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Showing posts from 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

Maple Taffy

Maple Taffy 14" x 17", oil on Bristol board, 2020, private collection. 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:

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:

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: *


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:

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:


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