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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.


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.

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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:

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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:

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(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:

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

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

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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:

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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.


T-Shirt Tuesday – Seahorse Edition

And we’re back with another installment of T-Shirt Tuesday. This week’s featured shirt is another design from the upcoming Ocean Rain show, in this case, a new seahorse:

 

Seahorse_TShirt

 

 

 

And you can buy it right here.


T-Shirt Tuesday – Octopus Edition

Hey there. As you may have noticed, weekly t-shirt releases were on hiatus for awhile as we prepped for (and recovered from) Hot Pink.

But now we’re rebooting the t-shirt release program, starting with this octopus from the upcoming Ocean Rain show (more on this at a later date):

 

Octopus_TShirt

 

 

You can buy this lovely cephalopod right here in my Redbubble store.

Cheers.


Hot Pink Recap

Let me tell you the story of one amazing day. A lifetime ago (or a very short while, depending on your perspective), I had my very first solo art show.

I was half-assing my way through organizing the show till Tess McCann stepped in to offer her assistance. I would mark that as the most significant turning point in my art career to date (and of course, Tess is now my agent).

From there it’s been… I dunno, would it sound pretentious if I said it “a journey of self-discovery”?

Anyway.

We’ve spent the last year and a half experimenting and learning about art shows and art marketing, and we’ve met some incredible people along the way. And all the things we’ve learned got applied to the latest extravaganza, Hot Pink.

Now, Hot Pink has its roots in two sources: a suggestion from Alex Stewart last summer that we do a pin-up girl show together, and a request from Tess the summer before for a hot pink painting of a dancer.

Everything just gelled from there. Putting this show together was almost effortless, apart from the labour in actually creating the art itself. Many people stepped in to help promote the show, offer suggestions and their encouragement, and lend a hand in many ways.

But wait. I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Let’s backtrack. Friday night, Feb. 22. Team Hot Pink gathered at imagemaker photographic studio to hang the show. I wore my toolbelt, because I’m told it makes me more popular with the ladies:

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Alex brought along some stunning pieces. I’d been following their progress for months via social media, but it was my first time seeing most of them in the flesh.

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(I brought along a few pieces of my own, of course.)

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And in no time at all the entire show was hung, the pizza eaten, and beers drank. Waking up to sunshine the next morning was a nice omen.

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And just like that, the Big Day was upon us:

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You may have noticed the beautiful Hot Pink button in that last pic. It comes courtesy of Annie Friesen, the proprietor of Dottie’s Buttons. In addition to that button, Annie is now selling others that feature my artwork and Alex’s. We’re pretty pleased to have her on the team.

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In addition we had a major contribution from Candice Roach’s Love Your Cake business. Another great local company run by a good friend. And her cakes are mindblowing to see (or to eat, for that matter).

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My latest paintings were a hit. Several of them were sold before the show even happened. Here are the ones I’m particularly proud of:

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Aside: Agent McCann and I also donated a painting to a fundraiser by our friends at the HiVE called An Evening of Debauchery. Full of inappropriate dirty jokes, politically-incorrect comedians, burlesque performers and an artist with a… unique approach to painting, the event was held to raise money for a non-profit business incubator. In the end the painting went to Nelu Oncel, who was patient enough to let us keep the painting for a few more days so it could still be in Hot Pink.

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Alex and I also collaborated on two pieces, which is probably the creative highlight of my year so far. I started one piece that he finished, and vice versa. An incredible experience, and one I learned a lot from. Hopefully there’ll be more joint efforts from us in the future.

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And from there, things just… rolled. Many excellent friends showed up, both old and new. These pics should give you an idea of how it went:

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At midnight we wrapped things up, exhausted. Took the party to several other locales, and in the AM we were back to tear everything down. By that afternoon you’d never know there’d even been a show.

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So thanks to John Carter, Sarah Merris, Kimli Welsh, Steve Kinsey, Jeremy Ball, Amanda West, Jamie Presley and Meghan Low, Vicky Hames, Meghan Kilner, George Smeltzer and Lori Kittelberg, John Bell, John Watson, Alex Stewart, Jon Crewe, Jaime Lee Purgavie, Aimee Vuilleumier, Lyndsey McEwen, August Wiled, Chantal Michaud, everyone who wore pink to support the cause, and the incomparable Tess McCann, who once again deserves a huge round of applause for everything she’s done for me.

Photos courtesy of John Watson, Tess McCann, Alex Stewart, Heather Prost, Cathy Browne, Christy McNeil, Scott Graham, and Bret Taylor.


Available.

First off, you may have noticed the lack of a report on the Hot Pink show. Fear not; it’s happening. It’s just been.. delayed a little while I recover. Further to that, though, this particular handful of paintings is still available for purchase:

Should something here catch your eye, please contact my agent, the lovely and talented Tess McCann, and she can arrange things for you.

Thanks,
Bret Taylor
Vancouver, BC
March 2013


Sketchbook Diary Update

I’ve mentioned this before, but I picked up a nice little sketchbook from Zequenz back in the spring, and I take it with me whenever possible. I like documenting simple, cool little things when I’m visiting friends, or in a restaurant, etc. It’s become a visual diary to mark little events (and big ones too, I guess). Very nice smooth-finish paper in it, and the book will fold flat when you open it, which is nice for both drawing and scanning.

It also keeps me drawing on a regular basis, which is crucial. I’ve found over the past couple months that it’s really helped crystallize my drawing style. This actually caught me by surprise, because I’ve never really tried to find a specific style.

And yet, it seems to be happening, and it feels damn good.

Not long ago we were barbecuing at a friend’s place, and I saw a wooden giraffe that I just had to draw:

Giraffe

I definitely want to pursue more art along these lines.

And then just last week I was hanging with some other friends, watching Misfits on Netflix and pigging out on Wendy’s. At some point I looked around for something to draw, and saw an Imperial Stormtrooper helmet. These are pretty ornate pieces of design work, so there were some minor challenges to drawing one.

But I like how this turned out, and it was probably only 10-15 minutes’ work:

Stormtrooper

More to come in the future.


One Thousand Days

Unless you’re a newcomer to this site, you probably know that I recently completed a thousand consecutive days of art. Every one of those days, from January 1/2010 – October 1/2012, I drew and/or painted, without fail.

One thousand days.

As time went on, the numbers actually began to mean less and less to me. Because it was really about the journey, of course. About what I learned, where I went, how I changed.

The past few years have been challenging, to say the least. Apart from the financial hardships of the recession and its aftermath, one thing I’ve been struggling with is the lack of structure in my life (I’m a freelancer, by the way). So the added benefits to this extended art experiment are just that – structure, purpose, direction.

For a long time people were asking me what I planned to do on the final day. I considered several options, because I wanted to do something momentous. But in the end these options fell through, so I decided that the best course of action would be…

… Business as Usual.

After all, I had a show to prepare for. Paintings to finish, logistics to be sorted out, all sorts of promotional work to do. Putting on an art show is no small task.

So when I got up that morning, I did a quick little sketch, just in case:

That way if the sun exploded or we got invaded by zombies, at least I could still say I reached the 1000th day.

(Fortunately they didn’t. But hey, you never know.)

After that it was back to the metalflake dinosaur paintings. Since my T-Rex sketch from back in February was the central image in my upcoming show, I decided that finishing one of those pieces would be my best bet. And that just seemed fitting – it tied in with the show, with my calendar, and any number of other peripheral art ventures. Plus it was inspired in the first place by the person who’s made the biggest mark in my life during the Project – my Agent and former Muse.

So there you have it. One thousand days. I painted and drew a lot, I learned a lot, I sweated and bled, and I’m still standing.

Oh, and one more thing: I’m already working an art book based on the experience. Watch this space for further details.


The Big, Big Show (Fourth Time’s the Charm)

Welcome back, and thanks for joining us. It’s been a few days since the Dinosaur Show – time spent recovering and regrouping, for the most part. It seems that the bigger these events get, the more time it takes to bounce back.

And this was definitely a BIG event.

Earth-shaking, even.

The excitement all started Friday night, with a trip to imagemaker photographic studio to hang the show. This is part of the process that I always stress needlessly about, as it usually goes off without much of a hitch. In this particular case, the positioning and hanging of the paintings was a breeze; it was just the peripherals (a display for posters and calendars, for instance) that raised questions.

That night I slept well, which has never happened the night before a show till now. Come to think of it, I slept pretty well for most of the preceeding two weeks.

In the morning I was up early, running last-minute errands in the rain. We were at the studio doing last-minute setup by 1:00PM…

… and then it was showtime. My friend Cindy, who moved here recently from Ontario, snapped up the medium-sized T-Rex almost immediately after we opened the doors. Technically that was the second sale of the show, though, because John from HogShack had already spoken for one of the struttin’ T-Rex paintings.

Over the next six hours lots of people came in, often with young dinosaur fans in tow. Talked to old friends, met some people I’d previously only talked to online, sold a few paintings, and all in all had a great afternoon.

And then it was 8:00. The afterparty started.

The Agent was outfitted in a custom T-Rex top, and we also had hot pink T-Rex buttons made:

The people who got into the dinosaur theme the most, though, were Candice Roach and Danny Parker. Candice made a cake especially for the show, and Dan brought not only a T-Rex hat, but a full-on dinosaur COSTUME:

I kept thinking we’d hit the point where people were more focused on the party than the art, but then, miraculously, a few more paintings would sell. The final tally: 14 paintings sold out of a possible 17.

Did I mention there were drinks? Cake? Sandwiches and pumpkin pie cheesecake that my friend Melissa Jones so thoughtfully contributed? That people came from all over the place just for the show?

I’ve gotta say, the show of support never gets old.

Things wrapped up pretty quickly around 1:00AM. The day was done, the show a success.

Thanks, first of all, to the people who bought my paintings, posters and prints: John Lim Hing, Cindy McShane, Nic & Todd Cruickshank, Lori Kittelberg and George Smeltzer, Lindsay Bayne, Christine Warner, Geoff Gauthier, Irving Lau, Mark Crater, Candice Roach, Krista Lee, Amanda West, Donna Jay-Crowe, and all the people who bought buttons.

These lovely people couldn’t make the show (which will always happen) but were still kind enough to send along apologies and/or encouragement anyway: Chantal Michaud, Kate MacDonald, Lynn McIlwee, Jackie McCaughan, Adam & Corinna Carlson, Lyndsey MacEwen, Jewel Staite, Crystal Witty, Ceci Graber, Erin Kyle, and Jeff Hornby.

And of course, how could I forget my agent, Tess McCann? We’ve been through a lot together in the 14 months since we met, and this show actually started with her posting T-Rex cartoons on her Facebook wall in the early part of 2012. Thanks for everything, Tess. At the risk of repeating myself, this wouldn’t even be possible without your help.

(Photos courtesy of Danny Parker, Ned Tobin, Amanda West, Lindsay Bayne, Krista Lee, John Lim Hing, and John Watson.)