tess

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:

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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).

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.)


Today is a momentous day. An epic step forward. One small step for… well, you get the idea.

What’s the big deal, you’re undoubtedly asking yourself? Well, it’s like this: after years of tentative moves careerwise with my art, I decided to go pro and hired myself an agent.

Many of you already know Tess McCann. She first started aiding and abetting my career in the fall of 2011 when she helped me put together my first solo show, Metal Flake. And when I say “helped”, I mean I couldn’t have done it without her. She hosted the show and made the whole event more professional; how she ever put up with my pre-show nerves I’ll never know (dirty little secret: I’m always a basketcase in the days leading up to a show) .

In the months since then, Tess has continually suggested things that would never have occurred to me, offered guidance and promotional help, pointed me in new directions, and in general taken a gigantic amount of pressure off me, artwise.

We’ve been talking around this idea for months, and after recent discussions it just felt right to make it official. Oh, and here’s a word from my new agent now:

Hi! I’m super excited to be on board officially as Bret’s agent. I have been a big fan since I first saw his work, I have several pieces hanging on my walls. I’m looking forward to helping his career thrive, because he certainly deserves it.

Really looking forward to this next phase. And it’s fantastic to have you onboard, Tess.

P.S. For the rest of you wonderful people, if there’s something of mine you’d like to invest in, please contact the Most Excellent Ms. McCann here and she can sort things out for you.

(Photo: Lindsay Bayne.)


Well. As I write this it’s late Monday night. It’s been a pretty mellow day – slept in late, couldn’t really get focused on anything, though I did still get a lot done. Yesterday was a hangover day, though more in the spiritual/mental sense than the physical sense.

But Saturday? Ah, Saturday. That was a fine, fine day.

As you obviously know from previous posts, Saturday was the night of my latest show, Metal Flake Remix. We had a great turnout, and I met lots of new people, which is definitely one of the best perks of being an artist. And I sold lots of art, drank some delicious bourbon, and created six new paintings:

After the show, I sat up with a handful of close friends all night talking (okay, and occasionally drinking). By Sunday afternoon it felt like the day after the prom – I was tired and burned out, but very happy. And it felt like I’d taken a huge step in my life.

I definitely want to try live art again. What an amazing experience – I was nervous as hell about trying it, but once I got started I couldn’t have stopped if I tried. The music, the momentum, the amazing people watching, all combined to give me one hell of a kick in the ass. I know I have a lot to learn about this, of course – how to draw the audience in more, how to control the pace a little better, how not to blaze through all the work in just 20 minutes. But I’ll get there, with practice.

Some of my favourite moments – Kelly winning the painting we drew for, finally meeting some longtime Twitter friends face-to-face, putting the big blue handprint everywhere, tequila shots, having friends from the bad old days in Charlottetown on hand…

Plans are already afoot for upcoming shows, too. The Dino Show is tentatively scheduled for September, and I wouldn’t mind incorporating some live art into that as well. Closing Time is still a going concern, too (I’d really like to take my time and think that one through, though). And then there’s For a Dancer – those six paintings could conceivably be finished by early August. Not sure yet what will happen there, but it’d be nice to have a one-night mini-exhibit in a restaurant.

I certainly don’t want to oversaturate the market, so to speak. Fortunately my agent/marketing manager is passing on a ton of great advice in that regard, and in others as well.

So without further ado, some people I really need to thank: my family, John Watson and Imagemaker Photographic Studio, Kate MacDonald, Alex Stewart, Cosca Restaurant, the Après-midi Teahouse, Bailey Hunter, Lindsay Bayne, Derek Bolen and Karm from VanCity Buzz, Abbey Jackson, Kelle Belle, Dale Deruiter, Karina Halle and Team EiT, Corinna and Adam Carlson, Lola Frost, Lori Kittelberg, George Smeltzer, Samantha K, Matty Sadorf, Ned Tobin, Jonny Warkentin, Scott Graham, Oddball Workshop, Annie Friesen and Dottie’s Buttons, Jamie Lee Purgavie, Nicola Proctor, Cynthia Griffiths, John Lee, Ceci Graber, Andrea Waters, Geoff Gauthier, Steve Goodman, Mike Watson, Johnny B, Novo Pizzeria, MCNG Marketing, Felice Lam, Cathy Browne, Anthony Wittrock, David Dreger, Amanda West…

… and of course, in the Without-Whom Department: Tess McCann .

(Photo by Lindsay Bayne. All other photos courtesy of Cynthia Griffiths .)


Way, way back, I blogged about a project I called Top Seekrit . The project took awhile, due to the vagaries of winter weather and life just getting in the way, as it often does.

The painting was more-or-less finished in early January, and presented to the birthday girl who inspired it on the day of her party. Unfortunately there wasn’t time to get it properly photographed. Plus, the clearcoat was still milky in a couple spots, which I have to admit made me more than a little nervous. What if it never cleared completely? You really don’t wanna be the guy who ruins a pretty girl’s birthday present.

Fortunately it dried nicely, and a couple days ago I finally had it photographed by my good friend John Watson .

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

It all started this way: she told me about a seahorse tattoo she had, and how she’d love a painting based on Charles (the aforementioned seahorse, of course). She’d already seen several of my first-generation metalflake paintings, and liked the look of those. So really, it was all just a matter of sorting out details after that.

First I did a tracing of her tattoo, which hopefully didn’t tickle too much:

Then I refined that a bit, and defined the lineart better:

Next came the final ink lineart, ready to be transferred onto the painted surface:

(It was during this stage that I decided to add the little circular bits to Charles’s crest.)

And how did all this turn out, you ask? Well, a lot like this:

Oh, and here’s a little macro detail to give you more of an idea of how the metalflake paintings look in the real world:

What can I say? When I’m inspired the whole process is just… easier.

Bret Taylor
Vancouver, BC
March 31, 2012

P.S. As always, thanks, Tess.


Sometimes a painting almost seems to come out of nowhere and touch all kinds of people. Other times, the process can be a lengthy, involved one. In this particular case, it’s a bit of both.

One night last summer I was chatting with a new friend and she happened to mention that she wanted a painting in hot pink . Further to that, she told me that she used to dance, and that she wanted art along that theme – feet and legs in pointe shoes. Time went by and we became much closer. But this idea stayed in my head. In November I drew a rough sketch of her legs and feet in the pointe shoes she’d had since she was a teenager. That original sketch has since been framed and now hangs on her living room wall:

By this point I could see the finished painting in my head pretty clearly. I started creating another of my metalflake paintings with the intention of giving it to her as a Christmas present. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the metalflake pieces take a lot longer to dry in mid-winter, because the shorter days and crappy weather mean a vastly-reduced amount of UV radiation (which speeds the drying process along).

In the end I bought her a Leonard Cohen book for Christmas, and the hot pink painting proceeded oh-so-slowly. A couple days ago I was inspecting the painting and noted that the thick, thick clearcoat was finally dry.

The end of this journey was finally in sight.

On Friday night I found myself at loose ends. I wanted to go do something social with friends, but any and all attempts to make that happen simply failed. So I mixed myself a strong Sailor Jerry’s & Coke, and started masking the painting. The whole process came together pretty quickly, and with the encouragement of my Muse, the painting was soon finished:

Feels very weird to have the painting finished now, considering it’s been in my subconscious since August, and it’s March as I write this. And of course, my world is a vastly different place than it was during that late-night conversation waaay back in August – I couldn’t even begin to chart the changes. I’m a whole new human being, really.

So there you have it – the painting was a labour of love, and it’s actually done.

Interestingly enough, I posted updates live on Twitter and then Facebook as the night progressed, and the response was stunning . So much support, so much praise, so many questions, so many people sharing the final image with friends and followers. So, I’d like to thank the people who made this so much easier: Meghan Low, Donna Jaggard, Kelly St-Laurent, Natalie Smith, Mandy Fisher, Nick Voikos, Mark Kretzschmar, Chris Hobrecker, Bruce Ng, Adé Win, Brandy Trudeau, Heather Prost, Liam Rines, Elaine Shiel, Leanne Corrigan, Tony Dunphy, Fiona Flowers, Nicole Crosby, Sean Parrack, Elizabeth Whalen, Jaime Purgavie, Melissa Hartfiel, Ceci Graber, Dale Deruiter, Vince Ng, Melissa Berg, John Lee, Dilara Litonjua, Cathy Browne, Risto Paalanen, Emily Brandt, Jackie McCaughan, Nick Routley, Amanda West, Christine Warner, Kathleen Ralph, Gary Hayden, Donna Jay-Crowe, Tina Power, Tom Van Hoose, Jackie Teel, Geoff Seymour, Winnie Huang, James Dickson, Marion Vincent, Sarah Merris, Katherine Bowes Pieters, Jewel Staite, Paulette Brown, John Bell …

… and Tess McCann, without whom this would never have even been conceivable.


Gather ’round, children, and I’ll tell you a tale of happiness and Yuletide joy. Once upon a time there were a boy and a girl who fell in love. And they both loved art, which is a good thing, ’cause otherwise this would be the end of the story.

Now this couple (let’s call them, oh, “Dan and Donna”) already had several paintings by a local Artiste (let’s call him, oh, “me”). And they wanted more. So “Dan” contacted the Artiste in question and asked about commissioning a portrait of “Donna”. The Artiste, of course, was quite enthusiastic about such a project, because he loved painting (and truth be told, he was also somewhat fond of financial remuneration).

So Dan and the Artiste struck a deal, and work began. And shortly thereafter, the Artiste heard from Donna, who wished to purchase a painting called “Ace of Spades” as a present for Dan.

This pleased the Artiste to no end.

(An amusing side note: after the deal was struck with Donna, Dan contacted the Artiste again, this time to inquire about purchasing the Ace of Spades painting. The Artiste expressed sympathy and apologetically told Dan the painting was already spoken for.)

The Artiste was understandably amused by all this subterfuge, and with uncharacteristic restraint, only told a couple of people.

Okay, a whole bunch of people. But not Donna or Dan, which is key.

Meanwhile, work continued on the portrait of Donna:

And time passed, as it usually does. The painting and the Artiste found themselves disagreeing from time to time, but with the help of the Artiste’s lovely and talented Muse, the painting was finished with an entire day to spare.

On Christmas morning, paintings were exchanged, Donna and Dan were happy, and there was much rejoicing throughout the land.

And they all lived happily ever after.

The End.


So. As you are no doubt aware if you’re following this blog, I had my first big solo art show last night. After the show a couple close friends came back to my place for drinks, which inevitably led to me not saying anything online about the show.

Till now, that is.

The verdict? The show was a blast. First sale of the night went to my friend Patti, who bought the “Power Trio” triptych. Since then three of the smaller pieces were also snapped up, after some heated debate over “Dangerous Curves”. The rest, of course, remain on display and on sale at the Tipper till the end of the month.

What really made my night, though, was seeing old friends and new come together to eat, drink, and take in my art. Even writing this now is making me a little choked up. I am a lucky, lucky man.

And the show of support lately has been absolutely stunning . I’ve been profiled in the and VanCity Buzz , friends have come from all over the damn place for the show, and everywhere I had a question or a concern about anything, somebody always, always stepped up to bat.

Without further ado, then, the above-and-beyond roll call. These people are permanently in my good books: John Watson, Patti Catroppa, Lori Kittelberg, Dan Udey & Donna Jaggard, Sati from LiveVan, the irrepressible Jonny Warkentin, Ceci Graber, Nic & Todd, Nicola and her mom, Gary and Gary, Colin and Cameron and P.J. from the Tipper (without whom none of this would even be possible), Lindsay B. and K. Myles, Corinna Carlson, Karina Halle, Kelly St-Laurent, Mollie Caselli, Carly Fryer, Mike Watson, George Smeltzer, Ned Tobin… and I know I’m still forgetting people. I’ll keep editing this post as the day goes on.

Also, a number of people couldn’t make the show but were kind enough to send along apologies and/or encouragement anyway, because they rock: Jeff Hornby, Brendan Moran, Donna Jay, Amanda West, Dilara Litonjua, Adam Carlson, Kate MacDonald…

And finally, the biggest and most heartfelt thanks of the day have to go to my lovely assistant, without whose support this event wouldn’t have even been conceivable. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Tess McCann. Mere words cannot express…


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