Friday, January 5, 2018


In keeping with my predilection for overly enthusiastic New Year's resolutions I thought I would kneel down and breath the kiss of life into this cadaverous blog.  I think maybe a really slack commitment of one or two posts a month should do it.

Our son is now 22 months old and is a goddamn riot.  We have him in daycare now, which means we've outsourced the job of teaching him to be a human to people who really know what they're doing.  He even speaks a lot of human now, too, like "butthole," and "go away."  It's good to learn those ones early, because he's going to need those his entire life.

Having a small person who needs you to do things for you is time intensive, though, and my precious Facebook time and yes, even my blog time have been sacrificed.  I think the ideal person to have a child is someone who already wastes a lot of time on stupid stuff.  That would be me.  But even though I had quite a bit of chaff in my schedule to transform into baby care time, I've still been running at a deficit for the past twenty-two months.  And it's okay.  I don't answer emails in a timely manner.  My commission turn around time is loooong.  I have to sniff my clothes before wearing them because I can't remember if that hamper is clean or dirty.  It's okay.  Having a kid is freaking awesome.

Anyway, Dave and I just want anyone who is still lingering here to know that we are doing A-OK.  Dave is tattooing a goddamn shitstorm of awesomeness at Black Label Tattoos here in Duncan, BC, while simultaneously rocking his painting career.  He had some pieces hanging at Arcadia Contemporary this year.  I seriously can't take this guy's awesomeness.  He's also a completely egalitarian person to parent with.  And he finally has an excuse to buy that mega playdough set he's always wanted.

I have been shit busy with commissions and workshops, although to be honest, I haven't really done THAT many commissions.  Enough to keep me busy, but I'm slow.  I've been picking away at portrait projects for the past couple of years, for which I have been incredibly grateful.  I've been watching the gallery side of my career burble in spirals around the drain for the past couple of years and finally just smelt the last little belch of something rising up from the u-bend.  I am gallery free now and after years of AWOL artwork, damaged frames, unpaid shipping fees, dishonored contracts, and not one, but TWO gallerists doing jail time for shady dealings, it feels like going braless in August.  There were some good galleries, yes.  They were lovely.  It's thanks to their loveliness that a proper standard of measure was established to compare our lousy treatment to at the other places.  But I'm done with sending someone half a year's worth of work and waiting a year to find out the hard way if they're honest people.  In the meantime, while I wrap my head around this all, and revel in parenthood, I've been experimenting, learning, and scheming.  I've been digging deep, painting fast, making direct sales, and thinking about what's next.

Oh, and here's a painting:

Yeah, so I painted this bugger over a long period of time.  I started before I got pregnant in 2015 and finished it up at the beginning of 2017.  But man, this was a beast to photograph.  But the ARC salon is one of those handy deadlines that always wind up making me haul ass to photograph anything I was avoiding.  Here it is in despeckled glory.

It's called "Insomnia."  Because when artists can't sleep, they play with dolls and dead owls in the middle of the night.  Leading up to pregnancy, and then during pregnancy, my anxiety took off and I couldn't sleep.  At one point one of my maternity doctors who was trying to help me with it found out I was an artist and she lit up and said, "Oh, so does that mean you can, like, paint your feelings to help you work through this?"  I dramatically rolled my eyes and explained condescendingly that I am a traditional realist oil painter and I don't paint my feelings thank you very much.  Then I went home and got back to painting, and realized that I was painting a goddamned eyeless doll in a bed.

I rolled with it, and I added an owl, and a flying angel doll, and a bunch of fetal monsters under the bed, taken from our 3D ultrasound.  I painted my feelings like no one has painted their feelings before.  I'm sorry, maternity doctor.

I'd love to do a few posts chronicling the progress of this painting.  We'll see how this goes.  I have to go sniff some laundry before folding it.

Monday, May 29, 2017


Posted by: Dave

Since having my big headed baby things have slowed a bit with my updates.  The recovery time has been slow and its amazing to see what a baby has done to my figure, but the whole experience has been worthwhile.  It has been an interesting lifestyle change to say the least.  Luckily for me, having a child is similar to having a dog so it hasn't been all that hard of a transition.  Right now my kid's crate training is coming along nicely and I am happy to say he has been flea and tick free since we got him.

So, what have I been up to artistically you ask?  Been running with my series of "shooting animals in the face" and have decided to retire my painted face series once and for all. Thought I would show some progress shots from a still life I did last year.  One thing you may notice from this particular still life is that its done a bit more "on the fly."  Get it?...cause it works on two levels...because ducks have the gift of flight and it also relates to the spontaneity of the introduced objects to the composition as the painting developed organically.  Now before I go any further, I would like to make a disclaimer and say that no animals were harmed in the making of this piece, except a duck who was shot in the head then frozen, but that asshole owed me money so who cares.  Now I know this post wasn't an all that glamorous comeback after not posting for over a year, but remember, I'm a parent now so I get to blame everything I don't do on that.

Day one, laying in that paint. 



Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Workshop at the Florence Studio

Posted by: Kate

Time to gush about our trip to Florence!  For two weeks I taught still life painting at the Florence Studio while Dave very good naturedly shouldered the brunt of the parenting responsibilities.  I'm going to overlook that one incident with the jarred puréed cavallo and go ahead and say he did a wonderful job.  Oh, and apparently my husband speaks Italian.  Like, for real.  He had conversations with Italian people.  It wasn't quite a Fish Called Wanda moment, but I definitely had to stop and add a few dozen language points to the scorecard of a man who routinely makes up words and insists they're real.

The Florence Studio's rooms satisfied my ideal of an artist's space in Florence.  If I had a window like that in my studio I would just Vermeer it up in every single painting.  The school is located just a couple of block away from the Ponte Vecchio, so it's centrally located to all the cool stuff that an art nerd could hope to see.  We stayed at a really nice apartment not far away with my parents and sister+fiancé. 

I would have liked to fit in more museum visits, but I did fit in some really important ones.  First up was the Annigoni Museum.  Must see.  I had no idea how big some of these paintings are!

Zoologia La Specola.  Here we are in the cuddly plushy section.  The really hair raising part is the wax anatomy sculpture section.  It was a weird merging of the uncanny valley with bacon.

It felt inappropriate to take a photo of all that nude, writhing greasiness at the time, so I'm lifting a picture from the internet:

There were a couple dozens of these bodies, male and female, all in the throes of agony/ecstasy.  The female bodies were very virginal, with long braids and white veils.  If you're a Mutter Museum sort of person, this place is a must see.

And of course the Museu Moderna in the Palazzo Pitti, which contains mostly work spanning the 18th and 19th centuries.  According to the Museu Moderna, art never got more modern than Antonio Mancini, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Everywhere we went we got the most generous and friendly treatment.  It turns out the old part of Florence is besotted with babies.  It took me a couple of days to notice it, but they have a total Children of Man thing going on.  Nobody has babies in the old part of Florence.  Cooks would come out of the kitchen to deliver mini plates of cheese and bread for Bubs when we stopped at restaurants and rabid nonnas wanted to fondle and talk to him.  Everyone was nice to us because of him.  The next time we go to Florence the sprog will be bigger, so we're planning on taking a sleeping reborn doll with us in order to receive the same goodwill.

One more thing just to make you drool: our hosts showed us into the spectacular grotto-like antiques dealer shop below.  This still life artifact fun house was completely unidentifiable from the outside, which makes you wonder how many treasure troves there are like this.  We flipped our shit and bought the only thing in the place we could afford and brought it back to be the star of an upcoming still life painting.

I owe a huge thank you to Laura Thompson and Frank Rekrut, who run the Florence Studio, for hosting my workshop and showing me an insider's view of the neighbourhood; and of course to my students for joining in the fun.

For those of you interested in traveling to and studying in Florence, The Florence Studio offers a number of great workshops next year, including a workshop by Natural Pigments, as well as private teaching to fit a custom schedule.  It's a beautiful space in the heart of old Florence and Frank and Laura are warm and knowledgeable teachers. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Baby's First Art Show

Posted by: Kate

The Fetus formerly known as Cletus tagged along with me to our regional annual art show hosted by the Cowichan Valley Arts Council.  I didn't observe any nascent art appreciation, but I have eighteen years to make him like art.

I was thrilled to receive to receive Best in Show for "Furs," but I have to admit that Cletus has done some rewiring in my brain.  Every time anyone said "Congrats!" or "Beautiful!" to me, even as I was standing right next to my painting, I assumed we were talking about the baby.  "Oh thanks!  He's two  months old!"  Facepalm.

Big thanks to Morgan Saddington, CVAC Office Manager and PORTALS Coordinator.  She put me on the radar of a local TV programmer, Daphne Goode, who put together this lovely spot about me just before the show opened:

[Before you all get up in my grill about painting with a baby, I'll have you know that at this stage in a painting I use oil only.]

And yeah, every single day is a totally idyllic day in the studio with a sleeping baby strapped to my chest.  Snort.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Nexus Opening at Abend Gallery in Denver, CO

Posted by: Kate

Tomorrow Dave ABANDONS his wife and small child to attend the opening of Nexus, a show presented by Abend Gallery in Denver, CO.  He has been diligently working away at co-curating this show for the past number of months.  Getting a bunch of artists to collaborate on a show is like herding cats, and getting a bunch of tattoo artists to collaborate on a show is like herding a bunch of insolent, authority-challenging cats.  Which is actually all cats, come to think of it.

Yes, Nexus combines paintings from artist and tattoo artists.  As you all know if you've been reading long enough, Dave tattoos part-time to pay the bills and maintain his street cred in the face of his background as a kindergarten teacher (it's really hard to undo that sort of history).  He came up with the idea to put together a show featuring paintings by tattoo artists and paintings by artists exploring or inspired by tattoo culture.

Renowned tattoo artist Joshua Carlton gave us our apprenticeships.  The hydro company has him to thank for our prompt bill payments each month.

For the five minutes that I tattooed, my eyes were opened and my innocence dashed.  I had always naively believed that painting was a self-evidently superior visual art form--nay, the ultimate visual art form!--and that the entire world was with me on that point.  But now I really believe that tattoo art is the dominant visual art form of our generation.  It's the one that is the most accessible, the most meaningful, and the most personal.  It's also a very competitive industry that attracts the best and most talented by rewarding artists with money and fame commensurate to merit.  Which is rather unlike some industries I know.

Which is to say, I hope these tattoo artists don't lord their superior cultural relevance over the rest of us painters at the show.  Sob.

Nexus has received some excellent coverage, although it will probably be another month before the gypsy caravan containing the above issue of American Art Collector Magazine makes its way to Vancouver Island.  The above image is pilfered from the Book of Face.  You can read more about the show here and you can view the catalogue here.  I wish I felt up to inflicting a crying baby on a plane full of strangers so that I could attend too.

Jennifer Balkan
James What's His Face Caffyn
Julio Reyes
Aaron Nagel

Friday, April 1, 2016

Introducing the Baby Formerly Known as Cletus the Fetus

Posted by: Kate

Time to fumigate the crickets from this blog and get back to posting.  We've been a tad busy here at Painting Stuff to Look Like Stuff HQ, aka, the end of the sofa next to the side table that has my glass of wine on it.  I've made quite a few drinking jokes on this blog in recent months, but I was just throwing you off the trail.  You see, I haven't had much room for booze lately:

Dave and I welcomed James, aka Cletus the Fetus (working title), on February 25th.

Photo credits to my sister, whose smashed iPhone outperformed my semi-professional camera and its pricey lens during my stay at the hospital.  This little porker was 9lbs.  We weren't allowed to keep him in the hospital nursery in case he ate the preemies. 

And one week later:

We just wanted to dedicate one post to sharing our wonderful news with everyone.  And now back to blogging about painting stuff to look like stuff ASAP.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Icarus X

Posted by: Kate

I take my inspiration from the Greats!  Below, Icarus on a Halfshell:

I actually painted this thing standing bent over.  The painting and the props were both resting on top of the crate.

While the wood colour was laid down willy-nilly above, I made sure to clean it up by dragging a textured bristle brush through it in the direction of the grain of the wood before letting it dry (below).

This wood texture was then easy to build up with a combination of semi-transparent scumbles and glazes.

Much easier to paint the text over the wood after letting it dry:

His gams aren't quite as shapely, but he's every bit as sweetly coy.  Available in my store.