Friday, December 31, 2010

With a Little Help From My Friends.

Just a brief end-of-the-year post. I've gotten an overwhelming amount of support for my art over this past year: invaluable creative input on many fronts, inspiration, commissions, and print sales. I can't begin to express how important this has all been to me. I'm starting to have an actual art career, and I couldn't have done it without that support.

Hell, why don't I just list some names? In no particular order: Cynthia McShane, Regan Taylor, Chad Horwedel, Berkley McLean, Lori Kittelberg & George Smeltzer, John & Chrissy Watson, Joe Clark, Mike Watson, Brandee Brown Barker, Genina Dovale, Ben Lipman, Rob Cooper, Nicole & Todd Cruickshank, Linda Kat Spencer, Cathryn Smith, Holly Morrison, Brian Cronin, Jason Williams, Eric & Jennifer Davis, Don Lloyd, Gus Lindgren, Tina Power, Neil Ford, Asa Ellerup, Alyson B. Stanfield, Paul Sizer, Lola Augustine Brown, Gary Bolt & Morna Tudor, Sean Parrack, Mike Rooth, Jeff Hotchkiss, Donald Milliken, Jason Light, Chris Nowlin, Ray Rivard, Gene Gillespie, Robert Genn, Amber Mac, Eddy Crosby, Wes Thompson, Jeff Clow, Jessi Sensabaugh, Kevin Bungay, Laura Whaley, Pól Rua, Thom Taylor, Jaye Frisina, Lisa and Rev. Paul from Mojave, Matt Osepchook, Paula McCloskey, Lief Peng, Mordechai Luchins, Daphna Luchins, Mystery Shopper, the gang(s) at CBR, deviantArt, WetCanvas, Whitechapel, Flickr and Motorburg...

... and most of all my extended family, without whom none of this would even be happening.

Thank you all so very, very much.

P.S. If I forgot to mention you, it's a headcold-induced oversite on my part. No offense intended.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Three More Days...

... and it'll be 2011. To quote John Lennon, "another year older, and what have you done?"

I'm tempted to just say "I survived", which is no small feat in this economy. My advertising career is bottoming out so bad, it feels like it's almost over. But the art, on the other hand, is thriving like never before. Sales and commissions are way up, and once again it's been a stellar year in terms of artistic growth and education.

Roughly 15 paintings completed, along with 35 illustrations. Many more of each underway. Published a calendar, sold a few books, and several prints (including the biggest sale of my art career to date, which was a nice Christmas present).

I won't go into plans for 2011 yet. That'll be another post. Instead I'll just say this: art is what kept me alive this year. And in closing I leave you with this recent painting:

Nautilus - @Bret Taylor, 2010.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Almost There.

Only 15 days to go in this latest experiment in drawing/painting every day. And this one's been much more productive than when I did it the first time, in 2008. It started out mainly as an exercise in discipline, but what it's really about is training your subconscious mind to be more creative.

Not sure whether I'll try it again next year. It's quite possible - I remember how twitchy I got on the first day of 2009 when I took a day off. Maybe I just won't make it such a formal thing.

Anybody else ever try this method?

Friday, December 10, 2010


Today the UPS guy dropped off an amazing present:

You've heard me rave about the Liquid Mirror before, so I won't give you that spiel again (let's just say that a bottle this big is a pretty extravagant gift). But the Sludge is one of the smarter products I've heard of - basically it's comprised of the leftover gunk from the normal paint-making process. Leftover gunk (both solid and liquid waste) that would otherwise have to be disposed of somehow. You can read more about it here, but it's a pretty impressive and ecologically-friendly product.

Thanks, Rheni. I'll try to use it wisely.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Waste Not.

If you dig paint as much as I do, you probably realize how easy it is to waste lots of it. I'm slowly getting better at judging how much paint to use when I'm mixing colours, but it's still a tricky process. More frequently than I'd like, I end up with more than I need.

Occasionally I save it in a small container, and then forget about it - only to open it months later and find the paint is completely dry.

What I've ended up doing over the years is putting that leftover paint to more productive use in a couple of ongoing projects. Smearing the stuff onto a glass palette can come in handy - once you've got a nice thick layer of paint built up, you can peel it off and cut it into pieces to use in new paintings (trivia note: these are referred to as "paint skins"). You can do all sorts of cool stuff with them - building impressionistic colour, creating texture, making mosaics, etc. etc. Just google "acrylic paint skins" and you'll find lots of articles and tutorials like this one.

I've also got a couple of long-term projects in the works using the leftover bits. Both of them started with me just innocently wiping my brush or knife on the nearest convenient surface. They're still transitional pieces, and probably will be for a long time to come, but eventually they'll be full-fledged works of art on their own.

The first is this former coffee mug:

A souvenir of my first advertising job, I still use it to clean my brushes. It's gradually getting so coated in paint that the bigger brushes will barely fit into it. I also do a lot of colour experimentation on the surface of this thing. No idea where this will take me, but for now I just want to make it a lot wider (possibly even spherical) with a semi-lattice effect.

And the other piece is this old beach towel that I use as a drop cloth:

It's still quite flexible now, but once it's too stiff to roll up, I'll mount it to some kind of support and make an actual painting out of it. I can almost see the design in my head, but not quite. My subconscious needs more time, I guess. I suspect there'll be geometric shapes laid out in gold leaf on top of the final painted surface.

Kinda makes me wonder what else I could do with leftover paint.