31 March 2014

Kristine's Dad

approx. 15" x 11", watercolour, 1996, private collection

At the time I was doing portraits of my crewmates at The Shopping Channel (click on the TSC tag below to see them), one of our camera operators, Kristine, asked if I could do a portrait based on an old photo of her dad (and, I think, his brother). So I did, and retained the monochromatic nature of the reference photo rather than colourizing it (I might have tried if she asked for that, but we both agreed subtle blue monochromatic tones would work best).




30 March 2014

Lighter Than Air

22" x 30", watercolour, 1994

Even though I don't believe in angels the imagery still kind of appeals to me –mostly it's the wings, and this particular pair I added to my friend, Sue, are based on a statue of the Winged Victory (AKA Nike) of Samothrace I took a liking to from an art history book.

The title is taken from the cartoon below which itself is on the back cover of a comic anthology from the UK called A1 from the 1980s. This is the back of Book 3 (March 1989, or thereabouts –which I still happily have). The cartoon's written by Jean-Luc Coudray and drawn by the legendary Moebius (AKA Jean Giraud). The  whimsical humour of it, combined with the gorgeous drawing, have made it stick in my mind all these years.





29 March 2014

The Scarborough Bluffs

No Swimming
22" x 30", watercolour 1996

One chilly fall day my friend, Kim, and I went to the Scarborough Bluffs to look around and see what we could shoot for possible future paintings, and I shot a couple of rolls of film in a couple of hours or so. Ultimately, I decided I'd do two paintings: a "clean" one and a "dirty" one, both paintings inspired by the beauty of the cliffs as well as the "No Swimming" sign and garbage at the site. Scarborough's beaches have been on-again/off-again clean and filthy and this was during a no-so-nice time.

The bottom painting is straight from the photos taken at the Bluffs, but it was way too cold to have Kim in a swimsuit there, so we went back to her warm house and I took some pics for that painting (as well as others; click on her name in the "labels" below to see some of them).

Before, Below, Beside
15" x 20", watercolour, Collection of The City of Scarborough

The title here is a play on the Rush song "Between, Beneath, and Behind" but that's where any connection ends (as big a Rush fan that I am, I'm not actually very familiar with that song, its title resonated just enough with me to inspire my own title).

Both of these paintings were in a show at Scarborough's City Hall the following spring and the city bought the bottom "clean" one (and my only existing photos of it are blurry; no chance for a re-shoot).



Melanie Doane

11" x 13", watercolour, 1999, private collection

Though not her first album, I became aware of Melanie Doane and her music with Adam's Rib in 1998. I was even at the venue on one of the two nights when she recorded the shows for her Melvin Live CD (a great show and a great live disc).

I did another painting illustrating some lyrics from her song "Waiting for the Tide" featuring Doane and the moon, but the title ended up being used in this rather literal painting featuring Elaine Secord who was currently with the band Squirm who released their album Cold the same year.

If the perspective seems weird, it's because the photo I used for reference is actually a still from one of her videos where the camera's above her and she's looking up.


28 March 2014

Water Works

15" x 15", watercolour, 1993, private collection

My main reason for doing this painting was to challenge myself by revisiting the complex reflectivity and transparency of glass (not really attempted since this painting a few years before). I think the glass on the right and the reflection on the top of the middle glass turned out quite well.

I admit, I'm not sure that's actually the correct title for this painting, and I don't remember who's got it so I can check.

Go Ahead and Laugh

triptych; each panel: 15" x 11", watercolour, 1993

The black bars are actually from the mat in which windows were cut to frame these three separate paintings together as a triptych (as intended, since only the far left panel is signed). I played around with windows-in-the-mat approach with a number of paintings around this time and this might be my first use of it (see also Postmodern Pranksterism and Body Language).



27 March 2014

Here

15" x 22", watercolour, 1993

Using my own reference photo from a trip to Disney World in '92 for the restaurant and reference from a magazine for the woman, this is one of my first paintings combining separate photo reference (see also: Timing is Everything...Caitlin...Corridor). It's also a bit of an experiment in contrasting cool & rigid with soft & warm, yet trying to make the composition harmonious.


Safe Sax

approx. 22" x 30", ink on paper, 1990

I did this for an assignment in my first year at the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University) where the theme was reflective surfaces. I can't remember what my grade for this was, but I think I did a pretty good job (except for the horn part on the right) considering a saxophone is a pretty complex object even without a shiny and mirror-like surface. Note the use of pointillism...which makes me think of the 1970s for some reason.



26 March 2014

Electric Sheep

approx. 15" x 18", watercolour and wires, 1989, private collection

The title is a shortening of the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (which I've read only once but was the basis for Blade Runner, one of my favourite movies). The inclusion of the wires was inspired by the amazing mixed media work of Bill Sienkiewicz, who is still a great inspiration to me (I included wires in something like six or seven paintings from '89-'93 and haven't really mixed media/materials since).

I apologize for the blurry quality of this photo, but my documentation skills weren't very consistent at the time...but it's good enough for posterity, though...which is why I'm posting these oldies anyway.



23 March 2014

Visible, Audible Heat

30" x 11", watercolour, 1999, private collection

This version of Visible, Audible Heat is based on an earlier painting (with the same title) I did a few years before with pretty much the same dimensions but different couples. These couples are all actors in scenes from various movies (spot them all!) which I sourced from various magazines...except for Han and Leia; they're from an Empire Strikes Back card (I've sold all my action figures, but I still have my Star Wars cards).


19 March 2014

Kelly: No Returns

15" x 15", watercolour, 1994, private collection

Around the time I was doing portraits of my fellow crewmates at The Shopping Channel in the mid-90s, Kelly, one of the on-air hosts, got wind of this and wanted one of her own. We took some shots in the green room and I was surprised that she wanted to be photographed without makeup. I don't remember where the "no returns" came from, but this was an occasional graphic put on certain items in their description (otherwise, there was usually a 30-day money back guarantee). Her white top and hair scrunchie are just the white of the paper because I was playing around with flat negative space in some other paintings around this time.



18 March 2014

Daryl

approx. 18" x 15", coloured pencil on Bristol board, 1994, private collection

Here's my fellow Shopping Channel crew member, Daryl, who worked camera and in the "staging" area, which is where small items like jewellery, figurines, etc. would be displayed for home viewrs before going to the host to interact with on air. I worked with a lot of talented people during my years there, and many of them went to school for broadcasting (and not art school, like me), so they really knew their stuff. Daryl was certainly one of the more expert "stagers" who could make even the crappiest item of Capodimonte look beautiful with his highly-professional lighting skills. Daryl was also well known for having a great sense of style when it came to clothing; he always looked sharp.

Rather than going with watercolours for his portrait, I chose (or maybe he chose) coloured pencils employing a technique I previously used for a few projects at OCA. I think it was his idea to pull this face.



17 March 2014

Switcherace

22" x 30", watercolour, 1994, private collection

If I remember correctly, Lennox was a freelancer, which meant he worked on an on-call basis with whichever crew called him in for a shift (I started out that way, too, until I was put on a crew permanently once a position opened up). Also, IIRC, Lennox was fully trained on several positions, but the one I used for his portrait was as a switcher (AKA technical director) since his nickname was "Switcherace" (like Liberace) because of his skills. He certainly wasn't this flamboyant in real life, but we did have fun devising this scenario.




07 March 2014

TSC Murals (+ cameos and tech!)

approx. 48" x 24", charcoal on drywall, 1996

Surprise cameo: that's me with the crazy hair.

In the summer of 1996, before The Shopping Channel moved its studios from its industrial wasteland location in north Toronto to its industrial wasteland location in Mississauga, a portal of sorts opened up in one part of the building and crews started taking their lunches in this newly-accessible room instead of the cafeteria (or something like that; I don't really remember what the hell happened). Seeing that the paint had flaked off a large portion of one wall and, seizing the opportunity to turn the eyesore into something nicer, and without even asking for any kind of permission, I brought in some charcoal one day and drew a picture of Winona Ryder in the void.

Speaking of eyesores, this is the horrorshow of an interface of the Chyron graphical character generator I had to look at and use during my shifts:

And you may ask yourself, "how do I work this?"

Why, with this, of course (no mouse!):
Ugh.

approx. 52" x 36", acrylic on drywall, 1996

Surprise cameo: that's me in the hat.

Somebody with no sense of art or respect defaced my drawing about a week or so later, so I brought in some acrylics and my photo ref for a painting I did earlier that year (below) and filled the void entirely, this time. I also added bubbles to make it look like Sue is underwater. I'm pretty sure this lasted –unscathed– until the move in early 1997 (but who knows how long after we left).

Headlight
22" x 15", watercolour, 1996

I wanted a very strong light source coming from below for this painting so I had Sue lie down on the grass, modelled her hair a bit, and simply used the sun for lighting. I wanted to convey a sense of floating blissfully, inspired by National Velvet's song of the same name from their 1990 album Courage.


06 March 2014

Cap'n Jabs

approx. 19" x 15", watercolour, 1994, private collection

This is Matias, another fellow crew member I worked with at The Shopping Channel in the 90s. Carrying on from my previous post, his nickname of "Cap'n Jabs" was bestowed on him by Roger, who, having an encyclopedic knowledge of bands and musicians, correlated our Matias with the one from the band Scorpions...but I'm not sure where the "Cap'n" came from.

When I took his picture for this painting, I chose a low angle to make him look imposing, the joke being that his apparently stern persona in the final painting was opposite to his mild-mannered and friendly nature. I made up the uniform, wanting to make it look impressive but non-descript.

Bonus Portrait:

approx. 11" x 15", watercolour, 1994, private collection

During this wave of TSC portraits, Mat asked if I would do a painting of his dad (for his dad's birthday, I think), based on a photo he provided.

Extra Bonus:

The Cap'n and his dad.







05 March 2014

"What, in the name of all that's decent...?"

15" x 22", watercolour, 1994, private collection

Continuing my posts of portraits of my co-workers from my years at The Shopping Channel, Roger here is another producer my crew had. Easily one of my favourite co-workers ever –at any job– Roger's sense of humour was top-notch: witty, irreverent, silly, abundant. He was known for giving people numerous nicknames which could be anything at all, often based on, or referring to, nothing specific, the only logic being your new nickname/s always began with the first letter of your actual name: some of mine included Miguel, Milo, and Mick.

The title is long, sure –nearly as long as some of those third season episodes of the original Star Trek series– but this was one of my favourite phrases Roger would say, often shortened to "WHAT...in the NAME...?" if something was extra weird or troubling. You'd have to watch out when he would utter this phrase because he would soon likely become "shakin' mad" afterward.
I've since adopted it and use it on occasion myself, when confronted with something appropriately baffling.

I was using rather lightweight paper (140lbs, usually) in the early-to-mid 90s and the quality of the paintings reflects that. I started using heavier paper, preferring 300lbs, rough press, for just about everything starting around 1997, enabling me to do more with the paint as it's more absorbent.
That sparkly effect in the grey area was done by sprinkling salt on the wet paint and then brushing off the grains once the paint was dry.



04 March 2014

Eye Contact

15" x 22", watercolour, 1994, private collection

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I tend to paint more of the co-workers I've had over the years than friends, family, or professional models. I guess there's some kind of connection there for me, something about work, itself, but I'm not sure what it is.

In the mid-90s I painted a number of my crewmates during the years I worked at The Shopping Channel (making on-air graphics during the live broadcasts).
This was my portrait of my crew's producer, Steve (one of the many Steves at TSC), and this scenario reflects both his and my sense of humour.

The "angel" on the right is my friend, Trish, who's been in a few other paintings such as Corona Solis (mike).

I added that digital lens flare after I'd scanned a photo of the painting and now I'd prefer it weren't there, but I can't find the original photo.

03 March 2014

The Waitress

15" x 11", watercolour, 1998

This waitress was one of my co-workers when I worked in a restaurant in the early 90s (to pay for art college; I was a cook), and she also appeared in "close," both painted during a massive watercolour project in 1998 I called Operation: Waterstorm.

Interestingly, I think I may have painted more of my co-workers than I have any one of my friends or family.


Annette Wagner

02 March 2014

Untitled Pets Commission

approx. 18" x 22", watercolour, 2000, private collection

There's really not much to say about this except I enjoyed the challenge of combining separate photo reference for three animals into a cohesive painting. It's almost like a cover illustration for a story in which the cat on the left is the protagonist and employs the help of the big, friendly dog to find the other cat...a long lost love, or perhaps an old nemesis?



01 March 2014

Art Nouveau Study

17" x 14", ink on Bristol board, 2004, private collection

I'd been playing around with art nouveau motifs since my Sunflowers series, combining my own imagery with details adapted (or outright transposed from) the work of Alfons Mucha. The "cobblestone" border and hair tendrils are based on Mucha's designs, but the woman is from a photo I took while still working in opera costuming (hence the crown and peasant shirt), but a full-colour portrait never resulted.