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 that 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 weeks 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.
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.
I was again invited to participate in a big group exhibition at the Robert Lange Studios in Charleston, South Carolina. Celebrating their 15th year in business, Everyone’s a Winner includes 40+ artists and will be on display during September. My contribution is The Pleasures of Life. Tap/click on the image for a closer look.
It is going to be a busy and productive fall and winter for me. I am setting up to work on several new paintings for my next solo exhibition which will be in Los Angeles in February/March 2020 at the George Billis Gallery LA.
First up we’ve got this set of cameras, just completed and set aside in the stockpile.
There will also be a few art fairs along the way before I head to LA for the show and I plan on having fresh work for them as well. I’ve got my work cut out for me.
Fresh work, off the easel and now on their way to the George Billis Gallery in New York. These are smaller, more like studies and a practice to get in the groove of painting after several days off from the studio. Time away from the studio frequently happens in the summer, especially when you live on Vancouver Island. There are endless things to do in nature that distract — in a good way.
After spending months working in a bubble for the recent solo exhibition I had in New York and turning around a tight deadline for a group exhibition in Charleston, I am enjoying a slower pace in the studio — really good timing as we shift into summer.
I thought I’d share a painting that has yet to have a spotlight on this blog.
When working toward an exhibition I look back at my portfolio. And fourteen years ago I painted this clock and thought it was time to single it out again, this time putting it in the gallery in New York. It’s also available as a print.
In 2005 when I first painted this clock, I can distinctly remember the sense of urgency. Time was always precious and fleeting for me back then. I had two children under the age of three, a regular day job at a university teaching fine art photography and an old house that was always in desperate need of repairs.
This painting would have been done shortly after the kids were put down for a nap, or in the evening when there was a spare hour or two. I look back at my journal entries from then and marvel at how much I was able to do in a day. And when I look at this past painting I can see how I was trying to move toward considerably more detailed work but was crunched for time.
The past fourteen years have seen so much change in the way I operate through the day. I left my day job long ago once I was able to see I could sustain an actual livable income off of my paintings. My children grew up and are now bright-eyed teenagers who no longer need hands-on parenting while I spend countless hours through the day focussing on my paintings.
I have to admit that I am completely in awe when I think about what will change over the next fourteen years when I plan on picking this clock up from its spot on the shelf in my studio and painting it again.