Influencers — that’s what we refer to people of persuasion now. People with entrepreneurial zest. They’ve existed forever and used whatever medium is current and available to reach the audience. In this case, really amazing books with so much information it would have kept the Victorian influenced busy for months.
132 years ago this book, The Popular Art Instructor, was published. It’s a collection of instructions on how to achieve artistic perfection in various endeavours. It’s all in there; oil painting, watercolour, floral arrangement, embroidery, house plant care, basket weaving, calligraphy, furniture placement, leaf pressing… everything old is new again. And when I write that I mean everything very, very old is very, very new again.
Instagram is full-to-bursting, overflowing really, with people who’ve made livings out of their various interests laid out in this book from 1888. You can now make a middle-class living by sharing your knowledge on watering house plants and arranging books on a shelf effectively.
With this painting, I’m commemorating the spirit of the people who published this book and the people who have strived for perfection and turned a hobby into art they can make a genuine living by.
This painting will be part of my most recent body of work showing at the George Billis Gallery in New York City from September 29 – October 24, 2020.
On the right is an ice cream scoop that belonged to my grandmother. I have had it on my shelf for over a decade and only now did I find the inspiration to paint it. It’s shown here alongside a scoop I picked up recently — there’ll be more like this coming soon.
This painting will be part of my October 2020 exhibition at the George Billis Gallery in New York City. This will be the first time I miss a reception for one of my exhibitions in 11 years. I will not be travelling to New York because of all the obvious reasons. The biggest regret will be not seeing all the paintings hanging in the gallery — it’s always a pleasure to see the work I’ve done for months in one place.
The final touches applied, this piece will soon be making its way to a collector in Japan.
It has been a rough few days in my house as the news of the sudden and unexpected loss of a close and important friend has left us feeling adrift.
Linda watched my career as a painter from the very beginning and took a keen interest in everything I did. She should be reading about this painting right now as she was part of my family’s everyday life, like a grandmother to my children, and like a mother to my wife — we shared a very unique and special relationship. I admired Linda greatly and it was a genuine privilege and honour to have known her.
I wish it wasn’t true that we have to say goodbye so soon. Every time I share new paintings here on this blog I will always think of how Linda would have enjoyed seeing my work. I will forever miss her feedback and wisdom.
I’m calling this The Lindstrom Chair. It belonged to my wife’s Great Grandfather Lindstrom and we are lucky to have it in our possession. It’s a great piece of furniture, sturdy and made to last. The painting just completed its journey across the continent and is now at the George Billis Gallery in New York City.
It’s a large painting, with a strong presence. This chair with books has been used a few times over the years, but never have I had a composition like this included in any of the five exhibitions I’ve had in New York.
I have now been shipping paintings all over the world for just over 16 years. Hundreds and hundreds of paintings handed over to various courier services. And every time I still get anxious while they are in transit.
I spend most of my time in the studio working inch by inch across the canvas, adding layers of paint to several paintings that surround me. Of course, I take breaks — I step away from the easel countless times throughout the day. There can be difficult passages and frustrating details to work out on a painting, and I know that a few minutes away from the canvas can be a quick reset. But there’s a trap door that is easy to fall through, and like everyone, I find myself taking a wrong step, during these quick breaks I pick up my phone and down I go into whatever app steals my attention and steals my time.
I recently deleted all the apps on my phone that lure me away with their alerts. The irony, of course, is that I do have to sit myself down in front of my computer in order to share these images with you. The trick is to not get tangled in the weeds of social media or the news, or the horrid hybrid of social-media-news that we now have to live with.
I picked up a well-used old copy of The Lord of the Rings and that’s where you’ll find me when I’m not painting, or doing the other work related to my painting such as packaging these up to ship to the framers in New York City before they’re delivered to the George Billis Gallery.
I collect almost everything that I paint, including these vintage Penguin Classic books.
I’ve had this piece hanging just outside my studio door for the past two years. I read it about fifteen years ago. A visual reminder of the way things were, the way things are, and the way things will be.
Just put the finishing touches on this lock-down project.
Well, to be honest it was going to happen pandemic or no pandemic. I have to say that being able to focus on the tiny details of this painting has been a great way to stay grounded and focused in reality while so much seems to spin out of control.
As they write the books on this era in the future it would be interesting to know what they’ll figure we got right and what we got wrong. It’s almost like we are in the midst of a planet-sized psychological experiment.
Every subject I paint has a built-in history. This Kodak Petite camera was made from 1929–1933, precisely during The Great Depression. The little pocket camera is sitting upon a stack of paperbacks from the same time and leading up to WWII. I always find myself thinking of the people who used these objects and what their world was like. Perhaps they were not so different from us.
This painting will be part of my upcoming September exhibition at the George Billis Gallery in New York City.
I’m lucky to be a studio-based artist. For the past 15 years (maybe even more) I have become well-conditioned to long periods of self-isolation. I have spent endless hours getting lost in the details of the subjects I choose, like this Oliver No.3 typewriter from 1905.
I have another exhibition scheduled to open in New York City in September. For now, I work toward this goal as I stream radio, podcasts and audiobooks to keep me company.