I currently have a show at Fault Line Projects gallery on Saltspring Island.
Here’s a walk through:
I’ll start with the larger pieces:
In late spring last year I had gone up to Whitehorse to buy my Land Rover which I then drove back to Saltspring taking the Alaska Highway/eastern BC route. Of course, as on any sizable road trip one inevitably passes through some pretty incredible and much changing landscape. Being hammered daily with such epic scenery I got to thinking about doing a series of more typical or traditional landscape paintings. Except some large runway paintings I had done several years ago (more tarmac than nature) I’ve rarely painted landscapes and as much as I’ve had a desire to do so I’ve been equally intimidated by the prospect. I thought as a theme I would include some industrial element in each peace to display some level of human tampering. Small or large it’s hard to escape the impact of our endeavors. Just being on a human made road for the whole several day trip is a good example.The other theme I thought I’d work with was working square, apart from copying album covers when I was a kid I’ve stayed away from the compositionally challenging square. Welcome to the age of Instagram! The Above painting “Beneath the Above” was worked from an image I shot in a park off the glacier parkway ( I can’t, right now, remember the name, I’m sure the park doesn’t know it’s name either or in fact even know it’s a park!). It was a bit of a beast to paint, just lots of repeating patterns, as I now realize is nearly always the case in nature, making it difficult to keep track of where one is on the piece while painting. As I drew close to completing the piece, I started to get the feeling it might need something else, another dynamic, something more than just the overpass in the central background to feed the story. Basically I was stuck, so I put it aside. Several months later as the show approached I started working over some pieces on the iPad. (The iPad and especially the Apple Pencil are incredibly useful tools for any artist, it’s easily possible to mock up pieces with Line , layers and colour and have a chance to see infinite possibilities without having to waste materials or chance ruining work like we used to) The first piece I worked on was Toy Box Vigil (below), I had this idea to silkscreen small images across it like wallpaper- trains, planes, rockets , electronics etc. showing how we use the oils and minerals we take from the earth, in this case “fracking”, this now becoming my big enviro conscience painting. I finally whittled the idea down to a “Rubbermaid ” container; it seemed to symbolize the whole process, not only the things we make but the things we make to put the things we make in – so many things and most of these things not even being used… I decided to just make the Rubbermaid an outline because it wasn’t really in the picture but just a symbol of a condition. This led me to consider a similar approach to Beneath the Above; I’d had this composite figure drawing that I quite liked kicking around the studio and it occurred to me late one evening that the composition somehow slotted nicely into that of the painting. I slammed them together on the iPad and began erasing some of the negative space and playing with the transparency slider, I liked the results. Taking a concept created on the iPad, I have learned, doesn’t always scale up and translate well onto a larger piece so there is still always an element of danger present in the final execution (pun intended) but in this case I was quite pleased.
I originally had another large piece relating somewhat to the previous two that I had wanted in the show but as we entered the final week before the opening I realized I would not probably be able to finish it in time. I’d also had this other disaster of a painting floating around for a few years that I’d had my good friend Ellen Box sew and grommet the edges on. It was called Tarp Shelter and the idea was that it could be used as a simple home if needed…interesting idea maybe but a terrible or maybe just plain unfinished painting. I’d also had a photo I’d snapped of a nice arrangement of some discarded drywall mud boxes that I’d been itching to get onto canvas. A marriage was swiftly arranged and Boxes (temporary title) was conceived. I’m not quite sure what I think of this one, a good part of me is happy with it at a glance but I’m guessing it needs a bit more work . John Macdonald remarked at the opening; there’s a pivotal spot between finishing and ruining a painting and he claimed to quite appreciate the “just shy of the mark” place, maybe leaving the viewer some room to join the dots. I still get the feeling I’ll be the one joining a few dots on this one…stay tuned
Next we take a minor detour down a not too distant memory lane; the following paintings and drawings are from about 2012-2014.
When I fly and that’s not too often, I seem to get really excited in a creative kind of way, I think it’s all the buzz in the atmosphere – people, excited about what they don’t know about , coming and going, arriving, departing. Anyway, by the time I’m on board the A320, 757 or 787 (I wish! I haven’t been on “The Dreamliner” yet) I’m all fired up. It’s people, people, places, there’s an edge; life, death, the big space in between…The plane gets off the ground, I order a couple of mini wines and start scribbling down my responses, responses to all this buzz and calm, it’s a kind of poetry I guess. After doing this for a few years I started writing the words larger and on top of one another, playing with compositions more than meaning, which in turn got me into doing the same thing with oil on canvas, there’s something I like about the words disappearing into the distance like fading memories. Usually by the time I’m done I don’t remember what I started with. Here are a couple of the bigger works on canvas followed by a couple of the drawings done at 30 odd thousand feet.Momentary Jubilation 48 X 60″ oil on canvas $2200
Things Come Around 36 X 48″ 2014 oil on linen 2014 $1800
Keeping with the square theme and also done in and around the time of the earlier large landscapes are these three smaller pieces done in oil on panel. they are just simple representations of photos I like for some reason or other from my random shooting. Sometimes there’s just an inexplicable quality to an image, something that can’t be created or controlled much but possesses something more than the sum of the parts. The mountain scene was my quenching of a desire to do one of those 50’s style cowboy paintings one might find at a garage sale, sans cowboy! On my travels along the Alaska Highway, scenes like this are around each bend in the road but every now and then the light would dial up the magic and cause me to pull over in wonder.
On a trip to London a couple or three years ago I had rented an little place, and this was the front door. It was an old council flat in Hackney, I tend to stay in a different funky neighbourhood each time I’m in a large city . It’s always more interesting and always a lot less expensive. The flat was a lot nicer than the first impression gave it out to be. I just like the mood of the blue door and fluorescent light.Holiday Rental 16 X 16 X 3″ oil on on panel. SOLD
The last of this series in the show was also from a London accommodation situation, I had checked into a Paddington budget hotel and ran into a mixup with the keys for rooms 6 and 9, ultimately resulting with me staying in room 13. Once again I just like the arrangement and story suggestion of the keys, they were very enjoyable to paint.Sixes and Nines 16 X 16 oil on 3″ deep panel $675
Another area I’ve been exploring in the last couple of years is collage. I take a lot of photos. I’ve always struggled with the idea of photography as a stand alone art form…dodges projectile. I’m not saying there isn’t great photographic art but just my own might not apply. Digital imaging is such a saturated area in contemporary life it seems taking the images to another form of expression seems a likely solution. Collage is a very satisfying way to work with captured images, maybe a way of releasing them onto a bigger playing field where the rules and boundaries can be broken down a little. I think it’s a great way to work with complex composition that is a lot more down to earth than working on the iPad or in a computer environment.Memory of an Imagined Future 33 X 48″ Collaged digital image and graphite on panel. $1200
Another thing I play with is painting and or drawing on small wood panels. The following is a point-form recollection of my activities one fall day a few years back. A bit like a “what I did on my summer vacation”…What I Did Today. 27 X 33″ oil and graphite on 9 wood panels. Now framed. $500
The rest of the show is made up of smaller works on paper.
There’s a life drawing group that meets weekly here on Salt Spring Island and every so often I get in the habit of going to it for a while. Drawing is really important, line is really important, looking is really important. Without a dedicated couple of hours regularly it doesn’t take long to become a little rusty in all these respects. At the drawing group I much prefer the shorter poses, when things start to drag out into 20 – 30 minutes I get overly cautious and my drawing generally suffers. To get around this I usually do a series of shorter drawings; 3-5mins. while moving around the model a few times. Not paying too much attention but having a vague idea of some composition I draw the poses over each other on the same page. This is something I call “composite drawing” similar to what I do with the poetry stuff. The following drawings were done in this way. Insurmountable. Oil and graphite on paper 18 X 18″ $575 Framed
Crumpled Into Sleep. 11.25 X 11.25″ Oil and graphite on paper $375 Framed SOLD
Ophelia. 14 X 14″ Graphite on paper. $475
Here are a few of shots of the space and as might be noted there are a couple of pieces I have not covered yet (no proper photos of them) but I will soon.
The show is on till Nov 3 / 2017. The gallery hours are Wed 12-5. Thur -Sat 10-5. Sun A/O.