Tweet Tweet: Ye Olde Blog Post

As it goes when one works full-time and thus merely dabbles their hands in many art-related things, a lot of time passes between blog entries. I have saved up a couple of events and noteworthy happenings to share.

APPLIED ARTS
The piece I did for “THIS” magazine was selected for the Illustration/Photography awards annual. The issue came out in May. Here is a copy of the TEAR SHEET they gave me.

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THE ROY BUILDING
The Roy Building is gone. In the short time from our eviction till now the entire structure has been removed. All that remains is a hole. The Mason Bay project is on hold still, but has not left the back of my head. I guess this is an advantage of being a part-time artist; “Artist Block” doesn’t really have time to affect me. 😦

TOMORROW.IS
The work I am doing for Tomorrow.is continues to be fun and flowing. I am currently chest-deep in an illustration for a very thorough investigation into very interesting subject. I will leave it at that, but invite you to check out the other stories and my illustrations here: Tomorrow.is

YTV: THE ZONE
Earlier this summer I was hired by YTV to appear on the ZONE doing a chalk mural. I grew up watching the ZONE after school and this was kind of a child-hood dream of mine. The weather cooperated, the hosts were amazing and the crowds were super supportive. Here are a couple of screen-shots of the program. (Sorry no photos of the finished piece)

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RPNAO: NURSING JOURNAL
I did a cover illustration for the RPNAO Nursing Journal’s summer issue not that long ago. To my surprise they sent me 10 copies in the mail and a really nice thank you card. Here is a screen-shot that does not do the artwork justice of one of the copies they sent.

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PRISMATIC FESTIVAL
Lastly, just this past weekend I was invited to do a chalk mural for the Prismatic Festival in Dartmouth. This was the biggest, most involved mural I have done to date. It covered two parking spaces at Alderney Landing and took 2 days (thankfully no rain in-between) to complete. To compliment the Prismatic Festival’s theme of “Art for Everyone”, I wanted to do a mural of some of my favourite Canadian artists who come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. In my original design it was clear that the negative space behind off the portraits was a maple-leaf, but it didn’t quite work out that way in the final. The artists included in the mural are: Adam Beach (Actor), Anh Ngueyen (Dancer), Drake (Musician/Actor), Duane Linklater (Artist), Farzana Doctor (Authour), Jian Ghomeshi (Authour/Musician), Kent Monkman as Miss Chief (Artist), Lawrence Hill (Authour), Louis Bedard (Dancer/Choreographer), Mary Pratt (Artist), Measha Brueggergosman (Musician) and Soon Yin Lee (Filmmaker). I was happy with how most of the portraits turned out – especially Drake (thats the one the kids recognized).
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Now, the night was bright and the stars threw light on Billy and Davy dancin’ in the moonlight

Progress report:

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I only have one month left at the studio in the Roy building before I am evicted to make way for condos. I plan on making the most of it and finish this painting. I am very pleased with how it is going so far, both artistically as a picture and emotionally as a practice. The music I have been listening too while I paint has been over-the-top influential. Unfortunately pictures have not been able to do the painting justice, the piece is 6 feet by 5 feet. It has a presence in the room (to give you an idea: the figure on the right is life-sized). 

When my time in the Roy is up, I have a plan for this piece. It will be a big part of an even bigger project. Stay tuned music fans, Mason Bay is about to make it big!

Ducked back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl

Painting progress!

I have put in some more hard studio time and added a third member to my painting of a fake Canadian rock band. I am getting really excited about how this is coming together. I am also have a great time putting together playlists to listen to when I am working on the piece. So far, a lot of Band, Dylan, Guess Who, Sheepdogs – dirty, gritty honky-tonk rock and roll.

I solicited my father, whom I have to thank for the plethora of inspiration for this piece, to come up with not only a name, but a short bio for the band. He surpassed my expectations by writing a full review.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present: MASON BAY

     The music world is raving over the discovery of a new sound that has rattled the entire country. Mason Bay, a group named after the hometown of its founding members Lorne McAllister and Clare Proveneau has been rapidly getting recognition with their first single “Deadlocked For Love”.  These New Brunswick boys are more than capable in their composing skills and fresh guitar licks of climbing to the top. Combined with newest members Rob Killens (keyboards/guitar) and drummer Stew Ward and with careful guidance of noted producer Bob Ezrin this group should have a good long run on the charts and an ever growing fan base. Rick Skinner

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A cartoon in a cartoon graveyard

What can I say to open my first blog post in over 13 months? Overall, 2013 was a great year for me. I turned 30, moved in with my amazing, beautiful and talented gal, became an Uncle and was fortunate enough to do some traveling. But in the context of this blog, and my lack of TLC towards its upkeep: being a weekend and sometimes end of day artist, such as am, has not been very fulfilling.

I have struggled to find a money, art and life balance all my life. While I have accepted, and in fact am proud that I have an unquenchable need to make art and to live a creative life, poetically akin to the need for water and clean air, I am emotionally bound by social and fiscal responsibilities that I cannot seem to rationally escape, or make easy for myself. Rent, food, utilities, student loans, bank loans and credit-card payments fill me with such anxiety and stress that the thought of not having a steady source of income puts me in a panic. Living the life of making art, writing grants, hawking my illustrations and shamelessly promoting my skills to possibly still end up with nothing, or worse, nothing and a bad reputation is absolutely terrifying to me. Since art is an essential part of my life, would that mean transitioning to supporting my life with art alleviate the fear of having nothing, or just make it greater?

I have been earning “non-art” money since I was 6 years old. I started with a paper route, thanks to my supportive parents who helped carry papers until I was tall enough to reach all the mailboxes and always with paper assembly. When I was old enough to get a Social Insurance Number I entered the tax-paying workforce and have not been unemployed since. The adage: “all worthwhile endeavors are worth working for” is true. I do not want to sound like the artist lifestyle of making, writing, hawking and promoting is undesirable, in fact the opposite. What I struggle with is the jumping point. What made the “successful” ones brave enough to take the first step? How do you make the first step when you have close to nothing to fall back on? Perhaps my struggle with money, art and life is more deep-rooted than I thought. Even through my 6 years of post-secondary education I worked several “non art-money“ part-time jobs. The feeling that it has to be all or nothing is incredibly powerful when it comes to supporting myself off of art and is precisely what is keeping me at bay.

To stop this from sounding like a pessimistic rant, I want to stress that overall, I am very happy. I have worked hard for the successes I have had with art and illustration. The work I have done as a visual artist has taken me places I would never have dreamed I would go. I have met and worked with incredible people and am blessed to have lived a passionate life thus far. But I want more.

I want to continue to make art and illustration and teach. I want to be involved in my community at both professional and grass-roots levels. I want to be involved in my community making art. I want to lead my community in making art. I want to further my education and my craft. I want to be the best that I can be.

Here is what I have been up to…

STUDIO
With my gal, Tori Fleming and our incredibly talented friend Matthis Grunsky we started to rent a studio space in the Roy building in September of 2013. It was an incredible deal. Starfish properties, the building owner, had plans to gut and renovate the building in the coming years. They agreed to rent out spaces with open leases that could be terminated without objection when construction was to start (with three months notice of course). This meant that we didn’t have to be careful about making a mess of the unit. Unfortunately, we will be loosing the space as of February to make way for new downtown condominiums.

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SCHOOL
I applied at the University of Victoria in British Columbia to study for my Masters in Fine Art at the beginning of 2013. Sadly I did not get accepted. I am viewing this as a sign that I should take some time away from furthering my education and figure out the direction in which I want to further it.

STUDIO ART
I have only been working on one painting for the past 13 months. Remember that 5’ x 6’ canvas that I had stretched the month after the residency. After much deliberation on subject matter I have settled on classic rock – more specifically, junky, grungy Canadian classic rock. I just wanted to have something that I wasn’t going to get board with, I could find reference for and get inspiration from as well as give me a lot of room to experiment with paint application. So far so good – I am happy with the mood I have set.

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(I am not sure how to make animated gifs work in the body of the blog, but if you click on the image, you will be able to see the painting in progress)

ILLUSTRATION
I feel like I have made great strides in this department. I had two pieces published in THIS magazine (see the website for the images) – neither of which I have been paid for yet (not the economy for freelancing I’m afraid). I was so happy with the July-August piece I did that I submitted it to both Creative Quarterly and Applied Arts magazines’ annual Illustration contests. Sadly it was not accepted by Creative Quarterly, I am still waiting to hear back from Applied Arts.

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Most excitingly however, I have been working as the Illustrator in Residence for Tomorrow.is. Tomorrow is a progressive journalism entity that strives for non-biased, thorough, open-discussion based stories. My plan is to create at least a piece a month both to accompany the stories they publish and perhaps inspire new stories. I am trailing a bit for January, but have several ideas on the go.

TEACHING
In the Fall of 2013 I taught a course though the School of Extended studies at NSCAD. Using my illustration background and my love of visual communication I “prof’d” a course on Graphic Facilitation. I am happy to say that I will be teaching it again this Winter. Registration starts January 14. I am really excited about it.

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SHOW and BOOK?
My body of work: “100 Canadians” went on display for the month of July. I think it was a success. I had a lot of nice comments in the guestbook that suggested I try to have it published in a book (an idea I’ve had for a long time). I decided to re-tool the body of work, more specifically the idea of the body of work, to suit a children’s audience. I put together a small prototype of what the book might be like and presented it at the Word on the Street festival in September. While the publishers I pitched my idea to liked it, they were far too Maritime focused to take a chance on me. I don’t want to drop the idea, but am at a standstill for where to go next.

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CHALK
The only significant public chalking I did was at the Pride Parade in July. I made the summer issue of Snap! For my friends Cate, Leon and Brian I helped facilitate a World Café meeting they hosted for the Sustainability and Leadership certificate program at Dalhousie University. It was a lot of fun, but in hindsight, chalk is not the best medium for making fast art in a low-light environment where food and drink are being served.

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Final thoughts: I can’t help but think this blog post, the sum of 13 months of “part-time” art, is comparable to one week when I was living in Lunenburg. Maybe that could have something to say to my money, art and life balance issue. If you made it this far, thanks for reading and I hope to have more soon.

Below are some musings from sketchbook…

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Sidewalk closed, please use other side

After a month and a half of not updating, there is not really a lot to show for it. This whole “working full time” thing has really forced me to have longer deadlines and lower expectations. Here goes, chronologically, what has been happening artistically, creatively and otherwise with me and my work.

THE BENCHES
The bench project was a huge success. HERE is a video that my friend Tim made in honour of the first place-making project ever in Bridgewater. Feel free to skip the parts where I am being interviewed. I have also included a couple newspaper clippings from the Growing Green festival that showcase the project.

Again, I am proud both to have been a part of this project and by the amazingly talented youth who made it such a success. The next time you are in Bridgewater, find one of our benches and have a seat on us.

 

HALIFAX
I have moved back to Halifax: the city where you cannot go more than three blocks without hitting some form of construction. Two of the four roads surrounding my apartment are under construction, the vacant space across the hall from where I work is under construction and, on more than one occasion, various facilities at the YMCA that I frequent are under construction. Nonetheless, I have settled my throne here. The first thing I did after unpacking was bike down to the art supply store and get a new sketchbook. I have included my first drawing. OH, and I almost forgot… I get to live right next door my beautiful and talented partner, Ms. Tori Fleming.

 

ONTARIO
My good friend Mr. Dave Lavictoire got married… for the second time… to the same awesome gal (it’s a long story). I was asked to stand by his side and show a little love. I have included a page from my sketchbook wherein I was trying to compose a speech en français for the ceremony.
While I was visiting Mr. Lavictoire I was lucky enough to go on a little hike around his family’s property with another friend of mine and HIS family. On this outing I picked the most beautiful and tasty Puffball Mushroom. I have included pictures of the soup that followed. MmmmMMMmmMmmmMm.
OH and I also got to go out canoeing with my dear ol’ dad. We came across a family of beavers. I could only capture a tail splash with the camera unfortunately.

 

VITAL YOUTH CAFÉ
My friend Marc Langlois asked me if he could use a tweaked version of a logo I had designed for a presentation he was giving. As it turns out, that little piece of artwork has gotten around. Check it out HERE.

 

CAFÉ 12
Although I have left the design team of Bridgewater’s Café 12, I have joined a team here in Halifax bent on doing the same thing… well not the SAME same, but similar. We are only at the beginning stages but it looks like it going to be equally amazing!

MY FIRST unsolicited ILLUSTRATION JOB
I did a spot for THIS magazine last week. It isn’t up on their website but when it is here is the LINK. I have also included the piece, and my sketches, in this post.

 

PAINTING
Although I have much less space than I did when I was in Lunenburg, I have stretched, primed and conceived of a new painting. No sewing on this one, just straight up old-fashioned canvas. I have included some close-up shots of my corners… I am quite proud of them. The size of this piece is 6’ x 5’. I plan on taking a lot of time with it. It could be a 12-month piece.

 

LUNENBURG PAINTINGS
I have yet to be back to see them, but I have been told they are on display in shop windows downtown Lunenburg. I will have more on this as it develops.
Hopefully, although I cannot make any promises, I will get better at this. It’s just that when 9 hours of your day is used for things that are not art, things move a lot slower.

More paint, more heat, more summer fun

They did it! I was right. My team of youth came through and made the BEST impression ever on the town of Bridgewater. Not to mention the amount of fun everyone had at the Growing Green Sustainability Festival. I am so proud of each and every one of the young artists I was fortunate enough to work with.

The countdown to the end of the Lunenburg Community Artist Residency for me continues… five more days.

For those wondering where I go from here…
I will be moving back to Halifax. I have a sweet a little apartment lined up with some sweet roomies situated right next-door to my sweetheart. I have accepted a position at the Printing House on Barrington street as a digital operator, design and print specialist. It will be a fitting position for me as it exercises my creative and problem solving side while allowing me to give back some money to the Ontario Student Assistance Program. However, most importantly, it gives me enough free time to continue working with the Café 12 project as well as my art practice.

My next blog post may be from Halifax…