Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Cool Result of Combining My Drawings and Animation

I made a 30 second video for a radio commercial a little while back. The radio station I made it for is called The Peak, and they are a rock station here in Vancouver. This is the finished video:

The contest involved making an ad in any medium. I noticed I was one of the only entrants to animate. I didn't win anything, but at least I made a cool video.

For me, making this video was awesome because it allowed me to deal with two themes that are prevalent in my paintings now - technology (mostly music in this instance) and the city - specifically Vancouver. 

Each of the assets was handdrawn, scanned, then turned into vector art via illustrator. I had a lot of fun making the original drawings, as they deal heavily with the black line work I enjoy working with. Since I work as a web and graphic designer, I enjoy using the Adobe suite and therefore making my drawings digital is fun. 

When I look back at this piece, it makes me want to do a few things. It makes me want to work with this look of solid colour and black and white drawings on top. Perhaps this will become a painting experiment soon! It also makes me want to make some more cool animation, although I don't see that happening as quickly as the painting. The other thing this makes me want to do is to make very busy, clustered art works on wood panel. Again, this might just pop up in the coming months! I love to experiment.

The look of the work is pretty branded - the blue colour choice was picked from the radio station's logo - this WAS an exercise in branding, afterall!

Here's the link to the final piece on youtube: The compression is a bit down because its YouTube, but the original is quite sharp! (Just as the photos are above - they are screen caps from the actual animation).

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Sun Tower

See the work in my gallery:

One of my favourite works from the last couple of months of work has been the painting I made of the Sun Tower, a very old and super cool building in downtown Vancouver.

The building is on the edge of Chinatown, the Downtown East Side, Gastown and upper-scale downtown. It's in this weird melting-pot area that has beautiful old buildings, drugs, hipsters and exercise divas.

This painting is titled "Nine-To-Five". I work as a graphic/web designer during the days and the company I work for (MacLaren McCann) is located in the Sun Tower. This building houses a lot of creative and marketing companies.

The overall design of the building is what struck me to want to paint it, and that awesome coloured roof. I heard a story that the roof was painted that colour because the owners wanted it to look expensive, but since it isn't actually made out of copper, it wouldn't oxidize like the other cool buildings of the day.

The design elements are great. There is a common use of the these circular elements (I'm not sure the exact term for them) which are very organic, floral, ounded and highly decorative. Recreating them in this painting was a very enjoyable experience.

My colour palette for this piece is pretty representative of the actual colours. I always take liberties with expanding the colours at least a bit, so as to create an interesting visual. For this work I definitely wanted to maintain the look of the roof and masonry so that people would recognize it as the Sun Tower. Often I change the colours a lot, but here I've maintained pretty closely.

The building has a really cool view. One of the things I've discovered by working here is that you can get onto the roof, and then scale up the side of the tower via the fire escape (its one of those old zig-zag metal staircases). There's a pretty excellent view at the top.

When I was up close I got a very cool view of these details on the roof. Being so close to them on our adventure was awesome, as the little details aren't noticable from the street!

Overall this has proven to be one of my more popular pieces and I'm very proud of it. It looks great on wood panel and is currently hanging in a show called "City:Life" at the Pendulum Gallery in downtown Vancouver.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Enumerative Painting Process

I made this new painting rather quickly. Part of that was because I was really excited about the process, but the other part was because my show was quickly approaching and I wanted to get ONE MORE piece done :)

This piece is called "Enumerative", which relates to the concept of counting and calculating and tracking numerically.

The subject is a city parking meter. The cool thing about working with this is that it has neat little additions to work with - stickers that people have placed on the post, brand logos for Visa/Mastercard, and a Starbucks cup sitting on top (I really like adding these little pieces of urban trash or "remnants").

The process of this piece is what's most exciting for me. I slightly altered how I create these works. Often I work from photographs (some sourced online, some shot myself) and then I prepare the panel drawing first. In this instance, I altered that starting point. I did a small sketch of the image I wanted to work from with simple pen. The way I sketch is quite loose and pretty representative, although I usually have a minor level of play with the line work.

After I sketched it, I projected that sketch large onto the prepared wood panel. This is interesting, because there are lots of subtle lines that go unnoticed and are part of the subconscious process of drawing. When they are projected, however, they are larger, more prominent, and can be worked into the new image in a more interesting way!

The line quality changes at such a large scale. It becomes very organic, and I trace over a lot of them (some I omit too) and they become very different. They become large structure components and the way that the image re-builds itself is quite layered, organic, surreal and distorted. It still maintains a particular level of representation too, however.

What I find, when I compare the ink drawing (before I paint over top of it) to previous ones, is that this one is more exciting visually. It has these cool components that only became a part of the work via the particular process I chose to produce the work.

When it's time to paint the rest of the work, I approached it the same as my other works. I paint in different ways - some broad, single brush marks to start and establish cool shapes and colour areas. Upon drying, I will dump liquid paint in pools on various parts of the work, and let it dry flat (with a heater underneath) so that the pooling creates a different visual look then brushmarks.

I stencil heavy acrylic paint through perforated paper to create the dotted, half-tone effect that is present in most of my works.

I then render certain areas with a higher degree of shadow and highlights. I really enjoy painting lighter areas with transparent white - lots of painters only use white as thick top-layers, although I really enjoy what happens when I fill areas in with white that is see-through and has visible brushmarks.

I usually finish my works with some light drops of colour over certain light areas to break up the highlights. This gives another layer and cool look to the piece..sometimes I will blot it dry with a towel when it is semi-dry, which leaves a cool "ring" effect.

My final step is to re-ink a lot of the black areas, which have become a bit matted from the paint over top of them. This step is favourable and fun because its senseless linework that is often completed with the company of a fine bottle of wobbly-pop.

I sign, document, varnish and wire my pieces at the end.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Lonely Only

This is an old seafood cafe on Hastings Street in Vancouver. The Only, as it is/was called, was a staple destination for decades. It was shut down over allegations of drug trafficking from the owners. Now, the sign stands idle, as a monument to the shifting look of the Downtown East Side and a reminder of the glory days of the infamous and decorative neon signs that still light up certain parts of Vancouver, but decay and rot in others.

As time goes on and I prepare many new pieces in my urban/city series, I feel as though I'm taking more of a critical/careful look at my connection to the places and images I'm working with. I like that this sign was a marker on my walk to the old studio, so I have that personal connection.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Some New Urban Pieces!

My friends and I are getting ready for our next show, which we hang in one week. I'm wrapping up a couple of in-progress works now, and I will stop when those are ready. The rest need to be varnished, wired for hanging, and packaged up to ship to the gallery.

I'm very pleased with the body of work overall. It's been very fun to make these, and I'm ready to keep making a huge number of them as time goes on.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

A Fun Multicoloured Painting!

I painted this new piece pretty quickly. I got really involved in its creation and I couldn't stop! One of the things that I loved about it so much was the fact that each recycle bin had to be covered in lots of visual textures - graffiti, stickers, writings, etc. The process of researching and replicating all of these little bits was very enjoyable and focused.

The references to pop culture are my favourite. I've included nintendo characters and imagery related to film (Ghostbusters logo). The ability to reproduce all of these icons, and have them make sense in such a visual mismatch like this painting, was a joy and a half :)

Friday, 8 February 2013

Upcoming Show!!

This is the poster for an upcoming show that two friends and I are hosting at a Vancouver gallery very soon. All the new city/urban work I’ve been developing is in preparation of this show. 

Check it out if you can! Click to link to the event information.

This show will explore many facets of the city. People, structures, surreal utopias. The three of us interpret various details of what makes urban life so fascinating.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

City Snapshots Series

I have began a new subseries of smaller urban works. While these are part of the overall theme of my current work - urban/city decay, metamorphosis and change, these stand alone because of their size and particular content.

These works are only 12" x 12", so they are smaller than the others. However, this is an intentional choice - as a city commuter, my work needs to be small enough that I can carry it on busses and work on it while travelling. I do this on my way to and from work - I am always drawing. Keeping this ongoing series will certainly be a beneficial step forward into growing the number of finished works.

Furthermore, the intent of these pieces is to cover the breadth of imagery available in urban centres. Cities are beautiful, decaying, ever-changing, and present us with so much visual interest. As I walk around Vancouver, I am taking many pictures with my phone to use as reference material. When I am starting a new one of these snapshot studies, I choose something particularly interesting and turn it into a work of art. The titles I am giving them "Homer and Cordova", "Pender and Cambie", etc reflect where I was in the city when I took the picture.

My hope is to make these for a long while..and eventually show a ton of them at a cool venue somewhere.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Golden Brush Art Battle

I recently participated in Golden Brush's Season 2, round 4 Art Battle at the Vancouver Urban Winery. The event is really neat - there are 4 teams of 2 people. Each team has 80 minutes to create a work on a 30" x 40" canvas. The fun bit is collaborating the styles and skills, and my partner Jennifer Harwood and I did a fun job of communicating ideas and working spontaneously and on-the-fly (while sticking to a loose, original plan).

I've done a few Live Painting competitions in Vancouver. I really like the whole experience. It's a fun time more than anything, a bunch of people who love to paint get together and we work in front of an audience! Time goes by at an accelerated pace, as when people are watching you and there are lights on you and you don't have time to think too much about decisions!

This is the stage set up before the painting started.

 The organizers of the show are really great. I've met a number of awesome people so far who I think for their efforts, and introducing me to great other artists!

The event was really well attended! There must have been a couple of hundred folks in there, and the energy was great. The Urban Winery is an awesome venue!

Here we are, working away on our piece! It's hard to tell if this was the first or second half from this angle :)We ended up winning the public vote. We even made it into the newspaper (Vancouver edition of 24 Hours) - that was a fun thing to read the next morning on the commute to work!