Hat Trick

24" x 36", oil on canvas, 2017, (after Johns)

Peter and Alice of Blizzmax Gallery had asked if I would like to participate in their One 5 Oh Canada show celebrating Canada's 150th birthday this summer and, always happy to be part of a Blizzmax show, I said yes, not knowing right away what I could/would/should submit for inclusion. With an eye towards positivity and celebration (rather than grim political commentary) I settled on aping a couple of Jasper Johns paintings of American flags and giving them a Canadian twist.

This one is a riff on his Three Flags (1958) which I did in oil (rather than his encaustic on canvas) and is much smaller than his work. Because I used a different medium, I had to create an illusion of depth as well as rely on many layers of gesso and paint for actual texture. My flag paintings are less complex as a result, but no less fun and whimsical.

My other painting is a Canadian version of his White Flag (1955) which I titled Snowblind.

Creating the illusion of stacking.

Over a few layers of gesso (for added texture) I did as precise a tracing as possible of the maple leaf in our flag because accuracy was important here. The design of the leaf in the Canadian flag is almost impossible to draw freehand and almost no one can get it right.  The proportions of the other elements vary in my flag paintings, but the leaf HAD to be correct.

Then after I covered the surface with orange acrylic for my ground colour (as usual), I reinforced the shadows of the two top flags with black acrylic to give the illusion of stacked forms (Johns made three flags and stacked them while mine is decidedly flat).

Almost there...

As with my white flag, I applied some dark acrylics for depth and to assist in illusion of shadows, then went straight to oil colours getting to this point, which is pretty close to what I want –another few hours of touching-up (some reddening of the reds, some darkening of the shadows, and some brightening of the whites) once this stage is dry and I'm happy and the paintings is ready for the show.


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