Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Go Habs!

Well, tonight was a heady experience. I got to watch the hallowed Montréal Canadiens shut down the reigning NHL Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins. A really fast-paced game; reminded me of the glory years of my childhood as a young Habs fan.

Which of course got me thinking about how much the Canadiens are part of our national culture, transcending every kind of barrier. If hockey is, as we call it, The Game (and believe me, brothers and sisters, it is), then Montréal is The Team.

And what better example of that passion, that belief, than the famous Habs sweater. (That's right, I said "sweater". Not "jersey".) In 2008 I painted this during the playoffs in tribute to the team I've always believed in:

And now here we are again. Soon the Habs will be facing Philadelphia or (please, please, please) the hated Bruins in the next round of the battle for Lord Stanley's Cup. And they'll be ready.

So as a symbol of my faith, I'm offering this painting to the Canadiens if they can bring the Cup back home this year. We believe in you, boys. Let's go all the way in 2010.

P.S. And if you're reading this, please spread the word far and wide.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

When Giants Walked the Earth.

Frank Frazetta is no longer with us.

Let me say that again: Frank Frazetta is no longer with us. And we are the worse for it.

The man's reach was enormous: movies, music, comics, novels, hot rods - he left his mark everywhere. Growing up in the 70s, it was hard not to know who he was, even if you didn't know the real extent of his talent. The handful of paintings you probably know on a subliminal level are just the tip of the iceberg. Google the word "barbarian" and 90% of what pops up is influenced by Frank Frazetta, even if he didn't draw or paint it himself.

Ever see a picture of a guy holding an axe over his head, standing on a pile of dead bodies? Maybe a half-naked, extremely curvy woman at his feet? Of course you have; those images are everywhere. Among many, many other things, that archetypal illustration is Frazetta's invention. He did covers/posters/etc. for Conan, Tarzan, John Carter (Warlord of Mars), Vampirella, Eerie, Mad, and Creepy magazines, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Clint Eastwood's movie The Gauntlet, King Kong, and more Edgar Rice Burroughs material than you could shake a stick at. Even his signature was iconic.

The man was indomitable. A giant. Until very recently most of us felt that he was invulnerable. Here's an example of what I mean: a few years back he had a series of strokes which almost paralyzed his drawing arm. So what did he do? Retire? Sit back and live off the proceeds of his mind-blowing career? Get old?

No, he did something else altogether: he taught himself, while he was in his 70s, to draw with his other hand. And still drew better than any of his imitators. I'm not sure if the enormity of that really sinks in with non-artists, but think of it this way: assuming you're not ambidextrous, try writing your name with your non-dominant hand. Now, how'd that work out?

Rest in peace, Frank. Thanks for everything.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

120 Days.

It's a beautiful sunny afternoon in Vancouver as I write this. The kind of day where the light couldn't be any better for painting. As you can see, the sun hasn't quite reached my painting surface (AKA the bar) yet:

And this is an anniversary of sorts. Once again this year I set out to draw and/or paint every single day, and April 30 was the 120th consecutive day.

So what's come from the 120 days so far? For starters, a much deeper understanding of light and colour. For another, I'm dreaming a lot about the whole process, and sometimes I'm even coming up with viable solutions to art problems in the dreams. Beyond that, I've completed five paintings and eight illustrations (including a header for a friend's blog), and I've got another painting (you can see it there on the bar in the photo above) and a dozen or so illustrations underway. Oh, and included in those numbers are three commissions I've completed, the third of which is FedExing its way to its new owner as we speak.

All in all I'm feeling pretty positive about the months ahead. And on that note, I'll leave you with a teaser from a work in progress:

Thanks for reading.