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State of the Art Address, August 2014

Hey. You remember me, right? I’m that guy – used to blog on a regular basis. But somewhere over the past couple years, as social media continually reinvented itself, I got out of the habit.

I didn’t really miss the outlet, because I started writing in a journal, but ultimately that’s a one-sided conversation. And there’s a lot going on in my life, so I figured I should talk more openly about it, and at length. Therapeutic AND educational. So consider this a sort of state-of-the-union address – except there is no union, just me. Solo.

Hence the title of this post.

If you’re following my art, you might have noticed a new direction in recent months – watercolour. Totally unplanned, but it’s been an interesting journey.

In particular I love the chaotic side of it. Embracing the random. Letting the paint flow where it wants to go, and then capitalizing on the patterns that emerge. Which, if you ask Albert Einstein, is the second rule of work: from discord, find harmony. Kind of makes me feel a certain nobility of purpose.

My thought is that I’d like to structure next year’s art schedule to alternate between metalflake exhibitions and watercolour ones. This’ll give me a nice degree of variety, and as I work on overlapping series, it’ll give me more time to put the metalflake shows together. I’m hoping to eliminate those mad pre-show thrashes where I’ve got paintings drying on top of the stove and the toaster oven, and propped against the baseboard heaters in the livingroom.

Tentative plan for 2015, then: a watercolour show in February, most likely based on tropical birds. In April, the Skulls N’ Roses metalflake show I’ve been talking about, to coincide with the annual Tattoo and Culture show. Another watercolour jam in the summer, and then to close out the year, an as-yet-undetermined metalflake exhibition.

Potentially, something in the pin-up vein, but using 70s glam rock iconography. Platform boots, big sunglasses, hot pants, and so on.

As for this year… I’ve already reported on the Koi Show, which was colossal. I haven’t really discussed the Han-and-Leia paintings I did for Industrial Light & Magic yet, but I swear I’ll get to it. There’ve been a lot of commissions, mainly, but not limited to, superheroes. At the moment I’m also working on several tattoo designs, a Rush-themed goalie mask, and of course I just put the Bugs show to bed (haven’t done a write-up on that one yet; it’s still too fresh for me to have any real perspective on it). And there are currently 8 metalflake commissions in the final stages of completion.

It’s been an interesting year, though. Those close to me know my life’s been pretty turbulent this decade, so in 2014 I’ve been making a conscious effort to destress and unclutter. All this time spent drawing and painting has been enormously helpful in that regard, giving me time for some much-needed introspection and reflection.

One other tangible benefit to all of this: my linework is cleaner than ever, and my hands are the steadiest they’ve ever been. They used to shake so much that I blogged about it. Not any more.

Oh, a few more things:

1. The final show of the year will be about videogames.
2. All year I’ve been doing the research for my next calendar, so I’ll soon start designing and sketching the motorcycles. The premise is that all the bikes in the calendar came from the same fictitious custom shop.
3. I’ve added a bunch of new merch to my RedBubble store: pillows, tote bags, and duvet covers.
4. There are still a few Bugs pieces left, too. You can see them here.

So that’s me. What’s happening with you?

Bugs Show – What’s Left.

So Bugs was another fun show – a bit more intimate than the last few shows, but we definitely had fun. Full report to come, but in the meantime, people have been asking which pieces are still available, so here they are.

Each piece is 8×10 inches, and $70 unframed. Price doesn’t include shipping charges. So if you’ve got your eye on one, drop me a line: howyadoin@gmail.com

Also, if there’s something you don’t see here, let me know anyway. I’m open to doing custom pieces for people if they’re so inclined.

Cheers.

 

The Summer 2014 Studio Sale

If you’ve been following my art career, you know I’m a bit on the prolific side – I love to paint, and I have a lot to say. So it may not come as a total surprise that I’ve got a fair number of paintings on hand at the moment. I’d go so far as to call it a backlog, even.

And I work out of a small studio, so space is at a premium (can you see where this is going?).

I sat looking at all these pieces today, and decided I need to move some of them. Which is where you come in – I’m marking these down so I can free up some space, and you can score some art bargains.

Without further ado, then, here’s what’s for sale:

If you have your eye on a piece, drop me a line at howyadoin@gmail.com and refer to the sale in the email title.

The fine print:

Prices are in effect till Friday, August 1, 2014. Prices do not include shipping.

The Koi Show – the Official Recap

So there I was one Friday night, wondering what to do with myself. And I thought, hmmm, how ’bout an art show?

All I’d need is a few paintings, a lot of cool people, and a big room with booze, a pool table, and a 12-foot leather couch.

Also, a killer soundtrack. ‘Cause that’s a must for any Friday night.

Okay, so that’s not exactly how it went. The true story is about friendship, paint, booze, and serendipity.

One night back in March, Ned Tobin came by with a bottle of wine and some ideas about ink and watercolour. We’d never hung out and painted together before, so we figured it was high time to try. With no specific agenda in mind, he started several of his animal paintings, and I did two quick paintings – a tree frog, and then, somewhat randomly, a koi.

I’ve dabbled in watercolours over the years, but primarily just to create backgrounds for my digital illustrations. And that’s something I’ve done a lot less of since the metalflake paintings took over my life. So I’ve gotten used to a fairly lengthy process for painting, as layers are applied that often need several days to dry. Even longer in the winter months, when the weather is cold and the humidity is high.

These two new pieces were a revelation. I could easily take one from rough concept to finished piece in a single night.

Also, the response was universally positive, which gave me the idea that maybe I could do more of these. And koi are pretty exciting visually, unlike some animals. To me they look like custom cars in a way – wild colours and pattern, and shiny, silvery surfaces. I painted a few more, and a few more after that. Eventually I started wondering if this was a potential art show. Once I decided that it was, the whole process just flowed. Which could be construed as some sort of metaphor for the actual painting process, if you’re a fan of symbolism.

But all that is just backstory. What happened on May 23rd is what really matters.

Many people showed up, and frequently with friends in tow – this was easily the biggest turnout since Hot Pink. I met a LOT of new people, which is always a pleasure. It’s great to see first-timers at a show, especially when there are so many of them. In that respect, this was probably my most successful show to date (obviously I love seeing old friends as well, and there were plenty of those around. There’s a core group of loyal people who come to almost every show and do so much to support my art).

On a related note, this was the first time I had family on hand for a show, and I can’t even begin to explain how much that meant to me. My aunt and uncle even bought a painting.

Speaking of which, I laid the paintings out in chronological order, and it was cool to see how my process had developed over the two months I spent creating the koi. Even though the show is over, I still haven’t entirely stopped painting them. I’ve already completed one new commission, and there’s another waiting in the wings (there are also plans afoot for a piece inspired by the fish in Fantasia). I’ll definitely do more watercolour shows in the future, too. My thought at the moment is that I could have one watercolour exhibition and three metalflake ones each year.

We’ll see what happens, of course. As an artist I try to be open to new directions and opportunities. But overall this was a very, very positive experience, and I’m not just saying that because people plied me with alcohol.

Damn, that was a lot of wordiness. How ’bout a few photos?

Jill & Nicola_BoXxPRFIQAAsm18 jill sinclair

Nicola, me, and Jill.

Jewel & Buzz_2545

And here I am with Jewel and Buzz.

Explain_2519

Explaining something very important, no doubt.

Playlist_2449

My favourite part of the ill-fated playlist.

Features

Serious amenities.

With Jeff_10367122_10152436863595928_n

Cheers.

Cartoony

The art and some of the art lovers.

Cathy

Cathy’s self-portrait.

13&14 17&19 18&20 23&24      Group_1904023_n kayla macAonghais   Room_10268417_10152436863775928_n

Now come the liner notes. First off I’d like to thank Ned Tobin, Amanda West (who was kind enough to hook me up with the venue), John Watson, Annie Friesen, Mike Watson, Jill Sinclair, and Cathy Browne for their contributions. Each of you was crucial to this show, and my hat is off to you.

Next are the patrons, for putting their money where their mouths are: Aida King, Steve Cavers, Donna-Jay Crowe, Kirsten McKenzie, Evan Downie, Jenn Ready, Kathy & Bill Taylor, Jeff Hornby & Cass Wilson, Jewel Staite, Briar Sexton, Nicola Rueschmann, Krista Falconer, Shannon Nilson, Lori Kittelberg & George Smeltzer, Kyle Reid, Kayla MacAonghais, and Samantha Gilmour (incidentally, there are still a handful of paintings available. More details here).

Generally I manage to keep a list of everybody who attends the shows, but this time it got a bit overwhelming at times. So if you were there and I forgot to mention you… well, it’s just an oversight on my part (but drop me a line and I’ll update this post ASAP). Here’s everyone I haven’t already mentioned:

Cindy Busby, Kirst Ostapowich, Alan C., Chris Schneider, Don Falconer, Meghan Kilner, Shaun, Melissa Jones, Matt Bosch, Craig, Chris, Paul Erwin & Alison Tedford, Jason, Jenn Derksen, Katie Moran, Adam Bradley Carlson IV, Lindsay Bayne, Pardeep, Ian MacKinnon, Jill Plotnikoff, Steve Kinsey, Keith Murray, Brad Presta, Cristina Weir, Mila Katana, Jay Holtslander, Bria Hunter… and a handful of other new friends whose names escape me at the moment.

And finally, from the Department of Advice and Support: Jaime Lee Purgavie, Blair Pritchett, Tess McCann, Katherine Houston, Kate MacDonald, and Opus Art Supplies on Granville Island.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Bret Taylor
Vancouver

P.S. Photos by Jill Sinclair, Cathy Browne, Jewel Staite, Kayla MacAonghais, Jeff Hornby, Krista Falconer (plus a couple of my own).

The Koi Show – What’s Left.

Expect a full report on the show in a few days, once I get all the photos and info sorted. But in the meantime, a few people have been asking if there are any pieces still available.

And the answer is, yes:

 

Each piece is 8×10 inches on 140-lb. coldpress paper. The price is $70 each, unframed. If you’ve got your eye on one, drop me a line at howyadoin@gmail.com

Dark Valentine Recap

01 Calendar

So my first show of 2014 is finished. Dark Valentine was another stellar experience for me, of course – these events mean more to me than I could ever really explain. People from different parts of my life (some who I had never even met before), all brought together by my art? After eight shows, that still floors me at times.

There was a great turnout again at Score on Davie – including several first-timers, which is always nice. It’s great to see the Gospel of Metalflake spreading far and wide.

02 Party People 01 03 Party People 02

Keith from Score came up with another delicious, powerful cocktail for the show, and this one even topped the Howyadoin Whiskey Sour from last time. Here’s my first Broken Heart of the night:

04 Broken Heart_0185

Irish whiskey (thanks to the amazing Simone Kelly, Jameson Ambassador par excellence), ginger liqueur, lemon juice, and a hint of maple syrup. Seriously, you gotta try one of these sometime.

Or maybe two, even.

Should I actually talk about the art? Yeah, I guess I should. Here’s the centerpiece of the show, a painting called “Once Upon a Wine”. It features three of the four main characters: Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella:

05 OnceUponaWine_P7A9857

(In researching the fairytale characters for the show, I came across all sorts of interesting trivia, and some pretty dark versions of their stories. The sheer amount of murder in the original stories is kind of astounding. So I came up with an overall narrative for the show, tying several of these tales together and bringing the evil Queen of Hearts (she’s kind of a serial evil stepmother) into the mix as a sort of catalyst. Along the way the characters began to establish their own identities in my head, shaping the final paintings in ways I hadn’t anticipated.)

Here are a few of the paintings on the wall:

06 Group 02 07 Group 03

And here’s the evil Queen in all her reflected glory, in a piece titled “Who’s the Fairest?”:

08 Queen of Hearts_P7A9858

The other key painting in the show is this one, “Awakening”:

09 Awakening_P7A9859

The significance of this one changed several times during my creative process, as the story seemed to rewrite itself. So, hearing people’s reactions and interpretations has been fascinating. And those interpretations add their own layers of meaning, as well. Art should, after all, be an ongoing dialogue.

And finally, the night drew to a close:

10 End of the Night

I was feeling a bit rough the next day, but Simone treated me to lunch after I took the paintings down, and after that pulled pork mac & cheese hotdog, I recovered completely. As Valentine’s Days go, that was a pretty good one. Especially once this magic elixir entered the picture:

11 Jameson_0197

The End.

P.S. In the credit-where-credit-is-due department, I would like to thank these fine people for all they do:

Jewel Staite, for suggesting the concept to me in the first place, back in December (and for buying the Queen of Hearts). It makes me very happy knowing this painting is now hers.

Simone Kelly, for lunch, whiskey, and being an all-around epic human being.

Keith Corbett from Score, for pulling all of this together, providing the venue, and for excellent, excellent cocktails.

Bon Bahar, Amanda West, Cathy Browne, Meghan Kilner, Krista Falconer, Donna Jaggard, Dan Udey, Corrina Carlson, Adam Carlson, Steve Graham, Steve Kinsey, Chrissy Watson, John Watson, George Smeltzer, Nikkie Milne, Melissa Jones, Kyle Reid, Mike Watson, Aaron MacDonald, Scott McLeod, Lyndsey MacEwen, Stephanie Hogan, Jordana Manchester, Holly D’herty, Ian MacKinnon, Lindsay Bayne, Patrick Masse, Theresa Barteluk, Johnny Warkentin, Geoff Gautier, Cynthia Griffiths, Matt Bosch, Jay Holtslander, Katherine Houston.

Annie Friesen, for the buttons and the creative support.

Derek Bolen, for instigating.

Shannon Nilson, for naming “Once Upon a Wine”.

And Jamie Lee Purgavie, for always believing.

(Photos courtesy of imagemaker photographic studio, Bon Bahar, Jordana Manchester, and Simone Kelly.)

7 Art Shows and What I’ve Learned.

Metal Flake

My first solo show. I went into it practically blind, and it wasn’t till a week before it opened that I had someone to help me out with the planning. Fortunately it all came together nicely anyway, though.

What I learned:

• that it feels amazing to bring strangers together.
• that brown is a tricky colour to glaze with.
• that not everything will sell.
• that good lighting is crucial.
• that the private afterparty is the best part of a show.

Metalflake Remix

Eight months later, I tried it again. I put on a live-art show, but also had a variety of new and old metalflake pieces on hand, plus a pretty random assortment of non-metalflake pieces.

What I learned:

• that it’s impossible to go slow when you’re painting in front of a crowd.
• that if there are metalflake and non-metalflake pieces in a show, nobody will look at the non-metalflake ones.
• that consistency of style and theme are crucial.

Dinosaurs

Armed with a new agent and a new series of paintings, this was my first show with some actual strategy behind it. We had an all-ages afternoon portion, and then an adults-only afterparty. We also had a dinosaur cake, buttons, and even costumes (some people really get into a good theme).

What I learned:

• that everybody loves dinosaurs.
• that eight hours is a long damn time to be standing and schmoozing.
• that a lot can change in a year.
• that cheap masking tape from the dollar store is the only way to go.

Hot Pink

This show was a joint effort between Alex Stewart and I, based on a pin-up girl theme. Everybody involved (and it was a sizable crew) really brought their A-game. The show was a smash, and a real event.

What I learned:

• that everybody loves pin-up girls.
• that sanding the edges of a painting before glazing adds so much.
• that audience participation is the best form of publicity, and people love to dress up.
• that collaborating with another artist is an amazing experience.
• that spraypaint is your friend.
• that baseboard heaters are pretty useful for drying paintings.
• that under the right circumstances you can get away with almost anything.
• that I don’t have pre-show jitters anymore.

Ocean Rain

A much longer show (it ran for 3 months), a brand new venue, and overall a serious change of pace. The opening had a relatively small turnout, but that was okay. Nearly all of the paintings were sold before they were even hung at the venue – some before they were even finished.

What I learned:

• that everybody loves undersea creatures.
• that putting together contracts is exhausting but educational.
• that people can and will let you down, but other people will raise you back up.
• that blues and greens are inherently more intense colours.
• that octopi are incredibly hard to draw.
• that I shouldn’t schedule an art show opening for Mother’s Day.
• that X-Acto blades are sharp.
• that leaving the biggest, most crucial painting in a show till last isn’t such a bright idea.
• that borders aren’t necessary.

Ka-Pow!

Another new venue, and many new people were in attendance. Superheroes seemed like a natural fit for my art style and process, and sure enough, this was easily my most successful show to date (particularly if you factor in all the spin-off commissions I got from it). Also, the food was astounding, and once again I was treated like a star. This show opened all sorts of doors for me, too.

What I learned:

• that everybody loves superheroes.
• that putting on a show by myself isn’t actually that hard.
• that going hog wild with colour is a liberating experience.
• that light refraction is what makes the colours really pop.
• that mica flake gel is a gamechanger.
• that lipstick on your forehead is a great conversational gambit.
• that people really do care about Green Arrow.

Cocktails

My fourth and final venue for 2013, and one well-suited to the topic at hand. Everything about the experience was positive, from the formal-dress aspect, to the involvement of one of my favourite whiskeys as a sponsor. And while there were no pre-sales, I did sell half the paintings in a matter of five hours that night.

What I learned:

• that everybody loves cocktails.
• that every girl crazy for a sharp-dressed man.
• that art shows should always have signature cocktails.
• that black lava gel is a must, not just an option.
• that when the baseboard heaters just aren’t enough, the top of the toaster oven can also be pressed into service to make paintings dry faster.
• that a splash of iridescent colour under the top layer of clear is like a revolution for the eyes.
• that a venue so close to home is a godsend at the end of the show (particularly when you’re in a hurry to celebrate for another five hours).
• that pulled pork mac and cheese defies description.
• that not even Pearl Jam can keep the people who really want to be at the show from attending.

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