Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ipseity Now: group show

Here's some footage from a group show that I took part in with a gang of painter pals that we've recently formed.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

By The Cricket Pitch

By The Cricket Pitch (Triptych), each panel 46" by 36", oil on canvas, 2015
Here's the result of the third assignment about the idea of place. Place as a space that you can move through, hence the simultaneous view points and perspectives.
I was interested to hear some of the interpretations of aerial maps/views where my intention was to show looking up from the ground. Not sure I conveyed the idea of a space you enter and move around successfully, but the act of painting kind of took over so the space came right up to the surface. One comment was that the colours seem synthetic, but I disagree. There's some raw yellows and blues, but I responded naturally to the green values . . . maybe i needed to exaggerate even more?
Anyways, a good experience to work on a piece that is the largest one to date for me.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Monday, October 26, 2015

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Memory: Project 2

Our next assignment in painting class is to answer the question: How would you transform the recollections of past experiences into a painting?
We are to explore the concept of personal or cultural memory. I was thinking of making a painting of my first childhood memory: I was sitting on the floor in the kitchen at our house on Newcastle. I was playing with a matchbox car on the linoleum tile and my mother was washing dishes in the sink. She had her back to me, but I remember she was wearing shoes and had a long skirt on. The sun was shining through the window and I said proudly: "I'm three years-old."
I want to use this Matisse still life as an inspiration to create a stilted and active space.
I haven't decided how I want to represent my mother because I feel like my memory of what she looked like is false: my mother wasn't a cliched 1960s housewife, she was a working mother and wore jeans. I'll probably draw from Tuymans or Borremans.
Matisse, Still Life with Magnolia, 1941
This painting might act as a nice tribute to my mom who died five months ago now.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Assignment One: Art 310

You Are What You Eat, 60" by 36", oil on canvas, 2015
Here's the results of my first painting assignment for the term. It was on the topic of the mundane, "the lure of the ordinary." This assignment was to explore the simple and prosaic and express it visually with emphasis on letting the painting start a dialogue with you as you paint (a la Guston).
I thought it would be interesting to paint what I ate during the day/week and place all the food in a pile on the canvas. It started out fairly photographic but soon became indecipherable. I lightened up the colours and began to rework the piles of food using my photo and sketch references but found that my imagination started to take over while trying to build up the piles. I added a few things, took a few things out and the painting became a real dialogue and surprised me at several turns. At one point the painting seemed dead, lifeless without any warning. Since the food piles were taking on an aspect of rotting food, I thought it might pump some life into the picture if I made the colours annoying, unappealing, irritating. The more I tried to make it annoying, the more I was interested in it. I feel like I succeeded in creating something visually interesting that expresses the mundane, and I think that surface quality (which you can't quite tell from the image) is quite nice because the painting is really build up it some places. I'm not sure the painting is visually unappealing but there is a sense of waste, entropy, and decay.
Some of the comments from my prof and other students were: it had a sense of playfulness, visually unusual and exciting, like a lot of tiny paintings within a larger one, there were an interesting use of forms that were not nameable, solid vs. opaque, and some sweet painting. :)

Friday, September 25, 2015


I'll continue to use the figure (or figuration) to construct a framework or structure for the picture. After the structure is in place, then it is time to destroy it. This is extremely hard on the ego but is the only way that I have found that I can start to go beyond the image. I can destroy the image by adding another element, then taking it away. This forever changes the painting in unforeseen ways. Another way is to literally scrap out or erase parts of the image that look too precious, parts that you think look good. Then hopefully, the painting surprises you and you get caught in that moment (which is probably what Guston talks about his 20 minutes) where everything fits into place, there's nothing arbitrary happening. On the other side of that, is time to pause, or stop if you can no longer find a reason to re-engage with the painting.
It's those 20 minutes when I'm painting that I love and dream about when I'm away from my easel.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Non-photoshop retouching

Inspired to rework some paintings after I had Roy Green and PJ Kelly over for a studio visit. We got to talking about how sometimes you need to let the work sit for awhile and suddenly you see something you can add or take away. So here's the results of what I reworked.

Thought it'd be interesting to see the progression behind "Like Clockwork" (below)

Version 1

Version 2

Version 2 reworked

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Chantal Joffe

Chantal Joffe, Night Self-Portrait in a Red Dress
5 things I like about Chantal Joffe's paintings:
1. rich materiality of the paint
2. loose brushwork
3. the look of spontaneous gesture that is underpinned by careful study
4. stripes and colourful clothing worn by the models
5. frankness

Chantal Joffe, Untitled (2010)

Chantal Joffe, Self Portrait

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Monday, August 31, 2015


Here's a snapshot of some of the watercolours I've done this summer.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015

Saturday, July 11, 2015

JMW Turner

Five things that I like about Turner's late watercolours:
1. they seem to ooze light and mist and atmosphere
2. they are beautiful without being pretty
3. they evoke such a deep space using very few strokes
4. they are painted quickly yet, they seem timeless, still, and considered
5. they are an account of a great painter's eyes, his joy of seeing

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A few thoughts on "Paint Is Only Skin-Deep"

I was thinking about this painting that I made a few years ago because my last few pieces have been using fashion photography images and wanted to see how my current work differs from this piece from an older series from 2013.
Paint Is Only Skin-Deep, 2013

In many ways it is similar:
-confused, obscured space making it hard to locate the figure
-energetic marks
-vibrant colours, high contrast
-dealing with the question of illusionist vs. flat space
One More Time, 2015

But in many ways it is different:
-intent for the use of the fashion model is very different (ie. commentary/critique vs. armature on which to make a painting)
-the paintings now are much more process oriented (ie. building, destroying, rebuilding)
-much more paint is being used (can tell in the photos)
-fragmentation of the image is the central idea

I was wracking my brain as to what my latest paintings mean. I still don't really know, but I think they have something to do with creating a first hand experience in the making of the image as opposed to trying to convey a subject or idea. The use of fashion models from magazines and online sources are the handle for me to make paintings on a daily basis. Not a muse exactly, but as an entry point where I can enter "paint mode" and get down to work. I think what I'd like to try is to incorporate an actual object or an element from my daily life into these images. But then again, that might seem forced. 
Guess I'll keep making them and see what happens.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Why painting?

I've been asking myself this question a lot these days. I spend most of my free time painting, watching videos about painting, listening to pod casts about painting, and thinking about painting. So, why painting?
There is an allure that painting has. There's a mystery in it that, despite it's corniness, I want to delve into. I want to learn all about painting so that maybe I can understand it. I find that the more I learn, the more there is to know. And the more that I know, the more I forget (could be the effects of aging). The more I forget, the more I feel lost. But when I feel lost, that's when I make a small breakthrough and the whole cycle resumes.
The breakthrough comes in the form of a painting that seems to just fall into place. Every stroke you make is perfect. And you know every stroke is perfect so you feel free to take chances. Lo and behold, you have a piece that you never thought you'd be able to make. And the end of the painting comes to soon, you are having such a thrilling time making it, that you don't want it to finish. You want to keep going. You start a new painting.
This next painting will always be unsatisfactory. You begin to expect that all your paintings will just fall into place, never mind the 20 or so before it that were all a real grind.
This is why we go through all this work. We slave away at our paintings, chipping away at our projects day by day, so that we have that one piece that makes us feel beyond ourselves. Not necessarily like gods or master creators, but more than our physical boundaries.
Of course you could think about it a different way. Why painting? = Why not?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

This drawing took a while.

Parliament Building, 12" by 9", micron pen and felt marker on sketch paper, 2015 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

"Painting Fiercely" demo at Opus

Step 1: drawing delineating main shapes (ie. dark, lights) to use as a general framework.

Step 2: block in the main shapes with base tones, starting with the dark colours first (working dark to light in oils). Be sure to keep the paint thin at this stage (diluted with turps).

Step 3: add lights and darks to the base tones (this gives the forms depth and structure). It's always important to figure out how the light is working in your picture, this will help in its composition as well.

Step 4: this is where we destroy the picture. This helps us to go beyond our initial image/source material and create something new. Smudging and erasing the colours is one way to create unexpected new forms. Try to obscure the figure so that it is on the edge of being unrecognizable.

Step 5: now try to bring the figure back into the image using your source material as a guide. This is where the process becomes give and take: reinforce the form, mess it up again when it becomes to fussy again. Repeat these last two steps until you feel like you can't do anymore to the image.

Demo Result 01

Demo Result 2

Monday, May 11, 2015

More sketches

Getting more used to sketching everyday and in fact, I start to feel a bit weird if I don't. Here's some more samples.

watercolour on cold press

watercolour on cold press

watercolour on cold press

micron pens on sketch paper

Princess and the Pea

Princess and the Pea, 34" by 42", oil on canvas, 2015

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Sketching in Spring

I've been doing a lot of sketching lately, partly because I want to get out of my apartment a little more (been feeling cooped up a little), and partly because I want to see what happens when I draw just for the sake of making a drawing (seeing and translating the visual world) as an end in itself. I find that I've been drawing mostly as studies for paintings. So usually the drawing isn't really finished or goes beyond the realm of a thumbnail. I also found a great class on Craftsy.com about sketching outdoors and thought I'd give it a try. Here's the results from some of the assigned projects.

Water colour on cold press paper

HB and 6B on standard sketching paper

HB and 2B on standard sketching paper

HB and 6B on standard sketching paper

Pen and ink (Micron pens) on standard sketching paper

HB on standard sketching paper

Water colour on cold press paper

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

I Left My Backpack In There

I Left My Backpack In There (It Has My Medication), 40" by 40", oil on canvas, 2015