March 27, 2015

Bull Thistles and Sulphur Shelves

Bull Thistles and Sulphur Shelves
Mixed media on birch panel
60" x 24"

Bull thistles and sulfur shelves, these

and these

are just some of the wild regulars we spot often on family treks in the bush.

I should say that Mother Nature doesn't seduce me in the ways she seems to do with others.

My daughter on these walks is quick to point out stuff like the eminent destroying angel mushroom, aminita virosa,

which will dissolve your liver just to look at, and forget to join us in appreciating how the light coruscates through brush or the canopy whistles and twitters a symphony. I'm with her.

"What would a wolf do if it was really hungry?" she wants to know.

"Oh, probably chew your arms in half and eat your eyeballs."

After a big long silence, "why?"

"What would you do if you were starving?"

"Go to the grocery store."

Anyway, it's Spring, the snow is melting, and I do soften a bit.

After showing her this latest painting Aitana pointed out that, unconsciously, I've done a nature scene like this every year around this time.

This year's version is a trail we take in a few times a year, as I remember it at its best. It's called Starkey Hill and to be fair you can feed chickadees out of your hands there.

The painting will be on display at Theatre Orangeville for Norman Bray and the Performance of His Life, April 9-26.

March 17, 2015

Folie à deux

With spring on the horizon, the snow melting, and enough sun and warmth I can work both in and out of the studio, mania has been winning out over depression and I've noticed my production has stepped up.

Here's a cool night scene done for the most part in a warm palette.  I'm digging artificial light and the moodiness of night skies these days.  I like the Gothic quality, though without the naturalism and romanticism.  The music more than the architecture you could say.

"Folie à deux"
Acrylic on panel
30" x 40"

March 12, 2015


So here's another one I've been fluffing my feathers over for a bit, not realizing it had already hatched.

More noire than usual?  More surrealist?  Psychedelic?

Strangely, I'm still trying to decipher it.  Which I think we can see as a good thing, exciting even.  Visually it's not an easily verbalizable thesis or argument I want but a new, complex, meaningful emotion, more song or poem than essay or speech.

What I'll say is I was thinking a lot about fatherhood and what makes a good and a bad father while working alongside my daughter and incorporating some of her spectacular geometric drawings into the piece.

I guess the title, corvée, the tax of indentured labour in medieval Europe, isn't entirely accurate now that I've quelled what I should've expected would be indignation from a seven year old who felt, rightly, I was ripping her off by not compensating her for her efforts.  You'll be happy to know that after some hard bargaining up and down we settled on the amount of $5 from the proceeds of any painting I sell with her work in it.

Mixed media on panel
36" x 36"

March 10, 2015


Here's a painting  I did a while ago but never managed to post.  I've been teaching a fair amount these days and have lugged the thing around from place to place to exemplify some of the approaches I take at a larger scale, so it's been picked over and dissected more than usual, probably in healthy, anti-complacency ways for me.

It's hanging at the new Strata Gallery in Elora at the moment, should you be interested in taking it in in the flesh.

36" x 48"
Mixed medium on panel

March 9, 2015

Femina distenta

We get derailed, thrown off course, counterfeited.  And every so often we need grand correctives to bring us back.

In the story of Noah's Ark the people have become evil and cruel, so god sends them a flood in order to start from scratch.

In Marx, the great enemy of being is having.  Money demands more of itself and pushes us out of the picture.  In Ruskin, the machines zap our souls.  And in Freud, civilization in the form of ego and superego divide us from our primordial id.

I'm partial to the Nietzschean view: our real metaphysical destiny lies in art not in morality.

This great storyline about authenticity runs deep, driving religion, politics, health, and art.

So went the casual thinking in my head while I banged, twisted, and welded into form this latest sculpture, just on time for International Women's Day.

"Femina distenta"
11" x 4.5" x 33"
Forged, painted, and welded steel

"Femina distenta" is Latin for overextended woman and refers to the odd limbo-like curvature of the back.  It's an unnatural pose, a more defined and rigid top placed over a swirling, organic bottom.

I think it's my way of saying we're evolving in strange ways, overshooting homo erectus.