Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Tragically Hip Mountain Goat

I got a silly idea in my head the other night. I was thinking about my two favourite bands, the Tragically Hip and the Mountain Goats (both amazing bands with large bodies of work and incredible lyrics), and I was kind of combining the two names in my head, and this amalgam resulted in this image of some kind of hipster goat. A Tragically Hip Mountain Goat, if you will.

The original idea was going to be a goat with a beard and hipster glasses, but I didn't know that it would get the idea across, so instead of glasses I decided the goat should be wearing a hat similar to the ones that Gord Downie (the Tragically Hip's front man) wore during the Hip's final tour this past summer.  To people who watched the final concerts, it would be fairly recognizable.

This is possibly my favourite piece I've ever painted.

Acrylic on 8x8 canvas
I had a huge smile on my face the whole time I worked on this.  If I had to complaint about anything, it's that I ran off the edge of the canvas. A taller canvas may have been in order to fit the whole face in the frame.

But overall, this piece makes me happy.  It's whimsical as hell.

(I used a picture I found on Flickr for a reference.  The photographer can be found here.)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Colon Cancer Awareness Month: Prep Time.

There's an explanation for this. As you may or may not know, March is Colon Cancer awareness month. I wanted to do something for it, since I often feel like I am a bad cancer survivor. I don't post the colour of my undies or copy and paste vague threats to delete friends who don't copy and paste posts about the terribleness of cancer, and I don't Relay for Life or Run For The Cure (Susan G Komen can suck it anyway).

So I intend to do a small series of paintings themed around my experiences as a cancer survivor and living post-colectomy. They are not self-portraits per se, but reflections of my reality. I also wanted to break some of the taboos that tend to stymie discussion of... You know... "Butt stuff" or "poop stuff."

Acrylic on 8x8 canvas
This piece illustrates a major part of my reality as a cancer survivor and a long-time IBS patient, having been diagnosed at 18 with ulcerative colitis. 

I now get scoped and biopsied about once a year to make sure the cancer doesn't return.  Prepping for scopes is the worst part (closely followed by driving to the city on a completely empty stomach with no caffeine in my system).  It's quite literally a pain in the ass (invest in good toilet paper!).

Colon cancer is one of the most easily treated cancers, while simultaneously having the highest mortality rate, since it is often difficult to detect. If you are over 50, have a family history, or other risk factors, you should be getting screened.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Moon Over Water (with #Throwback)

My main aim with this picture was to practice painting back-lit clouds.  Nightscenes are interesting as it seems almost like you have to forget everything you think you know about light and shadow.

8x8 Acrylic on Gallery Canvas
It struck me afterwards that this piece was very similar in theme to one of my earliest works, in that the idea was a moon over a lake at night.  The first was painted over 10 years ago, when I first started dabbling.  I think it's a nice testament to how far I've come.

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Sunday, February 12, 2017


As an artist have you ever completed something and been unendingly impressed with how it came out?  Especially when it was kind of done as a lark, just to see if you could?

I'm always intimidated by the idea of painting animals, then pleasantly surprised when it comes out well.

I spent a week looking at this when I was done.

8x8 Acrylic on Canvas
This is Simon.

He's kind of dumb, but beautiful. Kind of like Brad Pitt's character in Burn After Reading.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Snowscape with Creek and Fence

It's winter here in Canada.

There are a lot of things I don't like about winter, and not many that I do.

But I do enjoy the fresh-fallen snow when the sun is hitting mid-afternoon and the sky is a brilliant blue.

Cameras never capture the effect as I would like, so I decided to try a simple snowscape from my imagination.

The song Membership by the Tragically Hip has a line about a 'butterscotch river overspilling its banks' which is what I tried to capture in with the creek flowing through the foreground.

9x12 Acrylic on Canvas
I also wanted to make sure I caught subtle things like the reflection of light on the surface of the snow, and the three dimensional effect of the snow where the banks meet the river.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Oh Very Young - or - Happy 40th Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Holy heck, I am really excited to finally share this piece.

Today is my parents' 40th wedding anniversary.

I decided to honour the occasion, I wanted to paint my one of my favorite photographs of them, taken on a camping trip in the mid-1970s while they were still dating.

I've been sitting on this for a while because I didn't want them to see it before I gave it to them.  My mom is probably my biggest superfan, so I knew if I shared it anywhere online, it would probably make its way to her.

Oh my Gord, you guys. I'm so excited.


14x11 acrylic on Canvas
There were a number of challenges with this piece, namely translating a low-res black and white print into a colour image.  I took some artistic liberties with the clothes, as I'm pretty sure they're both in head-to-toe denim in the original photo, being the 70s and all.  But there was already a lot of blue in the image, so I took a little creative license with the wardrobe.

The facial expressions were tough. For a while my dad looked a little like an Egyptian heiroglyph of Super Mario because I kept making his moustache way too bushy.

Also, again, hands.

On the positive side, I'm really happy with how Dad's face eventually turned out, and while I couldn't quite get Mom's look of concentration, ending up with more of a serene look, I'm pretty happy with the rest of her, overall.

I really like Dad's jacket.

The Canada goose in the background may have actually been a broken stump, but once again, artistic licence won out and I think it was a nice touch.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Desert Grave

Sometimes I just want to paint for the hell of it but I don't really know what I want to do, so I just start slapping colour onto a junk canvas until I start to see something.

This quickly turned into some rolling hills, and a blood-red sunset.

I was listening to a Murder By Death cover of "Desert Grave" at the time, and I think that probably informed the feel of the final product.

Acrylic on 14x11 canvas
I really like the the light reflecting off the hills closer to the horizon.  That was kind of an accident, as was some of the oranges and yellows that are peeking through the browned of the ground.

I'm a big fan of sunsets and silhouettes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Halfway Lake Provincial Park, Site 93

This year we went on our first successful family camping weekend in about three years. The last time was the summer before my cancer diagnosis.

We camped at Halfway Lake Provincial Park, about 90 minutes north of Sudbury.  We were there during the week, so it was quiet.

Our site had a spectacular view of the lake, just beyond a thin line of trees.

18x18 acrylic on canvas
This was a challenging image to paint, especially the reflection of the clouds and trees in the lake.

And the lilypads.  They're HARD.  Did you know lilypads are crazy hard to paint?  I didn't.

They are, though.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Flower DipTych

Occasionally when the gentleman friend and I go on road trips around the province, we'll stop for hikes. He likes to take photos of interesting flowers we see.

This diptych is two different takes on one of the flowers we saw near Mactier.

Acrylic on Watercolor Paper 7x5

I decided this would look nice as a framed pair.