30 December 2012

Tim's Home Run

26" x 20", watercolour on Yupo, 2012, private collection

This was my only watercolour painting for 2012 and it was a bit of a challenge since the reference material was a black and white newspaper photo from when Tim Nikita (my brother-in-law), the foreground subject, was in high school. There was very little detail to work with and figuring out the colour scheme of the uniforms was difficult as the high school no longer has a baseball team and archival photos don't seem to exist online (I couldn't ask Tim because his fiancée, Meagan, commissioned this as a surprise Christmas gift).

Meagan discreetly asked around and got me some colour notes for Tim's outfit, but I coloured the opponent to best contrast Tim while keeping somewhat in line with the photo ref.

I couldn't really see the details in Tim's face so I made this about the action of him running to home base rather than it being a traditional portrait of him. Incidentally, I snuck Tim into my portrait of Meagan for my Burning the Midnight Oil ink painting marathon, but you can barely see his face there, too, so maybe I should just do a full-on portrait of the guy some day...

Pencils clearly visible, the first blocking-in of colour begins.

Shadows and skin (including baseball glove) are blocked-in; foliage is delineated between bushes and grass.

Temporary chaos as more areas are blocked-in and the splattering of paint really gets going.

Addition and subtraction: some details are carefully painted while taking some paint away better defines the shapes.

Erasing paint with a brush lightly loaded with clear water creates nice highlights, separating the figures, and further clarifying the forms.

Nearly there: only one final pass of finicky details, adding and subtracting, is needed to complete the painting.

28 December 2012

Flight (1, 2, 3, 4)

Flight 1

Flight 2
each: 14" x 18", oil on canvas, 2002, private collections

Hands can be tricky.
They're kind of hard to draw, and, since everybody knows what hands are supposed to look like (we see our own all the time!), it's easy to spot it when a drawing of a hand is off (this doesn't matter, though, if it's deliberately stylized to not be realistic).

I like these two paintings of my cousin Amanda's hands for their looseness and liveliness. I did two more in this vein, but they're not as satisfying as these two.

 Flight 3
14" x 18", oil on canvas, 2002

This one was done shortly after the first two, maybe only months later, but my tendency to "tighten up" came through. Still, there's some nice looseness, just not as nice as the first two paintings.

Flight 4
14" x 18", oil on canvas, 2005, private collection

I think this was done in 2005 (it might have been 2006) and I was using Krista's hands here. I don't think there's enough contrast in the hands themselves (I should have just rotated her until the sun lit her hands better), but the forms are okay and I like the knuckles on the right hand.

My next group of paintings will feature the human figure again (after taking a bit of a break last year by painting the Barnscapes) and hands will play a big part; practicing how to draw them is crucial. Practicing how to draw –period– is crucial.

All this also applies to feet.

26 December 2012

100 Portraits in 100 Hours

The Stack

Earlier this month I undertook a big project to help 2012 go out with a bang. It was a test of endurance and a demonstration of my ink painting techniques and, although it was very difficult at times, it was very fun and ultimately very rewarding. I called this 100-hour painting marathon "Burning the Midnight Oil," but a better title would have been "The Longest Day" since that's how my brain made sense of being awake continuously for over four days. Follow the link above to read my FAQ, then explore the rest of the Burning100 blog to see all the portraits, view portions of the recorded live stream, and even read my log from 1989 when I first stayed awake for 100 hours. Enjoy!

21 December 2012

Sreken Bozik 2

Ink & Digital, 2004

This was the first Christmas card I illustrated because I wanted to send out something I made myself to friends and family. Being a Christmas card I figured it should feature the Big J (Baby J?), but I thought it would be more interesting to be a little circumspect, so I came up with the idea of having a woman (modelled by Krista, by the way) doing a needlepoint of the magic baby and his mom.

The landscape in the background is a scene an Orthodox monastery in the lakeside city of Ohrid in Macedonia.

The following year I made this other card which focused even more on traditional Macedonian and winter imagery and less on the religious aspect (although it did still say "Merry Christmas" in Cyrillic).

01 December 2012

Toronto Streetcars, Part 2

above: private collection

above: private collection

above: private collection

above: private collection

above: private collection

above: private collection

each: 14" x 17", ink on paper, 2006

Check out the first and last paintings in this series for my thoughts on these lovely TTC gems.

30 November 2012

Toronto Streetcars, Part 1

above: private collection

above: private collection

above: private collection

above: private collection

each: 14" x 17", ink on paper, 2006

Check out the first and last paintings in this series for my thoughts on these lovely TTC gems.

29 November 2012

Grain Elevators, Part 2

above: private collection

above: private collection

above: private collection

each 14" x 17" ink on paper, 2006

The last two paintings in this group are exactly what they look like, i.e. three images on one page. I did this mainly to highlight the stark flat landscape, and felt it would be best to include two closeup views to maximize space.

28 November 2012

Grain Elevators, Part 1

above: private collection

each 14" x 17" ink on paper, 2006

These are Albertan grain elevators based on my photos taken while on a road trip years ago with Krista and her sister, Caitlin. I don't think I'd seen these in real life before –and if I did, it was in Ontario when I was a young child. I love the way they stand proudly amid the flat landscape, and I tried to capture some of that contrast in a few paintings, while focusing on their fascinating and functional architectural design in others. The fact that they're very rare now, being replaced by less attractive structures, makes them all the more alluring to me.

26 November 2012

Buffalo Jump

16" x 20", oil on canvas, 2007, private collection

Here's some more colour experimentation, playing around with lots of red, trying for a sort of hot Albertan sunset look. Or something. It's interesting, anyway.

The buffalo in the picture are actually from a display at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump museum just west of Lethbridge, AB. The museum was built on the site of an actual buffalo jump and is beautiful architecturally, being built into the ground, minimizing its visual impact. I shot the trio from directly underneath as that was most interesting and dramatic angle.

*    *    *

The buffalo jump was used for 5,500 years by the indigenous peoples of the plains to kill buffalo by driving them off the 11m high cliff. Before the late introduction of horses, the Blackfoot drove the buffalo from a grazing area in the Porcupine Hills about 3 km west of the site to the "drive lanes", lined by hundreds of cairns, by dressing up as coyotes and wolves. These specialized "buffalo runners" were young men trained in animal behavior to guide the buffalo into the drive lanes. Then, at full gallop, the buffalo would fall from the weight of the herd pressing behind them, breaking their legs and rendering them immobile. The cliff itself is about 300m long, and at its highest point drops 10m into the valley below.

The site was in use at least 6,000 years ago, and the bone deposits are 12m deep. After falling off the cliff, the buffalo carcasses were processed at a nearby camp. The camp at the foot of the cliffs provided the people with everything they needed to process a buffalo carcass, including fresh water. The majority of the buffalo carcass was used for a variety of purposes, from tools made from the bone, to the hide used to make dwellings and clothing. The importance of the site goes beyond just providing food and supplies. After a successful hunt, the wealth of food allowed the people to enjoy leisure time and pursue artistic and spiritual interests. This increased the cultural complexity of the society.

In Blackfoot, the name for the site is 
Estipah-skikikini-kots. According to legend, a young Blackfoot wanted to watch the buffalo plunge off the cliff from below, but was buried underneath the falling buffalo. He was later found dead under the pile of carcasses, where he had his head smashed in.
(source: Wikipedia)

22 November 2012

Oiseau 12-c

14" x 17", ink and acrylic on paper, 2008, private collection

As in the portraits of my uncles in military uniforms, I thought it'd be appropriate to use a dash of colour by using red acrylic in this painting of cardinals in winter.

19 November 2012

Pearl Jabot

17" x 14", ink on paper, 2004

Following in line of fictional jabot-themed pin-up models, Pearl is actually the first only one to have her namesake (i.e. pearls) on her jabot (she's also the first only one that's nude).

As mentioned in my previous post, I had actually planned to create a lerger series of paintings based on a trio of jabot pin-up models: Lacy, the brunette; Pearl, the blonde; and Scarlett, of course, a redhead...but that hasn't yet come to pass.

18 November 2012

Lacy Jabot (Stretch)

17" x 14", ink on paper, 2004, private collection

As in my other pin-up of Lacy, her jabot here is not lacy.
I had planned to do a larger series of these jabot-themed pin-ups where I would eventually feature actual lacy jabots on Lacy.

Once again, that's Betty Page as Lacy.

Preliminary sketch featuring flag motif.

17 November 2012

Lacy Jabot (Bomber)

14" x 17", ink on paper, 2004, private collection

Long ago, I worked for a few years as a costumer in the opera department at Malabar in Toronto. It was interesting, learning about all the bits and pieces that make up a whole costume. One part in particular tickled my fancy because it was fancy and had a fancy name: the jabot. These were worn by fancy men around their necks in the 17th and 18th Centuries. They look like fancy dinner napkins.

Now, as we compiled the costumes for operas in other cities in Canada and the US, we naturally made an inventory list. These jabots came in various styles, but, each time I typed out my list, the item that tickled my fancy most was the "lacy jabot" because to me that sounded like it could be the name of a burlesque performer. So I did a pin-up (or three) based on this "jabot" motif.

That's Betty Page serving as my Lacy Jabot. Technically, she's not wearing a jabot that's lacy in this painting –or even in the other painting I did of this character, but I planned to paint more pin-ups to correct that. I painted Lacy here on the side of a World War II bomber because it seemed most appropriate despite the fact Betty herself was famous as a model in the '50s.

15 November 2012

Official Notice

Burning the Midnight Oil

100 portraits painted in 100 hours

Marathon starts December 6 at 5 PM, finishes December 10 at 9 PM

Read the press release HERE.

14 November 2012

Jovan Markovski

17" x 14", ink and acrylic, 2005

This is another of my mother's brothers –although, my aunt Magda claims it's Alekso, not Jovan. Confusing? Don't even get me started on the explanation of why the brothers have different last names...). They both live in Australia.

13 November 2012

Alekso Atanasovski

17" x 14", ink and acrylic, 2005

This is my uncle (my mom's brother), Alekso, who lives in Australia. Since childhood, I've been fascinated by the black and white photos of my uncles (and my dad) in military uniform...something about mandatory service in the Yugoslav army (I still haven't inquired too deeply about it).

I met him and the rest of my Australian family when I visited there with my sister in 1993. It was quite amazing to see so many familiar faces that I'd gotten to know through photos only.

Like in the two paintings of my dad (here and here), the red is acrylic, the rest is ink.

11 November 2012


The Holiday 2012 issue of Grapevine magazine is now out and has a nice article about me and my artwork, and mentions Krista and Small Pond Arts as well.

Marnie Woodrow visited Small Pond back in the summer to interview me as I toured her around the grounds and showed her my paintings and Krista's puppets. Some time later, Steven Elphick came by for a photo shoot which was just as fun, even though he was forced to take pictures of my big weird head.

The article and photos came out very well and I'm happy to be featured in such a publication.

The paintings seen in the above photo are (clockwise from top left): John Nyman, Surrounding Silo, The Lady and the Lions, and Blaine Way.

03 November 2012

Meat Market Browsers

14" x 17", ink on paper, 2005, private collection

These cows are the only ink-on-paper part of my otherwise-painted-in-oils-on-canvas Meat Matters series from last decade.

The cows here are seen wandering around Toronto's famous Kensington Market. I have fond childhood memories of going to the market with my parents and at least one time when my American cousins visited. Decades later (and now, nearly a decade ago), Krista and I would have our first kiss about a block away from the location above.