Friday, April 1, 2011

Empress Street Hill, oil on canvas, 2011, detail of image

Organic Fusion, oil on canvas, 2011, detail of image

I take much of my inspiration from nature and from sites where nature is in the process of reclaiming what humanity has left behind. When I start to paint often I will have several images strewn on the table next to me as inspiration. Some of my favorites are of an old farmhouse close to where I live, a wooden train car abandoned in the bush (also near where I live), and images of small items crumbling and slowly decaying I have found lying in the forest. I feel a little lost when I find things like this because our impact on the planet is so evident in the garbage we leave behind. As we hear more and more about the cumulative effect our lifestyle has upon the planet its easy to get pessimistic about the future of civilization. From our need for electricity and the detrimental effects its production has on the landscape, to our production and extensive use of plastic the “throw away” product that takes anywhere from 10-750 years to decompose.

I am inspired though by the rejuvenation process that occurs when nature reclaims what we have left behind. Detail images from my most recent paintings titled Empress Street Hill and Organic Fusion, are shown above. Empress Street Hill or Westview Park or garbage hill as it is more commonly known as in Winnipeg is a popular site for sledders, but it was once a landfill. Now a city park of sorts used by joggers, cyclists and dog owners, trees and trails line the hill top and its summer slopes are grassy. What lies beneath for future generations comes into question as the detritus of our past becomes the foundation of our civilization. This process of building on our past has never been more perilous or complicated.

Organic Fusion explores the process of decomposition in a painterly way. By adding and removing paint, leaving latent images and using colours suggestive of flesh I am exploring the human body in relation to the landscape. Soft, round forms suggestive of fruit or seeds fleshly painted illustrate the connection between human life and the environment we live in. The human race’s survival is intrinsically intertwined with the ecosystem of our planet, yet our fundamental approach to life leads to the consumption and destruction of our planets resources. As I paint I am asking what if we looked for ways to live in harmony with, to grow more than destroy, and adapt our lifestyle more to our surroundings. Answers to these questions are coming but slowly and slower still is the process of enacting change.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Here is an image of the T-shirt quilt I was working on prior to christmas.
The owner was thrilled with the finished product.

Detail: The embroidery on this t-shirt is in amazing shape however it unfortunately pulled and distorted the fabric a fair amount. Rather than try to remove all this I sewed closely around the lettering and left seams from the collar and sleeve as feature details. All of the fabric was lined with interfacing to ensure against shifting or buckling. The entire quilt was machine sewn.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Yesterday in the studio I noticed a couple of tiny tears in a painting I just completed a few days ago. The edges of the tiny cuts were frayed and had absorbed some pigment so the cuts likely opened after I had painted the canvas. Its difficult to say for sure if the damage occurred at the store where I bought the canvas or after the painting was completed. Either way the painting needed to be repaired since this is a painting for a good friend.

The picture above shows my process of repairing a canvas with a hole in it. I cut a piece of canvas a lot larger than the cuts which were only about 1/4 of an inch long. The canvas patch is primed on both sides. I prime the back of the painting and place the patch over the cuts and then prime over all. I place a piece of plastic and a board on top of the patch and then the weight to flatten all. I have to remove all of this a couple of times and check the front, wiping away the squeeze out since I don't really want primer all over my painting. The only trouble with having to do this on an oil painting is the paint gets compressed so the weight should be just big enough for the repair.

The above image shows the cut area and the small amount of squeeze out of gesso which of course is needed to paint on in order to cover the repair. The repair is the vertical brownish mark in the middle of this picture happily it is not noticeably discernible as it blends into the back ground. It will be very easy to finish the repair on the front. At this point the back will require a second coat of primer just to be sure all is secure.

Here is the finished painting titled Riding Mountain, oil on canvas, 2011.