January 29, 2015

The Wall

Here out of the studio today is the fourth large piece now in my ongoing fascination with ravines, those crossover zones in cities where urban underbellies and not particularly controlled or desired vegetation come together.

In this scene you have a geometric slab of concrete connecting with organic nature (or at least something that symbolizes it) and what looks like a path humans have created between them. You have the rascals of both worlds, graffiti and weeds, mediated by a path that probably shouldn't be there.

The right place to get around is on the road that the concrete supports above. It's like sidewalks that meet at 90 degrees but no one uses because people have made a more sensical path that shortcuts the corner. Like here.

In other words, there's top-down urban planning, bylaws, and civilization and then bottom-up human design that emerges organically with experience, a kind of natural law. Paths work with and around the weeds and contours of the land, while hard lines and heavy ramparts put it in a container and push it away.

My significant other says this is one of my most punk pieces yet. Oi!

"The Wall"
Acrylic mixed media (ash, spray paint, nogalin dye, collage, soft pastel) on panel
36" x 36"

January 28, 2015

Trees, Homes, and Sheds

Here are a few more sketches in watercolour, both scenes I can just about see looking out the windows of my home.

January isn't my favourite month of the year but when the sun's out in the afternoon, casting long shadows over uneven ground and electrifying the snow, you get some pretty spectacular views, even of just plain old garages and trees skeletal and creaky.

Shed, Factory, and House
11" x 15"
Watercolour on paper

Tree, Homes, and Sheds
11" x 15"
Watercolour on paper

January 22, 2015

Red Square

Another teeny watercolour. Four attempts and lotsa brainstorming to get it here, believe it or not.

"Red Square"
11" x 15"
Watercolour on paper

January 19, 2015


Here, officially, is my first sculpture, at least one I feel I can show.

It's the fruit of about a year of self-teaching and many more of toying with metal and tools, going back to my early teens when I'd go into the factory on weekends with my dad to keep him company. Let's hope it's the first of many to come?

Metal is tricky. You have to work with its inherent qualities, as you do with any artistic medium (see my recent struggles with watercolour), but also pour in a lot of brute force. When you heat it, you have to respect that glowing, bleary orange surface, as innocent as it may seem at times, and take care not to brand yourself, as I've done a few times already. And you have to find ways to cope with the smell, the noise, and the flying sparks, in other words read lots of Charles Dickens or Emile Zola to realize you don't have it so bad in comparison.

This sculpture is made from a single piece of pipe. It was heated many times in a forge, hammered into shape on an anvil, cut and smoothed with a grinder, and welded in various spots with a MIG welder. The base is a solid piece of refurbished oak I fished out of a dumpster behind a woodworking shop.

7" x 7" x 30"
Forged and welded steel on an oak base

January 15, 2015

The Wall

Another small watercolour, a sketch for a larger piece I'm working on in mixed media and more on the theme of nature and culture - and what really a landscape is supposed to be - colliding.

"The Wall"
11" x 11"
Watercolour on paper

January 14, 2015

Tossal and Robador in Watercolour

In preparation for a presentation and workshop for the Toronto Watercolour Society in February, I've been working in the watery medium for the past month or so. Actually, working makes it sound simple. Watercolour bleeds and leaks and weeps. It has to be worked with on its own terms, not forced with a heavy hand, and so the work has been a struggle in relinquishing control and becoming one with the Force.

Here are a pair of small pieces that didn't get trashed, both drawn from my recent travels to Spain. I'm not entirely happy with them (I know, it's bad form to admit that about your own work) but I am happy they're heading in a direction I like.

"Plaza Tossal"
11" x 15"
Watercolour on paper

"Carrer Robador"
11" x 15"
Watercolour on paper