Which paintings are in my Top 10?
Each project seems to be appreciated by somebody. I've had many of them printed on Moo (www.moo.com) business cards. When people pop by the studio, I often lay them out on the table to demonstrate the range of portraits that I do. You may wonder if I have favourites. I do. Some of them appear in this set of cards, others are from the back catalogue.
Here are 10 that pop out for me, in no particular order.
10. Jackson Pollock
This was one of those paintings that followed a particularly tough commission piece. I've established a practice of rewarding myself with "fun" paintings after successfully completing requests. These are the ones that pop up on a fairly frequent basis that can be purchased by whoever gets to them first. I love a couple of things about this portrait. The colour palette developed quite nicely and I quite like the composition. Jackson Pollock is also featured on the homemade sign at the entrance to Birdsong Studio.
9. Al Hancock
The portrait of Al Hancock, famous mountain climber and motivational speaker, a former resident of Fort McMurray, hit all the notes for me. It sits on the cusp of the evolution of my style, with some brush strokes that recall my early period, and others that suggest the looser blending of my more recent work.
8. Henri Matisse
The second painting master on this list, Henri Matisse factors loosely into the development of my style. Portraits from his fauvism period resemble some of mine. This portrait captures Matisse in a moment of observation, possibly even artistic insight.
7. Jim Morrison
As I look back in my splatter period - those months when I finished off each painting by adding drips and projectiles of colour - there is one portrait that consistently captures my attention: Jim Morrison.
I got to know Gary "Bear" Quevillon during the 2013 production of Hometown...the Musical! at Keyano Theatre. The manager of a local adult entertainment club, he was an unlikely, yet beloved, participant in a show about our community. He was leaning over the grand piano when I took the photo that inspired the painting.
5. Chief Dan George
This painting is part of the story of the Fort McMurray fire. I had started to sketch it out, along with 18 participants in a painting workshop I was leading at the Mark Amy Treatment Centre southwest of Anzac, on May 3rd. Just as many of us were finished sketching out the face on the canvas, "The Beast" was moving at incredible speeds toward several neighbourhoods in Fort McMurray. For the next couple of days, while separated from my wife and sons, I was worried that I may never paint again. This portrait took that feeling away. It was done at my niece's art table in Calgary after we were reunited as a family.
4. Gordie Howe
I didn't intend to paint Gordie Howe in the days after the world heard that he had died. However, I found this old photo of him in the dressing room that just knocked me over. I've had a number of opportunities to paint muscular torsos (ie. Dwayne Lewis and Sandy Bowman), but this one really turned out well. I'm proud of this one.
3. Donald Trump
I know; the subject leaves something to be desired, but I love this painting. I keep thinking I need to paint Hillary Clinton to balance things out. This portrait of Donald Trump features a composition that I find so interesting: the angled flag, shadows in the background, and beams of light coming up from behind the wall of patriotism.
2. Al Pacino as Sonny Corleone
This portrait happened very quickly. It also happened in a way that is very different than my normal pattern. I grabbed a number of different blues and started defining the contours of his face. The result was a colour palette was very out of the norm for me, and a depiction of this famous movie character that is captivating.
1. Bob Dylan
The final spot in this top 10 list was difficult for me, as there have been a few in recent days that come close to the top, Bob Marley and Charles Bukowski among them. But, I have to give a nod to one of the great inspirations of my life: Bob Dylan. I have painted this legendary singer/songwriter several times over the years. However, this most recent portrait was pretty special. It ended up going to a lifelong fan who lost his entire collection in the Fort McMurray fire.
In looking back on this list there are no women or animals. I have paintings of both that I really appreciate. These are a few:
"I need to do more women," I said to Heather yesterday. Had she misinterpreted my meaning, I could have been in a lot of trouble. Instead, she understood me immediately. Yesterday, I started the process by painting Malala Yousafzai.
From your perspective, what is missing from this list?