28 March 2010

The Princess

40" x 30", oil on canvas, 2010, private collection

Kimwun bears only a slight resemblance to Carrie Fisher --and I didn't even try to make her look like Fisher-- but the model is a little older than Leia in the movies and I wanted to convey that some time had passed.

She's deliberately posed looking to the left (the past), holding the helmet towards the bottom of the frame in a sort of tentative acknowledgement of her heritage, whereas Vader's lightsaber on her belt is a more overt acknowledgement, implying that the wielder of the weapon is more significant than the weapon itself.

The common "Imperial wall" as background is literal and figurative (and a very cool formal element): the struggle between Good and Evil is never black and white --that's why the painting is coloured in shades of grey.

I love sci-fi so much, but it almost never turns up in my artwork. I wanted to make a Star Wars painting that wasn't a bombastic fight scene or a cheesy collage of faces. I wanted to make something more fine-arty that happened to deal with some Star wars characters and themes. It was originally planned as a triptych, but the other two paintings didn't appeal to me as much as the lovely simplicity of this composition.

Princess Leia, Star Wars, etc. are copyright Lucasfilm, Ltd.

23 March 2010

Corona Solis (november)

22" x 15", watercolour, 2000

There was a helluva storm last night with blustery winds howling through the trees and rain pelting our windows. Our composter flew apart! So I'm making a plea to the weather gods for some sunshine by posting number 14 from my sunflowers series.

Here's Ashley yet again. She turns up in a few more of these sunflower paintings -- in one of them, she's wearing the same dress, but in it's in its "correct" colours (black with a white floral pattern; see it in CS (november)). Making the dress white for this painting was another experiment in flatness and negative space, that is, to see if the forms would read appealingly even if they're not described by shading. A white dress then necessitated either a black floral pattern or a colour. I went with violet to complement the green background.

This painting also features an interesting multi-triangle composition (which I somehow didn't notice until well after I painted it):

That nifty composition and inverting the colours in the dress existed since my early sketch:


16 March 2010

Oiseau 02-A

16" x 20", oil on canvas, 2008

I was experimenting with a bit of an angular look for these bird paintings (which I softened a bit for the ink versions), which kind of makes them look sculptural. Also in the experiment column: non-naturalistic colours for the birds and the backgrounds (not for every painting, but most).

I'm posting this little birdy in honour of the visitor we had in our home this morning. This isn't a blackbird (and blue isn't this guy's natural colouring, either) but I chose this piece for its green background; happy St. Patrick's Day tomorrow!

13 March 2010

Baba Farming

14" x 17", ink and wash on bristol board, 2005, private collection

This is a painting of my father's mother (who we affectionately called Baba Lenka)  based on a photo taken about ten years ago. She died six years ago this month and was my and my sister's last remaining grandparent. I don't remember the first time I met her when I was a baby, but our family visited Macedonia in 1978 and I do remember that trip fondly.

Here she is gathering potatoes on the family farm in the village of Nošpal in Macedonia. She died a very old woman and, although she may have had a crooked back, her handwriting in the letters she wrote to us --even into her advanced years-- was always straight as an arrow.

I also did a painting on her on the steps of her home with her famous peppers.

She's also been on my mind recently since my wife Krista and I have just bought a farm of our own and we're slowly making it into the home of our dreams. And interesting circle is completing itself: my parents grew up on separate poor village farms, came to Toronto and gave me and my sister (who's named after our baba) everything...and now I've left the city to go back to my own farm. And I couldn't be happier.

Zdravo, Baba!

In 2017 I did a colour version of this in oils for my Phase Two contribution to my collaborative painting project with Celia Sage.