One week, four paintings that sing

When I look back over 1,081 paintings that I have created since I did the mural of Elsie Yanik on the outside wall of the studio in 2014, there are only a small number that completely sing to me.  What's interesting is the volume of their singing changes over time.  I went for a dive into the back catalogue quite recently and found myself being drawn into paintings that I was only lukewarm about when they were created. 

This week was a little extraordinary for me.  Over and above commission projects, I managed to do four personal projects that all sang to me, but in very different ways.

McKay Bear, 30" x 30", acrylic on canvas (SOLD)

The McKay Bear is one of my all-time favourite animal paintings.  I started it surrounded by talented youth artists at the Fort McKay Youth Centre.  It came together in a beautiful way over several hours back in the studio. 

Angkor Wat Monkey, 16" x 24", acrylic on canvas

Earlier this year, we finally took the opportunity to visit Angkor Wat, one of the great wonders of the world.  Our driver parked as close to the temples as he could get - the relics were still several hundred metres off in the distance - and got out of the air conditioned vehicle and into the hot and humid air of Cambodia's greatest tourist attraction.  Right outside my door was this monkey, sitting on top of a garbage can.  He was close enough to reach out and touch, though I played it safe and kept my hands to myself.  What I especially like about this painting is the finishing flourishes in the background.  It feels rather mystical and whimsical.

Passion of Christ, 20" x 30", acrylic on canvas

On Easter Sunday morning, while many people were in church, I was in the studio doing a still life study of a statue of Jesus wearing his crown of thorns.  I allowed the painting to take me where it wanted to go and this was the result. 

Nelson Mandela, 24" x 24", acrylic on canvas (SOLD)

Finally, I had this burst of inspiration to paint Nelson Mandela.  I don't know where the flash came from or why.  But I'm glad I paid attention.  The response I have had to this one has been quite something.  It joins a small number of portraits that are my favourites.  The red background, the colour choices in the face and the loose brush strokes all combine to capture his love of life and freedom. 

I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to wake up every day and try something new and unexpected.  I'm excited to see what happens in the weeks and months ahead. 


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