Saturday, September 26, 2009

Entrance to the Garden of Hope

Entrance to the Garden of Hope Acrylic on canvas 8" x 10"
The young green grass is adorned with bright red blossoms where the blood red cloak of life's trials and pain meets the earth. Red is the color of passion, courage and blood which is our life force. From sacrifice springs new life and opportunities waiting along a newly created path. The figure courageously moves on steadily without turning back, ever forward into the entrance of a bright new place with endless possibilities accompanied by the seven white doves of the garden of hope.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Watercolor & pastel on paper

My first attempt at painting a portrait in a realistic style. It was my first move away from the cartoonism I started with as a kid. As a cartoonist back then, I thought realism was old school museum stuff that were for grown ups and therefore boring. What did I know? I was a kid! This painting started as a doodle of an eye while I was bored taking a break from my math homework. Then somehow, realism didn't seem to be as boring as the math homework so I found myself eagerly working on this piece. It was supposed to be a doodle, which turned into a sketch, which later evolved into a watercolor painting. Finishing this changed my perspective on it all as I started to appreciate the fun challenges of realism and began to add my love of the fantasy genre by creating fantasy portraits.

The setting itself was actually inspired by a dream in which I was followed by the lady in the picture who appeared to be some sort of mystic sorceress or otherwordly being who was benevolent yet frighteningly powerful and wise all at once. I like to think of her as my muse since I couldn't rest until I painted this picture, which was a turning point in my artistic development and inspired me to keep pushing myself.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Square Foot 2009 - Fairy Willow

Fairy Willow
12" x 12" Acrylic on Canvas

Entry #2 for Square Foot 2009 at the AWOL Gallery. Since I was informed that a lot of artists take the annual Square Foot Show as an opportunity to try something different from their usual style, I decided to enter some pieces that are a little more "relaxed" and abstract.I almost always find myself instinctively painting the image of a graceful willow whenever I feel like painting trees. Often found growing near water and long associated with magic and the underworld in many legends such as that of the Greek goddess Hecate of witchcraft, the tree is veiled with the mysteries of stories long told. Once they were believed to be able to uproot themselves and follow travellers. Some cultures believed they housed kind forest spirits who offered guidance. On a scientific note, the willow also has medicinal properties and were used by the ancient Greeks and Native Americans for common ailments and fevers.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Square Foot 2009 - Fiery Flamenco

Fiery Flamenco 12" x 12" Acrylic on canvas

One of my entries for this year's Square Foot art show at the AWOL Gallery downtown. It's currently hanging in the smaller main AWOL location for this month. I decided to try out an experimental style for this show. This piece was in part a way of drawing inspiration from my Spanish roots. I've also always been fascinated by the beautiful strength and grace of great flamenco choreography and was awestruck by an amazing performance by a flamenco dancer who was part of the Riverdance troupe that performed here in Toronto recently. I've always felt that the flamenco demonstrates the most intoxicating combination of feminine beauty, strength and grace of all the cultural dances I've seen so far. Unlike the paso doble, the woman can take centre stage solo and dance without relying on a strong partner. Like fire she lights up the stage, beautiful, graceful, independent, strong and unstoppable.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Footsteps in the Forest

While sorting through some old artwork, I came across this book cover design I did for a story I've been meaning to finish writing. In the end it became more of an art experiment than a writing exercise. The whole purpose of this piece done in pastels is to "loosen up" my style by quickly drawing the trees and the branches and blending the colors given the 1 hour time limit I set myself to complete it. This was in order to try to get over my habit of being a little too obsessive compulsive when it came to every minute detail of each piece whether in terms of the visual or symbolic details.

Instead of presenting you with another explanation of the concept I had in mind, I invite you to look at it. Really look and try to see if you can see something hidden. I'm not giving away the answer for now since it's always interesting to hear other people's theories on what they see in a particular piece before hearing my take on it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Delicate Strength

It's been a crazy past two weeks. I'm just happy to have completed two consecutive art shows between writing and re-shuffling things in the studio while also getting a chance to hang out with some great UFC fighters again at their party in Mississauga during their brief weekend in town. It was great to spend time with Shonie again, along with some old familiar faces. While I'm not a big fan of the attitude surrounding the sport, I have a great deal of respect for some of the fighters who are so down to earth despite their celebrity status and talent. The beauty of the art or sport of grappling is in its fluid strength rather than brute strength since mere brute force isn't the only determining factor of victory on the mat. I couldn't quite remember where exactly I first read the quote that was partly the subconscious inspiration behind the painting below. Digging up my old yellow-paged copy of the Tao Teh King by Lao Tzu, I found the passage I bookmarked years ago:

"In life, man is soft and tender,
In death he is rigid and hard.
In life, plants and trees are soft and pliant.
In death, they are withered and tough.
Thus rigidity and hardness are companions of death.
Softness and tenderness are companions of life.
That is why the soldier who trusts only in strength does not conquer.
The tree that relies on its strength invites the axe.
Great strength dwells below.
Softness and tenderness dwell above."
(From the Tao Teh King by Lao Tzu)
Gotta love book sales! If I have a bigger weakness than bookstores it's gotta be discount book sales. There's a certain charm about used books from old bookstores. There is a certain mystery about them that make you wonder about their previous owners and how they could have let such treasures go. I wonder how many hands they have been passed through and whether or not those people are still alive. There's a dedication in this one which reads, "To Rupert on his 26th birthday, from Cedrick," dated August 1974. Rupert will be 61 this August if he's still alive. He received this book when he was just a little older than I was when I bought it as a teen. I wonder what he has gained from reading it and whether or not it had a major impact on his outlook in life. In either case, I'm grateful for it being sent my way. Below is what is currently my smallest painting on canvas which is hanging at Ben Navaee Gallery's Small is Beautiful show.

Gentle Strength 6" x 6" Acrylic on canvas 2009

Lotus: Birth, rebirth, perseverance, transformation, spiritual awakening, triumph.

The lotus flower has many symbolic links in Asian religions as a symbol of enlightenment and transformation. Its association with birth and rebirth is due to its nature of opening its petals to greet the sun at sunrise and closing them after sunset.
As a symbol of triumph over hardships in life, the lotus begins life as a small flower hidden deep in the bottom of the pond, its beauty obscure, its strength unapparent in the mud and murky water, until it rises above the surface to bloom with all its beauty.

Its stem anchors the flower firmly in the ground so it is not easily washed away in a storm, representing fortitude as well as our ties to our personal roots and past while the flower represents the fruit of our labour. As the lotus bud had to struggle to rise above its humble beginnings to transform into an object of beauty, so is the human spirit beautified and made stronger with each challenge it overcomes.

Dragonfly wings:
Light, joy, strength, maturity, change, adaptation.

Dragonflies are associated with many different meanings depending on cultural beliefs. The Japanese see them as symbols of strength, courage and happiness as well as martial success due to the similarity in the sound of the word "dragonfly" and "victory" in Japanese. Fragile, gentle, yet powerful in its flight as it gracefully darts in the air devouring other insects and peacefully hovers above water at other times, the dragonfly can be viewed as a symbol of gentle strength. As a creature that starts its life in the water to soar as a creature of the air most powerful in the summer with its wings reflecting the light of the sun, it symbolizes change and the self knowledge that comes with maturity.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Greeting the Dawn

Hi guys! It's been a while since my last post as things have gotten really busy on this end. Preparing for three art shows all opening in one month while taking time to train and write is not easy. I haven't painted flowers in a while and I had a specific angle in mind from which I wanted to approach this piece so I spent one day of the long weekend taking some reference pictures of tulips at Centre island for the painting I'm donating to the Parkinson's society at next week's charity art auction. I'm really excited to see how the show will turn out.

Next Wednesday, June 10th, drop by Gallery 402 at 402 King St. East to help support the Parkinson Society of Canada in funding their research for a cure. The theme of this show will revolve around tulips since the tulip is their symbol. The best news? Bids start dirt cheap at $25 so there's a great chance you can walk away with the following painting at a great price.

The flowers rising from the earth always reach forward to greet the sun and stars. They never look down at their own shadows, nor does the shadow of anything greater or above them ever discourage them from reaching ever forward no matter what the skies bring.

Eight tulips represent positive change:

  1. Green bud: Growth, life, hope.
  2. White: Purification, peace, hope, faith.
  3. Gold: Life as the life giving source of the sun, positive thinking and optimism. The yellow tulip opens like a cup receiving heaven’s blessings with gratitude and a bright face.
  4. Pink: Love, friendship and healing.
  5. Orange: Energy in motion.
  6. Red: Strength and freedom.
  7. Blue: Tranquility and healing.
  8. Magenta: Vitality. A purplish pink shade containing the joint meanings of pink which stands for healing, with purple representing healing and progress.

Dawn brings illumination and hope as well as improvement and progress with each day.
Dandelions, representing optimism and dreams, are often unappreciated, considered to be weeds despite their medicinal properties. To adults, they are insignificant plants, unwanted in a well-groomed lawn. To children, they are pretty flowers who listen to their whispered wishes before rising to the heavens to carry those wishes to the stars who always shine as rays of hope.