28 April 2013

Announcing 33 on 33

33 on 33: Title Page
20" x 20", oil on canvas, 2013

In just a few weeks, at the break of dawn on 25 May, I'll be hitting the road –specifically Prince Edward County's Highway 33 (AKA The King's Highway, AKA Loyalist Parkway)– for my big summer art project.

Beginning at the Murray Canal at the north west end of PEC near Trenton, I'll head out early each day, gradually making my way east along 33, creating one 20" x 20" oil painting each day for 33 days.

This marathon-of-sorts will conclude on 26 June at the Glenora ferry dock, and all 34 paintings (including the "title page" above) will be shown at Blizzmax Gallery (3071 County Rd. 13, Picton, ON, 613.476.7748).  The show opens 29 June at 7pm and runs until 21 July.

Throughout all of this I'll be making regular updates on Facebook, Twitter, and here on this blog. It's very likely that there will be many surprises...and maybe even a guest star or two!

I have no idea what I'm going to paint other than there will obviously be a strong landscape element in this series. I'll be loosely plotting out my stops next week, but each point may change on the day I eventually go out, and if it's raining I'll paint in my van.
I'm particularly excited about this because, being a "studio painter" it's going to be a challenge for me to paint en plein air (literally "in the open air") without any great plan beforehand, spontaneity being the key to this project, but not my strong suit, artistically.

I've just prepped 33 canvases with an orange acrylic ground...and I don't care if that's against plein air painting rules. The show opening is so close the last day of my marathon-of-sorts that I've also pre-wired them to be ready to hang...still wet, if need be!




25 April 2013

Christening

17" x 14", ink on Bristol board, 2005

This is one of my favourite paintings and features my cousin Donna holding my sister, Lena, during her Christening in 1976 (Donna happens to be our godmother and thus had the power to name us both). On the left is the priest anointing my sister with holy water or something.  I have no idea who any of the other people in the picture are, but the venue was St. Clement of Ohrid Orthodox Church in Toronto. My five year old self is somewhere in this room, probably very confused and very likely bored.

Everything seemed to come together so nicely in this painting: the likenesses of my cousin and the priest, the stained glass in the background, the stripes on Donna's dress, the crowd of extras (featuring a man holding the Fancy Gigantic Christening Candles), the Special Christening Implements (pitcher, cross, baby-dunking bowl) in the foreground, the possibly bored girl also in the foreground, and my baby sister's hilarious limbs flailing around, an unwitting participant in a weird ceremony centered on her. Awesome.



22 April 2013

Strength

Strength: diptych with digital text

Under the literal banner of "strength" I wanted to juxtapose two concepts that seem opposite to me (military might and family), almost like a Cold War-era propaganda poster –but without using the design tropes associated with those.

Above is a digital composition of the two ink paintings that were intended to be framed together and the word "strength" (in Cyrillic) painted (or screen printed) on the glass. They were never framed and I've since painted the background of the left side red to match the other portraits of my dad and uncles in their Yugoslavian military uniforms.

Strength (port side):
17" x 14", ink and acrylic on Bristol board

This is my mother's brother, Stefan, who now lives north of Toronto, and the only one of my uncles to be photographed (that I know of) in his uniform brandishing an actual weapon. It's kind of unsettling, considering all of my uncles are really gentle, peaceful guys.

Strength (starboard side):
17" x 14", ink on Bristol board

This is Kathy, a family friend, holding one of my cousins' sons. I added the traditional costume for a more specific ethnic reference to "family".


19 April 2013

Teta Dana

17" x 14", ink on Bristol board, 2003

This is my mother's sister, Dana (pronounced like "Donna"), at the family home in the village of Velushina some time before she moved to Australia. "Teta" means "aunt" in Macedonian (actually, it's what you call the sister of either of your parents, and your teta's husband is your "teteen"). It's complicated: your father's brother is your "streeko" (or "cheecho") and his wife is your "streena" (or "nina"), but your mother's brother is your "vuyko" and his wife is your "vuyna". Is that clear?

To further complicate things, Dana was called "teta" by so many nieces and nephews that she was called "Teta Dana" by her siblings as well, so, as a very young kid, learning about my family through our family photo albums, I was confused as to whether Dana was my mother's sister or her aunt.

Bonus anecdote: when my sister and I visited Australia in 1993 we were amazed at how Dana had very strong similarities between our mother (who's younger) and our aunt Magda (who's older), even after living away from them for decades. She talked, laughed, gestured, etc. alternately like each of them. It was entertaining and endearing.


15 April 2013

Shepherdess

17" x 14", ink on Bristol board, 2003

Continuing along the lines of Electric Sheep and the related posts/artwork, here's Kristina again tending some sheep, for which I combined my photo ref of her in traditional Macedonian costume with pictures of sheep and a Macedonian landscape from photos my father took. I think this would look great in colour on a large canvas. Maybe one day...




11 April 2013

My Advantage Point

24" x 36", oil on canvas, 2013

Detail, just as the colours were being applied.


The "tattoo" on her arm is the alchemical symbol for "to sublime".




07 April 2013

Subtractive Composites

40" x 30", oil on canvas, 2013, private collection

On this day five years ago, I posted my first blog entry here, not knowing if I would enjoy blogging, how long I would continue, or what I would get out of it, if anything. It turns out I kind of do sort of enjoy blogging (kind of) –mostly concentrating on my own artwork, but I also like writing the occasional post about Small Pond Arts (where I gladly invite you to meet me at the silo). Since I have no plans to stop painting, I may as well keep blogging about it.

And what have I gotten out of it? I like sharing my work, my process, my struggles (it might be insightful or educational to someone); I feel I've become better at discussing (though, not necessarily explaining) my work in person after five years and more than 400 posts of trying to be clear and coherent online; and while I don't prefer to dwell on/in the past, I do like to reflect on past work, to reassess and be critical of it so that I may learn and get better...and blogging helps, whether I'm looking back on my first watercolour or my most recent oil painting (this one). So here's to five years!

Carrying on with my Tournament of Shadows series, I've combined here my cleaver-wielding friend Sandra with a sword-wielding statue from the Pallas Athene Fountain in front of the Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna (which I photographed on a trip there with Krista in 2007). The lion tattoo is a larger version of the one Ashley has in The Lady and the Lions from earlier in this series (which also features a statue).

Details:


04 April 2013

Power Lines / Electric Sheep

30" x 40", oil on canvas, 2003, private collection

Here's Kristina again in her traditional Macedonian dancing attire, this time herding a flock of sheep among hydro towers somewhere in Scarborough. This one has the best likeness of her, and also the best rendering of the costume.

My original title was simply "Electric Sheep", taking a portion of the title of Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (which, in turn was the basis for Blade Runner, one of my favourite movies), but the power lines asserted themselves and I referred to the painting using both titles interchangeably...so you get to pick the one you like better.

Early conceptual sketches:





Here's a little semi-related bonus I found online:






03 April 2013

"Chetiri!"

40" x 30", oil on canvas, 2003, private collection

Continuing along the lines of "Opa! Yeehaw!", my first Canadian-Macedonian culture mashup painting, this one is even more punny since "chetiri" is the Macedonian word for "four" (which is a homonym for the word often shouted by people standing in large parks as they hit a little ball with a club). I don't know anything about golf except that I sometimes would tune in to a match on TV and use the gentle murmurings of the announcers as a sedative.

I shot a bunch of photos of Kristina in her traditional dancing costume that one afternoon, so she appears in the first few paintings in this series.





02 April 2013

"Opa, Yeehaw!"

40" x 30", oil on canvas, 2003, private collection

This was the first image that came to mind when I set out to create a series of paintings dealing with the culture clash between my Macedonian and Canadian heritages (my parents came to Canada a few years before I was born).

What's happening here is a woman dressed in traditional Macedonian cultural regalia riding a bull (representing Canada via the Calgary Stampede). The reason for this specific juxtaposition is in the title: "opa, eeha!" is often exclaimed by Macedonians while happily dancing, and "yeehaw" is often exclaimed by excited cowboys. I still find this very funny.
Bonus cheap laffs: she's waving a handkerchief in the air (as the Macedonian ladies do while dancing) using the upraised arm that's common while riding a bucking bronc.

While I'm pretty happy with the bull and the rendering of the costume, the rest of the painting kind of pains me to look at (that face!)...so I just go back to looking at the bull and laughing at my little joke.