Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tom Thomson where are you?

I've been reading a fair about Tom Thomson's life and about the group of seven activities during 1918-1928. I went to visit the historic Studio Building last week on Severn street.

It's the building Harris had commissioned in which the group painted regularly. Tom's cabin which was originally near to the building, was moved to the grounds of the McMichael Gallery in Kleinberg The front windows of the building have been changed.

It would be nice to work in the building while working on this show for the spring. Perhaps I'll investigate space availability.


MONTREAL BY NIGHT 24x30 Acrylic on Canvas 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010


PHILADELPHIA 36x48 Acrylic on canvas 2010

Materiality of what?!

In working on merging elements of landscape painting and geometric abstraction, I've come up against this word 'materiality'. Its not a new word, but rather an incessant itch as it reeks of all that is superficial in the art world. The idea that art, or more specifically, painting, should ever been about it's flatness really just got a lot of people to take a good long ride for nearly 50 years. I get it. I disagree with it and I think it's the kind of navel-gazing that leads artist to their own death. in short - stupid, arbitrary and insincere.

I remember reading Claude Tousignant quotes about objectifying paint and how 'the only thing left was paint', but Tousignant was painting sound waves in circles. that's not abstract. that's a real science so it's referring to something. It's a visualization of the way sound waves move so it fails to meet the requirements set that it can't be referring to anything. I think it's kinda silly.

Chris Dorosz, was using globs of paint and stinging them along vinyl thread and the globs, hung in consecutive rows like beaded curtains were making up pixilated images of his parents living room. I've always been fascinated with the creating of an image by using other images, but I like the DIY aesthetic. If it's machine made there s something too dehumanizing about it... anyway...

So I was laying in bed this morning listening to Little Mermaid, (yes, that's what the Kopfensteiner-Fowler house hold listens to in the morning) and I was thinking of the Dali painting of the artist and the water and the cats all flying through the air and it occurred to me that the bucket of water was frozen in time... if this was down with paint, it would have a similar effect.

One of the things that I find a little silly about this so called theory about post modernist painting is that it takes an artist applying the paint to the surface and the surface is flat. That's what the definition of painting or 'a painting' is. yet, these artists are going off about the materiality of paint and their concerns or their explorations of it. by creating these thickly laid painted canvases that push in to low level relief sculptures is into kinda defying this whole notion of flatness? is this idea dead?

meanwhile, back to the bed and little mermaid - so take paint cans, like pollack did and throw the paint in the air and while it's in the air, photographic it using the same technology using to do all those cool matrix stunt effects. cool so far? anyway, then take those images and build a 3d digital model of the paint in motion and then use that model to build up a to scale sculpture of the paint in motion, but frozen in time.

See, the way I see it, is this notion of action painting, with people like Pollock, you get the motion two-dimensionally. you get the end result of his actions. where it lands on the paint, but what you are missing is the action it took to get it there. it is the surface that is the end of the story - but where is the rest of the story? Where is the actual action. maybe I've lost it here...

what I'm seeing is a room with a sculpture in it that is paint, seemingly frozen in time that one can walk around and think about the nature of paint, which goes back to this idea of materiality... and with it, the reaction of how gravity works on the paint.. but whats interesting is that the paint would react differently depending on the spread at which its thrown... so look at the paint being thrown fast or slowly... it could kind of have a tendril effect through the air, like smoke or food dye in water.

so the music ends and I'm feeling pretty and I have to go into the shower and Rick kinda half listens to what I'm talking about because I usually ramble and he's used to it, but I still think it's a good idea. will I ever do it? I dunno. has it been done before. - probably... I haven't checked... I just think it makes a good illustration of paint in motion without the use of a landing or an end place and again I think it speaks to the material itself... it's a subjectification of paint in motion... I dunno - I just think walking into a room with a Pollock style sculpture that's floating in the air would be cool to look at and it would change as you waled around it... all those paint lines intersecting...

one last thought: throw two brightly coloured streams of paint at each other and then build a sculpture of that... SPASH!

...Fibreglass? individual droplets.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Scopecreeping the Landscape

I've been doing some free association and research lately about Canada, the land and the Group of Seven. As I get my nose into a multitude of texts I'm finding myself mentally swimming in information. I'm certainly not drowning in it, but like the Canadian landscape, I recognize that it could at any moment take me to places that may not be safe to go alone.

It does seem that the land really does dominate in Canada. As much as the abstract painters of Montreal's 1950s are attractive and have new roots, when we think of Canada, we are branded with early images of French and English explorers. I guess that's because Canada at 143 years old, is a relatively new country compared to, say, France that has been around for over a thousand years -- or is it? Canada's official age is very Euro-centric that eclipses Canada's richer history. Often Canada is considered as bilingual, that is to say it is French and English, both European languages. Before that it was called KANATA by the natives, and how long were they here? Some say a staggering 40,000 years. Not that young. A horseshoe crab fossil was found in Manatoba two years ago that suggests shallow oceans about a half a billion years ago. So its a no-brainer on who came first here. The land rises victorious!

I think of Canada, and Cartier touching down in 1535 and dig further. Reading of Norsemen and early eskimo and Dorset culture and the nomadic behavior is where my eyebrow goes up. It's the land dictating to the people where and when to be. They are hunting and fishing and gathering seasonally and it's this same behavior that has dominated Canada from its pre-european settlers through to present day. One need not look any further than the ice-shack villages of rural Quebec to see how the land dictates where the people are and when and then what behavior and culture come from that. Again, the land dominates.

It gets me thinking about how the people in Canada have artistically interpreted the land and how it's interpretation has been ritualized. ....but that's for another day...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


KOI Acrylic on Canvas 2010


I've been working on a painting of Philadelphia for a couple weeks now. It's been a slow pace. I'm not sure if it's the size of the canvas vs. the level of detail or the all beige and grey tones, but I'll be glad to get the stage where I'm putting in whites and shipping it of to the client in... wait for it... Philadelphia.

Philadelphia map.

Here are the palettes:

Philadelphia 1.

Philadelphia 2.

I hope to be done this week but at this rate it'll like not get done until mid next week.