20 December 2013

Furious Blunder

30" x 36", oil on canvas, 2013

The ninth painting (although there's no real order, unless you want to infer one) in my Tournament of Shadows series, this a sort of sequel to Between Maybe and Maybe Not.

Below are in-progress details in the order I painted them:

Here I am reusing my photo ref previously used in an earlier watercolour, Aisha (pensive). There are still some very bright highlights to add.

Click the skull for a larger-than-life view (depending on your screen size, of course).

Surrounded by the orange ground makes everything look weird and possibly warmer than intended, especially the raven.

Another earlier watercolour, evade, makes a cameo.

Nearly done and covering up most of my orange ground, the values of the subjects settle themselves down now and indicate that they're not weird, after all.

16 December 2013

Kodak Instamatic X-15

18" x 24", oil on canvas, 2013

I've posted before about my love of photography and the SLR film camera I used to use extensively to shoot my photo reference for my paintings, and I've painted a different, older, non-functional film camera quite a bit (most recently and most pointedly in My Advantage Point). However, the cost of film photography combined with my novice-like understanding of F-stops, etc. made switching to a digital SLR (which, aside from the occasional auto-focus feature, I use in its manual setting, to replicate using my Minolta) this past summer all the more convenient, economical, and photographically certain. I can now instantly see if I'm getting the exposure I want/need and only have to print the photos I choose (with a bit of post-processing and recomposing with other photos in Photoshop) to use as reference for my artwork.

I still love the process of film photography and the sophisticated-yet-low-tech nature of it, and the cameras of a certain era (much like cars from a certain era) have an aesthetic that still appeals greatly to me, so I'll still be including them, here and there, in future paintings.

The camera above was my family's main image recording device for nearly two decades and below is a quickly-retouched picture of me as an infant (probably mid-1972, judging by my size) playing with its big box in our first house on Dundas Street in Toronto:

Probably the first photo taken with this camera.

Below is the 3 1/4" x 3 1/4" photo as it looks today, recently (and carefully) pulled out of a family album where it's been living for over 40 years (complete with bonus wallet-size 2 1/4" x 2 1/4" version provided by Chas Abel Photo Service in Toronto:

The nature of the film used in the Instamatic meant that all the prints came out square, which, for my entire pre-adolescent life, was how I thought photos worked and viewed rectangular home photos as strange and incorrect. Now that I've just written that, I realize I should've made this painting square!

28 November 2013

County 101: Roundup and FAQ

101 ink paintings of Prince Edward County
painted in 101 consecutive hours.

This is the FAQ for my 2013 painting marathon, County 101. Last year's Burning the Midnight Oil marathon has its own FAQ and, since there's some crossover, please check that one out in case this one doesn't fulfill your needs.


You did this last year. Isn't once enough of this sort of thing?

Counting the time I did this (minus the painting) in 1989 (you can read that log here: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5), this was the third time I've stayed awake for over 100 hours. Last year's marathon was quite successful, so I figured one more (while I'm still capable) would be nice to close out the trilogy...or hat trick, or however you want to look at it.

Are you going to do this again?
No, I think that's quite enough of this sort of thing.

What was this one about?

After living here for three years and then painting 33 scenes of Prince Edward County  for my 33 on 33 project during the spring of 2013, I felt my education about what makes the County so special was still in its early stages (hence the title), so I thought I'd ramp it up by asking local residents what makes PEC special to them, personally. I put the call out and got more than enough to work with.

The paintings are available for sale at $101 each with half of the proceeds going towards helping Puppets Without Borders and their next trip to Ghana in February 2014.

Were you surprised by the suggestions?
I received several suggestions for the standard landmarks like The Regent Theatre, the Crystal Palace, the Sandbanks beaches, among others, but I was surprised at how personally people took this; rather than promoting their own businesses (which I have no problem with at all) most people shared childhood memories, significant family locations...deeply personal connections. That's what gave me a great variety of subjects and a meaningful collection of paintings.

How did you prepare for this?
I tried to get as much rest and sleep beforehand but that was complicated by necessary last-minute prep of the drawings and some late nights doing so. Otherwise it might have been a little easier...

How hard/easy was it this time?
Architectural shapes are easier than getting likenesses correct for portraits, and landscapes are even easier, so the amazing variety of subject matter made successful painting easier overall, but I still found it very difficult to stay awake between 4am and 7am.

That said, elements like the millions of mullions of the Crystal palace, the logs of the wood pile, and the stones in the stone wall were all pretty tricky to keep track of, but I tried to give each painting the appropriate attention it required and deserved: if it was complex (like the letterpress at Spark Box Studio) I gave it more time, if it was simple (like this silhouette) it went by quickly.

Did you watch Star Trek again?

This year's accompanying show was The Six Million Dollar Man, another childhood favourite of mine. Mostly enjoyable, but there were more than a few dull episodes and some frustratingly bad ones –but the music was almost always fantastic.

And I got really good at my impression of Oscar Goldman yelling "STEVE!"

Did any paintings get ruined by microsleeps like last time?

Nothing was ruined, but I had a few microsleeps –some in mid-afternoon (rather than between 4-7am, the most difficult time for me to stay awake, so that was kind of alarming)– and, yes, I made some unintended marks, but the nature of the subjects this time makes them less noticeable. No deal-breakers this time!

How do you feel about these paintings compared to last year?

As much as I truly believe that every human face is unique and interesting, I found the diversity in the subject matter this time refreshing and slightly more interesting, and I think I did a better job as a result (also, I had another year of painting under my belt). Rather than seeing face after face after face, the variety of the County 101 images is pretty amazing and will look great all together during the show (December 1-14) at Williams Family Diner.

Did you fall behind/get ahead?
I was well ahead by 4-5 paintings (if each averaged an hour, that is) for a while, but I started to fall behind around Thursday morning and didn't catch up until Friday afternoon. I'm glad I caught up so I could go back and add tonal washes to Norman Hardie and the letterpress. Then I was able to comfortably spend the last hour painting the silo at Small Pond Arts, which was my own suggestion.

Any hallucinations this time?
Nope. Mostly I just felt fatigue in the aforementioned valleys of 4-7am and especially towards the end.

How long did it take you to recover?

At the time of this posting it's been six days and I'm still gradually recovering by sleeping in a bit and taking it easy, so it could still be a few more days.

What's next?
The exhibition of these paintings is immediately next, so I'm getting ready for that, but then I'm back to work on my big oil painting as part of my Silver Jubilee, then back to more paintings from my Tournament of Shadows series. So, basically, more painting.


Below are the links to the posts containing the paintings as I completed them, ten at a time, during the actual marathon. Enjoy!

The Stack