26 May 2020

Count Floyd

Count Floyd
14" x 17", oil on Bristol board, 2020

Even as a young kid, I knew right away that the brilliant Joe Flaherty played Count Floyd, but it took me a while to realize Count Floyd was played by Floyd Robertson, the news anchor also played by Flaherty. And that's one of the many reasons I love SCTV: they created a world in which the characters inhabit together like a repertory company and this allows (among much else) for the real person Joe Flaherty to play the character Floyd Robertson and for Floyd Robertson to then play the character Count Floyd (which is a wonderful tribute to all the news anchors, sports and weather reporters, etc. of local news shows who doubled as early morning cartoon show or late nite horror movie show hosts).

Here's very scary time lapse video of me painting the Count:






25 May 2020

Mrs. Falbo

Mrs. Falbo
14" x 17", oil on Bristol board, 2020

Continuing my portrait series of my favourite SCTV characters, here's my rendition of the brilliant Andrea Martin's colourful and bizarre children's TV host, Mrs. Falbo. Her princess dress  is pretty spectacular, but I wanted to add a bit more colour and reference the episode where she sings a song to teach us how to count to ten.

The design of the numbers is based directly on the ones the brilliant John Candy's Mr. Messenger (Falbo's sidekick/assistant) ran by with in the background, desperately trying to keep up with the fast pace of the song.

Here's a time lapse video of me painting Mrs. Falbo:



30 April 2020

Johnny LaRue

Johnny LaRue
17" x 14", oil on Bristol board, 2020

Here's my SCTV story:

One late Friday night (likely some time in 1979 or 1980), during one of the many, many sleepovers at my cousins' house, we tuned in to SCTV. I'm not sure I got all the jokes –certainly not all the references– but I knew it was something this 8- or 9- year-old liked.

I would keep up with SCTV for years, on whatever channel I could find it, and it was in the mid-'80s that I started noticing the name "Malabar" in the credits, listed as providing costumes (of course, the costume designer was the brilliant Juul Haalmeyer).

In 1990 I started attending the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University) on McCaul Street (about midway between Queen and Dundas in Toronto) and, just one block north of Queen, was Malabar Costumes. The name recognition from watching countless hours of SCTV gave me a distant sense of vague connection: the art school I'm going to is on the same street as the costume shop that serviced my favourite comedy show. I never went inside Malabar during my two years at OCA, but I smiled just about every time I passed the shop.

While looking for work in 2003 I saw an ad looking for a costumer at, lo and behold, the Opera Department of Malabar Costumes on Brock Street (I mistook it for Brock Road in Pickering, much closer to my home than its actual location in downtown Toronto). For three years, I assembled costumes for many opera companies in Canada and the USA. Sometimes, my duties would take me to the HQ on McCaul St. (I finally -now, regularly- went inside that mythical building I passed hundreds of times over a decade earlier).

I took this shot from the second floor of the Opera Dept.
on Brock St. (I brightened the sign a bit for legibility).


This door was on the main building
on McCaul and led to an alleyway.

Much of the crew at Malabar had been there for a long time and remembered the SCTV days. I heard a few stories about the cast and Juul, but my absolute favourite thing was seeing some of the costumes used on the show (much of which were stock items, like formal period suits and dresses). I got to see the Shmenge brothers shirts (with "John" and "Gene" still written on the inside) and I even got to try on one of Dr. Tongue's vests. It was magical.

So get this:
1970s: I see first-run SCTV as a kid;
1980s: grow to enjoy the show even more; notice Malabar credited as providing their costumes;
1990s: go to art school down the street from Malabar;
2000s: work at Malabar in the Opera Dept.;
2020s: paint portraits of my favourite SCTV characters.

Here's the time lapse video of this painting's creation:



22 April 2020

Maple Taffy

Maple Taffy
14" x 17", oil on Bristol board, 2020

I was assigned to document this year's Ice Box event (February 2020) in photos and video and I noticed, almost without fail, that my first few shots taken outside would be overexposed (if I had come from shooting indoors) and the first few shots taken inside would be underexposed (if I had come from shooting outside).

On the second weekend, Chef Chris Byrne and food stylist Ruth Gangbar were making maple taffy from local maple syrup on a makeshift apparatus recreating the methods used in sugar shacks. When reviewing my first few photos, I noticed this one of a young girls enjoying a sweet treat was way overexposed with everything but her red hair being blown out. I really liked the "minimalist use of negative space" that my incorrect camera settings "designed" for me, so I kept it to paint later on.


Here's the time lapse video of its creation:




21 April 2020

The Last Outpost

The Last Outpost
16" x 20", oil on mat board, 2020

Maybe I'm just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, but sometimes my artwork makes people smile...and that's enough (for now) for me to keep the light on in the dark; maybe someone will find some fuel to keep going through the night.

I've had the photo reference for this painting for close to twenty years (taken on one of several road trips to New York City), but I never felt I had the wherewithal to paint it to my satisfaction. But recently, my experimentation has me getting out of a stylistic comfort zone, and I'm trying new things (including using my fingertips to apply paint and move it around (it really helped with the lights, here).

Also, symbolically, it felt like the right painting for right now; my first paragraph is how I feel and all there is I currently have to say.


Here's the time lapse video of its creation:




20 April 2020

Happy However After

Happy However After
14" x 17", oil on Bristol board, 2020, private collection.

Much like the situation with my Sleepy Fox painting, this one was also done for a family member's birthday. My brother-in-law, Tim, reached a milestone (it's on the jersey), but, since everyone has to stay away from each other because of the pandemic, he could only share the special day with his wife and two kids.

I loosely based my still life on "Still Life on a Table" by Willemsz Heda from around 1644 (though, I basically just used the table, tablecloth, and the light-coloured fabric that's now underneath the baseball glove). Then I added a bunch of his favourite things* in a satisfying composition –all intended to put a smile on his face the day he turned 40. And it worked! He'll get the painting itself when it's dry (and safe) enough to send to Ottawa.

Happy birthday, Tim!


Here's a time lapse video of this painting's creation:




*incidentally, this is the second time I've painted two bottles from Steam Whistle Brewing and a glass full of their beer.


18 April 2020

Hubbub

Hubbub
16" x 20", oil on mat board, 2020

Continuing the practice of revisiting older photo reference I've shot (and, sometimes, painted already) this painting is based on a photo of my friend, Trish, from way back in the mid-1990s. Below is the watercolour version, which is okay, but it's very small, so there's less detail...and I think my new oil version is more vibrant and alive (which is a good sign, considering they're about 25 years apart).

15" x 11", watercolour, 1994




Here's the time lapse video of "Hubbub's" creation:





17 April 2020

Sleepy Fox

Sleepy Fox (for Isla)
16" x 20", oil on mat board, 2020,
private collection.

One of my nieces turned 8 years old this year, but in the midst of pandemic-induced social distancing, she wasn't able to have her fox-themed birthday party. So I made this cute little fox painting for her and the accompanying video to help ease a bit of the disappointment I knew she'd be feeling.

Here's the time lapse video of this painting's creation:


03 April 2020

Abdicate

Abdicate
17" x 14", oil on Bristol board, 2020

This painting is based on photo reference I shot in the late '90s and used as part of my Operation: Waterstorm project from 1998 (see below). I challenged myself to paint one watercolour per week for the entire year (I ended up painting 63 in total). I had a suspicion that painting regularly would improve my skills and it turned out to be true; the only way to get better at something is to keep doing it (it's also important to be mindful throughout and learn from your mistakes; the improvement is cumulative, but there will be some duds along the way).

This current project (which, uncharacteristically, for me doesn't have a name) is very similar, even in its origin: on New Year's Eve, 2019, I decided to paint as many pictures in 2020 (and beyond) as I could, all the while filming myself and then uploading time lapse videos to my YouTube channel. As of this posting, I've done 14 paintings (and videos) which puts me at just over a painting per week on average (I have a bathroom renovation and pandemic to contend with, or there would be a few more by now).

As with the watercolour project from 1998, I'm finding some improvement in my paintings (so far, just oils, but I'll eventually paint some watercolours because I still love that medium very much). I'm trying some new techniques and Bristol board is an interesting surface to paint on.

Mad
22" x 15", watercolour, 1998.

This was the first time I used this reference image...but not the last: I abstracted it in Photoshop, then painted that image in oils nearly a decade later (below).

Easy as Pie
40" x 30", oil on canvas, 2007.

Of course, this wouldn't be the last time I use this photo reference; after Abdicate, I'll be using it in a larger oil painting to be done in the next couple of months (and there'll be a time lapse video for that, as well).

Meanwhile, here's the time lapse video of Abdicate's creation:





29 March 2020

Twinkle, Twinkle

Twinkle, Twinkle
17" x 14", oil on Bristol board, 2020

I've painted my friend, Ashley, more than any other model I've used and this particular pose had been sort of "on deck" for about two decades, making many appearances in my sketchbook in various compositions with various items joining her, but only appearing in one other painting until now.

Pencil sketch from 1999.

In many sketches over the years, I've put all kinds of stuff on and around Ashley, and I gave her a full-colour sunflower "tattoo" when I used her in this painting from my Sunflowers series (about a year or so before I started painting in oils as well as watercolours):

Corona Solis (papa)
15" x 22", watercolour, 2000

I've been revisiting much of my voluminous photo reference that I've been shooting since the early 1990s (on film until around 2012, then digital ever since), and this pose came up yet again and, as accompaniment, I finally made a decision and used a snapshot I took of a cat while visiting my friends years ago. The cat's name was Cole...and I almost named this "Cole and Ash" as a fun play on words.

Here's a time lapse video of Twinkle, Twinkle's creation:


27 March 2020

Songbird

Songbird
17" x 14", oil on Bristol board, 2020

There's not much to say about this painting, seeing as it's a variation of Downcast (bot painted concurrently (it was a bit of a challenge keeping the two separate as far as the video files go)) with the addition of an empty word balloon (which was painted in a few graceful strokes, I must say –visible in the video below).

Here is a time lapse video of this painting's creation:



23 March 2020

Downcast

Downcast
17" x 14", oil on Bristol board, 2020


Here's a time lapse video of this painting's creation:


I've used this same photo reference of Aisha in a couple of previous paintings, beginning here:

Tides
22" x 22", watercolour, 2000

...and that watercolour painting (but smaller and in black and white) makes an appearance in the upper left corner of this oil painting:

AW-026
36" x 24", oil on canvas, 2002




21 March 2020

Krista Akimbo

Krista Akimbo
17" x 14", oil on Bristol board, 2020

I tried some extensive palette knife painting on this one to give it a bright, reflected-sunlight glow behind the figure. It turned out okay, but made me change my mind about the colour of the sky (which began as a gradient from blue at the top to very light blue at the horizon) – you can see the swerve in the video below. In the end, I like the hazy, summer-day-approaching-sunset look.

I scratched out the word balloon and heart with the back end of a paint brush (as I have been doing for my "m2" signature for a few years, now.

Here's a time lapse video of this painting's creation:



14 March 2020

Into the Woods

Into the Woods
14" x 17", oil on Bristol board, 2020

One of the main purposes of this "time lapse video" exercise is to keep me painting regularly and, by doing so, I hope to learn a few things and get better at it. So, watching these videos is a fascinating (for me, anyway) look into my development as a painter as I try new techniques.

To save space I've begun experimenting with painting on Bristol board and that means the surface needs to be prepped, and this is how I did that: after I pencilled in the subject/s I covered the paper with clear gesso, then taped the sheet to a hard surface (which produced that uneven border), then covered that with orange acrylic (like I usually do), then paint away. Even after these preparatory steps, the surface isn't what I'm used to working on...it seems more porous...but I've managed to adapt and make it work for me.

With this painting, I've used my friend, Kimberley, once again from a recent photo shoot and the background was made up as I painted it –which is highly unusual for me, since I like to plan as much as I can before even the pencilling stage– but I really like how the lighting effects turned out and the expressive nature of the background lends a kinetic aspect that works well with the pose.


Here's a time lapse video of this painting's creation:




13 March 2020

Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher
18" x 14", oil on canvas, 2020

When I embarked on this new project to record myself painting pictures then upload time lapse videos to my YouTube channel, I began my usual practice of rummaging through my sketchbooks and photo reference for material. I kept coming across pictures of Carrie Fisher and, although I've painted her as part of a group in Visible, Audible Heat, and did a stylized painting of The Princess (for which I used a friend), I thought it'd be fun to paint a picture of what's in my mind's eye when I think of "Princess Leia," that is, Carrie Fisher in her white outfit with these braids she wore in The Empire Strikes Back.

Below is the time lapse video of this painting's creation:




06 March 2020

No More Butterflies

No More Butterflies
18" x 14", oil on canvas, 2020

I'm enjoying revisiting older paintings and photo reference for the new paintings (and their time lapse videos) I'm doing this year. I have so many photos of friends and co-workers, as well as shots of locations and objects that have been waiting to be painted (or repainted), that I can pretty much go on indefinitely (especially since I'm regularly shooting new reference!). This former co-worker also appears in "Close" and "The Waitress," both from 1998.

Here's a quick sketch of her I did a few years ago in preparation for another project:



Below is the time lapse video of this painting's creation:



01 March 2020

Tractor

Tractor
14" x 18", oil on canvas, 2020

This painting revisits local Prince Edward County farmers Ed and Sandy Taylor's tractor which (barely) appears in the portrait I painted of them in 2011 and which I painted by itself in watercolour in 2016.

Below is the time lapse video of its creation:


24 February 2020

Evasion

Evasion
14" x 18", oil on canvas, 2020

This painting revisits the subject matter of "Evade" from 1998 –a painting which made a cameo appearance in "Furious Blunder from 2013. 

Below is a time lapse video of its creation:




23 February 2020

Buckle My Shoe

Buckle My Shoe
14" x 18", oil on canvas, 2020

This painting is a "re-do" of a watercolour I did in 1998, but in oil this time. The background is a similar colour, but I decided to keep this simple and dispensed with the matrix pattern.

Below is a time lapse video of its creation:




22 February 2020

Lighthouse at Peggy's Cove

Lighthouse at Peggy's Cove
18" x 14", oil on canvas, 2020

This painting is based on a photo I took in 2003 when my sister, our cousin, and I took a road trip to the east coast of Canada (we only went as far as Halifax and didn't get to see Newfoundland). I waited until the whole piece was dry then I added a thin (but not thinned) layer of pure white over the lighthouse and the farther rocks to simulate fog.

Below is a time lapse video of its creation:




13 February 2020

The Child Looks Up

The Child Looks Up
20" x 24", oil on canvas, 2019

For some reason I decided to paint two pictures of "Baby Yoda" mostly concurrently (here's the other one) and below is the time lapse video of its creation. 




12 February 2020

Baby Yoda

Baby Yoda
20" x 24", oil on canvas, 2019

As The Mandalorian TV series reached its end in December 2019 I really wanted to express my enjoyment of the show and the character of "The Child" AKA "The Asset" AKA "Baby Yoda" in a painting (which quickly became two paintings). Partly because I'd been creating videos about my paintings for a few weeks at that point and partly because I was curious to see how it would turn out, I decided to record my progress on video (rather than my usual documentation in still images) and upload them to my channel as time lapse videos.

And it was on New Year's Eve, 2019 that, while reviewing my rough cut of my other Baby Yoda time lapse video that I realized I was in love with the format and decided that that would be my next move; I would record and make time lapse videos of all my paintings from that point onward. I think it's great because it keeps me in the practice of painting more regularly than usual, people can see my process, and what takes my many hours or days to paint can be viewed in mere minutes!


The reference I used was from a scene where the kid is riding in a satchel attached to a droid who's protecting him, and they're travelling at high speed on a speeder bike (which is why his left ear is bent back, flapping in the wind). The reference was wider than my canvas, which left too much empty space in the top third of the canvas, so I added the Mando's spaceship coming in for a landing. I had initially blocked in and painted most of the robot in the background, but it wasn't working due to lack of context and it was crowding the ship, so I completely painted it out, leaving a much simpler and easier-to-read composition.

For the sake of convenience, I created a shorter video (excerpted from the main one) focusing on my painting of the spaceship component all on its own: