sneak peek


A many-layered thing

In the beginning…

The other day, while putting together my presentation for the Surrey Art Gallery, I came across some old photos that I had taken of a couple of my self-portrait paintings in progress. I thought it would be interesting to share some of the photos as I actually forgot that this was how I had created the image. My painting, The Return Home, was started in late 2006 and finished in 2007. I had begun the painting in London and brought it back with me to Vancouver. The trip to Vancouver had not actually been a planned permanent return, but it ended up being one, so I finished the painting in Vancouver.

Roselina #1

I had been given a piece of oak to try painting on, and taking the size of the panel into consideration, I decided I wanted to create a double self-portrait. I was working with some photographs I had taken, and I had been torn about whether or not I wanted to stay in London, so I had the idea of the double self and the two sides of me – being in two hearts about coming/going. It wasn’t until a few months later that I realized I was permanently home and would not be returning to London to live, and that was when the background for this image emerged.

Roselina #2

It was the year of the giant snow storm in Vancouver and a lot of the trees had fallen down from the early and unexpected snowfall. I felt like the fallen trees reflected how I was feeling at the time, rather dejected about my move back as I wasn’t ready yet to come home. The detailed Florentine pattern in the background was the first elaborate pattern I had painted and I remembered it being a painstaking process but well worth the effort. This was quite a big step forward in my practice, a major stepping stone to the detailed floral patterns now found in many of my pieces.

The knit of the sweater taking shape
The Return Home (2007)

Another image I dug up on my computer was this photo of the set up from my London studio when I was painting She Wanted To Do More Than Just Pass.

My London studio set up for small-scale paintings

It’s just a little sneak peek into how I was working at the time. This painting was the first part of my “return home”, painted months before I had to leave London, when I still didn’t know where I wanted to go next. It’s interesting to think of these two paintings as bookends to my decision.

She wanted to do more than just pass (2006)

These were some of the paintings that I talked about at the panel discussion at the Surrey Art Gallery this past weekend with Eryne Donahue and David Horvitz. I’d like to thank everyone who came out to the event, as well as Jordan Strom, the Surrey Art Gallery and the Contemporary Art Society Vancouver, for organizing the artist talks and reception. The exhibition, Scenes of Selves, Occasions for Ruses, is on until December 16th.

For the love of

A preview of text from my next drawings

Thank you to everyone who helped me reach and exceed my Indiegogo campaign goal! I’m so grateful for the support, and I really do want to thank everyone who contributed as well as spread the word about my project – from friends to family to complete strangers! Thank you!!

The outlines of faces for my new drawing

My residency in Iceland is not far now, and I’m busy making preparations and packing. I’ll be working on my pretty boys kill me drawings while I’m away, and there are preparations I need to make before my trip so I don’t forget anything and or bring too many supplies with me.

Getting my papers all ready…

From sketching out the pattern of the boys on the paper to creating stencils, there’s quite a bit of pre-planning going on. And a bit of pain! Cutting stencils = not fun.  Art hurts!

Red and achy from cutting stencils

I’m also excited about what new work and ideas I’m going to have while away. From my past residency experiences, I’ve found that being in a new environment, new ideas naturally develop. I’m bringing a set of beautiful egg tempera paints bought from a little shop in Florence, Italy about six years ago, that I’ve been saving until the right moment. I don’t want to wait anymore to use these so I figure I will experiment with them while away – watch for some egg tempera paintings coming soon!

A jumble of leftover letters from my stencils

I’ll be updating my blog as well as my Tumblr regularly while I am away. There are also a couple of exhibitions of my work taking place in Vancouver while I am away that I will be posting about here, so please check back regularly for updates as well as my progress in Reykjavik.

Hairdresser on Fire

I thought it would be fun to reveal the two characters in my new painting with before and after shots – to show how my painting progressed. A few blog posts back, I already showed the face of a lion as the masked man in this painting from my Of Myth and Men series. So here is the before picture:

A young lion

After a few layers of paint, the lion seemed to change and age a bit. He started off looking like a young lion, but I think the expression on his face changed as I worked on it. The face matured, and there’s something in the look in its eyes that is different. A bit heavier…? Perhaps not so bright eyed. Through several layers of paint, the lion’s character was revealed.

With a full mane

Actually, looking at the two pictures now, I think perhaps it’s is the eyelashes that changed the expression on his face to give him a bit more of a calmness. And the fur on the muzzle is a bit beard-like and thicker, perhaps giving him a bit of a more mature look. I’m always surprised by the faces of both the animals and people in this series of paintings, as they come to life on their own, as I don’t have an exact plan of what they will look like. They reveal themselves to me slowly, as I paint, and I’m always pleasantly surprised with the end results, when I know that the characters that were meant to be have emerged from my painting.

The second character was only introduced to you in a past blog post as a flash of red hair. So here is a glimpe of her before the fiery hair was added:

The frizz before the fire

I start off with a layer of thinned paint, to block in colours and form a base that I will add to. The thing that I love about oil painting is the translucence of the medium, as building up layers of colour that allow the colours below to shine through give the paintings that much more depth and life. Often times, because of the layering of different flat patterns and rendered areas, the hair is the last thing I will paint. So I knew I was finished when I painted that last wisp of red hair flying in the sky.

set fire

Painting hair is actually a really great way for me to finish off my pieces, as I usually start with the background, which is loosely painted, and then move onto the faces, which are very small and detailed, followed by the patterns, which are strict with the graphic lines and flat colours. To finish off on the hair, which more often than not in this series has been curly or a little bit wild, is actually really fun!

And yes…the title of this blog post is also another hint about this painting, as well as a great Morrissey song!

She Will Be The Death of You

Burning bright

I’m going to do a bit of a slow reveal with this painting. I think it’s finished. Here’s a little bit to tide you over until I have some more photos to show.

A sneak peek...

The title of this post is a hint too…

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