This summer my Artist’s Garret has been a very busy place. Earlier in the year I had been invited to participate in the Coast Collective’s Associate Members’ Showcase. My plan for this exhibit was to paint works inspired by writer Sean MacUisdin’s anthology of short stories, The Scarlet Bastards. I had hoped to work on them throughout the first part of the year so that they would be ready for the July show. However, by the time June arrived, I had only painted one of the eight that I needed, and I realized that I had a block to the project. With only three weeks until drop-off, I knew I had to work like crazy, and while I had hoped to capture some of the humour of the stories, I was beginning to realized just how many hours of research the project would require regarding things I knew very little about.
Those of you familiar with my work will know that this is not the way I usually choose to work, and more significantly that drawing is not really a big part of my art practise. In addition to this there was the component of working with the author, who understandably has his vision of what things look like in his stories. This was made most clear after he viewed the aliens I had designed – yes, we are talking science fiction here – and informed me that I had it all wrong. This illustrated for both of us, I think, the very subjective nature of art and its interpretation, whether written or visual. I did finish the project, arriving to deliver it at the last possible moment as I worked right to the wire to finish the last painting – matted, framed, and ready for hanging.
Upon reflection, I acknowledge to myself and the world that these “story” paintings are not my best work, although some of them have garnered compliments from those who have viewed them. It was a difficult job – a challenge – but also a valuable learning opportunity. Would I ever try illustration again? Perhaps, but probably not something as meticulously demanding as technical science fiction.
For your viewing pleasure, here are the paintings.
This entry was first posted on August 18, 2014.