Sunday, December 6, 2009

Olympic Confectionary

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 12 x 12''
2009 - #178

Corner Store no. 2 completed in 2007, was from of the same store located on Barrington Street in Halifax, NS. This time, I painted the other end of the sign which boast not one, but two of these Coca-Cola buttons. Just in time for the upcoming Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympiads with Coca-Cola being a major sponsor of both the Olympic Torch Relay and the Games themselves. I was actually painting the word Olympic on the sign as the Olympic flame had reached Halifax and ice hockey superstar Sidney Crosby (member of team Canada) was passing the flame to Sarah Conrad, a Nova Scotia snowboarder vying for her second Winter Olympics, who got to light the cauldron during the community celebration at the end of the day. Wishing them both the best of luck in their quest for GOLD!


Friday, December 4, 2009

Canoes at Moraine Lake

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 15 x 11''
Oct. / Nov. 2009, #177

The image may look familiar, since this is a larger version of the painting, Study of Canoes at Moraine Lake. Even when I did the study, I realized that I was challenging the laws of landscape art by drawing the horizon in the dead center of the image. In return, the top and bottom half may appear to compete one against the other for the subject matter's focal point. I wanted the viewer to see both part as having equal weight by the magic of perspective, and use the canoe as a mode of transportation in order to truly enter and explore the landscape instead of looking at it from the lake's edge.

This painting will be part of the art auction for Ability NB, held in Fredericton, NB, during the month of November, 2014. Details to follow. 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Olympic Torch Relay- Vancouver 2010

photo by Adam Huras - the Telegraph Journal
Lto R - Jean-Luc, myself and Doreen Nowlan-Gallant

Today was full of excitement as I had the honor to share in the Olympic Flame with the communities of Cap-Pelé, Shediac and Moncton, NB, as an official torchbearer during day-25 of the Olympic Torch Relay of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games.

In 1976, I watched the Olympic Torch Relay make it's way through the streets of Montreal on route to the stadium while the opening ceremonies were taking place. My 14 and a half year old son Jean-Luc is exactly the same age I was then, and today had the opportunity to stand besides me in my 1988 Calgary torchbearer's suit and witness the lighting of my torch firsthand, becoming a full-circle moment for me.
As we were only three torchbearers in the village of Cap-Pelé, it was a more intimate and personal experience. When I received the flame and passed it on, I got to hear our national anthem of ''O Canada'' each time; first from the crowd, then by the children from the elementary school. During both times we stood at attention and touched the tip of our torches high as two flames became one. When I got to run my leg of the relay, the Olympic spirit within me was beaming brighter than the torch itself.

People were so enthusiastic both along the course and the festivities later held in community celebrations in Shediac and my hometown of Moncton, where cauldrons were lit. My torch which I got to keep, became a symbol of the Olympic spirit and in turn I would become an ambassador of sorts in sharing my experience with everybody around me. I was more than happy to let anybody hold the torch as I had my photo taken with several hundred people, from babies, tots, kids, teens, adult and seniors. Many school took a two-hour break so the school kids would have a chance to witness a moment in history.

The true meaning to this most memorable day in my life will truly reveal itself when the Olympic flame reaches Vancouver on February 12 and enters the stadium on route to the cauldron. As it happened during the Calgary Olympiads, my heart will be bursting with pride. Thank you RBC, Coca-Cola and the wonderful team behind this monumental event.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

''A monopoly of lollipops'' is a finalist

A monopoly of lollipops, 16 x 16'' - 2009
Private collection - St Philips, Newfoundland

A monopoly of lollipops was named a Finalist in the Still Life/Floral category in the 26th Annual Art Competition of the Artist's Magazine. Winners and finalists are announced in the December 2009 issue of the Artist's Magazine on news stand now. Thanks to the judges for this honour.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Stawberries on a Sunday (revisited)

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 2006-09
27 cm diameter, #101

This painting will be among the paintings on the block at the 19th Annual Art & Antique Auction in support of the Canadian Paraplegic Association being held in Fredericton, NB on November 12, 2009. I have been associated with this very worthy cause for the third year.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Near & Far - Opening reception - October 16, 2009

A Gallery Hop in Saint John, NB is an event that always brings out a crowd on Friday evenings as openings are held in several exhibition spaces in the port city. My son Jean-Luc was the official photographer during the evening of the opening of my own solo show at Handworks Gallery. At one point he said, there are too many people, I can't see the artwork.

It was fun meeting the public. I got to chat with fellow gallery artists Holly McKay & Lynn Wigginton. To share my enthusiasm with others who seem genuinely excited to see my new work. When the evening was over, 14 of the 21 paintings had a red dot. Many thanks to all the people who came to view the artwork, to all those who send me warm wishes and the patrons who acquired the paintings. Thank you to Cliff Turner and Shannon Merrifield, the gallery owners and their staff for doing such a superb job.

Photos- top- with Cliff Turner / Cliff is an amazing hyperrealist painter who had a solo exhibition that concluded on Thursday. The very large 5 x 7 feet painting entitled Hot Wheels in the bottom photo, was a piece of that show.

middle- with Jean-Luc / bottom- mingling !

In other news, I want to congratulate my wife Suzanne, whom this show was dedicated to. Today, she reached the final destination of Santiago de Compostella during day-28 of the 800 km walking / backpacking trek across Spain on the Camino Francés. Bravo!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Marbles on ''Three Coke Bottles''

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #176
5 x 7', 2009

Three Coke Bottles is an acrylic and silkscreen done by Andy Warhol in 1962. Here it appears as a blank card format on a semi out of focus Campbell's Soup Can 1 (1968), from the book Pop Art by Tilman Osterwold.

I leave you with famous quotes by Andy Warhol:

-''I am a deeply superficial person''.

-''Everybody must have a fantasy''.

-''Art is what you can get away with''.

-''Think rich, look poor''.

-''TV is not something to watch, but something to be on''.

-''Employees make the best dates. You don't have to pick them up and they're always tax- deductible''.

and of course,

-''In the future, everybody will be world famous for 15 minutes''.

This is the final piece for my solo show, Near & Far that opens this evening at Handworks Gallery in Saint John, NB. Everyone is invited to the Opening reception that will take place this evening from 5 to 8 pm and will coincide with a Gallery Hop with the other 10 art galleries/institutions of the city.

Part of my solo show- Near & Far - October 16-30, 2009.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reflecting on Andy Warhol

 Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #175
5 x 7'' - 2009

Pop art emerged in the mid 1950s in Britain and in the late 1950s in the USA. Pop art challenged tradition by asserting that an artist's use of the mass-produced visual commodities of popular culture is contiguous with the perspective of fine art. Pop Art removes the material from its context and isolates the object, or combines it with other objects, for contemplation.The concept of Pop Art refers not as much to the art itself as to the attitudes that led to it. (ref-Wikipedia)

Andy Warhol was a major contributor of the movement when it exploded during the 1960's. He was a larger than life figure. Often using other people photography and commecial items to create silkscreen prints and mixed media installations. From Marilyn Monroe to Wayne Gretzky, Brillo soap pads to Coca-Cola, Orange Car Crash to Double Silver Disaster (electric chair). He was also a photographer, illustrator, painter, avant-garde filmmaker and a socialite.

I've always admired his colorful art, and to a certain extent, have been influence by his body of work as a painter. He died the same month I started to paint, February of 1987. Painting #2 of my list of original paintings was entitled, ''Not Andy Warhol''. It was an experimental double portrait of my wife & myself in a se-tenant inspired piece based on his serigraphs. I've had a chance to see a few of his solo exhibitions including a show at the annual FIAC (Grand Palais) in Paris in 1989 and at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto during the spring of 1998. I hope one day to visit his Museum in Pittsburgh.

In this painting are a pocket size journal with two half Campbell's soup cans by Warhol, and an image, Self-Portrait (1967) as seen on page 55 of Tilman Osterwold's book, Pop Art. What surprised me the most about this piece was that I was able to pull off the portrait with paint, because the preliminary pencil drawing was awful. The Chinese ball was the object however that made this piece important enough to paint. Of linking the art with the artist on the reflective sphere.

Part of my solo show- Near & Far - October 16-30, 2009.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tomate sur TOMATES

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #1747 x 5'' - 2009

The next three paintings are all inspired by Andy Warhol. Warhol's first solo exhibition took place at the Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, during the summer of 1962. The show comprised of 32 paintings of all the varieties of Campbell's Soup cans sold by the company at the time. When asked why he painted them, he replied that he had eaten Campbell's soup for lunch for the last 20 years. On May 9, 2006, Small Torn Campbell's Soup Can (Pepper Pot) - 20 x 16'', 1962 was sold at a Christie's auction to Gagosian Gallery for a whopping $11 776 000 (incl. buyers premiums)- click here.

Last week, as I was doing the grocery shopping, I notice a display case in the store that boosted more than 60 varieties of Campbell Soup Cans.

Campbell's Soups have been around since 1869, and the famous font lettering on red with the gold seal from the 1900 Paris Exhibition as been around for more than a century. Classic design are all in fashion. In 1968, Campbell's introduced the mail-in offer of the groovy Souper Dress , which could be bought for $1 and two labels.
Part of my solo show- Near & Far - October 16-30, 2009.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Absolut Gerber Daisies

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #173
5 x 7'' - 2009

Absolut Vodka is a Swedish spirit that was first introduced in 1879. It accounts for 40% of all vodkas imported in the US. It's fame is very much attributed to the distinctive shape of it's bottle and it longest running ad campaign ever that started around 1980. The full-page ads in publications features the shape of the bottle in the center, with a headline of ABSOLUT ______ at the bottom. See this Google link for imagery. While many flavors of vodka have been introduced by Absolut, the shape of the bottle has remain, and with over 1500 later, no product has re-invented itself more over a such a period. Even artists like Romero Britto and Andy Warhol have been involved as commissioned artists.

The setting for this painting is our kitchen window with the cherry tree in the backyard explaining the greenery.

Part of my solo show- Near & Far - October 16-30, 2009.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Reciclaje de botellas de Coca-Cola

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #172
7 x 5'' - 2009

The photo study for this painting was taken in Ruitelan, Spain during day 22 of my trek on the Camino this past June. My walking day of 26,5 km was over and it was still very early in the day, before noon in fact. After dipping my tired feet in the cool stream nearby, I had lunch in the local bar. Upon exiting the premise, I spotted a stack of Coca-Cola crates sunbathing in the hot rays. This crate had been around for a while. It had a weathered look and the red had lost it's original punch.

Aquarius is an electrolyte replacement drink bottled by Coca-Cola in Spain. I drank some every day on the Camino. Here, Diet Coke is bottled under the name Coca-Cola Lite and sports a shiny metallic label with red lettering (bottle to the right). At the bars, they would serve Coca-Cola on ice from these mini bottles with a wedge of lemon.

I could probably do a series of paintings of Coca-Cola signs seen during my 800 km trek across Spain. The photos below are from Azofra, a small village I passed through on 
day 8. 

Part of my solo show- Near & Far - October 16-30, 2009.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

La Maison de l'Orchidée, Paris

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #170
6 x 6'' - 2009

This painting was initially started for my last solo show at Handworks Gallery in 2007. I found the subject matter a bit daunting, so I decided to shelf it very early on. Fast forward 2009, the subject matter seemed very a-propos for the theme of this current show, so I decided to attempt it once again. Parchment, my new color by Liquitex, came in very handy to tackle the whites of the orchid's blooms. La Maison de l'Orchidée (The Orchid House), is situated at Place Louis Lépine, very close to Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. We stumble upon it while strolling through the streets of Paris during the spring of 2006. I just love orchids. This painting comes with an Umbra aluminium gallery easel, with the option of wall hanging.

Part of my solo show- Near & Far - October 16-30, 2009.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Study for Canoes at Moraine Lake

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #169
7 x 5'' - 2009

I've visited parts the province of Alberta three times. All three included visiting the Rocky Mountains. In December of 1983, I got the opportunity to ski beautiful Sunshine Village Resort in Banff during winter. The last two trips in 2005 & 2007 were in the summer. The majesty of the Canadian Rockies is breathtaking. It is difficult to stand in front of a scene like this without being in awe.

Just a few kilometers from Lake Louise is Moraine Lake. Moraine is a glacially fed lake situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. The emerald color water is attributed to the refraction of light off the rock flour deposited in the lake on a continual basis. Lake Louise & Lake Peyto shares the same phenomenon. Moraine Lake is one of the most photographed locations in all of Canada. It is known as the ''Twenty Dollar'' view, as it was featured on the reverse side of the 1969 & 1979 Canadian dollar bill. The rental canoes at Lake Louise are an orangy color, while those at Moraine Lake are in the primary colors + Hunter green. I had not painted a landscape for several years, but this one was irresistible. I am already planning a larger version.

Part of my solo show- Near & Far - October 16-30, 2009.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Crayolas on Lichtenstein

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #168
5 x 7'', 2009

A simple composition of layering objects. A cat's eye marble on a basic 8 Crayola Crayon box, on the cover of Pop Art, an art book written by Tilmon Osterwold, with M-Maybe by Roy Lichtenstein on the cover. I only displayed the primary colored crayons from the box, as they are the colors used in Lichtenstein's artwork.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) was an American pop artist who's work was heavily influenced by both advertising and comic book style. Even though my own work technically is very much rooted in hyper realism, Pop Art has a definite direct influence and my love for primary colors probably started here. I've had the chance to view a lot of his work in major art museums in both North America & Europe. His art is also displayed in public spaces including the tuilerie gardens of the Louvres in Paris, the J. Paul Getty Museum grounds in LA, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid as previously posted on my blog, and the large 6 x 53 feet Times Square mural entitled Next stop, Times Square (1994) in the New York City subway station at 42nd & Broadway. Although it was completed 3 years before his death, it was only installed on September 5, 2002. I got to see it on November 4, 2002 when we visited NYC before running my 2nd NYC Marathon.

Part of my solo show- Near and Far - October 16-30, 2009.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Heinz at Mel's Drive-In

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #167
12 x 10'' - 2009

This painting is from a vacation snapshot taken at Mel's Drive-in on Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood, during a family road trip in California in 2008. I knew instantly that there was at least one painting the moment I entered this very nostalgic restaurant. The whole time I was painting it, I kept wondering if this type of subject matter would have appealed to me if it wasn't for Ralph Goings, who's body of work for the majority has been to document diner interiors or it's content.

Part of my solo show- Near & Far - October 16-30, 2009.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fabulous at 50

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #166
8 x 12'', 2009

Now for something completely different. This painting was inspired by a sequence of events that happened within a few days.
This year, Barbie turned the BIG ''5-0''. One week later, it was my wife Suzanne who turned 50. That same week, she was watching some entertainment program on TV and brought this to my attention. The following day, my wife's More Magazine was in the mailbox. As I was eating lunch alone that day, I started flipping through the magazine and saw a full-page tribute of Barbie in the Style section that really made me laugh. The following day, a woman who had undergone many plastic surgeries in order to look like Barbie, was the topic of discussion in a talk show. Finally, I spotted the collectible 50th anniversary Barbie at Wal-Mart.

She was born, Barbie Millicent Roberts on March 9, 1959. American, Ruth Handler is credited with the creation of the doll using the German doll Bild Lilli as her inspiration. Barbie has been revered for her looks and figure by young and old alike, and has also been the subject of many controversies for those same attributes. Nonetheless, she remains as popular as ever, and no toy has re-invented itself more than her. Among her many careers, she was first a fashion model, an astronaut, a zoologist, and Ice Capade Skater, a Nascar Driver and has run for US president four times.

Here's an exert from More Magazine:
On maintaing perfection- Like most working woman, I have a simple routine: Fifteen artists apply my makeup using acrylics and tiny sable brushes. It takes only about three hours.

On a bad hairday- I've never really had one.

On over 40 style- I may only be 11½ inches tall, but age has given me confidence. Besides, when your a fashion icon, designers always take your calls. I adore this satin Nicole Miller gown, it flatters my perfectly toned arms.

On being plastic- They say you're only as old as you feel, but of course, I can't feel anything.
ref. - page 37, More Magazine- April 2009.

I dedicate this image to my wife Suzanne, who is currently in Spain with a family friend walking /backpacking the entire 800 km of the Camino, starting in Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port, France to Santiago de Compostella in Spain. The exact same trek I did in 3 months ago. On Day-18, she has walk over 500km already. So I can honestly say, that at 50.......she is absolutely FABULOUS!!!

Click here to see the first Barbie commercial wearing the black gown as depicted in the painting. The only thing I changed from my reference photo, was to add the word Barbie in the pink lettering replacing of a soft water pearl necklace.

Part of my solo show- Near & Far - October 16-30, 2009.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Out to Play

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #165
12 x 16'' - 2009

What would be a solo show without a marble/mason jar painting? I recently purchased several tubes of paint when Michael's had a 40% off sale on Liquitex Acrylics. I discovered a new white called Parchment, which is kind of putty color. With this I was able to produce this bluish grey shadows. With a painting like this, everything relies on last stage detailing in order to create the perfect sparkling effect using Titanium White with glazes on top.
Near & Far - Handworks Gallery Oct. 16-30, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Stamp collecting: A closer look at American Art

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #164
12 x 12'' - 2009

I have been collecting postage stamps since the age of 14. My main interest focused mainly on Canadian stamps. By the year 2000, I only had a few missing in order to have the whole Canadian catalogue. Since then, I've only been buying the odd stamp or First-Day cover. I've always considered stamps as miniature works of art. As they cover various subject matter like politics, history, biography, architecture, sports, art, botany, geography, folklore. I've learned a lot by just collecting them. After the French Impressionists and Canada's Group of Seven, it is now the turn to pay homage to American artists.

My muse was a US Postal 20-stamp sheet printed in 1998 entitled, Four Centuries of American Art. Here, the main focus is on Nighthawks by Edward Hopper and American Gothic by Grant Wood. Hopper is in my shortlist of all-time favorite artists. These two masterworks are among the most iconic art images of the 20th century. Other artists in this painting are Charles Sheeler, Franz Kline, George Caitlin, Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Edwin Church, George Caleb Bingham, Asher B. Durand and Joshua Johnson. Also on this sheet were: Mark Rothko, Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, William Harnett, Rembrandt Peale and John James Audubon, which would have made equally beautiful additions to the painting. After running the Chicago Marathon on Halloween Day 1993, I had a chance to visit the Art Institute of Chicago the following day. The museum had been opened for exactly 100 years old + 1 day. Their art collection ranks among the finest in the world, and these two paintings are among the masterpieces.

What surprised me the most was that I was able to pull it together with paint, as the preliminary drawing lacked a lot of details. The metal around the magnifying glass is brass. There were a few oxidation stains, which remains.

Part of my solo show- Near and Far - October 16-30, 2009.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A group of seven on The Group of Seven

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #163
16 x 20'' - 2009

Once again, a play with words inspired the painting itself. A bit daunting to paint in this size for me, as my artwork is usually smaller. The Group of Seven was an alliance of Canadian landscape painters that formed in the 1920's and were heavily influenced by the French Impressionists. They painted landscapes in the Georgian Bay, Algonguin Park, Muskoka and Algoma regions of Ontario. Later, they ventures to British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, Nova Scotia and the Arctic. Eventually, other artists joined the group or were closely associated. The McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinberg Ontario, contains 6000 pieces of art from The Group of Seven.

The book, The Group of Seven was published in conjunction with the exhibition, The Group of Seven: Art for a Nation, organized and circulated by the National Gallery of Canada. It was written by Charles C. Hill, then curator of Canadian Art at the National Gallery.

The popularity of The Group of Seven has not diminished. Their art is very sought after by collectors. The art cover on the Book is Island-MacCallum Lake by Lawren Harris. Many of his paintings have fetched upward of one million dollars at auction. In 2007, Pine Tree and Red House, winter, City Park II went for 2,875,000$ C, including premiums. Harris was a founding member and past president of the Federation of Canadian Artists, from which I am an elected member since 2004.

For this painting, the book itself was the fun part, the bottom of the bowl was an exercise of concentration and trying to see things as they are. The PLU sticker was an add on, and that lime in particular was taken from another photograph as my source.

Part of my solo show- Near & Far - October 16-30, 2009.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bel Air in Monterey

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #162
15 x 11'' - 2009

The photo study for this painting was taken on March 23, 2008 during a lunch break in Monterey Ca during our family road trip in California last year. My true point of interest in this 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air is the space age chrome taillight. During this era, it seemed that craftsmanship and design was a true art form in the automobile industry, and models re-invented themselves on a yearly basis. It was a great opportunity to paint with the primary colors, and even though the yellow is a tad loud, it was the only logical choice, to keep it like the original.

I believe that this is the image that the gallery will use in the promotion of my solo show at Handworks Gallery. Bel Air is also a town in California, and as faith would have it, we would drive by that vicinity on our way to Ventura that same day.

Part of my solo show- Near & Far - October 16-30, 2009.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Two pinwheel candies on Target

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #161
12 x 12'', 2009

This mason jar was purchased on ebay more than a year ago especially as a prop for a painting because of the greenish tint in the glass. In the meanwhile, I've been using it in my studio to store some candy. This image is from a studio shoot I did on the spur of the moment while I was waiting on paint to dry. The art book is ''Pop Art'' by Tilmon Osterwold (page 2) with Jasper Johns ' Target (1974). The original artwork by Johns is en caustic and mixed media on canvas. There appears to be a collage of newspaper print underneath the paint. In the photo study, you get reds that bleeds on the yellow that does not occur on the original. It is probably cause by depth of field of the camera. The title was inspired by my son Jean-Luc whom I suspect sneaks into my studio to visit the jar sitting on a bookcase, since I have no explanations why I have to refill it once in a while since I don't eat any.

Near & Far - Handworks Gallery Oct. 16-30, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pansies in frappucino bottle

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #171
7 x 5'', 2009

As a painter, whenever I see pansies at the market or greenhouse, they literally stops me in my tracks. You almost get the feeling that their interesting splattered color patterns had been created by some form of explosion originating from the center of their bloom.

I have a weakness for logos, commercial items that put a lot of thought in classic design that becomes part of popular culture. The Starbucks logo is one of them. It is based on a classic 15th century Norse woodcut of a mythical two-tailed mermaid siren. I remember visiting Vancouver in 1987, there was a buzz about a hip new coffee shop. Starbucks served fancy coffees, Jones Soda Pop and homemade desserts. The small coffeehouse that originated and first opened it's door at Pike Place Market in Seattle in 1971, has since become the largest coffeehouse chain in the world, with stores in 49 countries. During another trip to Vancouver in 1991, we rented a car in order to visit beautiful Victoria and Seattle. Pike Place Market is a historic property (1907) and one of the oldest continually operated farmer's market in the USA. My most vivid memory of that place was not Starbucks, but patrons buying seafood at the fish market while the fishmongers were bellowing at the top of their lungs and throwing salmons towards the clients who caught them in an open newspaper. It truly had a Carnival-like atmosphere.

On a sadder note.......I want to dedicate this image to my aunt and godmother, Rachelle Richard, who's funeral service I attended this morning. She has always been a part of my life ever since I was born. After I left home, even though my visitations were less frequent, our relationship endured. She was a very gracious, attentive, generous person who truly loved life and her family. She was a five-year breast cancer survivor. Last year, cancer would reappear in her lung, and she fought a very valiant battle until she accepted her faith with dignity. She also had an extended circle of friends who would often visit her. During the wake last evening, it was mentioned that on certain days there was probably more coffee served in her kitchen than the local Tim Horton. The word Pansy in french is ''Pensée''. ''Pensée'' has a second definition as ''a thought''. Today, my thoughts are with her and all those who loved her dearly.

Part of my solo show- Near & Far - October 16-30, 2009.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

BBQ caddy

Acrylic on stretched canvas, #160
16 x 12'', 2009

Heinz Ketchup was first introduced on the US market in 1869. In 1909, it crossed north of the border and became available on store shelves for Canadian consummers, making 2009 it's centennial year. For this painting, I've recycled props from past paintings to create a new composition. The Coca-Cola caddy was featured in Empties, the salt & pepper shakers in Atlantic Salmon, and the red charcoal BBQ in a least five previous paintings. Have I ever mentioned that red is my favorite color to paint with, the more the better. Here, this painting gets the royal treatment. One of my rare paintings done on canvas.

Part of my solo show- Near & Far at Handworks Gallery- October 16-30, 2009.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tangerines in a hurricane vase (an homage to Edgar Degas)

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #159
15 x 11'' - 2009-2012

When my wife Suzanne says she loves a painting of mine, it truly means that it stands out among my past work. I took the photo study during our last Christmas vacation at her sister Carole's home, who lives in Bathurst, NB. As I sat down at the breakfast table on Boxing Day, Carole had set up a hurricane vase with five tangerines as a table centrepiece. I had brought along this art book that I had received as a gift the day before from Suzanne, and had yet to peak inside. It was really hard to resist the combination of orange and blues, and cropping it tighter just gave it more impact. The book is entitled ''The Treasures of the Impressionists'' by Jon Kear.

It contains 30 rare facsimile documents such as sketchbook samples and drawings from Manet, Sisley, Cézanne, Monet, Degas, Pissaro and Renoir. This coffee table book has a hard shell slip cover with the image of Blue Dancers (pastel, 1899) by Edgar Degas on it's cover.

It was a lot of fun to reproduce pastel strokes using acrylic paint. My main concern was not only to try to get everything exactly right, but also to achieve the effect of pastel, the proper hues and lighting. Because the book is at an angle and is affected by surrounding lighting, some contrasting effects seem somewhat exaggerated. The most surprising aspect was that it was not that difficult to paint. It was very liberating to be able to paint so loosely and at great speed. The lettering however had to be as close to perfect to pull it off. I used drawing gum to mask the letters before painting the ballet dancer, then spent hours fiddling around with the letters. Very à propos after viewing the Degas room at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasedena, California the year before.

Exhibited in Near and Far solo show at Handworks Gallery, Saint John, NB - October 16-30, 2009 and in the Still Life Invitational at Elliott Fouts Gallery, Sacramento, Ca., Oct, 2012. 
Updated - September 10, 2012. Painting was revised. My signature originally appeared in lime green in top right corner. The whole top corner was repainted and signature is now more discreet. The colour of the tangerines was revised and the painting now has a Liquitex Soluvar removable glass non-yellowing varnish making the colours and glass effect even more vibrant.  

During the Christmas Holidays of 2012, we spent 10 days in Louisiana. We visited a small portion of the Musson House, now known as the Degas House, located at 2306 Esplanade Avenue between the French Quarter and City Park. Edgar Degas stayed here with his Musson relatives during 1872–73. Both his mother and grand-mother were born in Louisiana. While we were too late for the two hour + tour, I did get to talk to one of Edgar Degas grand-niece who is a tour guide.

To acquire about this painting, please contact: 

Fog Forest Gallery
14 Bridge Street, Sackville, NB
(506) 536-9000 


Monday, September 28, 2009

Home Preserves

Acrylic on hardboard, #158
16 x 16'', 2009

This appears like a fun piece on the surface, but it is a reflection on the housing market and inspired after I completed an overhaul renovation of our basement in January. The Canadian government has recently introduced an action plan to help stimulate growth in the housing industry with their Home Renovation Tax Credit Program, which allows homeowners to get a tax break for renovation on their homes based on eligible expenses for improvements on their house, condo or cottage. It is a reflection of the housing market that is trying to make a rebound.
Part of my solo show - Near & Far - October 16-30, 2009.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Solo exhibtion - Near & Far

I am starting to post artwork that will be included in my solo show at Handworks Gallery in Saint John, NB. With a bit less that three weeks before the opening, I am currently working on painting number 17. I have started a series of smaller paintings in order to fill the space. With the exception of the two paintings above, the rest of the collection will consist of new works.

''Are we there yet?''- 14 x 20''
Acrylic on hardboard, # 142, 2008

I usually paint from photographic material that I find in my own surroundings. For this show, I have including imagery also found during my travels that still retains the same familiar attributes. I've decided to study the theme quite broadly, with acrylic paintings that makes references to consumerism and popular culture, while trying to create a narrative by linking some of the imagery together, either with subject matter, elements found within the artwork or cross references from my own life.

Handworks Gallery is located at 12 King Street, Saint John, NB.
To purchase artwork posted for this show, please contact the gallery.
Gallery hours: 10:00am to 6:00pm (AST) from Monday to Saturday
Telephone - (506) 652-9787, e-mail -
Artwork must remain in the gallery until closure of the show.

Near & Far runs from October 16-30, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Crab apples, cranberries and jellies

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 11 x 15'' #36, 2001, private collection

Moving right along, I have started painting number 12 for my upcoming solo show at Handworks Gallery next month. It is a fun and stimulating period to paint, as I hang each new painting on the main floor of our house, giving me a sneak peak of what the exhibition will look as a whole.

In the meanwhile, I am posting an older piece that dates back to 2001. During the fall of 2000, our son was in kindergarten, and my wife had volunteer to accompany his class on a field trip to an apple orchard, Fleurs du Pommier. Before leaving, she asked me if I wanted to tag along, so I grabbed my camera and off we went. As we were waiting for the school bus to arrive, I started to roam around the grounds and when I entered a barn and saw this window spectacle, I knew instantly that it was really a gift in front of me. I have to say that it was a piece that made me realize that maybe I should venture more towards painting still lifes. As Jean-Luc now enters ninth grade and High School this week, my wish for him is that his curiosity for learning continues and that learning new things can be both educational and fun with the right attitude.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Vine-ripe tomatoes

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 11 x 15''
#83, 2004, Private collection

I am currently working on painting #10 for my fall solo show. In the meanwhile, I am posting a painting that was completed in the late fall of 2004. The image was inspired by the tomatoes themselves. It was about the time that I first notice that you could buy tomatoes that were not detached from one another but still on the vine as a grouping.

My mother-in-law was visiting us for a week. While we were at work, she had washed the dishes and did not know where we stored the 2-liter Pyrex measuring cup, so she left it on the counter, right next to the tomatoes.....and the conceptual idea was born. I added the knife as an element of transformation and to create tension. As Mary Pratt once said, ''What is art without tension''.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Homemade Preserves

Acrylic polymer emulsion on gessoed hardboard, 14 x 18''
#85, 2005 - private collection
The imagery for this painting was inspired during an escape week-end in Nova Scotia during the fall of 2004. I had kindly ask a country store owner in Mahone Bay, if I could photograph some of their homemade preserves on the window sill where a diffuse light became the perfect stage.
I am currently working on painting number 9 for my fall solo show at Handworks Gallery.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Deep End

Acrylic polymer emulsion on gessoed hardboard
33,5 cm diameter round, 2004, #65
Private collection - Halifax, NS

After getting out the WD-40 a few times, I have finally started to paint again after my long vacation, my return back to normal life and my 9 to 5 job. I felt very rusty to say the least. I've made some progress on my current painting, and hope that I'll be able to complete it by weeks end.

The above image is of my son Jean-Luc at the age of 8, at the salt water pool in Fundy National Park, NB. At the time, he was taking swimming lessons and had just passed level 1. He was actually jumping from the 3 to 4 feet deep level when I took the photo study. For the painting, since he was between the age of 8 and 9, I took out my magic wand to change the numbers at pool side, to reflect his age at the time. It is a piece about conquering one own fears.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Amazing Spain

I've returned last week from the most incredible 35-day trip, where I spent two days in France, and the remainder in Spain. My main objective was to walk/backpack the 800km Camino Francés that starts in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port France and ends in Santiago the Compostella Spain. I had planned 29 walking days for this trek. Things went so well in fact that I was able to cover the distance in 28. Just incredible weather, sunshine almost every day, with only about 6 hours of rain while I was walking. The landscape was breathtaking, on certain days it felt as if I was walking through a picture Post Card. So much history has occurred on this route that dates more than a millennium.

The fraternity between pilgrims was like nothing I had ever experienced. At times, it felt like a meeting of the United Nations. I made so many great friends, made so many connections. The warmth of the local Spanish people was equally remarkable. I was lucky to have been spared any major injuries, only 3 tiny blisters. On the final walking day, my marathon running past came back to haunt me, so I opted to walk the marathon distance of 42,2km (well actually, it was 42,6km) , which made it even more significant for me. It was a journey of a life time, one for the ages.

Any travel would not be complete without taking advantage of the art along the way. After landing in Toulouse France, I was off to visit the city. My art stops included la Salle des Illustes at the Capitale (city hall). Here, gigantic mural-like impressionist paintings of Henri Martin and Paul Gervais adorn the walls. In the hall next door, a civil wedding was taking place, after which the bridal party had their picture taken in front of the Gervais masterpieces with a theme of love and marriage. I was then off to l'Hôtel d'Assézat, home of the Foundation Bemberg and it's excellent collection of paintings ranging from Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet, Monet, Degas, R, Duffy, Gauguin and especially Pierre Bonnard of which there was at least 3 dozen paintings. All housed in the city's most elegant Renaissance mansion built in 1555 by Nicholas Bachelier.

Along the Camino, the art could be found mostly in the hundreds of churches. Some ranging from the size of a small chapel to the most elaborate, sophisticated and largest Gothic church I have ever seen, the Cathedral of Santa Maria in Burgos, built over a 400 year period. The above photo is only a portion of the structure. It has to be seen, as no words can quite describe it. There is an enormous amount of wealth in these institutions. It is impossible not to marvel at the talented individuals who created the frescoes, paintings, wood and stone carvings, sculptures, architecture and overall craftsmanship found here.

I also had the opportunity to visit the very colorful Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla y Leon. The MUSAC is the most important contemporary museum in the province of Leon. While in Santiago de Compostella, I visited the Centre Galego de Arte Contempranea, another large multi level space. Exhibitions in contemporary art galleries either cater to geniuses creating innovative conceptual art and installations and/or on the obscure, avant-garde, issues dealing with censorship, morality, underground culture, often explicit and graphic material, to push your buttons and at time to shock you. Well, these were no different even if they were on the route of the third most holiest pilgrimage in Christianity. Admission is free, meaning that these institutions are government funded. When Andy Warhol said, ''Art is what you can get away with''.......he was right!!!

But my real ''Coup de coeur'' happened in Madrid, where I spent 3 days sight-seeing before returning home. It happened at the Museo Sorolla. Joachin Sorolla (1863-1923) was a Spanish born impressionist painter who lived in Madrid. In 1932, his exquisite home and studio was transform into a museum following his death. I can't really recall seeing any of his work except in art books. As you pass through the street gate that leads you into a wonderful enchanted garden, the experience of stepping into his world has already begun. While entering the third of interconnected studios spaces where he painted, my jaw dropped and at that moment he went from being an obscure painter to one of my all-time favorite. In the larger room with a vaulted ceiling, paintings were hung salon style, his paint box and brushes were all there. A creative space that exuded a palpable energy. The museum continues on the ground level into the living and dining room of his residence and for another four rooms on the second floor. There was easily 80 paintings in all on display.

As luck would have it, my newly found admiration for Sorolla's work would reach a climax, as the Museo del Prado was hosting a major retrospective of his work until September 6. My admission ticket even had a pre-set viewing time, as the entire space was elbow to elbow. In the first room, the instant I saw the very fair-skin female nude seated on a marble base that can be seen on this link , I instantly became teary eyed. I knew I was in the presence of a genius. The way he paints light, the whites, his use of pastel colors, the contrasts, his compositions and subject matter really sets him apart. It's moments like these are when you can truly connect with art and see how it contribute to society and becomes an essential part of what it means to feel alive.

All of the figures studies set along the shoreline and marine paintings with the wind blowing in the white canvas sails that has light coming from behind, becoming illuminated in both pastel and the darker contrasting shadows being cast from the masts and the folds......well, they just took my breath away.

The Prado Museum has one of the finest collection of European art from the 12th to the early 19th century, featuring spanish master painters from the golden age - Goya, El Greco and Diego Velazquez, who's painting ''Las Meninas'' is considered by some as the most famous painting in the world. For the most part, the art found here are mostly Academic paintings. In all, I spent 4½ hours there.

After El Prado comes the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Spain's national museum of 20th century art. Several temporary exhibits included a compelling retrospective of Juan Munoz and the permanent collection that includes many Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Guillermo Perez Villata, Sigfrido Martin Begué to name a few. Outside the Reina Sofia is the enormous sculptural work entitled ''Brushstroke'' by Roy Lichtenstein as shown above.

The masterpiece of Reina Sofia is Picasso's Guernica as shown above. The mural size painting had a whole room to itself, and was jam-packed with people. I only got to view the painting from a side angle.

The last of the Golden Triangle of Art is the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum that also includes the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. For it's overall collection, this one was my favorite. It houses a very impressive collection of old Flemish and Dutch masters, and an equally impressive list of international artists like John Singer Sargent, Marc Chagall, Childe Hassem, William Merritt Chase, Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Piet Mondrian, Lucian Freud....just to name a few. And what could be better than a Richard Estes about three. And of course a retrospective of the brilliant French impressionist painter, Henri Matisse.