artistic growth

Superchicks – Still Available.

Full report on the show still to come, but here’s what’s still up for grabs. First, the metalflake paintings:

And then the sketches (all 8×10 inches, $50 apiece):

If there’s something you’ve got your eye on, let me know ASAP (prices do not include shipping). And if you’re interested in commissioning something you don’t see here, also let me know.

Thank you and goodnight.


Han Shot First: the Official Report.

HSF-Slideshow

When I was growing up, my dad and I used to go to movies together all the time. One night he asked if I wanted to go see something called “Star Wars”. Neither of us knew anything about it, but we decided to give it a shot anyway. The next day at school, kids were absolutely losing their shit over the movie. There just weren’t any other topics.

Not long afterwards, I read an interview with George Lucas in Starlog magazine. All I remember from it now is that Lucas intended to make three trilogies, and only R2D2 and C3P0 would appear in all nine movies.

So in effect, it was their story.

Many (and I mean, many) years and thousands of miles later, I decided on a whim to do a pair of paintings featuring the two droids, just to have a couple of large-format showpieces on hand. I didn’t know at the time that we were on the verge of a brand new installment in the Star Wars franchise; I just wanted to paint some robots. Once that started, I realized I wanted to paint stormtroopers. And landspeeders. And starfighters.

And villains.

It all grew pretty organically from there, till I had the makings of a new brand show on my hands. And that show happened the night of Thursday, December 17th, at EXP Restaurant.

(EXP, for the record, is one of my favourite venues. Excellent lighting (plus the option of having a slideshow), a crowd that really gets my art, great food… you get the idea.)

The day of the 17th, it seemed like everything was taking much longer than it should have – packing up to go to EXP, hanging the paintings, processing the files for the slide show, getting home and back to shower and change. Nothing went wrong per se; time just wasn’t on my side. Of course it was raining, so there were transit delays. By the time things really kicked off, I was a bundle of nerves. But that’s usually the case. And once I’m at the venue for the night and the paintings are up, the pressure generally eases off – particularly once there’s a drink in my hand.

So.

I got back to EXP around 6:00PM. People were already waiting patiently, despite my tardiness.

Looking back on it now, the rest of the night feels like a movie montage or highlight reel. People just kept showing up, and for the first few hours it was tricky to actually have a lengthy conversation with anybody. Staying focused in these situations is a challenge; there’s just so much to take in. I’m sure there must be someone I didn’t get to talk to at all – and if that’s the case, you have my heartfelt apologies.

(Once again I never thought to take photos of the festivities. So what you’re seeing in the slideshow at the top of the page is more a means of summing up the process of putting the show together.)

I got to meet a bunch of new people, which for me is the best part of putting on an art show. I’m a social creature by nature, and new friendships mean a lot.

Less than a week later, I finally saw The Force Awakens, which brought it all home for me. The first thing I realized was that every theory I’d read or formulated prior to seeing the movie was bullshit. And I’ve never had another movie push so many of my buttons so well. On the way home I wanted to walk up to random people on the street and scream “Star Wars!!” It’s a true love letter to the original trilogy (and to the collective childhoods of the original viewers).

Which, of course, was my intent with Han Shot First. I can’t begin to explain how much those movies shaped my consciousness, so it was nice to work some of that out artistically.

Now it’s a brand new year, and I’m planning to see The Force Awakens again soon. You should, too.
*********************
And without further ado, I’d like to thank some people:

My dad, Frank Ricketts, who started the ball rolling way back when.

Brian Vidovic, for providing the venue and generally being a prince among men. And the staff at EXP for their heroic efforts (especially with regards to the Commander Shepherd’s Pie).

Annie Friesen, the Queen of Buttons.

Charlie Ritchie, who provided some much-needed and unintentional inspiration.

Holly Morrison, for her continued support of my art career.

Opus Art Supplies, Michael’s, and DeSerres.

Meghan Kilner, Edi Mange, Lori Kittelberg, Barbara Sweeney, Alec Von, Michelle Bischoff, Chris (whose last name I never got. I hope your friend liked the painting), Kyle Reid, Marga Lopez, Shamil Meghji, and Dawn Danger.

Rachael Taylor, for representing the Empire.

Jay Holtslander, who came to the show twice in the same evening.

Cailan Fox, who has now attended four consecutive art shows – no small feat when you’re barely a year old. But then, he attended his first show while he was still in the womb, so he had a slight headstart.

Michael Fashionista and Dani Heavenor, who went the extra mile and came to the show in costume.

Cristina Weir, who arrived directly from the seven-movie Star Wars marathon, and then went for pulled pork poutine with me afterwards.

Jack MacKinnon, Daniel Heim, and Steve Robinson, fellow veterans of many a battle.

Adam Carlson, Rachael’s mom, Andrew Wong, George Smeltzer, Donna & Dan Fox, Alan Chuck, Shona Massey, Laurie Casey, Salisha Miles, Chris, Jonathan Franco, and Mark Sweeney.

Jill Sinclair, Alison Tedford, and Todd Hancock for the free publicity.

My hat is off to every one of you.


Joystick – the Official Recap.

A few words of introduction: I had my first show at EXP in August of 2013, and by every possible yardstick, Ka-Pow! was a smashing success – even leading to a series of top-secret commissions by a certain prominent visual effects company. Brian Vidovic is the driving force behind the restaurant, and he and I talked back then about a potential videogame-themed show. In my head I could already see Pac-Man and Space Invaders paintings.

At that point I figured the show would focus entirely on the oldschool games. But as time went by and I talked to more and more people about it, I decided not to limit myself to any particular era.

(Especially since I did a set of Final Fantasy paintings for EXP earlier in 2014, and got an idea there of just how much untapped potential there was.)

Some of my previous shows have required an enormous amount of work to pull together, but this time around the process was pretty painless – two meetings (and when I say “meetings” I mean getting together for drinks), a few emails, and the pieces just fell into place.

The only tough part after that was finishing the paintings in time for the show. Which is par for the course; the final Dinosaurs piece, for instance, was finished just 3 hours before I hung it.

But I digress.

Joystick (my eleventh show) happened on kind of a shitty late-November night, and a weeknight to boot, but the turnout was still great – as were sales, thankfully. And everyone who did show up was enthusiastic and supportive. Lots of seasonal illnesses going around, which of course knocked some potential attendees out of commission. Not Donna Jaggard Fox, though. She showed up despite being extremely pregnant, and even bought a painting. Because she’s a champ.

The rest of us had a hell of a time drinking many Jameson Dark & Stormies courtesy of the always-awesome Simone Kelly, the instigator behind several previous shows’ signature cocktails. All that ginger beer made me feel like I was drinking some sort of health beverage.

The night got a little blurry there for awhile, and oddly enough, nobody thought to take many photos. Myself included.

More like an oldschool, pre-social-media sort of party.

Eventually things wound down, as things must. We had a final shot of Irish whiskey for the road, and another art show was done. By that point the rain had stopped, so a few of us wandered back to the West End together.

The next few days were spent meeting with buyers and with friends who weren’t able to make the show (and when I say “meeting”… I think you know where I’m goin’ with this).

Now. How ’bout some photos?

And finally, the obligatory but heartfelt words of thanks:

To Brian Vidovic (the master of ceremonies), Simone Kelly (the ambassador), Annie Friesen (the maker of buttons), and Chantal Michaud (the namer of names).

To Cristina Weir (who brought her parents to the show), Aida King, Kyle Reid, Meghan Kilner, Ian MacKinnon, Chris Schneider, Melissa Jones, Donna Fox (who inspired two of the paintings), Alison Tedford, Chris Magar, and Shamil Meghji, all of whom ponied up their hard-earned cash for the fruits of my labours.

To Stephanie Hogan, Scott Graham, Stu Hunter, Brenta Vatne, Jeff Hornby, George Smeltzer, Lee Harris, Jay Holtslander, Ned Tobin, Nick Salmon, Dan Fox, and Chris, who also braved the aforementioned shitty weather to show their support.

And as always, to Jaime Purgavie.


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?


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.


Ka-Pow!

Just a quick note: we’re in the process of sorting details for the next show, entitled “Ka-Pow!: The Age of Heroes”. It’s a tribute to superheroes, which, when I was a little kid, were my main reason for learning to draw.

Here’s a little sneak preview:

 

batgirl Fantastic

 

Stay tuned.


The Official Ocean Rain Recap

On Sunday, May 12th, I had the distinct pleasure of holding my sixth art show. This one broke new ground in terms of venue (the HiVE), timing and structure. And if audience reactions are any indication, in terms of the art itself.

I mixed things up some this time around – metalflake paintings without the border treatment I usually employ, less square-format pieces than usual, size and shapes I don’t usually work in. Plus a more multi-layered approach to glazing and iridescents.

And the subject really seemed to strike a chord with people.

A few visual highlights:

Buttons_P7A9994_LR

Buttons courtesy of Annie Friesen and Dottie’s Buttons.

Crowd_P7A0023_LR

Some of the fine people who showed up.

Hugs_P7A0048_LR

The long-distance traveler award goes to Jaime, who came over from Vancouver Island for the show.

Jacquie_P7A0034_LR

Team Sizzr represents.

Mesmerized_P7A0012_LR

Mesmerized.

NotAaron_P7A0030_LR

Oops. Not Aaron.

Swordfight_P7A0014_LR

In which I demonstrate a narwhal/unicorn swordfight.

Team_P7A0038_LR

All the support in the world.

Trio_P7A9999_LR

 Very serious discussion.
So I’m calling this another one for the victory column. I had an amazing day. Every time we put on another show, there’s less stress to deal with, and the process gets more streamlined.

__________________________________

A very special thank-you to:

Tess McCann, who put the pieces together.

John Watson, who documented the process.

Lyndsey MacEwen, who stepped up to bat.

Jaime Lee Purgavie, who believed.

Annie Friesen, who buttoned it all up.

Mike Watson, who drove the getaway car.

Lindsay Bayne, who wisely said “narwhal!”

Cindy McShane, Karina Halle, Kate MacDonald, and Lyndsey Locke, who bought the paintings.

Aaron Cruikshank, Eve Rickert, Margarete Hernandez, and Alan Cheung from the HiVE, who gave me the opportunity.

Heather Prost, Jess Couture, Meghan Kilner, Kyle Reid, Jenn Derksen, Steve Kinsey, Scott Graham, Ian McKinnon, Katie Moran, Jacquie Clarke, Cheryl Cheeks, Kitty Nichols, and Mike C., who kept the faith.

Tom Odell and Lucy Schwartz, who provided the musical portion of the (very) exclusive afterparty.

Paul Keelan, who supplied my ticket.

Christy McNeil, Julia Gaetz, and Amanda West, who all made valiant efforts.

Jack Daniel, for service above and beyond the call of duty.

(Photos courtesy of John Watson and Imagemaker Photographic Studio.)


T-Shirt Tuesday – Manta Ray Edition

First off, thanks to everybody for their patience regarding the Ocean Rain show. We’ve tentatively settled on a date for the opening: Sunday, May 12, and we hope to make the official announcement any day now, once the last few details have been sorted.

And secondly, it’s Tuesday again, so it’s time for a new shirt:

 

Manta_TShirt

 

 

For sale in my RedBubble store.


T-Shirt Tuesday – Narwhal Edition

Sensing a lot of pro-narwhal sentiment lately, I decided to include one in the Ocean Rain show (more on this very soon, trust me). And of course, I figured it should be a shirt, too:

 

Narwhal_TShirt

 

 

You can find it here in my RedBubble store.