Thursday, December 16, 2010

Candy Apples

 Acrylic on gessoed hardboard
5 3/8 x 3 5/8'' (13,7 x 9,3 cm)
2010 - #189

I've always associated Candy Apples with Country Fairs and amusement parks. I actually did these Candy Apples myself during the fall of 2009. The recipe I was using had specific instructions to follow to in order to concoct a perfect candy. While heating the mixture I was using a candy thermometer to a achieve a specific boiling point. Everything was going well until the doorbell rang. When I returned to the pot, the mixture was boiling on overdrive. There were hundreds of air bubbles trapped inside the bright red sauce which remained during the actual apple dipping. The bubbles did add another dimension when I set them outside in our back yard to take the photo study and the sun rays flooded those air pools.

On a sad note, because of the over boiling, the candy became too hard and we couldn't even bite into them. Oh well, the sacrifices an apple has to go through for the sake of art.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gum Balls

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard
5 3/8 x 3 5/8'' (13,7 x 9,3 cm)
2010 - #188

Growing up in rural New Brunswick, there was a tiny convenience store about ¼ mile from our house that had a red gumball machine. Inside the glass globe was not only bubble gums, but tiny charms & trinkets that were sparsely inserted. Kids at school would sometime give me their pennies so I could buy them gumballs, but what they really wanted were the charms. This one time, the prettiest girl in my class (and of the whole school as far as I was concerned) gave me a whole quarter. Can you imagine the look on my face when the ''red puffy heart'' inscribed ''I Love You'' dropped into my hand? She was also the girl whom I gave my prettiest Valentine on February 14.

Once I started doing the drawing for this mini painting, I realized that a lot of the gumballs were not exactly round. Also that because of their glossy finish and the light, the colors bounce off each other. I somehow wishes the gumballs would have been more defined, but I painted them as they were behind the glass. This painting will be included in the Christmas exhibition of Handworks Gallery in Saint John, NB.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Diamonds are a girl's best friend

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 12 x 12''
2010 - #187

Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol both died during years that are significant in my own existence. Monroe died 7 months on the same year I was born while Warhol died on the same month I did my first painting (February, 1987). This painting is double whammy of sorts, as a homage to both Andy Warhol and Marilyn Monroe. This composition just kind of happened by itself after finishing a photo session for an upcoming painting. The mini notebook with Marilyn Monroe on it's cover was delivered earlier that day by FedEx along with a my new stainless steel architect lamp from Crate & Barrel for my studio. The moment I started to play with props, the whole narrative came into light.

Warhol' s resonating, brilliant colored silksceens of Marilyn Monroe are some of his most iconic images. Warhol said: '' In August 1962 I started doing silkscreens. I wanted something stronger that gave more of an assembly line effect. With silkscreening you pick a photograph, blow it up, transfer it in glue onto silk, and then roll ink across it so the ink goes through the silk but not through the glue. That way you get the same image, slightly different each time. It was all so simple-quick and chancy. I was thrilled with it. When Marilyn Monroe happened to die that month, I got the idea to make screens of her beautiful face''. Andy Warhol would continue to do variation of this silkscreen of Monroe during the 1960's. The image of Marilyn was from a publicity still for the movie Niagara (1953). In this painting the image is from Warhol's ''Shot Orange Marilyn'',1964, 40 x 40'' (detail).

This painting pays tribute to Monroe and her other films done in 1952-1953. The title for the painting is a line from the lyrics of ''Diamonds are forever'' from the film ''Gentlemen prefer blonds'' (1953) co-starring Jane Russell. This specific song/dance number in the film remains one of greatest moment of the musical era's golden age of cinema. It would later serve as the inspiration behind Madonna's video for ''Material girl'' . Park Place/Boardwalk are the highest priced pieces of real estate on the Monopoly board game and with it's diamond ring in the middle it refers to ''How to Marry a Millionaire''(1953). The monkey from a Barrel of Monkeys is referring to her comedy, ''Monkey Business'' (1952), co-starring Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers.

Marilyn Monroe remains to this date one of the most famous person in the world. Almost 50 years after her mysterious death, she remains as popular as ever. Her persona and beauty has captured the attention and hearts of millions and she has become an iconic figure in popular culture. This immense list on Wikipedia is but a sample of how her legacy lives on through other mediums. Click HERE. I read a biography on her more than 20 year ago, and got the sense that she was often misunderstood. Her difficult childhood would often return to haunt her throughout her life and personnal trials. She could play a dumb blond like no body's business, but she was also a gifted actress and the camera loved her.

I've always had this fascination about her as long as I can remember. I leave you with a few of Marilyn Monroe's quotes-
-Dreaming about being an actress, is more exciting then being one.

-Fame will go by and, so long, I've had you, fame. If it goes by, I've always known it was fickle. So at least it's something I experience, but that's not where I live.

-I have feelings too. I am still human. All I want is to be loved, for myself and for my talent.

-My work is the only ground I've ever had to stand on. I seem to have a whole superstructure with no foundation but I'm working on the foundation.

-Being a sex symbol is a heavy load to carry, especially when one is tired, hurt and bewildered.

-I don't know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot.

-What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No. 5, of course.

-If I'm a star, then the people made me a star.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tea with Emma

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard,
12 x 12'', 2010, #186
Continuing my authors series, I wish to shine some light on Jane Austen (1775-1817). Regrettably, I haven't been able to devote much time to reading in recent years, but my wife who is an avid reader has read a few of her novels. I have however seen several of the films that were adapted from her books. The first being Sense and Sensibility in 1995 for which Emma Thompson earned an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay.

Jane Austen was born in Steventon, Hampshire England, the seventh of eight children. She was educated mainly by her father and older brothers, and began writing during her early teenage years with parodies and sketches meant for the amusement of her family. From 1811 to 1816, with the release of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published after her death in 1818.

Finding desirable suitors (husbands) while maintaining social standing and economical security is a common theme in most of her novels. She died quite young at the age of 41 and ironically never married. The film, Becoming Jane, starring Anne Hathaway explores her own journey of finding love as a young adult. At age twenty, she would have been romantically involve with a Thomas Lefroy. He had just finished a university degree and was moving to London to train as a barrister. However, he was financially dependent on an uncle, and since neither had money, their prospects were grim. Their plans to elope were shattered when Jane learned that his own family also depended on Tom financially. She would later receive another marriage proposal which she declined. Entering a marriage because of financial arrangements between two disinterested parties was an appalling concept for her. The parallel between the heroines in her novels and herself is that they would only marry for love. Her novels all have fairy tale endings. Sadly in her own life there were no Mr. Knightley or Mr. Darcy to sweep her off her feet.

She took a revolutionary stance when she said she wanted to become a writer. Employment opportunities were very limited for women at the time. Her first novels were even published anonymously, which spoke grimly of her own actual situation and for that of woman in general. Her books and film adaptations have all received critical acclaim. She appeals to Pop Culture and to the most serious scholars, because she understands human condition. They are eloquently written, witty, intelligent, articulate, melodramatic and of course sentimental and romantic. Her novels provide a biting social commentary of that era and are comedies of manners.
Last weekend as I painted away, the film ''Emma'' starring Gwenth Paltrow as Emma Woodhouse who thinks of herself as a romantic matchmaker, ran a total of three times during a 24-hour period on the Bravo network. This week, I rented ''Becoming Jane'' and listened to the director and producers commentaries describing each scenes as I continued painting. ''Pride and Prejudice'' a film I have viewed many times finished off my week. Keira Knightley gives a ''tour de force'' performance, especially in the scene when she first rejects Mr. Darcy marriage proposal( played by Matthew MacFadyen) .

The book in this painting was published by Barnes and Noble, with a Pre-raphaelite genre painting on it's cover entitled ''Il y en a toujours un autre'' (''There will always be an other''), 1882 by British artist Marcus Stone. It's unfortunate that the saucer covers almost all of the image.

When we visited the south of England this past spring, we had a chance to spend a few hours in Bath. A city she lived for a few years after her father retired. The photo on the left is of my son Jean-Luc at the front door of their house at 25 Gay Street. The photo on the right of my wife Suzanne a bit further down that same street at number 40, site of the Jane Austen Center. Due to time restraints on our bus tour, we only had enough time to venture off on our own to find these locations.

On a personal note, this painting is a tribute to my mother, whose name was also Emma. She died four years ago on November 17. Her beautiful spirit lives within me still. Her simplicity and gentile heart were her most endearing attributes and I loved her immensely. The tea cup and saucer (Windsor, fine bone china) belonged to her and was a wedding gift they received when she married my father in 1958. My own artistic abilities is a gift I've probably received from him. He had amazing manual skills and could practically do anything. It left an indelible impact on me. He preceded her to the grave in 2003.
Currently on exhibit at the Fog Forest Gallery's Christmas Showcase.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Empty Coke Bottles

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 14 x 11''
2010 - #185

After completing the study of Empties in 2007, I had the intention to do a much larger and more detailed piece from that same just took a bit longer than anticipated. I've done several Coca-Cola paintings in the past, and the subject matter stills fascinates me. It's that Spencerian Script fonts in combination with the shape of the bottle that I find seductive as a painter.

Coca-Cola has always been in the forefront in promoting it's product and has gone to great lenghts to remain current. It has rightfully earned a place in popular culture and there are certainly many Coca-Cola aficionados and collectors of anything Coke.

With the Holiday Season just around the corner, much of true meaning of Christmas has been lost to good old Saint Nicholas, while the birth of Jesus has taken a back seat. Santa Claus is bound to make a personal appearance in a parade or Shopping Mall near you.

Thomas Nast, the father of American Cartoon was credited for creating the modern image of Santa Claus wearing the red and white suit in 1881. The Coca-Cola Company had a spark of genius when they hired illustrator Haddon Sundblom during the 1930's to incorporate Santa Claus in their advertisements in response to the colder winter months when sales of the soda pop were down. For the next thirty years Sundblom would create the most vivid and iconic images of Santa, thus creating an urban legend that Santa Claus was invented by Coca-Cola. (Click HERE for a sampling.) However, these campaigns had a tremendous effect of popularising Santa Claus as wearing red and white, in contrast to the variety of colours he wore in earlier depictions.

Much can be said about the shopping frenzy and overspending surrounding the Holiday Season. A lot of retailers and businesses rely on the economical impact of Christmas when sales are at their highest. If these imaginative and magical images created by Haddon Sundblom did not exist, it would be interesting to see how it would affect the way we currently celebrate Christmas. The spirit of Christmas is often associated with Santa Claus and instilled by the media into our consciousness at a very early age. Coca-Cola might have boosted their own sales with these campaigns, but their contribution to popular culture may be even greater.

Haddon Sundblom illustration for Coca-Cola

This painting will be included in the Christmas Showcase exhibition at the Fog Forest Gallery in Sackville, NB

Friday, October 1, 2010


During this past summer, my studio time was spent producing three paintings for an invitational group show featuring still life paintings that opens October 2 at the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento, California. When the gallery invited me to partake, it was an offer I could not refuse. I would get to show across the continent with many talented artists new to me and four amazing artists: Christopher StottNeil HollingsworthOtto Lange and Paul Coventry-Brown, all of which I've communicated with in the past few years. It's as if all the stars aligned to bring us all together for this group exhibition.

As an added bonus this exhibition is featured in the October 2010 issue of American Art Collector. Two images of my paintings made it on the pages of the magazine. Held over Monet is featured on page 34 in the ''Upcoming show State by State guide'' while Red Current Jelly is included in the exhibition's promo poster on page 61. I was informed by the gallery that both of these paintings generated interest early on and sold even before the show was hung.

I wish to express my sincere thanks to Elliott Fouts and Michelle Satterlee for this great opportunity and for extending the invitation for future representation, making my artwork more accessible to the American market.

Monday, September 6, 2010

1940 Chevy Truck

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 2010
9 x 12'', #184

The Atlantic Nationals is an annual car show held in Moncton during the month of July. This Chevy truck was parked under a bright sun with puffy clouds underneath a tall leafy tree. This explains all of the unusual and freaky stuff happening on the bright red paint surface. It's quite evident that this pick-up has a proud owner and it's condition is immaculate, even sporting some amazing mag wheels. It's all eye candy to me and becomes an irresistible subject matter to paint.
As I was doing the pencil drawing, it occured to me to personalized the New Brunswick licence plate. Instead of signing the painting as I usually do, the new plate now reveals the info for the painting.

AVR- are my initials (Alvin Victor Richard),
184- corresponds to the painting's catalogue number,
08/2010- month it was mostly painted in.

This is the third of three paintings to be part of the invitational group show ''The Still Life'' to be held at the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento California from October 2 to November 5, 2010. 


Update - September 7, 2012
This painting will be part of a group exhibition entitled: 

Saint John Arts Centre
City of Saint John Gallery
20 Hazen Avenue
Saint John, NB CANADA
(506) 633-4870

September 7 - October 27, 2012
Opening reception is on September 7 - 5:30 to 7:30pm

Handworks Gallery
12 King Street,
Saint John, NB, CANADA E2L 1G2
(506) 652-9787
e-mail - 


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Held over Monet

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 12 x 9''
2010, #183

Two weeks ago, my 15 year old son Jean-Luc's soccer team was playing in a tournament on Prince Edward Island. After winning their game on Saturday morning, we made our way to Charlottetown to visit the capitol city. While doing the rounds of the art galleries, I discovered the magnificent art glass of Robert Held at Details, Past & Present Art Gallery. Upon entering the gallery, I was greeted by a collection of his vases and bowls. They brought me to a standstill and I was transfixed. The quality of the glass, the purity of the colors, almost as if these vessels were illuminated from within. I realized at that very moment that I was not leaving the premises without buying a piece. I also knew that it had just became an ''Objet de désire'' that I would want to paint very soon.

Robert Held is a California born artist, currently living in Vancouver BC. He has been a glass blower since 1968. He currently has nine assistants by his side working in one of the largest art glass studios in North America. He is represented by art galleries & museum shops throughout North America. His main influences are Louis C. Tiffany, Gustav Klimt and Claude Monet. I am a great admirer for all three. The most logical choice for me was to superimposed my new acquisition over a pocket-size Claude Monet art book from my own library. The color scheme was perfect and the book complimented the vase to perfection. This vase in part of his Meadow Line collection. The title of the painting is a play on word. It's a piece where art imitates life, life imitates art, and art imitates art.

Jean-Luc visiting Claude Monet's house in Giverny, France - 2006
In 2006, Jean-Luc had to do a presentation of a famous artist in front of his art class. Earlier that month as we were making our way through France and Switzerland on a family road also turned into a field trip to acquire hands-on exposure to the world of French Impressionist painter Claude Monet. We visited a few museums that housed his artwork in Troyes, Lyon & Paris and visited his domain in Giverny. The pink house where his art studio was also located, the breathtaking flower gardens and the Japanese inspired arched bridge leading to the large water lily pond with the weeping willows.
Claude Monet is considered one of the founding members of the Impressionist movement. The term Impressionism was coined by art critic Louis Leroy in 1884 upon viewing Monet's painting, ''Impression, soleil levant'' during the first group show of this new artistic league.
Last month we had the last of the original windows on our house replaced. I requested windowsills for the second floor bedrooms during installation. The ledges have yet to be painted, so the natural pine board did create a warmer palette to set up the composition. I've done at least a dozen paintings featuring windows.....there will be more to come.
This painting is the second of three to be part of the invitational group show ''The Still Life'' to be held at the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento California from October 2 to November 5, 2010.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Red Current Jelly

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard,
14 x 11'', #182, 2010

This painting is a companion piece along with a smaller painting done in 2007, ''Un déjeuner sur l'herbe''. The photographic session was done a the same time, it just took a while to get back to the imagery which I was longing to do for a while now. This painting appears comptemporary, but could have been painted 125 years ago. Wilkin & Son started producing preserves in Tip Tree, a village in Essex England back in 1885. The Bordallo Pinheiro cabbage plate on which the jelly sits on is from a Portugal pottery house which started producing ceramics in 1884.

My first trip to Europe in 1986 included spending a few days in the south of Portugal. In the wake of my recent trip to the south of England, it seemed fitting to bring these two items together at this time.

About a month ago I was contacted by the Elliott Fouts Gallery requesting my participation in an Invitational group show ''The Still Life'' that is schedule to run from October 2 til November 5 , 2010 in their gallery located in Sacramento, California. It was an offer I could not refuse. Not only to have the opportunity to show my work across the continent, but among the other participants are four artists which I have been in contact with and are part of the artist links on this blog. It's a small world folk!

This painting is the first of three to be part of this show.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sheriff Woody & Crayolas

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard,
10 x 12'', #181, 2010

Pixar's Toy Story was release in 1995, the same year my son Jean-Luc was born. It was the studio's first full-lenght film and the first ever feature done using computer generated imagery. When Jean-Luc was old enough to talk, he started asking to watch the VHS tape, and has probably viewed it dozens of time. By the age of three he had rename Buzz Lightyear, Buzz Suckle.

I was a fan of Pixar from the get go. They set the bar very high for themselves and other animation studios. Not only are the visuals completely mind boggling, the scripts are always so brilliantly written and the choice of voice-over actors truly bring the characters to life. No studio has received more critical and commercial success as this franchise.

Toy Story 2 was released in theaters in 1999. Jean-Luc received the VHS tape as a Christmas gift when it was released the following year. In the same box as the film was the entire collection of small action figures that could be purchase at McDonald's with or without the Happy Meal.

Toy Story 3, Pixar's 11th feature film was released less than two weeks ago and has already grossed 335 millions worldwide and is most likely to break the studio's worldwide gross of 867 million held by Finding Nemo (2003). I saw it last week-end with Jean-Luc at my side. The final 30 minutes are extremely sentimental and I did find it hard to hold it together. Andy is moving on to college and the storyline follows his toys as they are accidentally put at curbside in a garbage bag instead of in a box in the attic in storage. Only a few of his toys remain. As Andy outgrew many of them, some were sold at a yard sale including Woody's significant other, Bo Peep.

Jean-Luc's toys have had a similar faith. He is not a pack rat nor a hoarder. Most of his toys have also ended up in yard sales, given to smaller children or donated to charity. I've kept Sheriff Woody Pride in my studio since he parted with the rest of his toys from Toy Story. I knew one day that I would want to paint him.

Jean-Luc with Woody & Jessie
Disney World, Orlando - 2005

A mason jar's main utility is of preserving. With this painting I am preserving the essence of Jean-Luc as a child, the many parallels of growing up and the role Pixar's films has had in capturing the imagination of generations young and old.
Update- Dec 18, 2010- To date Toy Story 3 has become the most successful animated feature film in history. It has amassed an staggering world gross revenue of $1,063,143,492 making it is the first animated film to break the 1 billion dollar plateau. It is currently the 5th highest-grossing film worldwide of all-time (behind Avatar, Titanic, The Lord of the Rings: The return of the King, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.)


Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Cat & Fish Tale

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 8 x 10''
#180, 2010
This latest painting was conceived for an upcoming group show entitled ''CATS'', opening at Handworks Gallery on May 7. When the gallery invited me to submit a piece for this exhibition, I came across the book The Cat in the Hat at Costco that same evening. It was one of the first books I ever read when I started to learn English in grade 3. After re-reading it some forty years later, I decided to incorporate the fish in the imagery since he appears as the voice of reason of this fable. Also a great opportunity to add a few Cat's Eye marbles in this whimsical context.

Dr. Suess (Theodor Suess Geisel) remains an iconic American author and illustrator. His most famous book is Green Eggs and Ham. The Cat in the Hat published in 1957 comes in a close second and is ranked at #9 on the best sellers children book list of all-time, selling 10 million copies.

I purchased this fan-tail goldfish especially to do the painting. He seems to be enjoying his new larger fishbowl quite well and is currently residing in our son's Jean-Luc's bedroom. He has received the name of ''Maurice'', named after a goldfish from a Nestlé commerical. The week prior, Jean-Luc had to do a presentation in front of his French class at school and do a critical analysis of a French television advertisement. Check out this very funny ad, where the fish gets the blame for eating 3 chocolate Mousse in one sitting.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 12 x 10''
2010 - #179

This painting is a commission piece from a photo study taken by the clients. It is only the second time that I do work from imagery not conceived by myself. The painting celebrates homecomings, as a couple moving into their beautiful new home and the arrival of their first child. Both events occurring in 2004.

It is a rather minimalist piece. My greatest challenge was to get the lighting right in order to create the proper atmosphere. The light in the wine bottle is coming from the window as the sun is dimly setting on a cold January day.