My Planning Process in 5 Steps

While the making of my work consists of many steps and varies greatly from project to project, I do have a fairly simply planning process. Here it is in 5 easy steps.

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Step One

Take lots of pictures

Tools: SLR and iphone

Step Two

Review images, upload favorites to computer and print

Tools: Computer and printer

Step Three

Use black and metallic markers to highlight any spots on the printed image that will not show well through tracing paper. Trace out favorite elements.

Tools: Black and metallic markers, tracing paper, pencil, eraser and ruler (if need be)

Step Four

Rework, add and subtract lines from traced image while thinking about how they will fit/interact with other images in the overall design.

Tools: Pencil and eraser

Step Five

Photocopy images in a wide range of sizes (make three copies of each) then print them all as a mirror image. Cut images out and mix and match them with one another while altering line work as necessary. Arrive upon completed design.

Tools: Photocopier, scissors, pencil, eraser, glue stick and ruler

The Art of Controversy

Every so often, an artwork comes around and rankles the feathers of many in the non-art crowd (artists and art lovers not so much). Here are two pieces that did just that.

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ABOVE: Andres Serrano, Immersion (Piss Christ), 1987, chibachrome print, 60 x 40 inches

In 1987, Andres Serrano submerged a plastic crucifix in a jar of his own urine and took a picture of it. Predictably, people lost their shit, and in addition to death threats, the work was either attacked when shown, or barred from being shown at all. Thirty years since its creation, Piss Christ still provokes strong reactions from the public (most recently, a print was attacked and destroyed in 2011).

“Several weeks ago, I began to receive a number of letters, phone calls, and postcards from constituents throughout the Senate concerning art work by Andres Serrano. They express a feeling of shock, of outrage, and anger. They said, ‘how dare you spend our taxpayers’ money on this trash.’ This so-called piece of art is a deplorable, despicable display of vulgarity. This artist received $15,000 for his work from the National Endowment of the Arts. If this is what contemporary art has sunk to, this level, this outrage, this indignity – some may want to sanction that, and that is fine. But not with the use of taxpayers’ money. This is not a question of free speech. This is a question of abuse of taxpayers’ money. If we allow this group of so-called art experts to get away with this, to defame us and to use our money, well, then we do not deserve to be in office.” New York Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato

“I thought he was saying, in a rather simplistic, magazine-y type of way, that this is what we are doing to Christ, we are not treating him with reverence. His great sacrifice is not used. We live very vulgar lives. We put Christ in a bottle of urine – in practice. It was a very admonitory work. Not a great work; one wouldn’t want to go on looking at it once one had already seen it once. But I think to call it blasphemous is really rather begging the question: it could be, or it could not be. It is what you make of it, and I could make something that made me feel a deep desire to reverence the death of Christ more by this suggestion that this is what, in practice, the world is doing.” Sister Wendy Beckett

ABOVE: Chris Ofili, The Holy Virgin Mary, 1996, paper collage, oil paint, polyester resin, map pins & elephant dung on linen, 95.9 x 72 inches

In 1996, Chris Ofili made a portrait of the Holy Virgin Mary that included pornographic imagery and real elephant dung. Although the painting had been displayed in London and Berlin without controversy, it caused a shit storm when it crossed the pond to be shown in New York City. Twice during the exhibition it was attacked but despite minor damage, it survives to this day. In 2015, Christie’s sold The Holy Virgin Mary for $4.6 million.

“Last time I checked, I’m the Mayor, and I don’t find closing down access to a public museum consistent with the use of taxpayer dollars,” Giuliani said. “People have an absolute right to express anything they want to express, but they do not have an absolute right to have that funded by the taxpayers.” New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani

“It certainly is true that the level of prudery is much stronger in the United States than in Europe and that includes London. It’s louder, more vociferous and more fundamentalist.” Norman Rosenthal, director of the Royal Academy

Goals for 2017

Each and every year, I sit down and write a list of artistic goals for the next twelve months. This year’s list is going to take a lot of time and hard work to pull off.

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  • 2016 was a year of transition as I moved both office and home. Now settled, I need to refine my studio practice to best utilize a new (smaller) space. Organization is a must.
  • After spending most of 2016 planning a large body of work, it is time to buckle down and make it all. Should take most of the year – if I’m lucky.
  • Now debt free, I need to create an art budget and stick to it. At the same time, I need to become more efficient with my materials and cut waste.
  • In 2015, I had my first solo exhibition and showed a collection of works I had made through the years. In 2017, I would like to have my second solo exhibition and show a new body of work for the first time. Venue to be announced.

Seasons Greetings

I would like to wish all my followers and their loved ones a safe and happy holiday season. Eat, drink and be merry. I know I will. Probably a bit too much.

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ABOVE: Pablo Picasso, Le Père Noël, 1959, lithograph

ABOVE: Norman Rockwell, A Drum For Tommy, 1921, oil on canvas

ABOVE: Andy Warhol, Christmas Tree, Published in Harpers Bazaar, December 1957

ABOVE: Salvador Dali, Christmas Tree, 1959, Christmas card for Hallmark

 

2016 – Not Sorry to See You Go

While Donald Trump alone may have ruined 2016 for many people, it wasn’t a very good year for other reasons as well. In fact, it was a crappy year for the arts.

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ABOVE: Zaha Hadid, Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku, Azerbaijan

The World Loses a Starchitect

From Ali to Bowie to Prince, 2016 was a terrible year for celebrity deaths. Included in the far too long list, was Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid. Known as the ‘Queen of the Curve’, she was the world’s leading female architect and one of the best in any gender. While many of her current designs are still being built, the world of architecture won’t be the same without her.

Tragedy in Oakland

On December 2, 2016, thirty six artists and musicians perished when a fire tore through an Oakland warehouse known as the ‘Ghost Ship’. While the exact cause of the fire is still unknown, the building itself was known to be unsafe and many of its occupants were living there illegally. Owing to sky high rents in the Bay area – and other rapidly gentrifying urban centers – this tragedy serves to highlight the importance of safe and affordable living/workspaces for artists. Art is important, and artists shouldn’t have to risk their lives to make it.

From Rags to Riches

Being an artist is tough, and the chances you will become rich are slim to nil. That said, here are a few who achieved great success – and fortune – in their lifetime.

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ABOVE: Claude Monet, Water Lillies and Japanese Bridge, between 1897 and 1899, oil on canvas, 35.3 x 35.6 inches

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso arrived in Paris on his twentieth birthday and lived, from 1904 to 1909, in a squalid studio that had once been a piano factory. Working in poverty proved beneficial though, and the beggars, prostitutes and drunks he came to know figured prominently in his paintings. It was an important time in his career that is now referred to as ‘The Blue Period.”

After leaving the piano factory, his career hit astronomical heights, and when he died in 1973, his net worth was estimated at $50 million.

Claude Monet

Claude Monet and his wife Camille lived in poverty throughout most of the 1870’s leading creditors to seize a number of his works. Overcome with the burdens of debt, he contemplated drowning himself in the Seine, but decided instead to keep on struggling.

By 1890, Monet was wealthy enough to purchase a beautiful mansion in Giverny, and while there, he produced some of his most endearing works (see above).

Francis Bacon

Although he came from wealth, Francis Bacon was kicked out of the family home for being gay and quickly fell into a life of petty crime. To support his tastes and avoid destitution, he dated older, wealthier men until his art career began to take off in the early 1940’s.

After a long and successful career filled with many personal losses – his lover, George Dyer committed suicide – he died a wealthy man in 1992. As his haunted, pain-ridden paintings will attest, money can’t buy happiness.

Mystical Landscapes at the Art Gallery of Ontario

This past Saturday, I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario to see Mystical Landscapes: Masterpieces from Monet, van Gogh and more. Here is a quick review.

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ABOVE: Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night Over the Rhone at Arles, 1888, oil on canvas, 28.5 x 36.2 inches

BELOW: Eugène Jansson, Dawn Over Riddarfjardin, 1899, oil on canvas, 59 x 79 inches

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has put together some stellar exhibitions over the years and it’s latest installment, Mystical Landscapes is no exception. Consisting of major works by major artists, it is a feast for the eyes, and the soul.

The show consists of 36 artists from 15 countries and contains almost 90 paintings and 20 works on paper. It covers the years between 1880 and 1930, and includes some of the very best art produced during that time.

Right off the bat, the viewer comes face to canvas with Paul Gauguin’s Vision after the Sermon. Even better, it is presented alongside The Yellow Christ and Christ in the Garden of Olives. This is apparently how Gauguin intended the works to be seen, and it is stunning – really, one of the best walls I’ve ever come across in a gallery.

After starting strong, the show never lets up, and around every corner is another masterpiece to marvel at. Some works, like Munch’s The Sun and Monet’s Water Lillie’s are instantly recognizable (if not iconic), but others, and their creators are lesser known. It is here that Mystical Landscapes really shines. I especially liked the works of Eugène Jansson (whose painting can be seen above), and Charles Marie Dulac (who has a room all to himself). They were incredible talents, and they deserve to be shown alongside the greats.

As flashy as this show is, some of the best art isn’t flashy at all. Emily Carr’s subtle and simple skyscapes are a real treat, and they provide a calming reprieve from some of the louder artworks on display. I spent as much time staring at them as I did anything else.

Towards the end of the exhibition, the overhead lighting gets dark and the beams shone directly onto the paintings make them appear back-lit. I liked the overall look, but I would liked to have seen them under normal conditions as well.

Curatorially, each artist is presented with a description of their religious/spiritual beliefs. While this serves as a nice compliment to the work and fits the overall theme of the exhibition, the pieces themselves are powerful enough to provoke the spiritual side of the viewer.

In summary, I loved this show. I suspect that you will too.

Mystical Landscapes: Masterpieces from Monet, van Gogh and more is at the AGO until January 29, 2017.