30 July 2011

Paint the County 2011

Last year I participated in Paint the County and had such a good time that I signed up again this year. There was a draw to see where the artists would be situated last time, and I got The Edward, which I really liked, so I asked for it this year and, lo and behold, the picture of my setup below looks almost exactly like the one from 2010 (I even got almost the exact same parking spot: my blue van is in the foreground here, last year it was one spot ahead):

Once again in front of The Edward.

The image I chose this year was a farmscape I shot while driving around the County last summer looking for interesting photo ref for future paintings. I prepped the pencils on the canvas months ago, but painted the orange and brown acrylic underpainting last night. I then started painting as soon as I was set up (10am) and I took a photo of my progress every hour.






And precisely at 4pm I was finished:

Daytime Version of Sleeve
oil on canvas, approx. 12" x 24", 2011, private collection

The title comes from a last-minute inspiration from my actual sleeve. This morning we were given Paint the County t-shirts and, rather than using the paper towels I brought to wipe my brush when changing colours, I used my left sleeve (gradually intending a very loose landscape image). When people saw the finished painting and gave me compliments, I jokingly said that it wasn't as good as the landscape on my sleeve, which I then said was a "nighttime version" of the farm scene. When submitting my painting for the auction I blanked on a title, so I used the one above, inside joke and all.

To my surprise, one of the event organizers, Katy McIntyre, actually wanted the shirt off my back to include in the auction as a separate piece. I didn't think that would fly, so I offered it as a bonus to whomever won the actual painting. Below is the sister piece to my 2011 Paint the County effort:

Nighttime Version of Canvas
size XL, oil on cotton t-shirt, 2011, private collection

UPDATE: March 2012
Here's a larger version painted for my Barnscapes series.

20 July 2011


8.5" x 11", ink and digital, 2011

Happy with the results of my illustration for the Picton Picturefest Afterparty, I went immediately to work (later that same night!) on the illo for Small Pond's upcoming event, Cornography. With this one, I wanted to use similar grungy textures and the faux screen-printed look of the other poster, but I wanted to use a slightly bolder drawing style closer to the way I usually draw.

The original concept for the illustration involved a sexy pinup of a corn cob based on one of the famous photos Marilyn Monroe did for Playboy --which was tasteful enough, but for humour's sake I was going to add black "censor" bars over the "naughty bits." Krista and I discussed my sketches based on this idea, then decided that the event was more celebratory of food than anything else. We brainstormed a bit and came up with a cross between a Soviet-era propaganda poster and a nod to the Statue of Liberty's torch-holding hand (I even stole the design of the cob's tuft from the flames in Liberty's torch).

My photo reference for this was a picture of a cob of corn and a picture of my own hand holding my pencil case (this was very late at night and going to the store for some actual corn wasn't an option). I inked this with a black Uniball Vision (which I usually only use for sketching), then added the colours and textures in Photoshop. I deliberately nudged the various layers of fill colour to simulate misregistered screen printing.

A little muddy, but kind of neat.

Above is the original background with thick and luxurious textures. I simplified this for the final poster so the hand and radiating lines would read better.

We often make inexpensive black and white half-page flyers and I went through a few variations of my illustration until we settled on the one below for this use:

Simple, clean, and easy to read.

Although I like the one below for the texture and plain, yet bold, white fill of the illustration, the background textures would make the info text hard to read:

I created the final poster layout (with text for the event information) in CorelDraw:

14 July 2011

Life Jackets

 36" x 54", oil on canvas, 2011, private collection

As I was nearing completion of my Field to Canvas portrait series, I took on this commission, feeling confident that I could paint this (despite its huge size) and still paint the remaining few portraits in time for the opening in June. Everything worked out very well.

The photo I received as reference for this painting showed the two boys from behind (thus featuring their life jackets), which was fine, but I felt the framing of the photo didn't give much information about context (where were they? in a boat? on a dock?) and it wasn't a very interesting composition. The red box below indicates the composition of the original photo ref:

Since the woman who commissioned this (the boys' mom and, ultimately, a very satisfied customer) wanted a very large painting, I felt I could expand the composition by "pulling back the camera," so to speak, and still make the boys quite large in the final piece.

I added a horizon line to allow for some sky and to break up the picture a bit. This was the first thing I thought of adding when I first saw the original photo.

I positioned the boys on the left, giving them plenty of breathing room as well as making it appear as though the one on the left is looking toward that bright area I invented (this effect is greatly assisted by the fact that, not only is he already facing that direction, but he's leaning that way, too). And I like how this shift put the other boy's yellow cap in the dead centre of the painting.

Also, the original photo didn't show much of the boat, so I cheated and widened the sides and created the prow, making them unmistakably inside a canoe (rather than possibly appearing to be on the edge of a dock).

Below are a few shots of the painting in progress:

Pencil cartoon with added horizon line.

Starting with the darks.

The titular life jackets were next.

Boys completed, it was time to paint the lake,
mixing the colours directly on the canvas.

02 July 2011

Picton Picturefest Afterparty

8.5" x 11", ink and digital, 2011

For the past couple of months, we'd been working very hard to upgrade our art barn at Small Pond Arts so that it would be more versatile and better overall. There is now a nice cement floor currently curing in there and it'll be ready very soon, with plenty of time to spare before its first official use on July 10.

Small Pond is hosting the Picton Picturefest Youth Retreat and, to close out the big fest, also hosting the Afterparty featuring music by Calgary's Kris Ellestad, who'll be performing on our aforementioned fresh new barn floor. We're very excited to be such a big part of Picturefest and this excitement carried over into inspiring me to try something new for the Afterparty poster illustration.

Conceptually straightforward, I referenced my own photos and photos online of singers with guitars, old style microphones, and classic Bolex film cameras, and combined and re-combined them until I was satisfied with the arrangement and composition. The "new" thing I wanted to try was a different way of inking the drawing; I used a regular ballpoint pen because I wanted a very loose look with a "dead" line (a line with no variation in width) throughout. Then I scanned the drawing and messed around in Photoshop with textures I've been collecting for a while now to achieve that grungy, worn, screen-printed look.

The dimensions above refer to the original line drawing of the camera-headed singer I did on a piece of regular copy paper.

And here's the final poster layout: