Friday, February 24, 2012

Enduring the maudlin and loving reprobates

"Self-Portrait with Sasha"(in progress), oil on canvas, 18"x24"

I love to write but often feel that I need to write about a new painting or some type of epic adventure. This doesn't need to be the case. I need to use this space as more of a journalling opportunity. It is rather terrifying and also quite cathartic. Thus the next few entries might be shorter and I apologize if they are much longer with more to wade through...Regardless, here goes...

I have been watching films like no one's business lately. Recent films seen include:

My Week With Marilyn
J. Edgar
The Tree Of Life
Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close
Crazy. Stupid. Love.
The Artist
Hugo (3D)
The Descendants
Midnight In Paris
War Horse

I thought some of these films to be an utter waste of my time and others were sweet and charming. Some were poignant and a bit pat, but still very good. The most overrated films I found to be 'The Artist' and 'Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close'. I could write a whole polemic on each but will save you the time of reading them. Just please, if you want to see Hollywood schlock, watch 'Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close'. The young actor in an incredibly annoying character. Trust me. I thought 'Midnight In Paris' and 'Crazy. Stupid. Love.' were excellent. They didn't try too hard. They were just lovely and hilarious. Do you know of Terrence Malick's films? Good. If not, I envy you. Malick should just do NOVA specials rather than feature films. His cinematography is beautiful but please, no more with the highly paid actors wandering about in barren landscapes trying to appear to be deep, okay?

In other news I have a new addiction: spin class. I love it. Now the instructor is crucial to your class enjoyment. The strangest and most idiosyncratic instructors are the best. I find their quirks compelling and entertaining.Therefore it is their classes that I return to faithfully. It's a great opportunity for a bang-up aerobic workout. Plus it saves your knees from all of the abuse they withstand on the road or on the treadmill. I find 3 spin classes as week combined with a yoga class, weights and running is a perfect routine to give you lots of energy and happiness. Plus I'm "training" for a 160km hike across the western edge of Greenland next year with my friend from Whitehorse so that helps motivate me as well! Goals are so important. If you don't have one, make acquiring a goal your goal. My lungs need travel to breathe. Travel and adventure are the air that sustains me.

Atop Mount White near Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory

Last but not least I was thinking about my artistic inspirations today. My first inspiration as a college student was the artist Tamara de Lempicka. She lived and painted in my favourite decade, in one of my favourite places: Paris in the 1920's. Can you imagine it? I can. Art Deco, Hemingway, Anais Nin, Henry Miller, and on and on.. Lempicka showed me the beauty and potential of female painters. Frida Kahlo's inspiration came later, but that's another blog entry. I am not as drawn to Tamara as much now, but it is important to give a nod to your inspirational roots. I have already spoken of Andrew Wyeth and Lucian Freud as my other main influences. Sargent is in there too but I'll return to them at another time.

I hope you like the newest painting I am working on, shown above. The finished painting will be on display with my upcoming solo exhibition at Abbozzo Gallery in Oakville, Ontario this autumn.  My cat Sasha wandered into frame as the tripod and camera did their reference collecting for me. I like that Sasha is very subtle and almost not discernible until you really look. He is five pounds soaking wet, five years old,and one of my best friends and closest confidantes. He's patient and never tells my secrets. He loves me unconditionally and is a positive reprobate when I am gone for long periods of time, let alone a couple of hours. I adore him for his beauty and his beautiful flaws. In fact, here is a painting of him....

So these are a few ramblings from me to you. I hope you are having a beautiful last few days of this February as it ebbs away. Thank-you for reading, following, supporting and believing in my painting and me.



p.s. I must suggest you acquire the official soundtrack to The Social Network. It is amazing. If you are a Trent Reznor fan I am sure you have it already. If not get it, please. It is perfect to work to, think to, write to, paint to, bathe to, fall asleep to, drive to. Here is a link to information about it... 

p.p.s. David Fincher is a genius.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Woody Cove, Gros Morne"

My paintings are my friends. It's as simple as that. Your art, like your friendships, needs nurturing and, subsequently, you develop connections with your paintings. At least I do.

"Woody Cove, Gros Morne", oil on canvas, 36"x60", has been in the back of my mind for years. This place reminds me of some sort of Avalon, or perhaps some veiled world found in J.R.R. Tolkien's mind. Fortunately it is happily within reach of all of us, in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, Canada. It lies near the center of the park near Norris Point and Lobster Cove Lighthouse. 

This painting is another piece that will be a part of my solo exhibition at Abbozzo Gallery in Oakville, Ontario this autumn. I hope you can make it out to the exhibition! I will post dates for the show as soon as I find out when it is. Stay tuned. The show will include a selection of figurative paintings, landscapes and a couple of still life pieces as well. Variety is good :)

Some of the most challenging things (for me) to paint are skies and water. This painting has a lot of both. A successful painting means you have created a successful illusion. I think the key is knowing that it will ultimately work out as you want it to. You just need patience and belief. Just keep your head down and paint. 

Mind you, stepping away and assessing your painting periodically is imperative. My college painting instructor Katharine MacDonald always told us that. Take a step back and look at your work. Don't get too close for too long or you will cease to see the painting in an objective light. In fact this technique could work for any aspect of your life. If you get too close to anything for too long, you can lose objectivity and your view can become distorted. Balance, stepping back, weighing what is working and what isn't, yields your best work and perhaps your best decisions in and out of the studio. 

The only thing more exhilarating and terrifying than a blank canvas is the first mark you make. This means you have started the uphill climb in the creation of a piece of art and a hundred, two hundred, a thousand more marks will follow this initial brushstroke. Yet we paint because we must. We love it and are terrified periodically by it. I know I am. A little fear keeps you creating your best work.

So fan the flames of a little fear in the studio and I'll be writing again soon with a new painting to talk about. 

Happy creating!


"It is the job that is never started that takes longest to finish."~J.R.R. Tolkien