Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Studio life, Upcoming Art Exhibition and "Back To The Wild"

"My biggest influences were people like painters and poets.
 These are solitary workers."~Robert Wyatt

I think sometimes people might wonder what exactly goes on in a painter's studio? I mean, painting takes place obviously, but what else? I can only speak for myself, but daily life typically consists of the steady hum of artworks being developed, priming future works, snuggling with my cats, writing my blog and keeping up with the business aspects of this vocation such as talking with clients and emailing.

If I have time I bike and do yoga. It is all about balance. Exercising the body exercises the mind and helps oxygenate it. It fills you with ideas and energy to pour into your work. I know of some artists who paint every day, literally every day, for 10 hours. I can't do it...I would produce a whole bunch of weak paintings and drive myself crazy in the process...When you are producing your best work, striking while the iron is hot. Yet knowing when to step away so that you can again crave to return to the easel, is just as important.

I have included some photographs of my studio in the past few weeks, along with other activities or friends who make life truly fulfilling. Recently some people have asked to watch me paint. I have no problem with that, and frankly, am touched that folks would want to watch me work...but right now I have a tiny little dark studio in a basement...it wouldn't be a good space. One day however I aspire to have a studio away from the home where folks can come and peruse paintings in progress, talk about commissions, and buy works, should the spirit move them. I believe this will happen.

Here is a photograph of when I was sitting on the floor while working on the painting "Gayle, Waiting". The canvas is 60" high, and I have low ceilings. I had to improvise and so enjoyed a brief stint of painting while on the floor.

Improvisation is the name of the game.

"Gayle, Waiting" sold within 24 hours of being in Abbozzo Gallery. It is part of my upcoming exhibition "An Aesthetic Voyage: Paintings Inspired By The Life And Travels Of Christopher McCandless". Along with the McCandless-inspired works, I have a few other non-related works, such as "Gayle, Waiting". I was elated that this piece sold so quickly. I believe if the PAINTER enjoys the creation of a piece, there is an energy transference that others can discern.

Here is a shot of the advertisement promoting my show last weekend in the Globe And Mail's art section for the Saturday edition. I think the gallery did a nice job of designing the ad and hope it brings some people out this weekend to the opening on Friday night from 7-10pm at the gallery. Perhaps I shall see you there too! There are about twelve different paintings inspired by Chris and his journey, organized chronologically, as he embraced living life intensely from 1990-1992. The exhibition runs from June 3-18th and, among other pieces, will have a life-sized painting of Christopher's belt that he carved at the beginning of 1992, an amazing artifact.

Below are two photos of recent outings. Leaving the studio is so important so that you come back to it with a receptive heart. Here is a rainy run I was on at dusk a couple of weeks ago. Light and colour, provided with the mist of rain and falling light, produced some interesting effects.

 New Street on a run at night..

Although I have no Alaskan plans this summer like last year, these little shoes are the perfect solution to the hiker/runner who wants to feel connected to the earth. Vibram Five Fingers was developed for people who wanted to run barefoot, but they can be used for almost any outdoor pursuit. They are amphibious, comfortable and they make you feel like a superhero. I used them hiking in Yosemite National Park and Denali National Park last year. Most recently I used them hiking through Dundas Valley Conservation Area. I HIGHLY recommended them. 

My last photo from the studio is of my studio assistant, Sasha. Words cannot express how much I adore him and he carefully wends his way around my work, the paints and supplies. He's savvy. He is one of a kind. I am privileged to share a life with him :) 

"I love cats because I enjoy my home;
 and little by little, they become its visible soul."~Jean Cocteau

I will blog again soon about "Back To The Wild: The Photographs And Writings Of Christopher McCandless"...the release date for the book and DVD is June 15h! You can find out more information on the link provided. We are so excited and thank-you for your support and interest in this project. Happy painting/creating to you all!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Gayle, Waiting"

"The world is all gates, all opportunities,
strings of tension waiting to be struck."~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have certain places and friends that I always enjoy painting. Places and energies that just bring out creativity and make for a successful reference-hunting trip. On this particular day I traveled to my dear friend Gayle's 1840's home to shoot reference. She was busy. We had 20 minutes. I had to act fast. I asked her to have a sheet and a step-ladder on hand. 

Gayle's house and property are a refuge from the hectic pace of metropolitan life and the constant thrum of suburbia. Her house is perched on a pretty hill north of Burlington. When I am there I forget the rest of the world. The fact that my mobile phone doesn't get reception there only adds to its Avalon-esque appeal. Gayle and I have our routine down almost to a science. I know the walls and corners of her house like I know her...trusted, dear, honest, and a pleasure to paint. I feel free there, and freedom is necessary for anyone, let alone a painter looking for new ideas.

And so "Gayle, Waiting", oil on canvas, 60"x30" came to be. She seems to be almost a spectre passing through the doorway. This painting haunts me. I liked the idea that she might be waiting for someone to return, someone dear, someone special. That she, in these moments, might pace the old floors waiting, with silence as her companion in those quiet hours. 

At first I found the size of the canvas intimidating. But then I reconsidered my perception and viewed it as a larger opportunity to tell a story. The small object near her feet is a sculpture of a rabbit. We laughed when I was there previously and asked about the rabbit. She said "That's Ken Hall". I thought she meant that was the name she had given the rabbit. No, that's the ARTIST's name she explained. I thought it would be fun to incorporate 'Ken Hall' into the painting.

I also enjoy the idea that Gayle will always be between two rooms, two places, two realities. It serves to scratch an existential itch for me. But again, it is all subjective, and in the eye of the beholder. The question is...what do you see? 

I hope that you will be able to see this painting in person during my upcoming exhibition at Abbozzo Gallery in Oakville Ontario.

Have a beautiful day!

Chris's Pack, Stampede Trail, oil on panel, 24"x36"

An Aesthetic Voyage:
Painting Inspired By The Life And Travels
 Of Christopher McCandless

June 3-18th, 2011

Opening Reception June 3rd, 7-10pm
June 4th, Artist in attendance from 2-4pm 

If you are interested in any of these paintings you can contact the gallery toll-free at 
1-866-844-4481 or at mail@abbozzogallery.com 

"Happiness depends upon ourselves."~Aristotle

Friday, May 6, 2011

"Self-Portrait, After" and Christopher McCandless Exhibition

"Sadness is but a wall between two gardens."~Kahlil Gibran

Every artist has their own manifesto, their own impetus that resides underneath the paint. Our reasons for painting are as varied as our techniques...and the beauty of it is there is no correct answer. It is ultimately subjective. Speaking of manifestos, and on a side note, my friend Conrad once suggested I read Pulitzer Prize Winner Mary Oliver's book "Blue Pastures". Within its pages there is an essay called "Of Power And Time." It resonated with me VERY strongly as a creative person. You should read it.

Periodically I do a self-portrait of myself, bereft. I call it, unofficially "The Crying Series". I never know when another piece will be added, which is part of their appeal I find. This painting, "Self-Portrait, After", oil on panel, 2011, 8"x10", is the third piece in the ongoing series. Pain and sadness are just as much a part of life as joy and fulfillment, the question is, what do we do with these ebbs of the spirit? I choose to paint them. By doing do it makes them a reality. It is cathartic. It enables me to work through the sadness, to try to capture a bit of that intensity of emotion. I am not wallowing in despair, but instead, literally, making the most out of a bad situation.

When you look at the painting, remember that it is not important why I was crying, but how it resonates with you. I paint these pieces for myself, but with the hope that others can understand and place themselves in a similar situation where they felt the same hand-wringing of the soul.

On a technical note, I had great interest in painting my eyes. I wanted to show that delicate translucency that one's lids have during and after the struggle.

"Self-Portrait, After" is available at Abbozzo Gallery, and is a part of an upcoming exhibition of my work. I will have a selection of new paintings which will be displayed in conjunction with paintings inspired by the life and travels of Christopher McCandless. Christopher's story was the subject of John Krakauer's book "Into The Wild", and the film "Into The Wild" directed by  Sean Penn. The exhibition will have its opening reception on June 3rd from 7-10pm. I will also be at the gallery on Saturday, June 4th from 2-4pm for guests who were not able to make the opening reception the night before. I hope to see you there! Have a beautiful day and weekend :)

Chris's Pack, Stampede Trail, oil on panel, 24"x36"

An Aesthetic Voyage:
Painting Inspired By The Life And Travels
 Of Christopher McCandless

June 3-18th, 2011

Opening Reception June 3rd, 7-10pm
June 4th, Artist in attendance from 2-4pm 

If you are interested in any of these paintings you can contact the gallery toll-free at 
1-866-844-4481 or at mail@abbozzogallery.com 

"Diary Of A Supertramp (study)", oil on panel, 8"x10"

"To The Sea", oil on canvas, 24"x36"

"Chris's Tent, Stampede Trail", oil on canvas, 18"x36"

"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth."~Henry David Thoreau