sketch

And then it was April.

Here we are, a quarter of the year already done. The first big show of 2013 is over (and a damn successful one it was), and two more are in the works. Longterm strategies are being developed, and new venues and opportunities being explored.

Creatively I feel incredibly positive. The ideas just won’t stop coming, I’m happier with my drawing skills than ever before, and I keep thinking of new variations on my metalflake technique. This in particular is pleasing, given that I’ve finished 102 of these paintings and currently have another 17 in the works (obviously I don’t ever want this to turn into some sort of assembly-line process; frankly I think that having assistants do the bulk of your work for you borders on the fraudulent).

With the Hot Pink show and the Christmas Metalflake series, I played around with the technique, sometimes out of necessity, and other times just out of curiosity. I did several paintings with pulverized Christmas balls worked into the strata for texture and reflectivity. And the other day it occurred to me that I could also use gold leaf in my backgrounds.

This experiment turned out even better than I’d anticipated. And it got me thinking about some other new possibilities.

A few specifics, then, before the conversation takes a turn for the personal. The Ocean Rain show, which you’ve already seen hints of, is progressing nicely. Expect an announcement regarding this very soon – we’re hoping for an early May launch date.

The show after that will most likely use superheroes and science fiction as its launching point.

After that I’d like to do something with an automotive theme, and of course we’ll be doing something Christmassy as well, in the fall (truth be told, we’ve probably got ideas for a dozen shows). Also in the fall, we’ll be releasing a book and/or calendar of T-Rex illustrations. Three of them are done already, and the Agent and I have been brainstorming on lots more.

And by this time next year I want to have my work in galleries.

So, enough business. Let’s talk about what else has been going on. Last year, as documented again and again (and AGAIN ), felt like some sort of trial to me. One trauma after another, month in, month out. By November I was a bit of a mess.

I can’t pinpoint any one specific moment when the game changed (unlike, say, in 2011), but a lot of minor victories added up to help pull me out of my funk.

And this process continued through January and February, to the point where I finally feel like I’ve gotten my groove back (I won’t lie; I was extremely worried about that, and for a long, long time). Friends and family have done their part to help, chance encounters have led to new opportunities… and inspiration? Inspiration is EVERYWHERE . I’m on fire creatively.

I’m back , baby.

Bret Taylor
Vancouver, BC
April, 2013.


Hot Pink – the Latest.

Pretty caught up in art-show excitement these days. So much so that I almost forgot about the blog.

But many amazing things are happening. Paintings are already selling, buttons have arrived, a new shirt is almost ready, sketches are being posed for, greeting cards are available, and the Hot Pink Peeler Mix playlist is nearly finished. All sorts of craziness, and definitely of the good variety.

This art-show business does actually get easier. For a long time I didn’t think that would ever happen.

Mind you, I’ve got a team behind me now, and their support and enthusiasm are pretty infectious (and it’s not just my show this time around). In fact, we’re meeting on the weekend to talk over some hush-hush, ultra-top-secret business. Just wait till you see the results. Oh, man…

Anyway, people are stepping up to bat and generally being excellent human beings. I could rave about that for hours, or about how beautiful women are keeping me informed as to what shoes and underwear (pink and/or black, obviously) they’ve bought for the show. But instead I’ll just treat you to another slideshow:

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Nine days to the big show. Anybody else as pumped for this as I am?


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:

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.


Yep, it’s true – Saturday marked the 900th day of my Thousand Days Project. Since January 1st, 2010, I’ve drawn/painted every single day, without fail. That seemed like an almost-ridiculous goal at one point, but the end is definitely in sight now.

I didn’t do anything special for Day 800, because I was well into Birthday Shenanigans Week. Day 700 was the 1st of December, and in addition to chipping away at the numerous paintings I was doing at the time, I drew a quick headshot of a beautiful blonde.

So with all that in mind, I figured that Day 900 needed something out of the ordinary -  not a metalflake painting, not a dinosaur, not a sketchbook diary piece. But what?

Meanwhile, one particular illustration of mine has lain dormant for a long time – since September 15th of 2011, to be exact. This has been a long-gestating piece. I first started it in the fall of 2010, but it kept getting set aside in favour of other projects.

The first rough iteration of it looked something like this:

As time went by I slowly got closer to finishing it. In mid-September I did the blueline pencils:

This was scanned and imported into my Photoshop document, and the base illustration was set aside on my bar, waiting for me to do the final linework in ink. Anybody who’s had a drink at my place since then has seen it sitting there, though oddly enough, I don’t recall anybody ever asking about it.

I posted an in-progress picture online the night of the 15th, and walked off to a date with destiny. My whole world changed that night, and definitely without warning. Another story for my memoirs, I guess.

And I’ve seen that illustration almost daily since the fateful night, till it got to the point where it was just part of the furniture.

Until I was finally ready to finish it.

So without further ado (or cryptic remarks), here it is, the fruits of my labour of Day 900/1000:

Bret Taylor
Vancouver, BC


Protoceratops:


Okay, now that the Metal Flake Remix show is out of the way, it’s time for…

… more dinosaurs. Spinosaurus :

(Another one I first saw in the Extreme Dinosaurs exhibit.)


It’s finally summer here in the GVRD*. And what better way to spend a summer weekend than being immersed in art?

Friday night, bring a proud, card-carrying member of the Vancouver Art gallery, I attended the Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters opening. I honestly had no idea Matisse was so prolific, much less in so many mediums. His pen-and-ink work in particular really caught my eye – the linework was beautiful, and so fluid.

It was nice to see another Van Gogh and another Renoir, too. I feel a real kinship for Vincent in particular.

Saturday was mostly spent outside in the park, barbecuing and soaking up the sun with friends. That night we moved the festivities back to my buddy Mike’s place for drinks and general good times, before closing the night at the Dover Arms. While we were all at Mike’s, I whipped up a couple more Sketchbook Diary entries, including this ashtray:

And today (Sunday) I’ve been working on the playlist for next month’s Metalflake Remix show. I haven’t sorted all the details yet, but it’ll be taking place the night of Saturday, June 16, and I’ll be creating live art all night (expect an official announcement very soon).

In other art news, potential new painting concepts seem to be popping into my head on a daily basis now. Here’s a couple to tantalize you:

Hope everybody else’s summer is off to a great start.

*Greater Vancouver Regional District.


So I bought a new sketchbook recently, and started carrying it everywhere. When I’m in a new place I try to find some small object to sketch – nothing major, just kind of a visual souvenir.

Last weekend I paid a visit to a city I haven’t visited in a couple years, Victoria, B.C. Just needed a weekend away from Vancouver, and see some new faces and decompress. While I was there I saw this wooden rhino and had to draw him:

And yesterday I went to a fun little Sunday-brunch outing at one of my favourite restaurants, Cosca. Lots of cool visual details in the place, so I had lots of options to choose from. In the end I drew this lamp that reminded me of the restaurant’s symbol (an artichoke):

And after that I spotted this chandelier:

I definitely need to do more of this. Stay tuned.

Bret Taylor
Vancouver, BC
May 21, 2012


Day three brings us the mighty Stegosaurus:

(Are Stegosauri mighty? I’m not even sure. I just know I’m lovin’ this project.)


Well, all the excitement over the Triceratops earlier led me directly to Mr. Tyrannosaurus Rex:

Banged this one out in a couple hours tonight. This project is so much more fun than the shotglasses, it ain’t funny.


Continuing my catchup efforts, I believe this is another glass I got from Gary & Morna of Starfish Glassworks fame:

Graphite, Photoshop.


So yesterday’s sale was a smashing success. I commandeered the studio at Imagemaker Photographic Studio , lots of good, fun people showed up, paintings and prints were sold, and a good time was had by all. The show wasn’t even started before several prints were already sold, and with the guidance of a few friends, the momentum kept going as we turned the sale into a bit of a Twitter event (#BretsBigArtSale).

(Photo courtesy of George Smeltzer – GSCameraworks )

I was really touched by how much effort people made to promote the sale. Plenty of mentions, retweets, photos and link sharing on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Right off the bat, I should thank these fine people:

John & Chrissy Watson, George Smeltzer, Lori Kittelberg, Patti Catroppa, Ceci Graber, Brandy Trudeau, Jeff Hornby, Donna Jay-Crowe, Adam Carlson, Ned Tobin, Nikki Cruickshank, Nicola Rueschmann, Richard Finch, Adé Win, Vincent Ng, everybody at Cosca and Novo, Nicola Rueschmann, Yvonne Milroy, Matty Sadorf, April Trasy, Valarie H., Kimli, Stephanie Insixiengmay, Anthony Wittrock, DaDe Art & Design Lab,  Vancouver Vantage, Carly Fryer, BC Berrie, Lora Jean, John Bell, Jenn Ashton, Lola Frost, Louise Perrin, Ashley November, Steve Kubien, and of course my family.

Sold a set of 6 bourbon prints, a Jack Daniel’s print, the Crow’s Funeral painting I did in tribute to my good friends Lisa and Paul in Mojave , etc. etc. I was sort of sad to see this one go, but at least it went to a good home:

(Photo courtesy of Brandy Trudeau)

In the midst of all the wining and dining and wheeling and dealing, I managed to get a little sketching in:

(Photo courtesy of Tess McCann)

And of course, adult beverages were provided to keep spirits up (see what I did there?). There’s still a bit of wine left in my fridge, but the tequila didn’t survive:

After 6 hours we packed up the paintings and called it a night. Only thing left to do at that point was celebrate with vodka and poutine.

Thank you one and all for a stellar day. Let’s do it again sometime soon.

P.S. Thanks to everyone who put up with my twitchiness and general neurosis on the days leading up to the sale. Apparently I’m always going to be a bit of a mess right up to the point where a sale/show starts.


Happy New Year, folks. Yes, it’s a whole ‘nother year, and so I figured I needed a new art project.

‘Cause all the existing projects just weren’t enough, of course.

The new idea is, I draw a quick sketch of a different shotglass every day. Day in, day out, for the whole 366 days. (Yep, 2012 is a leap year.) Trying not to go into it with too many preconceived notions, so I’m not putting any hard-and-fast rules into place. I might do these in charcoal, ink, coloured pencil, watercolour… whatever floats my boat on that particular day. It’s as much a disciplinary exercise as anything else, although hopefully it’ll help mantain my drawing muscles as well.

So without further ado, may I present you with the inaugural shotglass of the day:

Coloured pencil and charcoal.

Stay tuned for more, every day of 2012.

Cheers,
Bret Taylor
Vancouver, BC
January 1st, 2012

EDIT: After a month I’m realizing that I just don’t have 366 shotglasses in me. So, it’ll be shotglasses in January, dinosaurs in February, etc. etc.


Further thoughts on the latest show/series concept: the title will be “Closing Time”, after the Leonard Cohen song of the same name. And when the show happens, people will have the option of buying the original paintings, or buying a book of the preliminary sketches.

Two more from the past few nights, then:

More info as it occurs to me, obviously.


Only 15 days to go in this latest experiment in drawing/painting every day. And this one’s been much more productive than when I did it the first time, in 2008. It started out mainly as an exercise in discipline, but what it’s really about is training your subconscious mind to be more creative.

Not sure whether I’ll try it again next year. It’s quite possible – I remember how twitchy I got on the first day of 2009 when I took a day off. Maybe I just won’t make it such a formal thing.

Anybody else ever try this method?


So I’m workin’ on yet another car – a 33 Dodge coupe customized with elements from a 70s-era Dodge Challenger. Those of you who remember those Challengers will likely remember all the wild colour options they had – Hemi Orange, Sublime Green, and so on. I’m still trying to choose between Panther Pink and Plum Crazy:

What do you guys think?


Okay, confession time: drawing is something I struggle with from day to day. Some aspects more than others – hands, for example, are a real bear. They’re gradually getting easier, but they still take a lot of work. Which doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given how complex the structure of a human hand is. Definitely one of those areas where practice is the answer. I also used to find hair pretty difficult as well, but not so much anymore. (Oddly enough, it was harder to draw back when I still had hair.)

In comparison, pulling a long, even, curved line in ink never gets easier for me. I’ve never had the steadiest hands for that kind of thing. Short lines aren’t a problem, so if you’ve seen me do something with lots of loose, sketchy lines, now you know at least part of the story.

Take this illustration for example:

I inked this today. The rough sketch was printed out at about 10 inches wide, and I inked over that. Now, knowing how tricky the linework can be, I got out my French curves, my oval template and my ruler, and I decided to just keep drawing through if something went wrong, rather than agonizing over something I could fix after the fact, and letting that derail the whole process.

So finally I got the linework finished and scanned, and then I spent a few hours on the details – smoothing out uneven curves, duplicating repeating elements like the louvers, and just general touchup. Probably spent almost as long cleaning up the illustration in Photoshop as I did drawing it in the first place.

This is often a dilemma on my part, of course. On one hand I’m tempted to draw the stuff fairly small, so it’s easier to get smooth curves. But then the gaps between the lines fill in, and I can’t use reduction to clean things up.

On the other hand, if I draw it large I have to freehand all the lines, because none of my French curves and oval templates are big enough.

I guess it’s largely a matter of what sort of touchup I want to do. Do I fix a lot of little, niggling details, or do I use Bezier curves in Photoshop to fine-tune the bigger areas of the lines? By now I’d likely have hit upon the optimum procedure, if I didn’t work in so many different styles.

Something to consider in the future, I guess. Not like my hands are magically gonna get less shaky.

Thanks for listening, everybody. What aspects of drawing trouble you?


Well, I think the next book’s off to a fine start. The last few days have been extremely productive:

All I did today was be creative. It’s a pretty good feeling. (All of these are just the preliminary stages, of course. Stay tuned to see where I go with them from here.)


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