Have questions about commissioned or original artwork?
How much time do you put into each painting?
Each painting is a little different, some come together very quickly while others will take months. Some paintings are never finished because I never feel satisfied with them. In those cases, I sometimes paint over them. Artists have done that over the centuries.
Do you plan your paintings by doing drawings first?
I rarely do drawings first, but recently I have done a couple of large paintings where I did sketches to get an idea of what it might look like on a canvas. At the moment I am working on a 22 foot mural. I have done a drawing to scale of what I would like to do, but once I start painting it may change drastically. Similar to a novelist that changes outcomes that had been anticipated.
I notice that you sometimes paint on canvas and other times on linen. Why is that?
My hands aren’t strong enough to stretch my own canvas OR linen so I purchase ready-made canvas on stretchers, or linen made up to a certain size. Also, I prefer the feel of linen under my brush. It has a different bounce than canvas. If I’m feeling wealthy, I buy linen.
You do series of paintings on a topic. How do you choose your topics?
My topics come from life experiences. For example, the series on opera came from watching people at the opera. Most of the series was humorous social commentary. I had a commission recently to loosely reproduce a scene that I had done previously in which the purchaser liked the feel of a happy party. Actually it was people fawning after a wealthy patron of the arts. We all see different things in pictures, just like we get different messages out of a novel. What we see and feel depends upon our previous experience or how we see the world.
In your fascism series, you use symbols to give meaning to the painting. I haven't noticed that in any other paintings you've done. How did you come to do that painting?
I was asked to participate in a group show. I was given complete freedom without review to create a piece of art in any medium. The only stipulation was to honour someone who had influenced your work. I chose Miro, a very modern surrealist painter of the 20th century who was working during the years leading up to the second world war. He used symbolism, social commentary and figures. His work speaks to me. I enjoyed creating these paintings very much!
Have you always considered yourself an artist?
I started thinking about being an artist when I began producing more than four paintings a year! It’s suggested that I had come to look at it as a vocation! When I was around 10 I had decided I wanted to be an artist, but that really didn’t mean much until I started producing a steady body of work about five years ago.
Where did you go to art school?
I attended art school when I was 18 and 19 for a short time at the Vancouver School of Art and then the Victoria School of Art. Neither had a great impact on my interest or skills. The Victoria School of Art introduced me to figurative work which has become the most important part of my creative expression today. More recently, 10 years ago, I took two painting classes at the College of Art in Victoria. That experience moved me into a frame of mind for taking on new challenges.
What motivates you?
I am motivated by social, emotional, and political issues in society. For years I’ve called it social commentary and I think that’s probably still the best descriptor. It could be the beautiful tribal costumes in China, the tragedy of residential schools, or the rise of fascism in North America and around the world in our era. The first botanicals I’ve ever painted were created this year in response to the fear of global warming and the fear of losing the beautiful plants in our forests. I’m a daily hiker and have watched the cedars and the salal dying in the woods over the past 4 years.
Do you create for yourself or others?
I paint entirely for myself. However, when I’m painting a commission I paint for myself and also consider the interests of the client. For example, I was commissioned to do a small mural of a wedding party. The bride requested that I use colours that would go with her living room and make her look thinner. Of course, I was happy to do that and it made producing the work much easier. It was still in my style and my construction, and in the same way that other paintings find their way into someone else’s house, the painting spoke to its new owner.
When you work do you think more about how you feel/think or what others will feel/think?
I never worry about what other people feel or think except from the point of view of deriving a response to how I feel and think about the subject. I am trying to make a statement or convey a feeling. Of course, the painting will always be seen by others who come with their own experience and interests. They may never see the statement I was making but find something entirely unintentional on my part to be pleasing. Both of those examples and of course many other ways of looking at creative works are legitimate.
Has your art changed or evolved over time and if so in what way?
Like a signature, I suppose my art has become recognizable in style, application and subject. However, in a general way, I would say I have become less interested in reflecting images we see and more in reflecting feelings and ideas behind the images.