29 August 2008

All That Glitters

15" x 22", watercolour, 1998, private collection

This is a painting of Elaine Secord, the singer for a Toronto band called Squirm that broke up years ago. The title is taken from my second favourite song of theirs (my favourite being "Cold," the title track from their 1998 CD). They were a great high-energy band and Elaine's vocals were part of the draw for me.

The subsequent paintings she's in are all based on photos from the shoot we did for that CD. When I saw this strong profile I immediately was reminded of Alphonse Mucha's posters (he was inspiring a lot of my work at the time) and I just had to paint it with a few Mucha-esque elements (the circular motifs, the curls of her hair, the heavy outline).

Graphite sketch.

Mostly, this sketch was to experiment with the possibility of an art nouveau background, and not to assign a specific motif or pattern.

I did an abstracted version of this called Raise the Roof.

28 August 2008

Raise The Roof

30" x 40", oil on canvas, 2007

I really like the way it came out because it's super colourful.

Part of my Echoes series, this is my abstraction of my original watercolour painting All That Glitters.

25 August 2008

Timing is Everything

22" x 15", watercolour, 1998, private collection

Like Krista Mindies Gaudi, this painting is made up of two separate photos: one of the model (familiar? she's also featured here) in my studio and one of a street in Montreal during a trip I took about a year beforehand.

It's pretty unlucky to have the buckle of your shoe come undone as you're crossing a busy street...but timing is everything.

I made a second painting featuring a closer shot of the buckle situation but with one of my abstract stained glassy backgrounds. For fun. But I guess they could go together like a comic strip to heighten the drama of her peril: does she finish in time? Does that bus hit her? Or do a bunch of people just get really pissed off?

You be the judge:

Timing is Everything 2
11" x 15", watercolour, 1998, private collection

24 August 2008

Off the Record

16" x 12", oil on canvas, 2007

This one's another one that I can clearly see the original painting (Timing is Everything)...if I squint --so maybe it's not so clear after all...

16 August 2008


15" x 22", watercolour, 1998, private collection

Featuring the same model (an Ashley, but not a Winning) from "A Shiver in My Bones" (and several others, as you'll eventually see) and a portion of another song lyric. This time it's Michael Penn's "Figment" from his 1997 album, Resigned. The model's defensive posture has been interpreted by some as a response to physical abuse. I intended it as someone throwing up a wall against creepy, ungrateful people in general. Judge for yourself.

Ashley's parents liked this one so much they bought it on sight.

The word "wall" is written with a regular piece of charcoal and the smaller text was done with a charcoal pencil.


I moved that body of text to the upper left corner in the final painting to open up the area in her line of sight (even though her eyes are closed). 

06 August 2008

Famous Last Words

30" x 40", oil on canvas, 2007

It's been said that even abstract paintings tell a story --not from the imagery itself, since it's non-figurative and non-narrative by nature, but from the viewer's knowledge of the artist. The story of the artist becomes the story of the painting.
That said, I'll reveal to you the history of these Echoes and you can piece together a story from that.

They began, like most of my paintings, as ideas of what I'd like to see paintings of. This early stage consists of a lot of sketching...and getting ispiration from watching movies, looking through art books and magazines, and listening to a lot of music. Hard work.

The paintings the Echoes are based on are figurative and the next stage for that kind of picture is finding a model. Usually, I wait until I've gathered about a dozen or so sketches of poses I'd like to paint (and there's always room for improv) before looking for somebody. This approach is why you'll see a run of paintings with the same model as I exhaust the usable photos). My models have always been friends or co-workers --people who don't model for a living. Once this non-model agrees to be in some paintings they must bear with me as I pose them according to my sketches and fiddle endlessly with my makeshift lighting system. I've been taking pictures as long as I've been painting and I prefer to shoot my own photo reference whenever I can. Since my models are non-models they don't have to sit for hours, day after day, while I perfect a painting; I set up my lights, they pose, I click the cable release (I use long exposures and an old Minolta SLR film camera when shooting indoors to control the lighting), and about two hours later they're done and free to go.

After the photos are developed (the 1-hour service is just fine, thanks) I do more sketching to get used to the model and work out a tighter composition (than my earlier sketches) and decide what colours to use (if the BG will be abstract, otherwise I'll find or shoot more pictures to make a "scene").

Then I paint the picture. Working from photos enables me to paint whenever I want, which usually means deep, deep into the night while the model is off at their home sleeping.

Then that painting gets photographed for documentation and website shenanigans. Sometimes with my little digital camera, sometimes on film but, either way, they all end up in my computer.

For the Echoes I strategically manipulated the paintings in Photoshop to get a look similar to my abstract stained glass designs I use in a lot of my paintings (going back to my very first watercolour paintings in 1988). I think of it as keeping the DNA of the originals.
Or something.

As all this abstractificationizing was done in the computer, I had to get the new images out of it to use as photo ref...so it was back to the 1-hour place for handy prints.

Then I painted the pictures...and somewhere along the line I came up with some nifty titles (in this case, common idioms).

Of course, I then had to photograph these guys so they could go into the computer...and so you could see them here.

That's the story of the Echoes.

This is my abstract version of my original watercolour painting wall.

03 August 2008

Anywhere but Here

22" x 15", watercolour, 1998, private collection
Same green sweater (and model) as "mad.", but with a different complimentary colour for the background. Also much less ribbing detail in the sweater.

This painting's title is also taken from a song title. This time it's Rush from their 1993 album, Counterparts.

02 August 2008

Finders Keepers

40" x 30" oil on canvas, 2007

Part of my Echoes series, this is my abstract version of my original watercolour painting Anywhere But Here.