot shots shots!’.

Artforum Summer PreviewIn adult news… My ARTFORUM arrived yesterday. So far so good, it’s only slipped out of my hands twice. Did they spay them with lube? I’ll skip the reviews of the shows I haven’t seen and won’t see in New York, but the world wide summers shows and Ana Lily Amirpour’s Top Ten are worth a peek. Someone recently mused that Artforum is like Playboy. No one gets it for the articles. I might chew through one or two at the lake while others are reading INTouch Magazine. This month has the Who Wore It Better: Prison Jumpsuit Edition. (don’t act like you don’t love it).  If you’ve read the ARTFORUM already, let me know in the comments below if there’s anything worth reading.

Lastly, if you like Paws‘ first album, their follow up, Youth Culture Forever, is pretty good. Apparently they took off to a cabin in the woods to record this. It’s gritty and more raw than anything you’ll find on the Indy Apparent Party mix on Sonza.

And that’s what I’m listening to –dans l’atelier. If you’ve got some great studio tunes you think I might like, leave me a note and I’ll give it a listen.

Happy art making!

 

The Making of CHERRY SMACKER

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Cherry Smacker  48×72, Acrylic on canvas, 2011

Cherry Smacker was a commission by a client in Toronto. It was based on the candy pallet which has been the source of many paintings. I also used colours found in Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
CANDY     HANNA BARBARA

The painting took a few weeks to complete. I took several process shots while working on it and put them together to create a sort of time lapse document . The music is by Architecture Helsinki.

 

 

Art of the Day

 

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MONTREAL BY NIGHT 24×30 Acrylic on canvas 2010

Commissioned by clients in Montreal. I looked at images of Montreal at night from the 1970s. There were two colours that stuck out. One was a ocher and the other was a teal blue/pale green colour. The other two dominant colours are red and blue from the Montreal Canadians hockey team. Here are three colour palettes I started with to make the painting.
MONTREAL 1 MONTREAL 2 MONTREAL 3

 

I think I’ll revisit painting Montreal again. It is one of my favourite cities in Canada.