Saturday, May 31, 2008

vending machines and the city

If you think some of the fashions in Sex and the City are a little over-the-top, then clearly that city isn't Tokyo. When clothing this weird comes your way, all I can say is, "Duck!"


Thursday, May 29, 2008

failure of nerve

Jay Walker 10.25" x 10.25" mixed media on archival paper

I've often heard a big fuss made over artists who give in, compromise, water down, sell out. But what about galleries who start out with high ideals, and populate their stables with artists whose work reflects those ideals, then allow ambition or fear of economic failure to take control and start imposing that on their current (and choice of future) artists? I'm just saying.

Trying to satisfy too many masters at once is always a bad idea and it can show in the work. But how do you get back to the purest flame of inspiration when bombarded with stimuli and input all around, plus demands and decisions by those who hold the reins? They naturally fear economic failure and as an artist you fear the black hole of not having that gallery 'in'. Decisions based on fear are usually the wrong ones.

A friend wrote this to me yesterday in an email and I think I needed the reality check:

I've been in that place before where I see similar artists (to the one you sent) and say, "I could do that! I could paint these simple, pretty, decorative paintings and market them exclusively, really brand myself well and make some money and live a nice, good, simple life and be THAT person." But I know now I can't.

Haven't we visited this topic before? Why don't I have any answers yet? Maybe, like Buddhist wisdom teaches, you're presented with the same lesson over and over again until you finally get it right.

Monday, May 26, 2008

and the winner is...

CLCDARK! Isn't it funny how these things work. Most people in the draw were names I knew, then there was this last minute entry with no blog to be nosy about, yet I had a feeling this was going to be the winner. Clcdark, please email me (see profile page) with your address and I'll get the painting prints on panel off to you ASAP. I had #2 son, Adam, draw the winning name when he got home from school. He wears some of these:

Yes, here in the land of teenage boys we have shoes. And if they don't put them away neatly they (the boys and the shoes) end up here:

But, to finish on a slightly more elevated note, here is Nadine's House, completed, plus, for Tara, a detail to show you how the underpainting makes its presence felt.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

performing arts

Posting parts 1 and 2 of Nadine's House on Friday got me some interesting feedback. I was particularly interested in others' curiosity about my process, something I've always noticed but never thought about too carefully. It started early, when I was a child addicted to Archie comics. I'd draw Betty and Veronica-like characters for hours on end and my friends liked to watch. When it became interactive (we'd create comic stories together while I drew) they'd actually beg to come over and 'play' and knock each other out of the coveted spot to my left. (No, it wasn't my amazing magnetism. I think it was having the power to make Veronica into a victim of bad plastic surgery or Betty into a biker chick that was so seductive.) At school I was one of those precocious students who could finish an assignment in no time, leaving me plenty of time to doodle. My first awareness of the opposite sex was in Grade Five when another quick study would finish his work and then make a beeline for my desk so he could silently hover, watching me draw. I still have absolutely no idea how to harness that power; marketing and sexual/social politics are still as mystifying to me as quantum physics. (But I did discover at a high school reunion that said boy has had a very successful career as a commercial photographer. I like to think I contributed to his appreciation of the visual arts. :)

Apparently people love to watch art-making. That surprises me as I never thought of painting as a spectator sport. It sure doesn't work that way for me. I never attend workshops and as someone who can't learn to flush a toilet through observation it makes me crazy to watch and not do. I am a classic example of learning to do things the hard way. That may be why I draw and paint 'backwards'. I was never taught to use negative space the way I do, but when a perceptive friend first sent me some black paper and white pencil crayons it transformed the way I tackled my work. I have been keeping Nadine apprised of her painting's progress and she wrote this to me today: "It's so interesting to watch this evolve, because you have done it in the exact opposite direction from what I would have guessed. My money would have been on you working from the back to the front - that is, siding first and then porch posts/window frames etc, then stairs, grass, working your way forward." That is, of course, how most people paint, and if you use watercolour there's really no other way to do it. (I find watercolour completely frustrating and envy those who handle it well.)

I work front-to-back partly for stylistic reasons, but also because of the importance of the underpainting to my finished work. I always feel a little bad when people like the early stages of a painting like this because what appeals to them will soon be almost completely obliterated. Melody commented on my last post with this question: "The underpainting alone is pretty funky. May seem like a foolish question but why pink?" This is what I answered: "The colour is actually darker than it appears when flash photographed -- slightly more purple. The house is going to be yellow and there's lots of green surrounding it, so I chose that as a good complementary to both. Doing the underpainting in a complementary colour gives it a little more punch."

Belinda commented on this process when I posted my photos on Flickr. She wanted to know what would happen if I used a plain white canvas (like Normal People, right Belinda?). My response: "Surprisingly, doing it this way makes it way easier for me and the coloured background is almost a 'cheat' way of tying the painting together visually. It's sort of a negative space process, which ties in really well with the way my brain works. It's also why I like to draw on black paper. And the results of just doing it straight on white canvas are really quite different. so there *is* method to my laziness. This process lacks a degree of spontanaeity, which is too bad, but worth the sacrifice as I waste fewer supplies that way."

So, is this what you expected to see from the first photos? I'm not that good at delayed gratification, especially if I don't know if what I'm waiting for will be worth the wait (it's always a crap shoot), but I suppose being able to 'see into the future' is a prerequisite to working this way. Now if I could only do the same with my bank account!

PS/FYI: I don't measure proportions or use rulers so technically it's off a bit in a few places. Does that make me an artist or just lazy?

Friday, May 23, 2008

shiny objects

On any given day I have a half dozen things I'd like to post about, but being an intellectual magpie, my follow through is pretty hit-and-miss. Mostly miss. Today is one of those days when I have a handful of things to share and to hell with fully-formed ideas. I promise some art, though.

The best movie I've seen this year by far is the perfect, small, low-budget Irish music film, Once, made last year and with a trunkful of awards to its credit. I just loved it, not the least because of my recent obse--er--interest in playing guitar. I wanted to watch it again immediately. Check out the trailer. Here's a musical clip to get you down to the video store:

And speaking of music, I hit The Big Time a couple of days ago when a CBC Radio 2 Blog article linked to my post on Stephen Fearing. The fact that I have a secret crush on Mr F made it doubly sweet. (D'oh!)

OK, call me morbid, but this morning, while performing my short-order cook routine, I was watching the morning news and was tickled senseless to hear that a fourth foot has washed up on an island in British Columbia's Georgia Strait. I love the mystery surrounding this apparently ongoing story, and each time it happens I rack my brain trying to figure out how to Make Art from it. Ideas anyone?

But back to more mainstream art, with the early stages of a 16" x 20" painting-in-progress I'm doing of Nadine's house in North Carolina. The grass has been more of a challenge this time than usual but now that it's mostly done I should fly through the rest, that is, providing distraction by shiny objects are kept to a minimum ~ so everyone, stop posting on your blogs. I have work to do.

Monday, May 19, 2008

three years old

Happy Birthday to us! Three years ago today I made my first blog post and I can't begin to tell you what a fantastic dimension it's added to my life. Thank you to everyone who has made it so. I'd love to list who you are, and why, but only have a few minutes to make this post.

Those who do know who you are, and why, may now just smile and nod. I feel like an Old Blogger, though I can't be that sophisticated and experienced because I'm still using, well, Old Blogger.

There's an extra dimension to this print draw: a pair-o-prints. You have to choose a pair and they have to match, i.e. you can't choose one bird print and one Urban Myth photo. I'm the boss and I make the rules, so there. It's kind of an unusual selection, not the most representational of my work, so I forgive you if you disappear without leaving a comment.

If you'd like to enter the draw, just leave a comment and choose either (a) painting prints, (b) digital bird prints or (c) photos. The first two groups are prints on archival paper, mounted on panel. The birds are the biggest at 10" x 8" and the prints from paintings are 6" x 6". The photos are on 8 1/2" x 11" archival drawing paper, unmounted. I will make the draw a week from today.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

little boxes

This blog is coming up on its third birthday and there have been numerous times over the past three years when I've wished it was a different kind of blog. When things go south I'd love to be able to write about it, because I know how useful, even cathartic, making sense of it all through writing can be for me ~ not to mention the fact that I love reading blogs myself where people spill their guts. But this is primarily an art blog, I don't write it under a pseudonym or anomymously, and it is intimately tied to my career, so circumspection is necessary. When I fiinally pull my finger out and write an anonymous blog I'll invite y'all over :). Meantime, now that the dust has settled in my corner, it's back to business. (And wasn't that the longest-winded apology for being lazy about blogging ever?)

First order of the day: Effusion Art Gallery is opening its doors this weekend in the lovely lakeside community of Invermere, British Columbia, where ski hills and hot springs are as common as dirt. If you are anywhere near the Columbia Valley, wine and cheese and fantastic art will be served from 5 until 8 pm tonight. I am scheduled to take part in a three-person show at the end of August, so stay tuned for that.
Secondly, I made a fantastic score when I got this great little painting by Ellen Sereda. I love the way Ellen paints, but it was the fact that the crow appears to be buried in the 'little boxes' of suburbia that made me really identify with the subject matter. And then she wrote that "they are adaptable, clever in getting their way, social and into garbage..." and I knew I was onto something.
Because I've been so absent, it's been ages since I delivered any Rudylinks, so I'll end with:
including how to make your own font
I just checked and realized that 'our' third birthday is only two days away. I'll be back that day with a draw for a print or maybe something else so don't forget to check in.

Friday, May 02, 2008


Sometimes Illustration Friday posts a theme that is so appropriate it's laughable. How do I choose? I have reworked this week's theme so many times over the past couple of years that I have dozens of images to choose from (and no desire to do another after having done two this week already). So I compromised.
note - these are all cropped from larger works

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Here's one of the places I get my inspiration these days (the houses, not the tulips ~ I just threw those in for decoration).

white picket fence skinny house

Here's another source of inspiration. The calluses are building!