Thursday, December 29, 2011

Goodbye, 2011. And Hello, 2012.

Probably the final post of the year, so I thought I'd talk a little about 2012. As I've mentioned previously, I've been doing sketches for a show called "Closing Time" - a series of pinup girls against the backdrop of bars and other drinking establishments (two subjects near and dear to my own heart).

Well, just one beautiful pinup girl, to be honest.

Anyhow, I procured a 36x36-inch canvas from the good people at Opus Art Supplies today, brought it home, scratched my chin, and thought about what I could do with such a canvas:

Of course the answer was obvious: I could plunge into the Closing Times series. Now, I've been giving these a lot of thought lately - figuring out how I might render them, whether or not I should incorporate some texture, etc. etc. (I must admit, the subject of these hypothetical paintings has been strolling through my subconscious on a regular basis, too.)

Anyhow, after some deliberation I figured out the approach I want to take with this series, and shockingly, it's a much simpler, more minimalist route than the one I take with the Metalflake paintings.

So, you've seen various iterations of this already, but a number of tweaks have been made to this design since:

(And keep in mind, of course, that this is just a mockup, not the actual painting.)

All that being said, I will be applying the first blue washes to this piece tomorrow, and we'll see where things go from there. And if you want to see where I go with this one, Loyal Reader...

... well, you'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thank You, Thank You.

So here we are, almost at the tail end of another year. It's been really up-and-down for me, but for our purposes here let's focus on the pros and not the cons. I met an astounding number of new friends, both locally and worldwide. And among other things, these friends (as well as the ones who've been with me for years) have bought and/or promoted my art everywhere.

I've been interviewed, profiled, reviewed, you name it. I was in two very successful shows (the second of which was my first solo show, and let me tell you, brothers and sisters, that there was no small amount of anxiety in the days leading up to that one). I've had many commissions, a handful of which are nearing completion as we speak.

So without further ado, here's the roll call for 2012. It's loosely organized into categories, but there's so much overlap that I'd rather not get too specific about what those categories are. Here we go:
My family, Dan Udey, Jenn Ashton, Patti Catroppa, Nicole and Todd Cruickshank, Ceci Graber, Lori Kittelberg, Donna Jaggard, Lisa Jarvis, Mario Loubert, Joe Clark, Karina Halle, Scott McKenzie, Regan Taylor, Devin Oickle, Jeff Murphy, Mike Seymour, Geoff Seymour, Susan Burzynski, Cynthia McShane, Lola Augustine, Jenny Burzanko, Linda Kat Spencer, Domenick Bartuccio, Geoff Gauthier, Anthony Wittrock, Jennifer Davis, Kit Knowles, Randy Bishop, Blair Pritchett.

Colin and Cameron and P.J. from the Tipper, Franziska San Pedro, Lori McNee, Lindsay B., K. Myles, Ned Tobin, Mike Hoffman, Cathryn Salter, Crystal Kwon and Karm at VanCity Buzz, Sati from LiveVan, Vincent Ng, Bahaneh Grewal, Matty Sadorf, Lexy Stabbs, Meghan Low, John Lee, Ian A. Martin, Rheni Tauchid.

John Watson, George Smeltzer, Gary Bolt, Tina Power, Stephanie Young, Jaye Frisina, Pól Rua, Mike Watson, Donna Jay, Jeff Hornby, Anthony Smith, and everybody at RedBubble, Imagekind, Blurb, MOO Cards and ABC Photocolour.

Robert Genn, Alyson Stanfield.

And obviously, Tess McCann.

I thank you all.

(Please note: if I left you out, it's not a personal slight; it's just the effects of my insomnia. In which case, drop me a line and I'll correct the oversight ASAP.)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Story.

Gather 'round, children, and I'll tell you a tale of happiness and Yuletide joy. Once upon a time there were a boy and a girl who fell in love. And they both loved art, which is a good thing, 'cause otherwise this would be the end of the story.

Now this couple (let's call them, oh, "Dan and Donna") already had several paintings by a local Artiste (let's call him, oh, "me"). And they wanted more. So "Dan" contacted the Artiste in question and asked about commissioning a portrait of "Donna". The Artiste, of course, was quite enthusiastic about such a project, because he loved painting (and truth be told, he was also somewhat fond of financial remuneration).

So Dan and the Artiste struck a deal, and work began. And shortly thereafter, the Artiste heard from Donna, who wished to purchase a painting called "Ace of Spades" as a present for Dan.

This pleased the Artiste to no end.

(An amusing side note: after the deal was struck with Donna, Dan contacted the Artiste again, this time to inquire about purchasing the Ace of Spades painting. The Artiste expressed sympathy and apologetically told Dan the painting was already spoken for.)

The Artiste was understandably amused by all this subterfuge, and with uncharacteristic restraint, only told a couple of people.

Okay, a whole bunch of people. But not Donna or Dan, which is key.

Meanwhile, work continued on the portrait of Donna:

And time passed, as it usually does. The painting and the Artiste found themselves disagreeing from time to time, but with the help of the Artiste's lovely and talented Muse, the painting was finished with an entire day to spare.

On Christmas morning, paintings were exchanged, Donna and Dan were happy, and there was much rejoicing throughout the land.

And they all lived happily ever after.

The End.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Closing Time.

Further thoughts on the latest show/series concept: the title will be "Closing Time", after the Leonard Cohen song of the same name. And when the show happens, people will have the option of buying the original paintings, or buying a book of the preliminary sketches.

Two more from the past few nights, then:

More info as it occurs to me, obviously.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Seven Hundred Days.

... and counting. My brain is practically exploding with ideas lately. Something like twenty paintings are currently in the works, and ideas for more come every day. Having your brain on fire is kind of a weird, surreal thing sometimes. But I've learned to just roll with it.

In particular, ideas for the show/book of pinup girls in bars just keep popping up. I've tweaked the idea from the other day, and sketched out another. I've got concepts in mind for almost ten more.

Here's where things stand right now:

I've also just complete two 6x6-inch metalflake paintings that I'm pretty happy with. Been thinking for awhile of doing some with just a simple border and no other linework, and lo and behold, the concept works:

On top of that there are Christmas gifts and five commissions in the works. Busy, busy.

And that's my story.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

On the Bar.

So December is upon us - one month left in this tumultuous year. Like a lot of people I'm already thinking about 2012, of course. I'd very much like to maintain the creative momentum I've built up in 2010 and 2011, if not add to it.

Already got ideas for a couple of big projects - two potential new shows, and a book to accompany one of them. One of the shows will most likely be a metalflake series, but it's the other that concerns us here. Been toying with the idea of exploring the pinup-girl subject again, following the success of my book, Hey Ladies. And on that note, after much discussion, sketching and brainstorming, I've concluded that the other new series will be pin-up girls in or on bars.

To wit, here's the proposal for the first of the series:

Haven't made any major decisions in terms of rendering style, etc. I do know they'll be acrylic on canvas, but beyond that... ?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hot Rods 2

Hey, I just released a new Hot Rods calendar in my RedBubble store.

Get 'em while they're hot.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Apparently I'm in good company today. Franziska San Pedro has included me in her list of 15 hottest male artists:
I am not going to define “hot” in detail here but here’s a list of artists I have met online and I think the stuff they make is smokin’ H.O.T.
 You can read more here.

Thanks, Franziska.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Colour and Texture.

Working, as I may have previously mentioned, on another series of metalflake paintings. Today there was big progress on 15 of them.

A few highlights of the day:

What'd you do today?

Friday, November 4, 2011

No Holds Barred.

As you might've guessed, painting for a living (much like any other occupation) has its share of gripes. In this particular case, of course, the issues are compounded by the fact that so many ignorant people seem to think it's a cute little hobby for children, but ultimately something we should grow out of - the ironic part of that being, of course, that the same people make the worst clients because they act like spoiled children themselves. Combine that ridiculous sense of entitlement with bad manners, general rudeness, and willful ignorance, and you've got a recipe for frustration:
  • Probably the most aggravating thing is people who offer shitty advice, or pass on leads that are obviously useless, but demand answers and validation right away. Here's a tip: if you give me a lead and I say "I'll check it out," that means I'll check it out. If I have a question, I'll get back to you. If it turns out to be useful, I will thank you, probably both publicly and privately. If it sounds fishy or turns out to be a scam - which it often does - I'll ignore it. Acting like a needy child won't help sell me on it. More than likely it'll make me feel tempted to ignore you in the future, and that's the politest response I can think of. So don't send me frantic followup messages the next day because you need your ego stroked. I will check out your recommendation and either follow it or not. This isn't about you, regardless of how noble your intentions might be.
  • If you know somebody who's looking for free art in return for some dubious "exposure" somewhere, point them in the direction of an art school. Maybe some lucky student will learn an important lesson or two about scammers and grifters. Me? I've already been down that road many times, and I've learned what there is to learn.
  • Don't be a flake when you're commissioning or buying art. If you've got a project in mind, by all means get in touch. I'll probably ask a few questions, then give you several different options with regards to size and price, and tell you how much I want for a down payment. If the idea of a down payment bothers you, then please fuck off and don't contact me again. It's specifically because of people like you that I ask for down payments in the first place.
  • Further to that last point, if you make a business arrangement with an artist, honour it. Don't run away when the project's half-finished. Don't pretend you didn't get messages, emails, calls, or invoices. And don't just assume I'll forget. It makes you look like a flake, an idiot and a scumbag.
  • And finally on the point of flakiness, don't offer to help someone out with a reference, a commission, or anything else and then bail out when the time comes to actually help. Especially if the aforementioned bailing-out involves pretending you're sick or out of town.
  • If you know someone whose kid would do the job for much less than I charge, hire that kid, or go buy yourself a nice print at Walmart or IKEA. I'm not interested in making bargain-basement art, so don't waste my time.
  • If your significant other decides halfway through a project that they don't like it, I don't care. I don't have a business arrangement with them; I have one with you. They have no say in the process at all. And if you have a disagreement with them, it's your problem. Not mine. Don't drag your dysfunctional baggage into my life.
  • Shipping is a legitimate charge, not an afterthought or a cash grab on my part. And it isn't an exact science; I don't know all the prices and regulations for FedEx, Canada Post, or UPS. If it costs more than originally anticipated, then it costs more. I will try my damnedest to give you a realistic quote, but I can't guarantee things down to the last penny. Trying to stick me with any additional costs makes you look like a cheapskate.
Wow, that was therapeutic. Any other artists got suggestions for issues I haven't touched on?

Oh, and if you think I might be talking about you? I am.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Paint Therapy.

So I woke up too early this morning, after dreaming of better circumstances, to find myself at home. And outside in the hall, the building manager and the painters he hired were yelling at the tops of their lungs as long-awaited renovations finally took place. (A word of introduction: building management has done almost nothing in the way of upkeep on the building for the last couple years - a long-standing resident manager left under mysterious circumstances, then we had temporary relief managers, then we had a guy in his early twenties who was apparently too preoccupied with looking like a gangsta to actually do his goddamn job. Elevators sat broken for months at a time, lights in the common areas were burned out, homeless people were constantly trying to infiltrate the building, mailboxes and entrance doors and even apartments were vandalized, etc. etc.)

Anyhow, three guys standing five or six feet apart while they all yell to one another simultaneously makes for a hell of a ruckus. Literally a rude awakening after only four hours of sleep.

(In case you're wondering, this is actually going somewhere.)

On top of all this, there have been many, many changes in my life in the past few months, nearly all for the better, but with their own accompanying stresses, of course. Insomnia has come back for several extended visits, the forces of evil seem to be conspiring, money issues continue to rear their ugly heads, people I need answers from are being flakes, and there are days when it's all I can do to just roll with the punches.

Which brings us to today. I was jittery, bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived, and generally feeling like my entire emotional spectrum had been abraded with coarse-grit sandpaper.

And I took a look at some of the new metalflake paintings I've got on the go, and decided they needed a quick application of glass bead gel. Opened the jar, got out a palette knife, and started spreading the gel. Half an hour went by, and I realized a huge chunk of the stress had just... lifted off.

Paint therapy. You heard it here first, kids. I recommend it for everyone, even if you aren't a painter. And did I mention I've got 19 new paintings in the works? That's a lotta therapy.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Top Seekrit.

Hello again. I haven't had much to say this past week; the Metal Flake show kinda left me drained. Been picking away at some illustration work and loosely planning two more shows, but nothing significant has gotten accomplished.

What seems to be dominating my psyche these days is a Top Secret Painting. I'm still keeping the details on the down-low, but think of it as a hymn to the Muse.

Overall piece here, prior to clearcoating and such:

Colour study (the painting will eventually have copper-coloured linework over the clearcoat):

And of course, the teaser:

Stay tuned, faithful readers. Further clues will be revealed in time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Metal Flake - a Photo Retrospective.

The Booze Brothers:

Explaining the method to my madness:

First sale of the night:

Talkin' art with Gary from Ontario and Gary from Ontario:

Another sale:

Planning and scheming:

Good friends sharing a laugh:

Having our picture taken:

Twitter friends:

Hangin' out with the ladies:

Overview of the show:

And that's all, folks.

P.S. Photos by John Watson, Gary Bolt and George Smeltzer.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Possibly the Best Day of My Life.

So. As you are no doubt aware if you're following this blog, I had my first big solo art show last night. After the show a couple close friends came back to my place for drinks, which inevitably led to me not saying anything online about the show.

Till now, that is.

The verdict? The show was a blast. First sale of the night went to my friend Patti, who bought the "Power Trio" triptych. Since then three of the smaller pieces were also snapped up, after some heated debate over "Dangerous Curves". The rest, of course, remain on display and on sale at the Tipper till the end of the month.

What really made my night, though, was seeing old friends and new come together to eat, drink, and take in my art. Even writing this now is making me a little choked up. I am a lucky, lucky man.

And the show of support lately has been absolutely stunning. I've been profiled in the Vantage and VanCity Buzz, friends have come from all over the damn place for the show, and everywhere I had a question or a concern about anything, somebody always, always stepped up to bat.

Without further ado, then, the above-and-beyond roll call. These people are permanently in my good books: John Watson, Patti Catroppa, Lori Kittelberg, Dan Udey & Donna Jaggard, Sati from LiveVan, the irrepressible Jonny Warkentin, Ceci Graber, Nic & Todd, Nicola and her mom, Gary and Gary, Colin and Cameron and P.J. from the Tipper (without whom none of this would even be possible), Lindsay B. and K. Myles, Corinna Carlson, Karina Halle, Kelly St-Laurent, Mollie Caselli, Carly Fryer, Mike Watson, George Smeltzer, Ned Tobin... and I know I'm still forgetting people. I'll keep editing this post as the day goes on.

Also, a number of people couldn't make the show but were kind enough to send along apologies and/or encouragement anyway, because they rock: Jeff Hornby, Brendan Moran, Donna Jay, Amanda West, Dilara Litonjua, Adam Carlson, Kate MacDonald...

And finally, the biggest and most heartfelt thanks of the day have to go to my lovely assistant, without whose support this event wouldn't have even been conceivable. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Tess McCann. Mere words cannot express...

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Vantage.

Just a quick drive-by post. Preparations for the show are coming along nicely, and people are starting to talk.

This interview, for instance, just went live today.

All my thanks to the lovely Ms. Lindsay B.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Almost Done.

Coming down the home stretch for the show now. Finished this piece today:

That leaves two remaining, and I oughta be able to finish one of them tomorrow.

In other news, today is day 634 of the 1000 Days Project. Ergo, a year from tomorrow and I'll be done.

Then what?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Metal Flake.

So there've been all kinds of big doings going on lately. Arrangements for the big show have been made, and there are only three paintings left to finish (maybe 6 or 7 hours' work altogether).

Now, of course, there's a million other little details to take care of. But they're coming along nicely.

Here's a first look at the promo card/ad for the show:

How's it look?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Experiment in Terror.

I had what we call a "bizness meeting" with my friend Karina Halle today. Which generally means Jack Daniels, food, some talk about art, music, and of course her Experiment in Terror series of horror novels. The third book (Dead Sky Morning)came out recently, and that was the start of my involvement in the project - I drew the map that appears in the opening pages.

Just for fun I whipped up a full-colour version, too:

If you're not familiar with D'Arcy Island (and I wasn't), it was the site of a leper colony for Chinese-Canadians from 1891-1924. A pretty grim real-life story, but worth looking up. The book uses the site and its sordid history as its setting. I'm still reading it, but so far it's really creeped me out several times. Which is a pretty rare quality in a horror novel these days, my friends.

Anyhow, Karina has 5 more books projected in the series, and has enlisted my creative abilities to help with the process. In addition to the map, I've designed a logo:

(Part of the premise of the books is that the two lead characters make a web-TV show about their paranormal exploits, so the logo for the book series doubles as the one for the fictitious show.)

The next project was more involved: a definitive portrait of these characters. It started with this basic sketch:

We made a ton of changes to this, but the basics still made it all the way through the design process. Once we nailed down the basic looks of Perry and Dex in the pencil stage, it was time to do inkwash renderings of them:

I also had a slew of ideas for background treatments for this picture. In the end we used three separate concepts, including one where I made a collage of pages ripped out of the first book, Darkhouse (kind of a weird and surreal experience to take a friend's book and literally tear it to pieces).

Without further ado, here are the three different versions of the illustration, which Karina will be using to promote the books:

So that, is essence, is the beginning - for me at least. We've got a ton of ideas for future illustrations (I'd like to incorporate some photography and sculpture to accompany the more traditional illustration), and I'll be helping out in any way I can when the trailer for Dead Sky Morning is being shot. We're even trying to arrange a trip to D'Arcy Island, which hopefully isn't anywhere near as haunted as it is in the book.

Cheers, then. A toast to creativity, collaboration and chills down your spine.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Creative Minds.

So hey, I've just been interviewed by Franziska San Pedro over at Creative Minds. The results can be found right here.

Thanks for the exposure, Franziska.Much appreciated.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Gasser T-Shirt.

Been thinking about t-shirts again lately, and I thought of another piece of mine that could easily be adapted:

Gasser t-shirts are now available right here. In wide variety of colours, as they say.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hit and Run.

Just got time for a quickie post before I head off to bed. Things have been busy as well the past week or so. After spending half the day doing photo retouching, working on this one was my idea of relaxing:

This one's got a long way to go yet.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Six Hundred, or: Power Trio.

So here we are at another milestone in the epic journey towards my one-thousand-day goal. Six hundred days. Puttered around with three small pieces to get up to speed today. A little drybrushing, a coat of clear...

After that the goal was to finish one of the big metalflake paintings. This particular one is titled "Power Trio" - think Rush, Cream, or the Jimi Hendrix Experience. First I did a couple hours of masking (my back and shoulders are still thanking me for that):

Once that was nailed down, it was time to slap on a bit of titanium white:

Eventually all the white areas were done, and the tape came off. Then I took the painting out on the balcony to take advantage of the early-evening light:

And that one's a wrap. I'm exhausted - done painting for the night.