December 24, 2011

Double Dragons --> X-mas eve

I spent the afternoon adding some line work to my latest pieces. I like the holidays. It is quiet, the roads are bare, nobody is out,  (save the last minute men, hoping todo some last minute shopping and find a gift to save their ass tomorrow). Other than that, it is quiet and there aren't much in the way of societies regular expectations. Instead are dinners etc.
A perfect day to let the creative juices flow. I did the line work on both pieces, the red piece got black gesso line treatment and the blue background piece was given some line work with white paint.
A bit more work has been done in blocking in some of the facial features. I tackled the claws by creating a make-shift stencil out of a scrap of graph paper. I added the squirmy bits to the elbows and some white ribbing along the stomach. I also used a silver sharpie to draw in the scales. 
The red piece is more developed than the blue piece I like how it is progressing so far. At this point I began using the dryness of the white paint to lighten some of the hairy bits, I also added an extra finger to each claw. Next time I visit the studio, I will be able to play with color. I am fairly certain I will outline the pieces to give them a glow and to further separate them from the background.

So there you have it, the development from todays painting session ;)

December 23, 2011

Double Dragons

Chinese new year quickly approaches and this year is the year of the Dragon.

I decided to make two large paintings of dragons.First, I hope one gets selected as a design for this years Taoist Tai Chi society T-shirt.  I have done their shirts for the past two years and hope that they use an image created by me again this year.  Second, I plan on exhibiting these new pieces at Motion Gallery in the New Year, and if I'm lucky they will sell quickly.
This is a dragon slayer! Dj LurkN spinning tracks in my studio. 

 I created an original drawing to base them off of. This is the first of many in my newest Frosst Books sketchbook. I stretched two approximately 4 foot square canvases after my canvas building workshop. I acquired the frames for free and bought the 10 oz. canvas on the roll, way back.  I stretched them  and I gave them three coats of Chromacryl Gesso (the thick stuff) and sanded in-between each layer. It took about 5 hrs. total to create the surfaces in which to work. I sketched out the design in charcoal and gave it a light spray of workable fixative.

I worked in white gesso to blend in the charcoal and create some initial tone to work with.  I decided to do something a little different than I normally do, and work with a palette knife. I applied a red hue and blocked in the background. I applied it heavy and had fun doing it.  I even applied the paint around the edge of the canvas since I didn't think I'll be able to afford a frame for a work this large any time soon. Meanwhile, Cosmic and I were having an awesome time jamming out to his tunes.
I flipped over the original drawing and broke in my new animation light table for the first time. I loosely traced onto the back the initial drawing so that it would face the other way. Once this planning sketch was done, I was still on a roll...... I sketched in the second dragons body onto my other canvas.  Instead of blocking it in with the white gesso as I had done with the previous canvas, I just sprayed it down with fixative. My studio was too stinky to continue working so I left for the evening.
I blocked in a blue background on the second piece in with a palette knife. It wasn't my intention to be his and hers (Blue and Pink) but it was my intention to do a yin and yang thing.  The second dragon was painted in black with black Gesso made by Golden. I used a 2 inch brush to do it, it went very smoothly.
At this point it was getting late and I was loosing my edge. I painted in the claws but they looked so bad I had to paint over them.  Painting is largely experimentation and discovery. I don't even know where it will take me, I just show up and allow the process to unfold.  I decided to get into it and end the night off with some splatters and drips and blow off a little excess steam so that when I return I'll have new challenges to deal with in the creative process.
The red piece got the same treatment, I also used the black gesso as an underpainting for the fiery elements around the limbs and  the tentacle bits. I also sprayed some fluorescent pink marking paint to break up the space ad ant a little crazy with the splatters. A huge glob of red hit the eye and spilled down. Nothing to worry about. I spritzed the whole surface with water to soften it and allow for greater transparency of the dripping hues.

I am excited to see how these pieces develop into the new year, keep posted to see my progression =;)

December 21, 2011

Christmas cookies with a snowy crackle

Warning: This recipe can make you have mouth orgasms!

Kind of like a black forest cake in one bite.
These cookies are soft and chewy, chocolatey and cherry with a light dusting of white icing sugar on top. They take about 20 min total if you've done this kind of thing before and a bit more if you are sloppy in the kitchen. Total baking time 12 - 15 min! Makes more than 3 dozen little cookies =;)
Since many of you have tried these and some have asked for the directions..... I'm going to give it here for future reference. I will be making them as I write this to bring them to a solstice pot luck at Motion Gallery tonight!

What you will need to make them:

A large bowl,
a silicone spatula or wooden spoon,
a small wire sifter,
measuring cups (1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, and  1 cup)
and measuring spoons (1/2 tsp ands 1 tsp)
An oven set to 380 degrees (180 C.)
Baking sheets with parchment paper
I make a small drink with some maraschino cherry syrup, some of the rum and some San Pelligrino as I bake ;)

1/3 cup melted and cooled unsalted butter
1 cup sugar*
2 Eggs
1 tsp Pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sifted cocoa powder 
1 & 1/2 cup all purpose powder (sifted if needed)
1 tsp. Baking powder (NOT baking soda boys!)
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup or about 150g of coarsely chopped dark bakers chocolate 
1/3 cup of dried cherries** (mine were given to me by Richard Reeves from Creston B.C.)
1/3 cup maraschino cherries** and 1 tsp of their juice
Enough sifted icing sugar to coat (say 1/2 cup)

*You can use your own sweetener mix if you don't want to use pure sugar using maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, agave nectar, stevia etc.

** If you don't have either of these cherries, you can use other dried fruit or use candied cherries from the super market.

1) Prep your space: 
     Lay out parchment on a few baking sheets and turn on your oven to 380 F (180 C.)

2) Get out a large bowl and mix 'wet' ingredients:
     Mix together the room temp butter, the eggs, sugar/sweetener and vanilla together.

3) Blend in the dry ingredients:
     Put a sifter over the bowl and blend in the cocoa powder, flour baking powder and salt
3) Mix in the goodies that make the cookies awesome:
     Chop the chocolate chunks and cherries and add to the cookie dough until evenly distributed. 
4) Roll the dough in to balls and coat:
     Roll in your hands small balls just over an inch big or use a small scoop, try to make them all the same so they cook for the same amount of time.

5) Coat in icing sugar:
     Toss the cookie dough balls into the sifted icing sugar to coat.
6) Place and bake:
     Place the balls evenly spaced on the cookie sheets and bake for 12 - 15 min. 

7) Meanwhile while cookies are baking, clean up!
8) When the timer goes off, Take out and cool.

9) Eat, share & enjoy ! ! !


December 19, 2011

Tis the season for art marketing

Creativity consultation

I was very fortunate to have an opportunity to meet with both  Dale Turri and Brad Walker in my studio as part of (CADA) Calgary Arts Development Association's Executive In Residence program. The EIR program is a rotating post of leaders from the arts sector who are available for advice and council on any given number of topics to individual artist like myself and artist run centres. They are  available to offer some expertise, insight and a different perspective concerning the matter at hand and perhaps offer some options for how the organization/individual might be able to address it.

As soon as I found out this opportunity was available, I immediately jumped on the chance to have a consultation. You can go to the exact place I found it here:

I met Dale in person at the Fairytales nd EMMEDIA Christmas party and we talked a bit about what I hoped to gain from the experience.She recommended an joint meeting to get the most out of it, it was very effective.

We had about an hour  meeting in my studio where they were able to help me define what I wish to do in terms of next steps in my career.  It was nice to be able to share some work, what I've been up too and what I am anticipating in the future. Defining that, it became easier to see the stages and timeline I have. 

I took an entire page of  insightful, concise and inspiring notes. They gave me fantastic advice on how my approach is going and how to better improve it.  They came up with some creative solutions to the opportunities and problems I continually face. They helped me outline the expected growth and outcomes I wish to achieve in the upcoming year. Also it was nice to know that I'm doing things right and that the difficulties I've been facing are reported back to them, so I'm not alone. I look forward to some of the follow up notes and links from Brad to help me create an action list and media releases.

If you would like to know more, sign up and find out for yourself how a little information can go a long way.

Here is a little bio from the CADA website about each EIR.

Dale Turri (Fundraising and Resource Development) 
Dale is a business development consultant and professional fundraiser with a long history of working with arts groups to raise awareness and increase profile. A long-time resident of Calgary, she attends arts and cultural events on average 2 or 3 times a week. Dale currently serves on several arts boards and is a recipient of a Calgary Award (Arts).

Brad Walker (Arts Marketing)
Bradley Walker, a graduate of the Arts and Cultural Management program at Grant MacEwan University, has been involved in the arts and entertainment industry for nearly 15 years as a performer, volunteeer, advocate and professional arts manager. Prior to rejoining Bottom Line Productions in 2003 to open the company's Calgary office, Bradley was the Director of Operations and Director of Resource Development for Alberta Ballet, one of Canada's largest ballet companies. During this time, Bradley oversaw the operations, philanthropic and marketing initiatives of the ballet's Edmonton office. Bradley has been nominated for the national "Pfizer Award for Emerging Arts Managers," was the recipient of Grant MacEwan University's Distinguished Alumni Award and has been named one of Calgary's "Top 40 Under 40" by Avenue Magazine (Calgary Inc. Magazine). Bradley is also active in the community and has been involved as a volunteer with Alberta Opera, The National Ice Theatre of Canada, Victoria School Foundation for the Arts, Calgary Professional Arts Alliance and Calgary Opera. Bradley is currently a member of SAIT's Business Administration Marketing Major Program Advisory Committee.

December 18, 2011

Do you see what I see?

Some Art.....

I was lucky enough to have to head up to ACAD to see the David Hoffo's Show the last day it was open. He remains a creative genius in the realm of illusion and light. It is often eerie to enter such a dark gallery. But in order to use the illumination of reclaimed television sets, it is necessary to paint all the walls black and keep the lights low.It was nice to see such a large collection of his work in one space. I had seen many of the works over the years at various galleries, but to fill the Illingworth Kerr Gallery is phenomenal.
One method to discover how these illusions work is to place your hand in front and behind the angled viewing glass.  If you put it in front you would no longer see the image within the space because you would be blocking it from hitting the framed sheet of glass. If you put your the behind the sheet of glass, the image would appear on your hand and not into the interior space comprising the built models and landscapes. I am surprised how far the TV's  can be placed from the interior surfaces and at such a high angle and still reflect the light effectively.
I think it would be really amazing to get  bunch of Artists together to create a show of works inspired by David Hoffos and using his techniques.  My favourite works were more landscape based where something small and eerie happened in the interiors. I really liked the piece with the train and a bit of light happening in the window and of course some of the  pieces that I  have seen at the Trepanier Baer Gallery years ago like the one with the UFO soaring in to the air as onlooker view from a nearby cliff top. There is also his older body of work featuring people in model spaces, the spaces being very still on their own but with the addition of the looped image brings it some life......... or in order to have some curtains blowing. 
 This short clip can't do the work justice, very low light and video are not friends;( Amongst all the works in this show there was one piece that stood out for me, it was a piece with a Yacht. It contained a model of a pier in a black mirrored box, there was a  yacht that appeared to be floating in the reflection inside.  He video taped a model yacht that appeared to slightly roll, like it would in the sea. What strengthened the illusion was the lighting on this model, it looked  ripples of water were reflecting on the hull. In addition there was video of the ocean added. All together the elements culminated in an illusion of a yacht in the blackness of night eerily bobbing in the sea. It is breathtaking!
Each piece not only told a story but also revealed another experiment in method of working.  The piece above differed from the TV projection pieces in that it was comprised of a 3D sculpture lit outside the mirrored box which became reflected many times in the interior as if it were a projected image.
I like that the work is inviting enough to expose the methods of creating the illusion. There was one piece pin particular that was very tongue and cheek. The scene was of a bored gallery security guard in a Barnett Newman exhibition.  Davis Hoffo's used the mirrored interior space by creating only half the pieces like half a triangle and letting the mirror create the rest, very clever.  Also when you viewed the pieced directly on and looked straight into the gallery, your face appeared as one of the works on the far wall.
There were a collection of pieces of projections on black shapes which created a spacious feel. Some of these also gave you the eerie feeling that there were living people in the gallery with you. Kinda creepy. In on corner, on the floor with a sitting cat, (on a TV screen) this made me laugh out loud, so good!
Outside the Illingworth Kerr Gallery two friends of mine from the sculpture Faculty had pieces. First was this Self titled piece by Matthew Brunning. I just had to follow the plug and see it turned on.
 This is going to look awesome over his bed ;P
Jean Day's sculpture is of a moss covered body that appears to be flying across space, like it was catapulted across the wall. The body is encircled by taxidermic critters crawling all over, it looked super cool. Finally while walking down 17th Ave. to use an expiring Groupon I had for Divine, I passed the Sugar Estate Portrait Gallery and saw the awesome piece, I believe the works are changing daily so if you can saunter on by and see a beautiful painting like the one below.
That is tons of things of beauty to take in on one day, but there is so much more out there. I wish everybody lived in an art bubble in the future. I don't think that is on the Agenda for the New World Order any time soon so drink it up while you can =;P

December 16, 2011

Mr. Lee, Bruce Lee

I love Bruce Lee

I was commissioned to paint a 12 X 16 portrait of Bruce Lee for a friends father for his X-mas present.   I knew what I was going to paint because she selected an image for me to work from.  At first, I thought I'd do a black and white rendition and paint the background in a shiny gold. The finished piece will be mounted in thick black frame from Wal-Mart. I had to pick up a canvas panel that would fit her frame.

I know that I can make something beautiful in paint, but I wasn't sure how it would turn out.
I decided to try out a new technique and do an image transfer.  At the Emmedia X-mas party Melody J. at Fairytales was kind enough to print it out for me on her printer, in colour.   I ended up doing some photoshopping prior to get it to fit onto two 8.5" X 11" sheets of standard paper.  Then I covered the canvas board in clear primer, put the print face down and let it dry.  I used water to wash the paper off the back of the print allowing the ink to stay imbedded in the clear primer. I rubbed it down to make it look like an old movie poster from the days of Bruce Lee's film releases.
I clear coated the image to make sure it would stay fixed down. I then applied a wet wash of Burnt Umber to the entire image. I used a paper towel to wipe more of it away from the surface of the image transfer than the rest. The colour darkened the whites of the canvas. I then thickly applied a red background over the dark umber wash. At this pint I'm choosing red because it works as a great underpainting to gold in case I still apply it later on. I love how old its looking at this point, I want to keep it for myself.
Then I began to block in the painting starting with the darks. I outlined the drawing to help it to pop. I used brown washes and added back some yellows and high lights.  I used black Gesso for his hair and pants. I mixed iridescent silver with Paynes Grey for the shine on his pants. I used an iridescent gold, not for the background but for his skin. This changed my initial idea to have a gold background and solidified the next step, painting the red background for a third time to creating more depth and texture.

I am really proud how this piece turned out. Of course, I low balled to get the gig. But damn, she is getting a really nice piece of art!

Studio Party and furniture update

That was a blast! From outer space......
Cosmic (AKA DJ LURK'N'BANG) seen making deals with his agent here,
came in and set up his equipment and spun some sweet tracks. New fact: It turns out we both share the same favourite Bob Marley song! Which gives me more reason not to worry 'bout a thing!

There is nothing like good tunes and  live performer to add energy and magic to a studio. Also I bought some snacks and beers, this helps too. I struggled putting together my new Animation Desk from the Quickdraw Animation Society.  Gerry popped in with his girlfriend Shilo to see what was up and to pick up the canvases he made at the November Canvas Building workshop.

Al Chu stretches some new canvases while EJ appears to be making shit happen, but you never know what really could be happening in that text.
Here the boys get down and creative with my PRISMACOLOR set. We talked a lot about integrity and following the dreams of being an artist. HOw we are each going about that in different ways, there is no road map for this after all, and how success means you have got to rise above.
I did some reorganizing in the studio. I got my furniture put together, mostly. I had to strengthen the joints by adding some corner brackets. I broke some shelf pieces a few times, this unit is put together in a ridiculous way. Plus I am missing a small shelf piece.  All this without directions! If I did this a second time I would be the master, unfortunately I did use up my entire night getting it to where I wanted. I'd rather be painting!

December 15, 2011

U of C Visiting Artist Lecture Invitation

Today I was invited by the University of Calgary to give a lecture as part of their Visiting Artist and Scholar Lecture Series.  A few years back I gave a talk there in regards to my "Battle Between the Sexes" installation and residency at EMMEDIA. This year they selected me to present a talk in light of my upcoming solo exhibition titled "Divine Inspiration" at the Stride Gallery.

Divinely Inspired, the work of Brian Batista

Friday, February 17, 2012. 
10 -11:30pm  Arts building
presented by the University of Calgary's 
Visiting Artist and Scholar Lecture Series

December 14, 2011

Studio party and new furniture!

Studio Party Tonight!!

I will be joined by a few friends and anyone else who want to pop in for an impromptu Studio Party.  DJ Cosmic Lurk N Bang will be spinning sweet tracks. I have some students from my November Canvas Building Workshop coming in to pick up their supports,  while Jesse Gouchey and Myself work on our respective commissions. Al Chu and Ej Negre will be in the house and maybe a special guest appearance or two.
Got some new furniture for the studio. Here it is stacked in the freight elevator on its way up to my studio on the 5th floor. I'm bringing in my pine book shelf from home so I can have all my art books and reference material close at hand. I also purchased this custom "easy - fit" Animation table from the Quickdraw animation society for  a steal $75, it used to be from the Alberta College of Art and Design's previous Animation program. It even came with x-tra light bulbs.

I can't believe how the furniture blends in to my floor. Here are all the components, laid out ready to assemble.  I started putting the shelf together but once I decided where things were going to go I realized there was a lot of stuff that I had to move. What is that old saying, "you've got to make a mess to clean a mess"?! So I changed out my table to create room by the plug for the animation stand and book shelf.  I began putting together the animation table, had it 98% complete, then it came crashing down on my head. It's a two person job, even when it is together its still pretty wobbly. I will have to add some structural support to the "easy assembly- fit together" design because it doesn't quite cut it.

December 10, 2011

The Motion Gallery opens it's doors.

The first exhibition, a huge success!

I'd say that the Motion Gallery's opening and first exhibition exceeded my expectations,  it's hard enough to get an audience to attend an art opening, but combine that with X-mas season parties and it was a Friday night, making it even more exceptional.  Motion = momentum. 
Here are some of my pics taken with my sh*tty iPhone camera.

  • That's what I like to see, people engaged with my work!
    and people chatting, connecting and enjoying themselves.
     The name "Motion Gallery" is inspired by the  principal of Newtons first Law 'Objects in motion tend to stay in motion'.   This Gallery, like it's artist's, are in motion: Creative, active, and proactive!

    Motion Gallery has a diverse collection of art from new and veteran artists, that  appeal to any taste.

    "Engage yourself in culture. Take in some Art."

    If you couldn't make the opening, go and take a walk around the huge gallery space.
    Motion Gallery is located at 200 Barclay Parade SW, on the main floor at the NW end. of Eau Claire Market.

The Motion Gallery opens it's doors

  • I'd say that the Motion Gallery's opening and first exhibition exceeded my expectations and is therefore a success!
    You know... it's hard enough to get an audience to attend an art opening, but combine that with X-mas season parties and it was a Friday night makes it even more exceptional.  Here are some of my pics taken with my sh*tty iPhone camera.
    That's what I like to see, people engaged with my work!
     The name "Motion Gallery" is inspired by the  principal of Newtons first Law 'Objects in motion tend to stay in motion'. 
     This Gallery, like it's artist's, are in motion: Creative, active, and proactive!

    Motion Gallery has a diverse collection of art from new and veteran artists, that  appeal to any taste.

    "Engage yourself in culture. Take in some Art."

    Please go and take a walk around the huge gallery space.

    Motion Gallery is located at 200 Barclay Parade SW, on the main floor at the NW end. of Eau Claire Market.

December 9, 2011

This is the end, my only friend, the end, or is it?!

I went to Glenmore Village Library to give my final flip book class for 'tweens'. There were 12 spots to fill and a long waiting list, so thanks to the Glenbow's gracious donation of some flip-books, I had enough supplies for 17 participants. I let everybody in. They have a really good core group of kids who do a ton of activities at this library. It got a little crazy but it was my most fun class to date. even one of the moms got into it and made a flip book. Everybody had a great time.......I like to go out with a bang!
Half the girls on this side of the room were wearing pink.
 I didn't get the memo, or I would have too!

Afterward, I instructed my official final After Effects class at Quickdraw Animation Society.  Something I picked up while in New Orleans called Lagniappe - which means that little bit extra, I always like to go up to 11 and do a bit more in everything I do.......... so I'll be in teaching one extra class next week and fielding any questions the students may have about their future needs for future projects =;)

I spent some time in the studio this week working on various commissions.  I also took  a piece I sold out of the frame and sanded the frame down in order to put a fresh coat of Black paint on it. I think you will agree, it looks better than the crappy frame it was in. But I'm not going to show a picture in that frame, I just can't let myself, I won't put it back in that frame, it looks like crap.  Hopefully the new owner and I can go on a little frame shopping date together soon, and get something better suited for this work and her condo =;)

Some things come to and end, while other are beginning....

I had to pick up a new sketchbook. My previous one is somewhere in the USA with my wicked $122 Micro topic pens ;(  I got this one at Frosst Books. It is wicked! The gold cover was designed by Ryan Scott. The paper is of grand quality. There is a pocket in the back, trust me this is very useful. There is an elastic that keeps the book closed when needed. They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and prices. There is a really cool square one that looks so fly, but I only had $ for one.  If you call yourself an artist, go and get one of these from John Frosst @ Frosst books on 9th Ave. in Inglewood, right next to Pith Gallery. Do it now!

Frosst Books website: