December 30, 2012

Notes from Martinho's workshop

During some New Year's clean up I deleted a bunch of files containing my notes from MArtinho's painting workshop last spring.

Here they are in their entirety:

Painting workshop

Day 1

Burnt umber and white value of 6- cobalt drier and solvent
Solid shadows

Calcium carbonate (marble dust) to make whites opaque. with titanium to help give it more umph 1-0.85

Shadows - black and yellow ochre

Background mid tone - black and yellow ochre and a touch of emerald green

More solid shadows and background
Blueish ground blur the line between the two

Peek thru a finger hole to get color relationship to flesh palette!

Flesh - red umber and white
Blend the meeting line a bit

Fill in other mid light tones

Palette & flesh ball!
White, yo, red, Indian/venetian, (make an orange) then add white for flesh, red umber, burnt umber , raw umber, black

Day 2: fall of light

Dark at bottom of legs paint up like a flat cardboard cut out.

Shade the background and floor

Bought a litany of 50 cent brushes and got a free travel case.

Photo demo in the afternoon.

Head photo, 25 cm.
Printed out in colour.

Priming a canvas with big car wash super sponge and lead white paint.

Light sand - wipe off with a damp cloth.

Bring painting home and leave in warm truck can to speed up drying time.

day 3

Oil in, first painting, model the largest forms in the round

Lesson of the day:
More paint!!!
After all (paint is cheap)

Punching shadows a bit
Lighten up the background


Day 4

Oil in- this process is done onto dry oil to bring the color back

Fairfield Iowa- marahashi

Scottish portrait painter- sir Henry Raeburn


Day 5, work one area with second stage painting.

Working on legs, bumping up the chroma using more Persian once it is pulled out can see the uses of a more closely resembled hue

campatura-wet sand the poison surface and Rubbed in thinned burnt umber.

You got to know when to quit,

I'm happy where I'm at, time to quit while I'm ahead.

last day of the sale, I succumbed to some more purchases!

Tab aret - rolling cabinet.

Things to buy:
Cobalt drier
Buy a color and tone chart
For reference and photography

Black mirror. Red plexiglas or other optical enhancer.

Good brushes: Rosemary and company. England. Mongoose finishing, series 276 finishing.

Download: the book of wealth


Painting workshop - week 2

Starting a new portrait

1) Tracing with high and low points, small straight lines rather than curved ones that are inaccurate

2) Charcoal the back of the tracing paper. Align the tracing to layout the composition. Trace back over on top of the line to transfer the outline to the support underneath.

3) block in shadows, burnt umber and white! First draw in the lines with. The paint thinned with mineral spirits. Then begin dead coloring. Starting With the shadow.

3) followed by the midtone in the lit side. Fill in the background mid tone.
Made of flesh tone (red + ochre + white) plus some Red Umber. The background is black with  yellow ochre and a bit of white. The background tone could have been thicker but I will be going over it again.

----lunch break

Printed out a black and white reference at home

Traces, Transferred and inked.

Put in the dead coloring, major shapes of shadows and lights.

Background and cloth blocked in.

I really like working on the texture of the prepared surface.


Big form modeling
Basic flesh color
But turning
Planes of the head
Red umber and white is a good place to start near the bed bug line
A little bit lighter than the shadows
Just a bit of 3:1 medium

Making the head into a flesh ball


Have two turps one for first clean and another for second back into paints that is cleaner.

More chroma, guard against inadvertent greying of the tones.

Week 2 - day 3

After big form modeling work on the planes of the face

Oil in both canvases and set up my palette put about an hour setting up making tones to work from and finding the shifts and planes. Pic of palette

Worked on piece until the lunchbreak.
Then, excitedly ran over to the holy smoke for a man which sandwich and some fantastic chili con carne, stuffed, drowsy and needing some java I continued back on my girl portrait doing the shaping of the larger planes.

Went back into my self portrait and worked on creating some form in the shirt. That button sharply grabs the attention.


Week 2 - day 4

Regular start, oil in, chat, 1 damar : 1 oil.

The most important thing I've found laying out the palette.

Revising the shadows for the girl, really starting to "see" the values. Mixing Persian red straight in, surprising how much oil can handle.

Doc: why beauty matters. Culture counts, book.
Local color - movie
Caesar santos - Cuban American in Miami


Final day of workshop,

Oil in,
Rework the girls face cause I like torturing myself to understand this value scale and palette system.

Chateau artiste
Krauser P U A

Finding it challenging
Now it's starting to come together
Build you up and break you down
Process - be a man!

lunch time - helped Darryl with his HD camera here is the empty classroom at lunch.

Charles Bargue book
 on amazon

- kept working,

Broken colour background:

movement of tone in background,

Mix up 3 values: low, mid , high (big middle circle (first shot)

Break the colour into yellow and blue and mix both a higher chroma and a lower chroma of both
Ex: low chroma blue add a bit of black and maybe some white. Yellow is raw umber.


December 28, 2012

Model Mayhem

I have a 3 month residency coming up in the new year with the CAOS, Calgary Animated Object Society. I hit the studio and picked up some of my collection of models to be made. I began some assembly on two kits.
I began with a Caribbean pirate ship. Breaking off the parts that I need and sanding off the tabs of each. I have a bunch of paints collected over the years and some other good supplies for model making. I put together the top deck and painted it with dark tan enamel.
I connected all the hull parts and used clamps and a ribbon to keep the pieces together as the glue dried.
I added on the back of the hull. It was tough to get the parts to fit exactly and I have some annoying glue spots and areas that need filling. Luckily, by the end of the process it is the paint that is going to make the difference.
While waiting for parts to dry I also worked on these Chasmosaurus models made by Tamiya. These need a bit of filling in the seams and sanding and they are ready to be painted.

December 12, 2012

Make a wish!

Make a wish,
freeze time,
make a dream
ask yourself,
what do I desire?

The wise words of Alan Watts, greatly describe how I feel about the choices I've made in my life.

December 11, 2012

Inside an artists life

Here is a short video piece created by Hannah Kost about me and my need to work. The link below is for her piece titled "The Gift and the Curse".

I have always felt annoyed when someone tells me I'm talented. My response is that I don't have talent I have skill. Talent came when I was young. I nurtured and developed into skill. I don't feel like what I do is easy, it takes work, persistence, dedication and sacrifice. Being and artist is no easy path, especially when the path chooses you.


November 27, 2012

Adding Galaxies - SHIVA

Shiva's dance of destruction inspires the creation and destruction of the cosmos. I was inspired by hubble images and added them around the dancing figure. Here is how they look all together on the finished piece.
They also look really cool when viewed thru my Chromadepth 3D glasses. Below are 7 close up examples of the various galaxies I painted around Shiva.

Go see the work at Stride, closes this Friday and will never be hung together as a collection again.

Strides website/ information.

November 15, 2012

Shivas dance of destruction

Shivas skin is painted and the figure is blocked in in the round.... but now needs a head.
You can see the charcoal o the black gesso of where the head needs to be placed. The rear hand still needs to be painted in as well.
 Here is  a closer show to show the shading details added to the figure.
I painted in the rear arm.

 Here is a detail of the hand.
This is the first placement of the head and shape but it didn't look right so I had to do it over again.
 I blocked in the major planes of the head and face, this time softening the edges and pointing the chin a bit more.
I added a bit more shadow depth and blocked in the eyes.
I then did a little work on the hair and added in more stars into the cosmos.

November 14, 2012

RAMA - towards gold and robes

Here is some of the process for finishing my Rama painting currently on exhibition at the Stride Gallery until the end of this month.

 I left off with the painting at the fall of light stage. I must have painted and repainted it 5 times. Learning that its okay to rework and wipe away. The creation of this piece became a very organic process. I also lost my reference material when my laptop had to be reformatted.
I wanted to create darker shadows and more realistic form with this piece than in my previous sacred images. I also wanted the dark skin tone to resemble a rocky statue. I had a picture that I ripped out of a national geographic that had a great stone texture that I used as my inspiration. I added pits and cracks and highlights.
I decided to have Rama pulling back a lightning bolt instead of a traditional arrow.  I taped the shape off and painted it in with leafing resin. It takes at least an hour for it to become tacky and ready to lay leaf. My idea is that I can create crisper shapes when I pull the tape of afterward.
After gently laying down the gold leaf I rubbed it with the back of my knuckles because the brushes I have are a little too rough and tear the gold leaf leaving an undesirable cracked texture. This is the first test I have for doing it this way and it has turned out quite good for being a total noobie. I clear coated the gold leaf afterward to protect it, keep it shiny and to stall any future oxidation that might occur.
I drew out half of the bow shape onto a large sheet of paper so that I could have a symmetrical bow. I cut out the sheet and used it as a placement guide. I followed the paper guide with masking tape and gently cut it out to match using my matte knife where necessary.
I figure out an appropriate angle to place the top part of the bow and then laid down the masking in the same manner as on the lower half. Afterward, I placed the guilding glue or size and waited until it became tacky to the touch.
Here is the gold leaf applied to the inner shape. You can see the bits that are loose over the masking tape as they have nothing to adhere to. I gently brush them away and try to salvage as many pieces as I can leaving the rest to fall to the floor like rice at a wedding.
I removed the tape, cleaned up the edges and applied the protective coating over top of the gold. It shines brilliantly and beautifully. far better than any gold paint ever could. I like the implied line of the bow string and decided not to paint it in at all.
The next stage as time consuming. Since I had no plan or reference I had to improvise a flowing robe in white paint. I used a slightly translucent white and scrubbed it to give it a silky appearance. Beneath each foot I decided to have him stand on the robe as if it is helping him to float in the red void. I left some of the robe at the point of construction lines to give it a lyrical feel and to reveal some of the steps in creating it.
I gave him a helmet with the fabric coming from the top of it. I decided not to paint it with shadows which would give it solidity and weight. Instead it is more like an outline or X-ray style. I did not paint in the gems or add any gold so that the simple color palette would not be disturbed.
Here is a shot of the full piece in the studio before heading to the gallery space for hanging.

Here is a current active link to the Gallery page for more info and a great article about the work:

Check it out before it is to late!

November 2, 2012


Eastern promises

Artist finds creative salvation in Vedic deities


Divine Inspiration by Brian Batista
Stride Gallery
Friday, October 26 - Friday, November 30

More in: Visual Arts

As he tells it, Brian Batista has been an artist for over 30 years; he just hasn’t had much work to show for it. He says he knew he wanted to paint since he was five, but due to the interceding diversions of school and work, he’s just now holding his second solo show.

While Batista graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design in 2001 and was lucky enough to get a job straight out of the gate as Emmedia’s production co-ordinator — a role he held for eight years — the resulting 16-hour days didn’t leave much time to hit the canvas.
So, he walked away from it all.

“When you work in artist-run centres, you’re working for the artist — and I wanted to be the artist again,” he says. “I was like, okay, I’ve had enough, because I needed some growth.... I tried to redefine myself.... Everyone knew me as the video guy. And there was a huge falling out period — I felt lost for about six months. I wasn’t the video guy. I didn’t have those jobs anymore. In your 30s that’s a lot scarier.”

Thankfully, Batista had no less than a pantheon of deities to guide the way; while he maintains he’s “close to being an atheist,” he was attracted to the iconography of Tibetan Buddhism on an aesthetic if not spiritual level. Saying he wasn’t quite sure of his own style, he researched figures in museums from New York to Los Angeles, Toronto to Calgary.

“What really interests me is that it’s all about the human condition,” he says. “Also, I’m super-literal, and [in Tibetan art] every object has a meaning and tells a story. I don’t really understand abstract art, and classical, figurative art is a little too obvious. I like symbols, motifs and iconography, but I still want to do figurative work.”

So Batista ventured forth with his first major series of works, fairly faithful (if a little brighter colour-scheme wise) representations of these deities, even going so far as to teach himself the sacred geometry that the Tibetans used in determining scale, proportions and positioning of their subjects.
“The Tibetan stuff is relationships to everything else — if one leg is up the other has to be down, if one leg is pointed this way, the other has to be pointed that way,” explains Batista. “It creates a balance, somehow, using those shapes and that math.”

For his current exhibition at Stride — Divine Inspiration — Batista reached even further back in time, looking to the Vedic deities of Hinduism which later informed the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon. However, this time around Batista allowed himself more representational leeway — while elephant-headed Ganesh comes across pretty much how you’d expect, the goddess Lakshmi appears with dreadlocks and holds a banjo, and the traditionally male Shiva is rendered in female form (fun fact — his model was Carisa Hendrix, local Guinness record-holding fire eater and last week’s subject of this publication’s Your Face Here).

Also, while the colourful images certainly pop out of the frames on their own accord, the effect is further emphasized with a pair of Chromatech 3D glasses, which are available at the gallery.
Batista downplays this visual twist, though — he says the paintings stand on their own without the effect — he just wanted to try it out after being introduced to the technique at a rave and then realizing he had already painted colours — much like a printmaker — in the order needed to produce a 3D image.

Indeed, it seems to be part and parcel of a journey of both serious (he’s also studied classical Florentine figurative painting) and playful exploration as he discovers what it is to be a working artist.
Batista admits he’s still finding his way, which is why having a place to show his work is of such importance.
“[Calgary artist Chris Cran] came up to my paintings and pointed out some things that just opened my eyes,” says Batista of the kind of dialogue facilitated by the opening of Divine Inspiration. “And that’s what I wanted, because I’m trying to get somewhere and I don’t know where that is.”


October 31, 2012

What in Samhain?

Here is the Link to the essay below by Mark Allard about my show. 


Creating divine icons can be a meritorious act that nourishes the spirit and brings about the existence of deities and good luck. Calgary artist Brian Batista tests the possibility of sublime experience in art. His work, DIVINE INSPIRATION, blends sacred geometry with historical references to re-imagine traditional images and cleverly conceptualize contemporary life in terms of Vedic deities and sublime mystical revelation.
The development of Vedic deities was a fusion of ideas from invading Aryan tribes - from the region of Iran, and the indigenous people of northern India. The Aryan herdsmen were less interested in rural deities and stressed the adoration of natural phenomena. The sun (Surya) and fire (Agni) were personifications of divinity. As A. A. MacDonnell describes, "true gods of Veda are glorified human beings, inspired with human motives and passions. Born like men, but immortal."1
Deities from the succeeding RigVedic era were less secure, gaining or losing prestige, and new ones emerged, replacing those that had become obsolete. Indra was considered the almighty powerful God and became Prajapati, the creator and preserver of the universe, and would be identified with Brahma in the post Vedic period. The new Vedic deities would influence Buddhism, eastern mysticism, and future religious thought generally.
DIVINE INSPIRATION began with Batista choosing models to represent various Vedic deities. He photographs them in traditional poses and then translates the photographs on canvas using Vedic mathematics. His images are rendered differently from the one-dimensional flat Tibetan style by Batista’s use of a more Western Renaissance style. They bear bright, abstract colors and deeply representational forms and shadows. Established traditions are maintained where figures hold ritual implements to signify specific identities and narratives.
Vedic deities are very often male, but Batista intentionally confuses representations of gender to achieve a visceral effect. He hopes “to transcend representational art by creating a mystical experience” and “shake a person to their core.” He wants to “delight the eyes and ignite imaginations, with the intention of inspiring beauty, reverence, and curiosity.” Gender confusion is Batista’s springboard for achieving these goals, as is Batista’s use of chromo-depth, a technique wherein the colors are coded by depth. With the use of special glasses, the two-dimensional images become multidimensional, causing the paintings themselves to come alive.
The pieces in DIVINE INSPIRATION are bold and colorful acrylic and oil paintings on canvas, with gold and silver throughout. The largest one measures 5ft x 8ft though they all seem to be grandiose. They are hung high on the gallery walls so that viewers must look up to find their eyes. When contact is made the image meets the viewer’s gaze with a sparkle of reflective metallic elements, but only the most perceptive viewer will notice this secret message. Bright colors, textures, and patterns add depth and broaden perspective, fusing traditional Eastern iconography with contemporary Western influences. Batista intends the fusion to initiate an immediate embodied response of awe and wonder, as one might imagine the original deities did.
How we imagine ourselves has much to do with how we imagine divinity. DIVINE INSPIRATION invites us across divides between here and there and now and then. The viewer may find him- or herself on the other side of conventional and historical standards, experiencing new heights in modern spirituality. In the company of Batista’s images, one discovers, or is reminded, that spirituality can come from within. These paintings remind us that limited, skewed, and biased views of divinity affect our ability to experience ourselves as full bearers of the divine image. DIVINE INSPIRATION celebrates our potential and offers a profoundly contemporary reinvention of sublime Vedic and mystical revelation.
1 Arthur A. McDonnell, Vedic Mythology (Delhi: Motilal Banersidass Publishers PVT. LTD., 2002, first edition 1898) page
2. In-person interview between Allard and Batista in the artist’s studio, September 22, 2012, Calgary, Alberta.
3. Also from September 22, 2012 interview, as above.


/MARK ALLARD describes himself as a “guerrilla journalist,” referencing his time with the Zapatistas in Mexico, paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, and a three-month sojourn into off-the-radar Ethiopia. His first novel, Regressions, was released in October 2012.

October 29, 2012

KALI - Goddess of Time and Change

If you read yesterday's post you are probably licking your chops to see what developed next....
After much pondering I took a big leap. I knew I wanted the green skull to be engulfed in flames and I knew I wanted to add a dancing ribbon around the figure. After some soul searching and plenty of gazing at the piece I decided to do a graduated ribbon of partial flame.
Painting the flames/ribbons takes a lot longer than I usually expect. I work right on the Canvas so there tends to be a lot of wiping away and repainting to get it the way I like. I used a series of bold colours right out of the tube as the base blending dark cadmium to cad yellows to green.
I painted the flames to come out the the green skull and have some of the flame overlap the leg, this should create a pretty cool illusion when viewed thru the 3D glasses!
I continue to block in the light cadmium red bone structures, which end out looking like a neon orange once painted. The blend of the red to orange ribbon can be seen here and some of the internal ribbon shapes unfolding are beginning to be developed.
I began to rub in a dark brown around the edges of the camera to help punch it up further.
I go back into the skull with a dark green, Viridian right out of the tube, to punch it up further and give it more shape.
I then painted a silhouette of a king cobra in pure ivory black being held above the silver bowl in Kali's outstretched and foreshortened grip.
I blocked in some of Kali's hair.

And then put in softer lighter high lights. I did some work on the silver foil weapons and added some drips of blood as well as the tongue that is sticking out of the mouth.
I outlined and rubbed in the silver weapons with a Bob ross Mountain mix. I also added in details on the ribbons, painted in some blood drips and a heart in the bowl, etc. This shot is to give a general idea about how the entire piece has developed from figure to ribbon.
This detail shows some of the undulating folds of the ribbon and how I use various outlines and the middle dark ribbon. I really like how the translucency of the ribbon over the femur turned out.

October 28, 2012

KALI continues....

The show is up and the opening was successful beyond what I expected, so I'm going to go back a month plus and start posting more of the process of creating the pieces.

Go back in time to see how the project began and developed to this point, here!

 It begins with painting this green skull triumphantly shelf underneath Kali's big black foot.

The painting sat like this on a background, I had to rework some areas before moving onto the next steps.
 I outlined the figure with a purple I made in acrylic to help hash out the figure amongst the flat black gesso used to fill her in.
 I used masking tape to define the weapons and bowl.
 I created the shape partially in paper and then used it as a guide to mask out the area.
 Then came the new fun skill I experimented with, guilding/leafing. I applied the size and waited the recommended hour plus for it to become tacky to the touch.
 The leaf is super thin and light, the slightest breeze can cost a lot of silver. I gently leafed it in, it only sticks to the guilding resin. I gently burnish it with the back of my fingers.
 I pulled off the tape to reveal the shape of the weapon remaining in silver. I also used a light cadmium hue oil paint directly on the surface to place in some leg bones.
 I worked in the ribs and arm and placed the knee. I left the studio in the wee hours of the morning happy with the progress at this stage of the game.