The Elsie Effect

Something magical happened while painting the mural of Elsie Yanik.  It sparked a period of creativity and artistic exploration unlike any I have experienced previously.  The paintings that followed have sparked tremendous interest in the style I've developed and a list of commissions and projects that will keep me busy into the fall and through the winter.

First of all, thank you to everyone who has made a request or suggested a project.  I get excited and inspired each time someone reaches out to ask "Can you paint so-and-so?"  In some cases, people have sent me images; in other cases I go on a Google search.  As soon as I land on an image that works, the gears in my head start turning and I can literally picture the process of taking the photograph to the canvas, running it through my unique colouring style, and applying the final flourish of lines and splatters.

My biggest challenge ... no wait! There are more than one ... my biggest challenges are 1) finding the time to do the work, and 2) managing the growing list of commissions.  Both are great problems to have.  I have a limited supply (of time) and a growing demand.  From a business and artistic perspective, that's a pretty happy place to be.

I have a folder called "Future Projects" where I dump images that have either been requested or ones that inspire me.  I keep thinking to myself that there are so many amazing human beings, that I can't possibly run out.  I thought it would be fun to share 10 of the photos in that collection that have me the most excited and why.

1. Mother Theresa

An incredible human being - a saint really - Mother Theresa's face is an imprint of compassion, faith, and love.  I can't wait to do this one.  It needs to be larger, probably 36" x 36".

2. Helen Keller

I can't remember who suggested this strong inspiring woman, but I'm so glad they did.  I love this image so much.

3.  Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This Columbian novelist who died recently, had such an interesting face.  Every photo makes me want to grab a canvas and start painting.

4. Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe

I've been asked to paint something sports related for a big United Way fundraiser coming up.  This image of a young Wayne Gretzky with Gordie Howe intrigues me.

5. John Coltrane

One of the greatest jazz saxophonists of all time, John Coltrane screams to be done in my wild colours.  I can't wait to do it.

6.  Jimi Hendrix

This picture shakes the core of my being.  It will be a difficult piece to do with the details in the hair and on the jacket, but it will be worth the painstaking effort.

7.  Oprah Winfrey

When I asked the question of what strong and inspiring women I should paint, Oprah's name came up more than anyone else's.  This is a beautiful photo portrait of her that would be both a challenge and a privilege to paint.

8.  Muhammad Ali

This one is high on the list to do.  I love the intensity of this portrait, its darkness and power.

9.  Steve Jobs

When I think of a guy who has inexorably affected our lives, Steve Jobs rises to the top. His influence is omnipresent in our household with multiple iPads, iPods, iPhones and Macs.  He could be a real challenge to work with and for, but he changed the world.

10. Albert Einstein

Look at that face, so innocent, curious, mischievous. This will be a classic painting done in my Fauvistic/Jackson Pollock-ish cacophony of colour.

I find inspiration in the strangest of places.  Sometimes it doesn't need to be a global celebrity or long-dead-legend or genius.  Just this morning I grabbed a copy of the Metro newspaper and ripped out a stock photo of a lovely lady.  With nothing but a black pen, a few pencil crayons and a set of Sharpies, I spent several hours turning a small page in my black book into this.


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