Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Painting: 'M. Griffin Ltd.'

'M. Griffin Ltd.' 2009, 5.5 X 8", acrylic on board.

My first painting on archival illustration board (Strathmore 500 series- Heavyweight Plate, to be exact).

I’ve been encouraged by the gallery for a couple of years to try out illustration board. In the strange world of art dealing, I can get more money for a work on board than I can on paper.

I stubbornly resisted the suggestion for no other reason than stubbornness and wish I had made the switch sooner.

There is little or no change in technique needed and it’s a smoother, brighter surface. It’s also more amenable to being tossed around on the table as it’s considerably thicker than the 300 lb Fabriano Artistico I’ve been using for most of the last decade.

I’m glad it’s worked out. In order to buy it locally I had to buy two packs of board. As I left the store, it dawned on me this was an eight year supply.

Undoubtedly one of my last few Victoria, B.C. subjects, M. Griffin Ltd. is located around the corner from my last address in downtown Victoria.

Aside from being easier and quicker to paint, I love the look of white stucco buildings. I was struck when I arrived in Victoria in 1989 by the lack of brick buildings on the west coast. Stucco rules the day!

The omnipresent grey sky of winter makes these old white buildings stand out with a certain shopworn serenity.

I finally got around to photographing M. Griffin just before we moved. I had been meaning to paint it for years and had originally imagined it with the late evening summer sun on it. I’m glad it ended up with the blah, late winter blues. Very wet-coast.

My friend Wilfred in Vancouver said that he was curious to see how living in Montreal would change my work. At first I thought ‘Not at all!’ but as we complete our first year here I realise there will have to be a bit of a shift.

Montreal presents some interesting challenges for me. The most obvious being French language signage. A painting of a storefront in Victoria could represent anywhere in North America. Do I want to be so specific as to say ‘This is Quebec.’ in all of my paintings?

We had a particularly brutal winter this year and I wasn’t moved to take any photos. Can I possibly ignore the way things are in Montreal for almost five months of the year?

These days the city’s alleys are seeping in to my consciousness. Having moved to my sixth address in five years, this time to a loft in ‘Petite Italie’, we find ourselves surrounded with alleyways, train tracks and any manner of oddball light industrial building. The daily dog walks are serving to indoctrinate my mind to the new vernacular.

Part of what I think is important in my paintings is my connection with the subject matter. It seems inevitable that I will find a way to connect with the city I live in and I don’t want to pretend that I live somewhere else.

I’ll likely continue to mine the old photos for a while. I have one or two more Victoria shots and the inevitable gold mine of New York to tide me over until the indoctrination of the new is complete.