30 YEARS OF PAINTING!
Wide Open Spaces May 1981, 24" x 26", acrylic on canvas
This month 30 years ago I was just finishing up High School at West Kildonan Collegiate when I painted the above work. Nobody at school ever really saw my work nor did I ever really show it. In my last half of grade 12 I only had half a day of school. I suppose I spent some of that free time doing art at home or at the Forum Art Institute. No sooner than I finished the painting a dentist by the name of Dr. Sidney Fleisher bought it for 150 bucks. He had lent me a set of teeth for reference after not being able to find an illustrative brochure with a perfect set for me to draw upon. So he said when I had the painting done and upon returning the teeth he wanted to see it. He had a hundred paintings up in his practice making it an alright place to get dental work done.
So now I will show you the three paintings that came before Wide Open Spaces.
Communicative Travel November 1980, 20" x 20", acrylic on paper canvas
This is my first painting I did while my brother and I enrolled in painting classes at the Forum Art Institute under the tutelage of Nickola Bejelejac in the old CPR Station building. What a place that was! Everyone was was twice our age or older. Some were really old by our perspective and have been painting there for years. But boy could some of these folks paint. And there were all sorts too from smooth surrealism by Dan Gregg (one of my favorites) or the rich impasto scenes or the organic flows from a syringe needle by Vicki McBain. This wasn't really a place to learn to paint as much as it was a place to hang out to paint. I learnt by watching everyone. Yes the instructor had lessons if you wanted or cared, or you just went on your own pace and Nick was there to question and guide you to a finished work. You could not sign a piece until he said so. That's funny.
This first painting was made from a first assignment which my brother and I both thought was pretty cool. It consisted of drawing a series of four squares then adding various lines in each one to divide the space. We then chose our favorite, put it aside, then added more lines to the remaining three squares. Then once again choosing our favorite and putting it aside and continuing to add more lines in the two left and so on until you were left with four drawings you liked. Then you colored them going through this same method of pleasing elimination. So by the end you had four colored drawings that you liked. But now, you had to choose one and do a painting of it.
But how do you paint? Nobody showed us. You had to figure it out for yourself. If this first painting was going to be a jumping in the deep end learning experience, then I though if I was going to learn something I would give myself a challenge and try to think about the various ways that I could possibly do shading with acrylic paint. Earlier on when I was working with grahite, it was really important for me to know how to shade to give objects a 3 dimensional quality, so I wanted to learn to do this with paint. In this one painting I tried three different blending styles. Wet on wet, thinning with water and dry brushing. I liked dry brushing the most and is the method I would mostly use in years to come.
Metal Stones December 1980, 24" x 36" acrylic on canvas
This is my second painting finished just before my 17th birthday. I still really like it! I had been interested in science fiction, fantasy, surrealism and architecture so I guess it kind of got all rolled into this one. I saw a picture of the ruined buildings in a National Geographic magazine and it really sparked the idea. From old to new and having the juxtaposition of the architectures.
Hope For One April 1981, 20" x 30", acrylic on illustration board
This is my third painting. I was really quite a loner in school and pretty quiet to. Though my friend Sam was always around and tried to crack my multiple shells I pretty much kept to myself and my thoughts. It was always the end for me in many ways and I suppose this painting illustrates this inner feeling of isolation and of being trapped and held onto, of being at the end of my rope or at the end of the world. I suppose that if I was going to be stuck here, there was still hope for my spirit. "Your spirit shall set you free." One of the first artists that I loved and felt a connection to was Roger Dean of Yes album cover art fame. I had his first book called Views and I loved it, I loved it, I loved it. There is some of him in the rocks and land.