Sunday, August 30, 2015

Matt Wagner: "This is My Day Job: The Bravery of the Artist"

"I sort of feel like 'artists are the cultural plumbers'. It's like: we need them, we just don't know we need them until we need them."

Great talk I saw recently by Matt Wagner, owner of Hellion Gallery ( Recommended watching for both artists and art enthusiasts on the lifestyle risks artists take, how the gallery system works and economic factors of the art world. (Points in particular worthy of note at: 4:36, 8:53, 26:30, 32:32 and 40:53)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Limited edition 'Stable Vices' print

Anyone love naughty My Little Ponies? Because I have just one - only one - of these limited edition giclee prints left from a special print request I did. It could be yours - I'll allow it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Devil is in the Details - tonal study preview

The tonal study for my latest painting, 'The Devil is in the Details' is all done! Here is a sneak-peek. Continuing on with wanting to make more original works at an affordable entry rate, it's not a large painting, just 8"x10". (The original tonal study is the same size and will also be for sale after I release the painting.) The image is of course inspired by the old proverb.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Art for Dummies

Two things:

1) You can never learn too much about your industry.

2) It's important to be able to explain what you do to people outside your industry in very comprehensible, digestible terms.

I've been flipping through this book (not necessarily reading it in order). If you're still intimidated by art, it is an accessible read from a credible source.

Click here to buy the book on

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Using reference for hands

I started my next painting, 'The Devil is in the Details' - one of the paintings left on my list I want to complete before the end of the year.

Here is a tactic that might be helpful to some of you: when you need to draw hands at a tough angle or just need great reference, film yourself with your computer's webcam and try out some different hand positions. Pause it on a suitable frame and then draw from it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Art & Intuition

Late June, I had finished the drawing for the painting that would become 'Fleeting Focus' (above). Then, early July my computer was temporarily being fixed and so I wasn't able to look at additional reference photos online or do color studies in Photoshop. Knowing of the approaching deadline for Galerie Abyss' 12x12 group exhibition and not wanting to wait, I decided to do something a little uncustomary and start the painting anyway with the color scheme I had in my head. Anyone who is familiar with my THOUGHTS & PROGRESS booklets can tell you this is not how I normally operate. (See below)

This is what the painting originally started to look like. (Kind of boring.) I received my computer back but then left for a needed break away and spent some time with my family. When I returned, I looked at the painting with a fresh pair of eyes and HATED IT. I sought to improve it and did some color studies. (See the final one below)

Now, I was getting somewhere. I had thought about the color, lighting and reflections enough that I allowed myself to start painting. Color studies (for me at least) give me a starting point - somewhere to go from and improve upon. I then completed the final painting (see below). 

You will notice the final image has some changes from the drawing and color study above. Because I gave myself more time to think about the outcome, I came up with more ways to improve it:

The last '6' of the slot has not yet come to a stop. This gave the painting more interest and a greater sense of movement. 

Red (the character from Red Hot Riding Hood, the wolf character in the painting is based off animation genius Tex Avery's wolf character of the same cartoon) was originally going to be reflected in his nose. I really liked the lighting choices I made in the color study and couldn't figure out a way to make it work because it would have meant adding another light source and altering the lighting. So I abandoned it. 

With slot machines, you see remnants of other icons above and below what the wheel eventually stops on. I dropped those elements because they were unnecessary and would have meant I would have needed to paint the numbers smaller to accommodate them.
All this leads me to my confession: art is not overly intuitive for me. 

 This is not an apology or an admittance of defeat, just an acknowledgement (and acceptance) of how I operate. My goal is always to make the best artwork I can, and can't successfully accomplish that by just 'winging it' and hoping it will magically work out. Some artists are (at least seemingly) more spontaneous with incredible results. I'm not one of them.

So - what have a learned from this experience?

I already have a process that works for me - that I can improve on and should not jettison.

My best effort will only come from me genuinely thinking and planning the quality of the outcome. Said another way: not being 'overly intuitive' is not a bad thing because it forces me to think about it and produce great work.

Taking a break (weather it be leaving for a week or just taking a long walk and returning) is something I shall implement more.   

Just because my computer is being fixed doesn't mean I can't do tonal and color studies the analogue way. (I just prefer digital in the planning phase because it's faster and doesn't waste materials.)

Can art become more intuitive for me over time? 

Yes. Every time I start a new work of art it's not like I have to relearn everything all over again. So there ARE things I don't have to actively think about each painting. Also, each new painting allows me to learn at least one new technique I can apply again to future paintings. (With 'Fleeting Focus', I studied then learned how to paint a convincing motion blur via the spinning '6'.)

Friday, August 07, 2015

'Fleeting Focus' - all done!

THANK YOU to all who attended the opening of last night's 12x12 group exhibition! Here is the entire painting:

'Fleeting Focus'
acrylic and aerosol on wood panel
available at Galerie Abyss
We live in a time that career & life coach, Robin Sharma, refers to as 'The age of dramatic distraction'. If the internet were a physical realm, I'm pretty sure it would be a casino. This painting was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend where I made a comparison between the two.

The objective of both are quite similar: to keep you spending your resources (time or money) and prevent you from realizing there is an outside world. (In fact, you can even visit online casinos!) Both can be fun and the internet is a practical tool - unfortunately, it's also a battlefield bombarded with time wasting links. Personally, I can not claim I always spend my time as productively there as I wish.The 666 slot machine eyes of the character in the painting (instead of 777) is the reference to the old adage 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop'.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

'Fleeting Focus' preview

Here is a teaser preview of the final painting, 'Fleeting Focus' for Galerie Abyss'  12x12 group exhibition. See the entire painting - and many more works for sale - THIS Thursday night! 

 12x12, Opening: Thursday August 6th, 7:00 - 10:00pm
1520 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montreal