PORTFOLIO is neither “a best of” collection or a showcase of every art piece ever produced by the artist. Self-actualization takes time, causes mistakes, encourages misdirection, and then leads to reflection.
Child art is not childish. The amount of attention given towards detail is the same as if it were from an accomplished super-realist painter. The difference is that the conveying of the idea, the emotion, or the message is not over burdened with an obsession towards technique and style. Intellectualizing can be a barrier. Retrieving that lost honesty is a challenge.
Both ENGINE and SHOWTIME are long forgotten pieces rediscovered on “old school” slide film. The insecurity of a young artist that bought into the popular opinion that talent is about “painting as real as a photograph” is apparent.
These artworks were inspired by the photorealism of Chuck Close and John Salt. The goal was to mimic in paint or graphite the photographic nuances caused by the camera lens. The object photos were from a 70’s HOT ROD magazine and hopefully any copyright infringements will be forgiven. After all, they were student (university) works and besides, they are currently decorating the bottom of a landfill site in Winnipeg.
The term realism seems to coincide with the ability to create the illusion of exact detail. However, in a way, being realistic is an exercise in abstraction. Enlarging an area of detail reveals a juxtaposed collection of lines and shapes. For example, reflective surfaces consist of shapes each with their own colour. The colour may be solid or a subtle gradation. Furthermore, it does not matter if the colour is invented or duplicated from what is actually seen. The illusion still works. The same can be said using grey scale values. BRASS and DENTED CAN attest to this theory.
The perception of how we see ourselves is often different from what everyone else may see, thus the challenge of the self portrait. KENORA is a “selfie” of the artist in his early 20’s. The photorealism technique is obvious. The choice of image was “tongue in cheek.” The picture was irrelevant because the concern of the artist was the method which involved a single gridded photo meticulously duplicated in oils. In other words, the photograph is the image. The problem with the specificity in the photo-realism approach is that all artworks tend to look the same.
An experiment in doing 5 minute self portrait sketches daily over a 2 month period revealed some interesting results. Each sketch looked like the artist yet didn’t. The effects of mood, health, fatigue, even weather altered facial features albeit slightly. WINNIPEG MAN. is the artist in his mid 30’s. The sunglasses are the same from KENORA by the way. The use of multiple photo references combined with life sketches led to the development of a more personalized style.
It can be argued that every image, structure, or object ever conceived tells a story. For an artist hung up on illustrating illusions of reality, this concept can seem like a great revelation when finally acknowledged. In LHOOQ, the license plate plays homage to Duchamp and Dadaism. GOAL LINE is a Canadian moment inspired by Ken Danby’s “In the Crease.” ONCE UPON A TIME evokes a fond memory of a childhood fairytale.
The story should dominate over the method. Images can be assemblages of select details that merge, morph, or remain isolated. Life sketches or photo references are less depended upon. Accidents become opportunities for new techniques to be invented. The idea does not require a preset path thus encouraging more intuitive, visceral decision making during the process. WAITING ROOM and SNOWSUIT LANDSCAPE are early examples.
To portray an emotion is an exercise in abstraction. The MIGRAINE SERIES is an experimental collection using crayon on art board ( shown) or latex paint and the language of dissecting lines and layered colours to convey the narrative. The popular tool used by a child artist, ironically again, is used by the adult.