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.
Imagine my delight when I walked into the York Art Gallery in England and saw my paintings hanging in the Aesthetica Art Prize 2020 exhibition. Amongst numerous conceptual installations, photographs and television screens all over the walls, there they were… my paintings.
The editor of Aesthetica is able to see the connections and she was able to instantly tune in to how my paintings act as a bridge to the contemporary art scene with what clearly are traditionally executed paintings.
I spent many years studying contemporary art. I majored in photography at university and I’m comfortable when surrounded by conceptual installations — in fact, I myself have produced many. In forthcoming posts, I will explain precisely what my intentions are with my paintings, but for now, enjoy these few photographs of the installation at the York Art Gallery by photographer Jim Poyner.
Leading up to March 13 opening of the exhibition in York, England was obviously a confusing situation. In my part of the world, everything was already entering COVID-19 shut-down, but the United Kingdom maintained the status quo and everything was set to go ahead as planned. I had the strongest feelings that I was getting my England excursion just under the wire. It turned out exactly as I had anticipated with the added anxiety about supposed travel bans and being trapped forever and far away from my family. It didn’t turn out that way. My travel days were fine, I enjoyed a free upgrade to a more comfortable seat as I flew home over the Atlantic. I am now in the midst of a self-quarantine along with millions and millions of others.
To be very honest, little has changed in my daily life. For a decade I have set myself up in my studio for months on end to concentrate on painting. Audiobooks, podcasts, music, streaming radio from around the world — I never feel isolated or alone. I know this is true of my fellow artists and has been true of artists for millennia.
So wherever you are, I hope you’re well, I hope you’re coping, I hope this passes soon and we can get a grip on what it all means.
I have a commission I’m working on, as well as several new paintings for a planned exhibition in New York City this coming September. We shall see how this pans out. Whatever the case is, I’m positive I’ll have a body of work I’m proud of in a few short months.
The George Billis Gallery in Los Angeles is operating an online version of my current exhibition, an alternative to going to the gallery during these strange times. The show technically is up until March 28. As an alternative to going to the gallery, please enjoy these photos of the installation, and see the remaining paintings on the gallery website.
I always enjoy watching people see the paintings in person. I like seeing the reactions, and hearing what people have to say. One day we’ll be living in a stable world where we can feel free to move into public spaces again. Until then, I’ll count my blessings.
I am very excited to announce that my work has been shortlisted for the Aesthetica Art Prize 2020.
The renowned Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition returns this Spring, inviting audiences to discover and engage with new ideas from the next generation of talent. Hosted by the international art and culture publication Aesthetica Magazine, it redefines the parameters of contemporary art.
Since its establishment 13 years ago, the prize has provided a platform for artists from across the world, supporting and enhancing their careers through prize money, exhibition, publication and talent development, inviting leading jurors such as Sarah Allen, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern; Claire Catterall, Senior Curator, Somerset House; Damon Jackson-Waldock, Deputy Curator, Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Pierre Saurisse, Lecturer, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, and Eliza Williams, Editor, Creative Review.
The 2020 exhibition includes 18 artists that respond to today’s key issues, unpacking the layers of digitalised, globalised world. It is an honour to have my work selected out of thousands of entries.
As Cherie Federico, Director of Aesthetica, notes: “This Prize reflects upon the global situation – actions, behaviours and developments that are changing society. These artists are responding to the world around us, offering genuine insight into how we can encourage positive change. I am privileged to have the opportunity to see and support so much talent.”
Audiences can see my Ampro Precision Projector painting and other selected works at the exhibition which runs March 13 – July 5 at York Art Gallery, United Kingdom.
Twenty years ago I was an art student at the very beginning stages of exploring painting. For years and years before that, I had always been drawn to visual arts and had an aptitude for it, especially drawing. I even took a keen interest in reading biographies of long-dead artists and seemed to retain facts and trivia about their lives.
Finding your voice, discovering your subject, and creating your own vision and style was a task that was given in one of my classes.
I found mine early on and it took a permanent hold.
There’s the obvious reason I would paint vintage objects — they’re interesting. They simply look good from all angles, especially straight on. Looking at them in their painted form, you can almost hear the sounds they make, the weight of them, get a sense of interacting with them. Early on I knew that there was a personality within them and I bank on that with each new painting.
Almost always I work on two paintings in tandem and they have a conversation of sorts.
These two paintings illustrate this in the most obvious way. The dishevelled books in the first painting make me feel tense, scattered and hectic. The second painting is calm, organized and relaxed. States of being.
I found this chair a few years ago at Everything Old — an amazing antique shop on Vancouver Island. It was white and obviously sat in a shed or garage for a few decades. I cleaned it up and painted it black — the simple and basic design has set a perfect contrast against the wall, the varied golden pages of the books pop out.
The objects I paint are always shown as they are in the world — I don’t pull any magic tricks — it’s straightforward realism. But the one thing I do is scale-up. These bubble gum machines can hold a place of imagination and nostalgia. When painted large and bold, they dominate the space they are in. I suppose, in a way, the “trick” is to make you notice and captivate you, even just for a moment.
I had these hanging in my house for several months, but they are now in Los Angeles at the George Billis Gallery where they will be on display from February 22 – March 28.
2020 brings in another calendar from ITOYA in Japan. For the past four years, this fine stationery store sells a calendar they produce with my images. It’s a total delight and I love it — large and sturdy and tastefully designed.
This year ITOYA has also added a desk calendar.
The calendars are only available in the Japanese market — if you’re outside of Japan, try using tenso.com to import the calendar. You can find the calendar on the ITOYA website here.