From painting

Five, Six, Seven

Continuing with the 10 x 10 clock paintings that I shared at the beginning of 2021, this time with a teal variation. These clocks were among the first that I started to collect about 15 years ago and remain my favourite.

Five / 10 x 10 inches / oil on canvas / 2021 / on fhe easel
Six / 10 x 10 inches / oil on canvas / 2021 / on the easel
Seven / 10 x 10 inches / oil on canvas / 2021 / on the easel

The Art of Real Happiness

“No age has a monopoly on misery,” and with that quote, the book featured in this painting starts the guidance on how to live an abundant life.

Published in 1950, The Art of Real Happiness is a reconciliation of old-age religious beliefs and modern psychology. I always try to have a book on the go, and I have been reading history books lately, and if there is one theme that is consistent through millennia, it is the collision of “old” and “new” ways of thinking.

It seems as though we are entering a new era where our conflicting ways of thinking, our myriad of philosophies and beliefs are colliding. And as a quiet observer of the world around me, I find myself straddling feelings of excitement and worry.

16 x 16 inches / oil on canvas

What Must I Do To Get Well? And How Can I Keep So?

What Must I Do To Get Well? And How Can I Keep So? is the title of the book featured in this new painting. A question that continues to plague us, and in the 1890s, Elma Stuart published this book in the hopes to help some find the answers.

A little rant: everything happens in cycles, nothing is new, we are having the same experiences our ancestors did, the only thing different is the phone in your hand (and some other nifty tools like indoor plumbing and refrigeration).

As I flip through the book, I’m amused at how the ideas and philosophies in it can be found in advertisements and influencers that now dominate social media. We have added some more wisdom and inventions along the way, but the gist of it all remains the same as it was 130 years ago.

What Must I Do to Get Well and How Can I Keep So? / 16 x 16 inches / oil on canvas / framed
What Must I Do to Get Well? And How Can I Keep So? / 16 x 16 inches / oi on canvas

A work in progress. On we go.

I’m putting the finishing touches on this painting on what is a very optimistic day.

There have been so many setbacks for everyone, especially in this last year. But it is beginning to feel like we are turning a corner and things will again move forward.

These primary readers from the 40s, 50s, and 60s are sending me the signals. On we go!

On We Go / work in progress

Four, Three, Two, One

I never thought I’d be so anxious to see a new year arrive. I personally know people who suffered enough in 2020 to make wishing a Happy New Year sincere and genuine. I hope 2021 is a turning point toward better days.

Four / 10 x 10 inches / oil on canvas / on the easel
Three / 10 x 10 inches / oil on canvas / on the easel
Two / 10 x 10 inches / oil on canvas / on the easel
One / 10 x 10 inches / oil on canvas / on the easel

This suite of four colourful little paintings was just completed — a project to help me countdown to the end of 2020.

Little Bouquets of Pencils

New work available at the George Billis Gallery in Los Angeles.

Red Pencils / 16 x 12 inches / oil on canvas / 2020 / on the easel

One of the best parts of elementary school was always getting a set of new pencil crayons at the beginning of the year despite having perfectly good ones previously.

HB Pencils / 16 x 12 inches / oil on canvas / 2020 / on the easel

Vintage Telephone Receiver

Twenty years ago I decided I wanted to be “an artist”. It was good to have plans, but exactly what was I going to paint and why was I going to paint it? I was in art school and incubating many ideas when a trip to a vintage and antique emporium lead me to this old telephone. It snowballed from there.

I painted this telephone twenty years ago and can remember showing it in class during a critique and managed to prattle on and on about why I painted it the way I did.

I have painted every day since then and decided a few weeks ago to bring out the old phone and paint it again here as a way to reaffirm the decision I made a few decades ago.

Vintage Telephone Receiver / 16 x 12 inches / oil on canvas / 2020 / on the easel

Pop Art

Usually, my work can seem serious, so with these, I’m offering a little bit of bubbly fizz.

Mr. Pop / 16 x 16 inches / oil on canvas / 2020 / framed

I found these at Everything Old Canada — an amazing antique and vintage shop here on Vancouver Island. The truth is almost anything in the entire shop could be composed and framed just right for one of my paintings. I’ll be opening up the options for my subject matter in the coming year. It’ll be fun to explore.

Capital Beverages / 16 x 16 inches / oil on canvas / 2020 / framed

Losing Connection

I have said it before on this blog, but the subjects that I choose are more than just neat objects that happen to be old. I use them as symbols more than anything.

Despite there being such easy ways to stay connected to people now, it’s remarkable that we still let some essential relationships fall to the side. The other day I was driving in my car and noticed someone walking on the street who looked remarkably like someone who I was once very close with and saw regularly. It was an uncanny resemblance, but it was not the person in question when I got a closer look.

Long Distance IV / 18 x 36 inches / oil on canvas / 2020 / on the easel

For the rest of my drive, I was stuck recalling memories of time spent with this person who has faded from my life. How and why did we drift apart and lose touch? It is almost as though we all chose to leave our phones off the hook.

Long Distance III / 18 x 36 inches / oil on canvas / 2020 / on the easel

These paintings are on view at the George Billis Gallery in New York City until October 24.

The Popular Art Instructor

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.

The Popular Art Instructor / 24 x 30 inches / oil on canvas / 2020 / on the easel

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.

A Long Time Coming

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.

Vintage Ice Cream Scoops I / on the easel

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.

Vintage Ice Cream Scoops I / 18 x 14 inches / oil on canvas / 2020 / framed

Final Touches

The final touches applied, this piece will soon be making its way to a collector in Japan.

Oliver No.3 / Final Touches

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.