January 29, 2014

Thrush

Here, finally, is my first official piece of 2014. I've called it "Thrush," after the bird. In Ontario, the most common thrush is a robin.

From Wikipedia: "Thrushes are plump, soft-plumaged, small to medium-sized birds... Most species are grey or brown in colour, often with speckled underparts... Both parents help in raising the young. The songs of some species are considered to be among the most beautiful in the avian world."

Their taxonomic family is the melodious (at least to my ears) Turdidae, which I chanced to discover is also -- bear with me here -- the root of the Spanish verb aturdir (French ├ętourdir and Italian stordire), meaning moving in a stunned, dazed, or scrambled manner, just like a thrush.

The figure in the foreground is all thrush to me. His face is appealing. It's warm and not unhappy. It conveys an everyday kind of awkwardness and aturdimiento. He seems to be going about his business in meaningful but not overburdening self-reflection.

At the same time I wonder if he's obvious and overly defined? Does he "sit" well stylistically with the rest of the work. Does he detract from what's revealed over his shoulder and into the horizon?


Mixed media on panel
36" x 36"

January 21, 2014

Touchstone at Focus Gallery

The Focus Gallery in Hamilton asked me to write up a brief description of a piece I brought them on the weekend to send out to their list of clients and friends. Here's the piece, "Touchstone," and what I had to say in a a paragraph or so.

36" x 48"
Acrylic mixed media on panel

I wasn't exposed to much art as a kid but in the dining room of an aunt and uncle I do remember one original painting: a depiction of Venice during carnival. Balloons filled the sky and one was so black and flat, in an otherwise realist work, I couldn't stop staring at it--or it at me, I wasn't sure--wondering what if anything it meant and why the painter had treated it so differently. Subconsciously, I think, I had this painting in mind when I painted "Touchstone." The yellow circle-blob on the horizon (in a composition resembling the pyramid of the all-seeing eye, a friend obsessed with secret societies suggested, much to my chagrin for having been exposed) serves to pull the viewer in and through the scene. It could be an overhanging sign but also the sun, or the eye looking back at you, or a UFO. The figures, too, have a certain indeterminateness. What's in the mind of the woman to the left, glancing at what appears to be a mannequin in the foreground, and the heads of the apparent hipsters looking on idly from the distance? Lately, I've been trying to bring a narrative dimension to my work, while staying true to the "approach that feels right," namely a use of vibrant colours and expressive brushstrokes and a skirting of representational and abstract forms.