Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fun with guns

Recently I started another painting of Allie hunting pheasants ... as hunting kittens is apparently frowned upon.  I also finally had the opportunity to include my dog Bishop aka "Mr. Nibbles" in a painting, something I have been wanting to do for years. 

Recently I have been trying to be more ambitious by incorporating multiple elements into a piece (landscape, the figure, animals, etc) in order to create a narrative.  One of the reasons I tend to avoid doing more of this type of work is the energy and time it takes for me to do one. This is one of the main reasons  I have been avoiding painting the face and hands on this piece first as I find them the most enjoyable to do.  Saving the dessert until last so to speak.

I have to say though that this one is going a lot more smoothly than "wetlands" and I attribute that to the planning stages being better realized.  The background landscape is drawn from the field by my house, so its easy to reference it as I paint.  I tried to invent the landscape in "Wetlands", which was extremely difficult.  Good locations, and good props are essential to making a painting like this work.  As far as the props, I did have to order several pheasant pelts and purchase an antique shotgun from the US to give the piece authenticity.  If there is one piece of advice I have to give when making a narrative piece like this, it's do your research.  If the correct ammo is paired with the wrong rifle, it's a problem and may even result in a piece never selling.  A belt isn't simply a belt.  A hat isn't just a hat.  And a super badass 1845 Devoir Pinfire 12 Gauge Side-by-side Shotgun isn't any gun....its mine.

Which brings me to the topic of shotguns and hunting.  This will be the first time that life imitates art as I will be hunting this year with my awesome "freedom stick of doom" aka The Remington SXP Field Shotgun which my wife bought for my birthday, and by bought, I mean I purchased it myself and told her it was from her.  No more running over deer in my Jeep for me. 

Drawing study that was transferred to canvas
Etude/Color Study for Allie's face
Drawing has been transferred.  Color study is in the front of the painting with the ebauche being laid in.
 Working on the pheasants with a focus on paint quality.
Painting up to date, about 60 percent finished.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Painting Doppleganger

I am sure I won't be the last to notice that the new Slayer album cover looks like a botched restoration job.

Friday, August 21, 2015

"Unfurl" at Galery 1261

Tonight "Unfurl" opens at Gallery 1261 in Denver, Colorado.  Curated by the amazing Mia Bergeron, the idea behind the show was to give its artists free rein to explore an untapped side of their creative voice without the pressure to create works that were sellable or fit in with the artist's preexisting body of work.  This show was an invitation to do something different.  The funny thing with telling an artist to "be different" or "test the limits," is that most of us are already doing the best work we can, in a way we love to do it.  And even if we do get a crazy new idea, by the time that idea comes out, it often looks to the rest of the world exactly like what we were already doing, because you really can't change your style anymore than you can change the sound of your voice.

The invitation to participate in this show was kind of an eye-opener for me because after months of asking myself, "What would I paint if I wasn't worried about sales?" I came to the realization that I haven't been painting for sales and I wouldn't be doing anything differently if I won the lottery.  Except that if I won the lottery I would probably have a serious eBay problem and I would have some wickedly cool costumes and still life props.  But the invitation did give me a chance to do something that Dave and I had been told by galleries over and over again to NEVER DO.  Namely, collaborate on a painting.

The Ritual, 18x26", by Kavid Glone, hanging around the corner
from Vincent Xeus and Joseph Todorovitch.   The Todorovitch is also
called "The Ritual."  Us creative types, eh?
As usual, I helped Dave with the costuming and photo shoot and came up with a cool name in the end, but not like usual, halfway through the painting Dave handed me the paint brushes and let me take over.  Or rather, halfway through the painting, "The Ritual" entered painting limbo and sat facing the wall for a month before we both agreed the only way the painting was ever getting finished was if there was an intervention.  And then we realized we could pitch this as our edgy contribution to Unfurl.  How crazy!  Two artists on one painting?

Sebastian's Harmony
Ron Hicks and Michael Gadlin

Oh wait, it looks like we weren't the first ones to think of that. 

Above is how the painting looked when I took it over.  A strong start, Dave had completed the ebauche and some first painting in areas.  I waited until a time when I knew Dave was going to be out of the house all day and then I started off by developing the background, below:

I dragged the background right over the edges of the foreground objects so that I wouldn't wind up with any haloing or gaps between the subject and the background.  I then jumped into the face and took it as far as I could in one go.  All the alla prima work I've been doing this year has really helped me push things further in each pass and I've gone from being a three pass kind of painter to often only needing two passes on a face.  After the face, the hair was a lot of fun.  I laid down dark paint all over her hair and then used some lovely Rosemary mongoose brushes to whisk little tendrils of lighter paint into it, wet into wet.

Below is day two, the start of the antler.  By now I'm realizing that I'm not just having really good painting days.  It's actually just about ten times easier to finish someone else's painting and that's all there is to it.  I have no idea why this is, because finishing someone else's painting should be like going for a jog in borrowed underpants, but painting this painting was actually the easiest painting experience I've had all year.

 Lots of Velazquez Medium to build up the paint nice and thick.

Still more Velazquez Medium:


And that brings us to the finished piece:

And don't worry, guys.  Our marriage is still intact.

I'm going to share some of the other beautiful paintings that will be hanging at the opening tonight:

Thrift Store, Quang Ho

Smudge on the Nobleman, Vincent Xeus

Right side of Locket, Rose Frantzen

Nimbus, Rachel Constantine

Bird and Red Cloth, Daniel Sprick

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

New Workshop Schedule

I have four workshops cooking.  Want to take a two-day portraiture workshop with me and Dave while staying at the beautiful Alderbrook Resort and Spa in Washington state?  I'm pretty sure you could persuade your non-artist significant other to come along.  You get to paint all day, they get to sip a mimosa with cucumbers on their eyes.  That sounds fair.

Or how about a five-day still life workshop in Tuscaloosa, AL?  This one is being hosted by Thomas Rosenstiel in his beautiful private studio.  My attention will be divided only eight ways, so you will have lots of one-on-one.  I've offered this workshop four times and I just keep doing it because it's so popular.  I'm routinely amazed by the results my students produce.  Added bonus: my worn out jokes are timed perfectly by now.  There are five spots left.

Or, if you happen to be located within driving or ferrying distance of where I live on Vancouver Island, you could always take a six-day version of my still life workshop out of my own studio, with access to all my still life props.  Yes.  That includes creepy dolls and rotten boards covered in chippy paint.  I've been really wanting to do a six-day version because five seems just long enough for everyone to learn some cool stuff, but six would be optimal for actually finishing a painting.  This latter workshop will be limited to six people so that I can intensely manage and instruct you all, my little goslings.  So far there are only two spots left. 

(That tuition fee is in Canadian dollars, folks, and GST is 5%)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Huff Po Article

I am THRILLED with a recent article written in the Huffington Post by Daniel Maidman.  Daniel got in touch with me many months ago about making this article happen and while I recognized the huge compliment he was bestowing on my work, and while I knew that no publicity is bad publicity, I have to say, I'm generally very nervous about having someone else do the talking about my work.  I put a lot of thought into my work and I don't like to have my meaning misrepresented or misconstrued.  In fact, I get quite edgy about it.

But, on the phone, Daniel said something that made me think he understood what I was about.  He said that he felt that the genre of child portraiture was sadly looked down upon because of a generalized fear amongst artists that children=sentimentality, and that paintings of children deserve respect.  So I felt like shaking his hand through the receiver.

Without needing to make any reference to the material I've written and posted online about this painting, Daniel still totally gets it.  Many, many thanks, Daniel.

Here is the article:

Friday, June 26, 2015

"A Friendly Challenge" at Gallery 1261, Denver CO

I will have some work hanging in Gallery 1261's new show, "A Friendly Challenge," which opens this Friday and runs until July 18th.

Something old...

O Sorrow, 27x17"
 and something new...

A Certain Slant of Light, 20x13"

The idea of the show was for each participating gallery artist to invite an outsider friend to participate.  I picked my favourite figurative painter in the vast white north, the incredible Tara Juneau, who, incidentally, is the model in "O Sorrow."  She exclusively works from life and paints in oils in spite of a solvent allergy, so she's hardcore.  Most artists' problem is a shortage of good work to ship to a gallery, so it kind of makes my left eye twitch when I survey Tara's massive stash of beautiful paintings that she just doesn't have time to ship to a gallery, because apparently shipping is way harder than painting.  So Dave and I took it upon ourselves to pack up four of her paintings and send them off.

Andromeda and the Blue Sky, 39x24"

Bear Skull, 12x9"
Lace, 24x12"

Soft Green, 17x14"

Tara seems to exclusively use friends and acquaintances to sit for her.  It's pretty hard to find professional nude models on the Island, and even harder to convince people you know to strip down.  I'd scratched head at her magical ability to get people to peel their clothes off, but then she asked me to sit for her.  She started off all "You can sit for me in your underwear.  You'll be covered with pearls and a scarf, so no one will even see.  Totally decent."  Sure.  That I can do.  Then on sitting number three she was all "*sigh* You're bra straps are getting in the way.  You could take it off and just use the pearls for coverage."  By sitting number seven I was buck naked and confused about how I got that way.  I suspect all her models feel the same.

Oh, and I don't feel bad if anything I've said in anyway embarrasses Tara, because after she finished painting me she put a photo of the painting on Facebook and tagged me in it--the same week that I was flooded with friend requests from Dave's extended family because I'd finally just met them all at a wedding.

If you're in Denver sometime during the next four weeks, make sure to stop by the gallery to check out her beautiful paintings.  Her skin tones are gorgeous.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Crows before Bros

I recently have developed a new-found affinity for crows in my paintings.  Now, I'm not saying it's because of "Game of Thrones"... but it's because of "Game of Thrones".

(Jon Snow is my favorite mopey bastard.  He is the emo art student of the "Game of Thrones" realm)

For this painting, I once again used my taxidermy crow that I purchased through Ebay (before anyone asks where I found it) but had to find some additional elements before I got started.  Best place to find old piles of broken windows, doors, and barn wood is from your local unfriendly neighborhood hoarder/"antique dealer" who lives out in the middle of nowhere.  Even my GPS looked at me blankly when I entered this guy's address.  After about an hour of listening to him say "no no, that broken window isn't for sale, its my favoritist broken window" I managed to walk away with what I needed at grossly inflated prices.  After that, I began setting up my still life, trying to use much brighter colors than I am used to (my wife has been giving me flak for this for years. I mean, women and chromatic colors...right guys?)

I was pretty content with the narrative behind the piece.  Much like the crow, I too stand in front of the mirror all day admiring myself, so in some ways its really just a self portrait. I also got to paint under my brand spanking new skylight.

One of the most important things I learned from this still life is how much I hate painting rope.  I mean, I really really hate it.  Just when you think you are done, bam, more stupid rope on the other side of the bird.  And again, just when you see the light at the end of the tunnel--crap, more rope behind the crow I didn't notice.

 Drawing things out for the transfer.  Again, this helps with my cropping and working out as many drawing mistakes as needed before moving on.
 Ebauche.  A thin wash of color just to cover the surface.  Sets up the large tonal and color groupings. The paint is the consistency of thick coffee creamer or kittens blood.
 Beginning of first painting.  Large patches of color tones used to further define the drawing and create form.  The smallest details are still ignored at this point.
Some woodgraining in effect.  Learned some tricks from my brother who is a faux finisher.
 Some second painting on the onions.  Using medium and a thin application of paint to create more subtle transitions of tones and add small details.
Stupid rope...I hate you...
Final shot of the piece.