Friday, 1 March 2013

Top Reasons Why It's So Cool To Paint A Dumpster

The alleys in downtown Vancouver are quite notoriously beautiful and interesting. They have all kinds of cool character to them, and the collection of graffiti, colour, form, bricks, wires and exposed metal is so intriguing.

One of the subjects I've taken a keen interest in painting lately are dumpsters. To me, these objects are big behemoths of hidden necessity. Think about it - we use them, but we hide them away from sight and let others deal with the mess. They serve a very functional role in our urban lives, and at the same time they just kind of sit there and rust, get banged around by big vehicles and filled with junk.

As I continue to explore the city, and capture images of what I find to be special, I get more and more excited about the means to generate a piece of art.

I've always had a love of complexities when it comes to subject matter and composition. For example, when I was younger in high school art class, I always drew well rendered still-life compositions of many complicated objects. I would arrange them in a cool way, light them, and sit and draw them for hours. Single objects usually didn't thrill me too much, but when I started having items and objects interacting with each other, things became more interesting!

With dumpsters that have rust, texture, graffiti, stickers, and other crap built up on their surfaces, I have an opportunity to express my joy of creating a larger composition out of so many little bits. I get to take liberties and composite more or less of these elements as I see fit for this particular piece. I add more bits to build up certain areas and break up the visual plane, which makes the image more interesting to our eyes and minds.

My approach to this piece was a bit experimental. There were some new elements I added and explored. I find that when I'm making a series of work, there is a slow evolution within the overall body of work, while maintaining the same look and feel that holds the overall series together. For example, in this work, I started the work out of a single, very wide brush mark of a rusty red-orange. As the work progressed I printed a ring shape on top with the back of an old yogurt container.

I got quite liberal with some of the brush marks in this piece as well. I find sometimes as I'm making these works I just get really spontaneous, exciting urges to quickly drag some heavy paint through an area, uninhibited. This gives the work such a sense of immediate energy and spontaneity that contrasts the tight ink lines so well.

In this instance, this purple swiggle represents the mood I was in that evening at the studio. I remember being so high on endorphins (happens when I'm painting and full of beans) and I was listening to really loud Led Zeppelin. The studio was empty, and I made these two marks so quickly and without thinking, and felt so good about that decision right after.

That is something I often tell people about my work - I "make a mess" with the immediacy of paint, then "clean it up" with the ink lines..and selectively decide which areas get really cleaned up, and which remain spontaneous and loose.

Final work and more viewable at


  1. I really like the description of the process you go through and the tools you're using - the old yoghurt container especially!
    And I totally agree about the energy the thick vibrant streaks of colour add the the overall piece!

  2. Thanks mate, blogging in depth like this is new but I have already noticed a good traffic from it to my site etc. There's so much I have to say about my work, this is such a good means of having a conversation with those who aren't around me!