Friday, November 30, 2007

Still Life To The Death

Royal Turban
18 x 24

It always amazes me that no matter how much we artists paint we never seem to run out of ideas or be inspired afresh by the things we see or experience. I'm always struck by the fragrant and juicy beauties piled high in supermarket produce sections, while browsing a Chinese grocer or gift shop, or working in my own garden. The attached painting Royal Turban is one such inspired painting. It needed no props to glorify it's incredible shape and colour, only a soft, natural, north light to show it to it's best advantage. It was a real challenge though, normally I paint from 5 x 7 up to 16 x 20 so this big 18 x 24 presented some interesting challenges.

Lighting was a bit of an issue as I'd set up my lights and was quite pleased with the dramatic look, however when I left the studio and turned out the lights I happened to glance back and the north light shining on the turban squash was quite stunning, turning the highlights to pinks and subtle lavenders. How could I not paint that? The problem with painting from life here in Canada is that the days are very short in the winter time. The days are endlessly long in our wonderful summers but so very short come winter. The brightest light came in from 12:00-2:30 which became my time to paint this incredible king of squashes, but it wasn't quite enough to light my palette adequately so that became somewhat of a struggle. At this size I knew this was going to take a while.

The next issue was the fact that the squash had already been hanging around the studio for some time as I completed illustration assignments and other paintings. When I was finally able to get to the squash it was showing signs of aging and by the time I was nearing the end of the painting it was starting to get leaky and mouldy. Each day before painting I had to wipe off the haze of mould that had grown overnight but managed to finish it before it collapsed.

When you are painting one solitary item at this size every single stroke counts. Any stroke placed badly will be distracting and bothersome. Brushstrokes in a simple background placed at the wrong angle will catch the light and stand out like a pink ruffle on a wrestler, all the more noticeable when you are painting larger.

All in all it was a great and wonderful challenge, I had my doubts but couldn't bear to give up on that squash.

Normally most of my paintings go out for sale but I don't think I'm ready to give this one up just yet. Maybe later.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Personal Collection

9 x 12
Oil on Canvas

The inspiration for Imposter came to me one day when I was shopping and came across a fake lemon which reminded me of my Grandmother. She had the greatest green thumb and could grow anything - except a lemon tree which just wouldn't survive the winters of Saskatchewan no matter how green the thumb. Still, she wanted a lemon tree and after saving up her fake, plastic lemons, tied them to a tree outside and had an instant lemon tree. Imposter is in honour of my Grandmother.

Of course one lemon painting just leads to another. I recently painted Impersonator after seeing the curiously shaped plastic lemon in the grocery store. Great shape, fun subject matter, not so good in the flavour category. I've painted numerous lemons and can't get enough of them. There is much to be gained by taking a subject and painting it in a variety of ways. It's both a learning experiment as well as pure pleasure as you intimately explore your chosen subject matter. It becomes a series of it's own accord in which you travel through idea after idea, explore and examine and ultimately create some very satisfying art. It's quite a journey, and like a journey there will be good trails and bad but the end results are always worth the trip.

Jerry Lebo talks about the value in doing a series. Look him up, he's got some great paintings happening.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Influences & Experiences

Twitter Trunk
30 x 18
Acrylic on Pine
As artists we are inspired by the places we've been, museums we've visited, markets, music, landscapes, people who are important to us, and other artists. Like my friends Lara and Matthias of Lime Design who love whimsy, pattern and colour but in such a sophisticated way.

They've travelled and seen a lot and like all artists are inspired by those visual experiences. A few years ago I did a trunk for their first child and later a tall armoire featuring medieval animals. The idea was in part, inspired by their recent travels. See the armoire in the June 2007 post. Most recently I painted 'Twitter Trunk' for the newest addition to their family. More projects are in the works and all are based on the things and places we've seen.

Art is seeing life's experiences in paint.