New Works

Finally! I’ve done a ton of experimenting this year, mainly because I didn’t have many deadlines. After several months work, I’ve completed some new paintings that I’m really excited about. As my sometimes curmudgeony photographer commented to me today, “I think you’re getting the hand of this.”

green city, 36″ x 72″.

 This painting had very grid-like, urban feel as I was completing it. So of course, I added a map of Vancouver. So far everyone who sees it has tried to find their street. I love the motion of the big colour blocks in this painting.

bikini, 48″ x 36″

After I finished this painting, I went home feeling completely satisfied and said, “I did a good day’s work today.” However my cats were more interested in when I was going to do some cat feeding. I love the detail that shows through the many circles, and the beautiful purple created when the blue and pink resin meet. The yellow flower balances out the composition, in fact there’s a lovely balance of many elements here. Sigh.

sunset trip, 36″ x 48″

This painting was the most challenging for me. For a long time, it sat on the wall, looking beautiful but incomplete. I hardly ever use black resin, but in this case it added that touch of darkness that so many of my paintings need. In addition, the black is not a deep black, but more like a squid ink black. When wiring it today, I noticed that it worked better on the horizontal, creating a hazy sunset scene. 

tipsy, 36″ x 24″

Inspired recycling brought this painting to life. I intend to take a few paintings I’m not happy with and rework them with more layers of resin. This painting was a rather plain one with a little colour and a lot of line, and I added the big black stencil form and then went crazy with the coloured resin. Fun, fun, fun!

upon the shore, 36″ x 108″

This painting was the first one to be completed, which means it came together really beautifully (with no agonizing on my part.) It was a direct result of the experimentation I did early in the year, playing with a lot of graffiti elements. I was looking back on my portfolio, and I realized that although I love bright colour, I hadn’t ever done anything  neon bright. Now I have, and this painting is so amazing. I can hardly wait to see it hanging in a home, it’s the biggest piece I’ve ever done and a real statement.

vibrant, 24″ x 72″
This painting is actually part of a series of three that I worked on a year ago. One sold at the Crawl last year to the loveliest couple. And the third one isn’t done yet. This painting has a vibrant, modern look and is also an attempt by me to get as machine-like as possible with three coats of supersmooth resin. It’s not perfectly smooth though, I don’t think my resin work will ever be. And that’s good, since the human touch is what distinguishes original art.

Olympics and the well rounded life

I’ve got a fever, and it’s not for more cowbell. The Olympics are on in Vancouver, and I’ve been attending all kinds of events. The most incredible one so far was the men’s hockey game between Canada and Switzerland, which was unbelievably close and ended up in Canada winning in a shoot out.  I’m a big hockey fan and I’ve attended many games, from minor hockey tournaments to Canuck’s playoff games, but I have to say that this game was unbelievable. The atmosphere and excitement at the rink were palpable. As the young guy beside me put it in an awestruck voice: “I can’t believe I’m here!”

And that was the part of the game that was the best, the energy of everyone in the rink.  18,000 people feeling the same tension, hopes, and the final common jubliation at the win.  And despite all the hype and worry about the Olympics, it turns out that it’s energy of people that make the Olympics a fantastic experience.  As I walk around downtown Vancouver, I see hundreds of people in places where nobody normally walks, just drinking in the beautiful city and everyone around them. On Granville Street at night, I see big groups of happy people partying it up. The city is transformed by all the people.  The Olympics creates a mix of different nationalities, different ages and different interests, all together in one spot.

So, what does this have to do with art?  Many artists have been protesting the Olympics as too much spending on sports and not enough on the arts.  However I think that this us vs. them mentality is wrong. The truth is that between the beginning of the Olympic process and the games, there was a global economic crisis, and governments at all levels were forced to retrench and cut arts spending (among many other programs).  They had to honour their Olympic spending commitments, and so cuts came at the expense of other things, many more important than arts.  Whether there will be long lasting economic benefits to Vancouver cannot yet be judged, but I believe there is hope.

On the streets of Vancouver today there are many lineups for different pavillions and for the Vancouver Art Gallery.  Because the truth is that no person is one dimensional.  Tourists may come for the Olympic games, but they are also interested in the culture of the place. I saw the beauty of Barcelona at the summer Olympics and two years later found myself in Spain, touring the Bilbao and the Prado. As a parent, I have tried to raise children who are well-rounded, active in sports & arts and interested in culture & ideas.  Well-rounded people who travel and enjoy many aspects of life. A few people are fantatics, but most are interested in a variety of things, and arts are usually one of them. So any event that brings more people and more interest to the place you live is fantastic.

Go Arts Go!

Force fields

I have been reading a book about Peter Doig, an artist I greatly admire.  The book is about his 2008 Show at the Tate Britain, and features many of his disquieting landscapes.  In the book, I spotted a painting that I had seen in person at the National Gallery in Ottawa.  This painting, Grand Rivere, is a dark and jungly landscape that suggests a mysterious narrative. It’s huge and gorgeous and slightly disconcerting, and held the whole wall of the museum room.  On the opposite wall was a large scale painting by another artist that I admire, Landon Mackenzie. This painting was also dark, a blue darkness with glowing highlights. 

I must have looked like a crazed puppy at a tennis court, as I scrambled across from one painting to the other, admiring the details in turn.  The paintings shared a darkness and a mystery, but situating them across from one another was brilliant as it created an artistic synergy in the room, a vertiable force field.  The paintings were superficially similar, but the differences were intriguing:

jungle vs. urban
paint rubbed away vs. addition of mixed media
nature vs. man-made

I love to read about art, but not as much as I enjoy exhibitions. Seeing paintings in person is always worthwhile, but seeing paintings in juxtaposition adds an unexpected dimension.

Of Montreal

I just returned from a lovely weekend in Montreal involving many of my favourite activities: eating, shopping, seeing art and socializing. One topic of discussion was why people, both men and women, are better dressed in Montreal. They wear artfully knotted scarves, trendy shoes, and this fall, lots of dark layers. My favourite fashion sighting was a punky young girl with skinny jeans, a jacket, black t-shirt and Doc Marten-styled boots; the kicker was that the boots were bright fushia and the t-shirt had a splash of the exactly the same pink.

I think all this good dressing has to do with “the gaze”. In Montreal people look at you, sometimes flirtatiously, sometimes curiously, sometimes competitively, but they all look. If people are looking at you with interest, you hold yourself up a little straighter and try to look your best. You add that long scarf or dangly earring and pop on a brighter lipstick when you go out, because you know you will be seen.

I think that something similar goes on with art. Once you buy your first original artwork, you take it home and hang it and admire it. You start to look at art more, when visiting friends, at the doctor’s office, or best of all in the museum. You have a heightened awareness of the visual, and a growing appreciation of what you like and don’t like. You start to look around you, and notice little vignettes of beauty everywhere.

What lovely vignette did you see today?