Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Femme Avec Un Chapeau Rouge" Series

This project requires a bit of back tracking to explain it best. In 2002 I was looking through some old magazines in art class, in a French haut-couture magazine from the early 90’s I found a grainy but captivating image. I wasn’t sure what it was but something about this woman dining with this huge red hat really fascinated me. In 2003 I tried to paint the image to the best of my abilities in acrylic paint. In 2005 I found the image again and thought it would be an interesting experiment to paint the photograph again as a measure of my artistic growth, this time in oil paint. In 2006, I had a university painting class where the teacher had asked us to work with repetition. I decided to test my painting skills, but also artistic range once again and painted the “Femme avec un Chapeau Rouge” over twenty times in various mediums and styles. Above is the original magazine image (I drew on the horizontal and vertical lines in 2003 for reference) and the first and second attempts. On the right are a select few of my attempts from 2006.

In the fall of 2009 I spent a month in France. While I was there I was looking for non-digital photobooths (a personal passion of mine, see old post) and was visiting more booths than normal, though I didn’t necessarily have ideas every time I was taking pictures. A week into my trip, in the children’s section of the gift shop for the Musée D’Orsay I found a mask. Being in France and seeing this red had, I was automatically reminded of the magazine photo from years before. For the rest of the trip the mask and signature pose of the woman became a default pose for me while photoboothing. Since returning to Canada I’ve played around with the background in these photos because the background in the original photo is very non-descript and it was always a difficult formal decision to make when painting. The mask is conveniently light and small so it’s been ideal to bring it with me for my other travels this year. I brought the mask on my latest trip to Ontario, Quebec, New York, Massachusetts and Illinois. I’m also going to bring it with me while touring an improv show across Canada in May and when I visit Australia and Japan in July.

Here are some pictures I have taken with the mask during my travels so far.

The next step in the project is to do a stop-motion photobooth animation, done in a similar style to an animation I made with artist Pamela Norrish last year, which you can check out here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Comics Everywhere! Adventures in Montreal and New York City

I’ve had very lovely visits to Ottawa, Montreal, Boston and now New York. In Montreal I had the pleasure of visiting the Drawn & Quarterly storefront. I whizzed with excitement and ended up making multiple visits to pace myself. D&Q are my favourite graphic novel publishers and also happen to be Canadian. At the shop they sell all the works they publish but also a wide variety of other books (comics or otherwise).

New York has always been great for comics and graphic novels, in between the amazing selection at Forbidden Planet and Midtown Comics and the ultra-discounted finds at the Strand Bookstore. This past weekend though, was particularly exciting as it was the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art’s (MoCCA) Festival (a.k.a. a finer comicbook convention). There I got to meet some up and coming graphic novelists that I’ve been following like Austin English and Lucy Knisley. I also got to meet a long-time admired illustrator, Jillian Tamaki. My favourite of the booths included Drawn & Quarterly (obviously), Sparkplug Comic Books, PictureBox Inc., Secret Acres and Book by its Cover. Unfortunately I forgot my camera that day and have no pictures.

I’m here in New York working on a graphic novel with writer Elizabeth Archer. The book we are working is mostly auto-biographical but a melange of her’s and my experiences, it’s titled “Arc in the Sky”. Elizabeth and I have been working with the help of telephones and the internet for months now but I came to New York specifically to take photos to use as reference for the drawings. I’ll be doing some sneak-peek drawings when this leg of travels whines down and post them here.

And on another graphic novel note, I’m going to be in Toronto at the end of May, where I’m already saving for my next visit to The Beguiling. It’s an amazing independently owned little comic shop tucked away in the Markham area. I’ll be arriving too late to attend the Toronto Comics Arts Festival, May 8-9, but I would give my pinky finger to be there.