Sunday, October 25, 2015

New Abstract Painting: Dance in the Sunshine

"Dance in the Sunshine", 9x9" Mixed Media on paper
Over the past couple weeks I've been experimenting with different types of movement, and trying to relay the experience of movement of different living things. My diving experiment from last week had me looking back to a subject I've worked with before…. dancers.

The drawing for this piece started while watching a couple dance at a late summer event. It wasn't like swing dancers…. that would be interesting and probably a lot more complex… I'll make a note to try that one. These people were just moving to the music and responding to each other. The color palette came from the surroundings: yellow for the sunshine, purple and turquoise from their clothing. I did a bunch of drawings… I'm drawing things all the time now, and by the time I get to painting them I probably won't remember what I was looking at at the time. They are all just shapes and movement. I'll have to remember to make notes in my sketchbook. I'm sure it's more interesting to read about the inspiration behind a piece of abstract work than just "Here it is. Look, isn't it pretty?" What do you think?

My life outside of my art seems to be settling down a bit… oh, work is still insanely busy, but I'm managing to keep my stress levels from spinning out of control. Something about losing someone close to you really clarifies your priorities. Work is just work, it's a way to pay the bills while I pursue something that i enjoy. There are days when I'm glad I have something that forces me out of the house and to interact with people. Left to my own devices I'm pretty sure I'd have spent the last couple months in my pajamas and not left my house. Can't do that if I want to keep a job…. although I have had days where I think maybe getting let go wouldn't be such a tragedy. Except that I would still need to eat, so I'd have to find something else. And that would suck.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

New Abstract Painting: Escape Velocity

"Escape Velocity", 5x15" Mixed Media on Paper
This past summer, Toronto hosted the Pan Am and Parapan Am games. It was a big deal. There were events scattered all across the GTA. Everyone I know got into it somehow... they went to events, watched it on TV, a few friends even volunteered to help out. It pretty much took over the city for a good chunk of the summer.

I'm not much of a sports fan. I was never much into team sports until my son started to play hockey, and even then I couldn't really follow the game. I just looked for his number and crossed my fingers he didn't get hurt. The few sports I have taken an interest in over the past few years are olympic type events. Things like high diving and ski jumping. While I was watching the divers compete this time around, I found myself watching their movements intently, and wondering how I could possibly translate a dive into abstract shapes.

This small painting started off as one of many drawings done while watching videos of the divers.... obviously vertically rather than horizontally. When I started trying to translate the drawing into colour and shape I flipped it because the shapes work better for me this way. I think I lost the downward pull of gravity somehow in this one, and that's why it feels better turned. I think I'm happy with this piece visually... if I just focus on the feeling of movement from one side to the other I think it works, even if the sense of a dive is lost. But I will have to try again... just to see if I can do what I intended. It's an interesting concept to play with, and one that can be expanded to include so many things.

And now I'm wondering.... what would a hockey game look like if I was just following the movement?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

New Painting: Infinity

"Infinity", 18x24" Acrylic on Canvas. Private Collection.
Regular readers will know my life has been in a bit of chaos lately. Anyone who has followed my progress for a while might also recognize that birds are a subject that I tend to go to when I either a) don't know what to do or b) am stressed. I draw them, I photograph them, I paint them, I abstract them... they are a subject I don't seem to get tired of.

My older bird painting,
"In Harmony". Private Collection.
A while ago I was contacted by someone who really liked one of my earlier bird paintings, but as the one she connected with was already sold, we talked about creating one especially for her. Larger, to fit her space. Her anniversary was coming up, and it was an occasion for something special. I thought it would be fun, and since I had recently started working with birds again, I had lots of reference photos at my fingertips.

I started working. We decided on colours and I laid the background in. Then my dad got sick. Things happened quickly, and my weekend away to help out my mom turned into a week... and suddenly my dad was gone. Then my uncle. Then it was over, everyone returned home, and there I was with a half finished painting and my motivation level at an all time low.

To get myself back to the proper frame of mind to work, I had to think about all the things these birds were representing to me. They symbolize freedom, they represent the idea of flight... not just the physical but the emotional and mental. They are alone, but they are together. They are really the perfect subject for an anniversary. And the perfect symbol for those we've lost. Love, to infinity.

I hope she loves her painting.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Jazz Legends | Dizzy Gillespie

"Legends | Dizzy", 16x20" Acrylic on Canvas

Feels like I've been working on this series forever. I was checking to see how many portraits I've posted so far, and realized this one somehow got missed. It was actually the first one of the series I did, and the one that set me off doing these portraits in the first place. I had intended to post him in between some of the earlier ones I had working photos for, but somehow he got shuffled to the back, and never made it onto the blog. 

Dizzy had so much style... He had a look that wouldn't necessarily be out of place today. In fact, my son has glasses very similar to the ones he wore. It was fun working out this piece. I had a couple photos of him without his cheeks puffed out.... although that is how he is most recognizable, I was pretty sure I would manage to mangle it if I tried to do it that way. I found an old photo with an interesting angle, and drew in the glasses and cap he sometimes wore on stage. The frantic, almost chaotic background that I started with was an attempt to convey some of the energy of the music. I continued on with this type of approach with the other pieces, but somehow I think this one has a unique feel... maybe because his music is different from some of the other performers I've done. 

I've got a couple pieces left in this series, and then that's it. I don't know what's next... I've been working on my little motion abstract pieces that will probably be worked up into a few large pieces, but at some point I know I'll get back to painting people. Maybe I can figure out a way to combine the two. I've got lots of time to figure it out. One piece at a time.