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Showing posts from January, 2012

Corona Solis (yankee)

22" x 15", watercolour, 2000 I graduated the colours of the matrix in this one to resemble a landscape of greenery, water, and sky, with sunflowers on the land and the sun in the sky. However... It was unintentional, I assure you, but there is a phallic implication to this composition (which I don't actually mind), so take it either way. Or both. Sketch (no phallus here). The reference for this model was sourced from a magazine and not my own photograph.

Corona Solis (tango & uniform)

Corona Solis (tango) 15" x 11", watercolour, 2000  private collection I used photo ref of Alyson Hannigan from a magazine for these two paintings. This was at a time when I was photographing my own models for my paintings, so why are so many magazine models are turning up in the Sunflowers series? Most likely building my illustration portfolio with a few more recognizable faces to demonstrate I can do likenesses fairly well. Anyway, in this photo shoot, she's actually goofing around with an action figure of herself as her character,  Willow Rosenberg , from Buffy the Vampire Slayer . I replaced the doll with a sunflower. Ha-ha. Corona Solis (uniform) 15" x 11", watercolour, 2000

Corona Solis (papa)

15" x 22", watercolour, 2000 Ashley's back again in this one (pun intended) and, this time, I wanted to make it look like the sunflower was a tattoo. I used black ink for the outline and coloured the flower flatly, but conforming to the contours of her back to help the illusion. The dangly bit below her hair is the back of the same necklace that's in CS (golf) . I didn't have a sketchbook with me at the time I came up with the tattoo idea (that arrow leads to a note, indicating this), so I drew the sketch below on whatever piece of paper I had at hand. Sketch (in ball point!)

Corona Solis (oscar)

22" x 15", watrcolour, 2000 That's Ashley again, making her fifth (of six) appearances in the Sunflowers series. I tried, once again, to have the subjects affected by the matrix pattern (like I did with antidote ,  Cultural Mess , and Fruitful Mess ) and it works pretty well, so I don't know why I haven't tried it in more paintings...

Corona Solis (mike)

22" x 15", watercolour, 2000 I used photo ref of my friend, Trish, taken in the mid '90s for this painting. I did a few paintings of her from that shoot where I got her to make some amusing, cheeky faces, and I thought this particular pose was so good that I decided to use it again here. Only the addition of the green band is different from the sketch. Sketch.

Corona Solis (lima)

22" x 15", watercolour, 2000 This is the first time in the series where the model appears to be physically interacting with a flower –even though the source model wasn't actually interacting with a flower: she was already holding that piece of fabric, but then I added the sunflower and shadow to create the illusion. This model was from a magazine and not from photographic reference I shot myself. She's also the same model that's in CS (quebec).

Corona Solis (kilo)

22" x 15", watercolour, 2000 When deciding the sunflower placement for this painting I chose to cover her crotch not out of any censorship concerns, but because it's kinda funny...and it's usually sexier to tease than it is to explicitly reveal. The flower at the top sort of evokes a flower in her hair as well as a halo. This model was from a magazine and not from photographic reference I shot myself.

Corona Solis (juliet)

22" x 15", watercolour, 2000 This is the same model as in CS (foxtrot) and I had the same problem of trying to find a suitable place for the flower. Again, I played around in my sketchbook (sorry, not interesting enough to post here) with different arrangements, and, since she's leaning more in this one, and her hand's in that position, a single large sunflower was the best solution. I did try a bit of light bloom around her head by softening the edges, but I still think that effect was better achieved in CS (charlie) . I don't know why I left that triangular negative space grey rather than filling it with more blue matrix...

Corona Solis (hotel)

22" x 15", watercolour, 2000 This is the same Kim that's in Without List 2  (and she also appears in the very last painting of the Sunflowers series, CS (zulu) ). To convey a floating feeling, I had her lie on the floor and, after arranging the lights (and her hair to be as flowy as possible), I stood on my coffee table and took the photo. Sketch. The placement of sunflowers didn't change from sketch to painting, and I like how the top flower serves as a halo –a true corona– (a recurring motif in this series). 

Corona Solis (golf)

  15" x 22", watercolour, 2000 Ashley returns to the Sunflowers series with her back turned to us (my choice; so you can see her shoulders and the dangling part of her necklace). I actually took some time and specifically placed those strands of hair in front of her face like that, leaving a gap to reveal her eye. Early sketch. As always, and well after the photo shoot, I did a few sketches to determine what the background and sunflower arrangement would be. The above sketch was before I decided to include the oval element as a "window" set into the matrix to show the flowers. It also shows that this painting was originally going to be the 8th painting in the series ("hotel"), but, for some reason, it got moved up to "golf."

Corona Solis (foxtrot)

22" x 15", watercolour, 2000 Another flat white halo, but, for some reason, I didn't try rendering a light bloom around the model like I did in CS (charlie) . However, the matrix "radiating" from it (sorta like in this painting ), simulates a stained glass kind of brightness. I painted three sunflowers for compositional balance (one would have been too lonely and two would have been too unintentionally comical if placed in front of her boobs (I tried both variations in my sketchbook and neither option worked)).

Corona Solis (delta)

15" x 22", watercolour, 2000 Once again, Elaine Secord is modelling here. The circular motifs around the sunflowers are heavily inspired by the designs of Alphonse Mucha , my favourite artist in the art nouveau style.

Corona Solis (charlie)

15" x 22", watercolour, 2000 Here's Elaine again from the same photo shoot that resulted in so many good pictures that weren't used on Squirm's " Cold " CD, but ended up as paintings. I wanted to give the halo a realistic glow, so I softened the edges around her hair and shoulder, trying to create a blooming effect , which is a photographic artefact I enjoy.

Corona Solis (bravo)

15" x 22", watercolour, 2000 I used a number of unused photos from a shoot I did with Elaine for her band's 1998 CD " Cold " as reference for a number of paintings, including my Sunflowers series. Balancing out the background matrix is a sideways "t" form that contains sunflowers...but it has the overall effect of looking (unintentionally) like a flag ( Sweden and Norway and Finland (maybe others...) come to mind). But that's okay with me; they're nice flags.

Corona Solis (alpha)

22" x 15", watercolour, 2000 This painting was the first of my Sunflowers series in which I painted 26 pictures of women posing with sunflowers, each identified by parenthetical radio code. Here, Ashley's wearing an outfit made of negative space (I'd been experimenting with negative space in a number of paintings since the mid-90s). The gold in the halo is simple gold paint.


15" x 22", watercolour, 1998 During the photoshoot (with a co-worker at the time) for this, I grabbed my shiny toaster, hoping something interesting would happen if she put it on her shoulder. The result is interesting, strange, and revealing: this woman appears to be younger when looked at in profile than she does from the front. Or maybe that's just my interpretation of what I'm seeing. This painting was part of  Operation: Waterstorm .

Shirley Manson

22" x 15", watercolour, 2002, private collection Shirley's the lead singer in another one of my favourite bands, Garbage *, and was also at the top of my list for doing celebrity portraits for my illustration portfolio. Again, I used a photo from a magazine as reference for this, but I changed some colours: Shirley's top was white...and so was her hair! This natural redhead had short, spiky-ish white hair in this photo. Unacceptable for my painting because she's normally ginger. Guitar sketch closeup. Layout designs with flaming hair. Here I am playing around with the idea of having her hair rendered in a very stylized way, focusing on flames. In the end, the stylized wave kind of does still evoke a flame, just not as explicitly as these sketches. Flaming hair: interesting, but not used. *Previously, she was in a band called  Angelfish  which I think she largely would like to forget, but there's a bunch of songs on their one and o

Tori Amos

22" x 15", watercolour, 2001 Tori Amos is one of my favourite musicians and when I was painting a bunch of famous people for my illustration portfolio, she was at the top of my list (mostly for her red hair). The likeness is a bit off, but I kinda like how the old-fashioned microphone turned out. As noted in my previous post, the separate photo references for Tori and the microphone are from magazines. Early sketch.

Nicole Kidman

22" x 15", watercolour, 2001 I painted a number of famous actors* to round out my illustration portfolio, and all of them are based on magazine photo reference. The reason Nicole may look a little off here is more due to her makeup being quite stylized in that photo shoot –rather than me being off with the likeness...which happens. I tried to keep her skin as pale as possible, only adding light colour in the shadows to help describe the forms, concentrating all my painterly flourishes in her voluminous red hair. *and others throughout the years: Madchen Amick & James Spader ; Tori Amos ; Gillian Anderson & David Duchovny ; Sean Connery ; Alyson Hannigan; Alfred Hitchcock ; Michael Jordan ; Shirley Manson ; Bettie Page; Michelle Pfeiffer (my first portrait of any kind); Albert Pujols ; Meg Ryan ; Tiger Woods ...and a few others that didn't turn out so well, so you won't be seeing 'em.

End the Need for Eden

15" x 22", watercolour, 1998 The title is a line from the song "Anagram (For Mongo)" by Rush , from their 1989 album Presto , a song in which each line contains anagrams of that line's words: There's a snake coming out of the darkness Parade from paradise End the need for Eden Chase the dreams of merchandise According to my preliminary sketches, though, this painting was called "Truth." I don't remember why I changed it to the Rush lyric. Sketches for the background. Vertical orientation above switches to horizontal orientation below, in which the background is (nearly) locked down. Final background sketch. Curvy matrix.     This painting was part of  Operation: Waterstorm .

and suddenly...

15" x 11", watercolour, 1998 A testy, screwy sketch. I don't have much commentary on this one other than to say it was an experiment with cropped composition. Also, I don't remember where the idea for the bolts came from or why I discarded it.  Ditto the name change. This painting was part of  Operation: Waterstorm .


15" x 22", watercolour, 1998 The position of the model was always intended to be right-of-centre, but I did a few sketches trying to figure out what the background should be, choosing to combine the last two (note: matrix motif is referred to as "stained glass") and rendering it with a rather reserved palette. I used charcoal to write the word on the painting (like I did with mad. , figment , and learn ). This painting was part of  Operation: Waterstorm . Annette Wagner

Virtuous or Virtual?

15" x 22", watercolour, 1998, private collection The composition of this one may look odd, but I always intended for the model to be sort of falling forward in space. She's actually lying on the same black chair that's in Without List 2 and   Take a Break, Driver 8 (same model and outfit, but the chair is negative and "invisible," foreshadowing this painting's truly invisible chair). The title comes from the song "Selfish"  by  Michael Penn  from his 1997 album  Resigned . I find Penn's juxtaposition of those specific words very interesting. This painting was part of  Operation: Waterstorm .

Take a Break, Driver 8

Take a Break, Driver 8 11" x 15", watercolour, 1998 This painting has a lot going on for such a small piece: I wanted to play with flat negative space, so I made the chair white and only included the model's shadow; the matrix reappears; there are art nouveau motifs lifted from Alphonse Mucha ; there's actually a bit of a narrative relating to the title; and the jeans are quite nicely rendered. The title is from the song "Driver 8" by R.E.M.  from their 1985 album Fables of the Reconstruction (also known as Reconstruction of the Fables ). This painting was part of  Operation: Waterstorm .


18" x 22.5", watercolour, 1998 Here I managed to make the matrix into a sort of halo, which I find an interesting framing motif, despite (or because of?) the religious connotations. Preliminary sketch. I'm not sure why I posed her arms like that...maybe it was a subconscious need to paint someone doing the  Safety Dance . The title comes from the song  "Figment"  by Michael Penn from his 1997 album Resigned . For other background info on the title, see my post about  evade  (featuring the same model and her arms). This painting was part of  Operation: Waterstorm .


22" x 12", watercolour, 1998 I did a few sketches to figure out the composition for this, starting with the large one on the top right (then the three on the left, then, finally, the bottom right), and I had intended to use the word "orbit" on the painting itself, (incorporating my signature and a small dot as other "orbiting" elements). I changed my mind and left the word off, but only after a few more sketches to work out the matrix arrangement, deciding on the appearance of stylized falling broken glass (for purely aesthetic reasons). This should have been a comic-like triptych depicting an actual orbit around the paper –as it is now, however, the title is a complete non sequitur (which is okay by me). Maybe I'll re-do it that way in oils...(I have to look for the reference photos I shot, because I like the hand placement in the bottom left sketch). This painting was part of  Operation: Waterstorm . For background info on the


15" x 22", watercolour, 1998 The reference for this came from a photo shoot I did with my friend, Kimberley Black (whom I've known since high school), a year or two beforehand. Yes, she can touch the tip of her nose with her tongue; she wanted to to prove it to me...then I snapped the shot. I find the supercolourful nature and the lighter middle areas of each cell makes the matrix more reminiscent of stained glass here than in other versions –it also makes me think of candy: I can taste that background (and, no, I can't touch the tip of my nose with my tongue). This painting was part of Operation: Waterstorm . For background info on the title, see my post about evade . Sketch, offering further proof.

Fruitful Mess

(with Peter Kovacs ) approx. 11" x 15", watercolour, 1988, private collection This is the second of only two paintings * I collaborated on with Peter (the first being Cultural Mess ); I don't remember why we felt the need to work together on the same paintings, nor do I remember why we decided to stop. If we did continue, though, I'm certain we planned to keep using the G23 signature and probably keep naming the paintings "[adjective here] Mess." We were trying to achieve some kind of cubist fracturing and ended up with this sort of stained-glass kind of look. My memory is very hazy, but I think peter pencilled the Canadian flag (with me laying out the matrix pattern) in the other one and I pencilled the fruit and drew the matrix for this one, then we painted each of them together (even simultaneously at times). What's the significance of the apple and the carrot? I drew them from memory without reference (it shows!)...but why that specifi


17" x 11", watercolour, 1998, private collection I'm in the middle of doing a comprehensive inventory of my artwork and it is interesting to see just how many paintings I have incorporated the so-called Matrix * motif into. Even before I really started painting in 1988, I can remember making these patterns in pen or pencil years before high school. The next run of posts will be about paintings containing the Matrix motif --some of them from 1998 when I implemented Operation: Waterstorm (one painting per week for a year). With this painting I tried to return to my early attempts (along with Peter Kovacs) to bring the Matrix into the subject's form (changing the hues, but not following the contours). I've only tried that a few times and would like to explore that more... I used a model from a magazine for this --which is strange, considering the voluminous photo ref I'd recently shot and used that year... The significance of this painting's title