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I’m In!

I just found out that I’ve been selected to participate in the 2018 TD Art Gallery Paint-In!  Victoria people will probably know it better as the Moss Street Paint-In.

I’m excited as heck.  Jill and Miriam have offered to help out that day, and we’ll be doing something interactive for the kids (and kids at heart),  playing with paint and paper and learning about subtractive colour theory in the process.

I’m also a little terrified.  This will be the first public exhibition of my art in 24 years.  It’ll be interesting to see what people make of it.

So, if you’re in town on July 21, 2018, swing by Moss street and come visit!

Bring iced lattes if you do 😉


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“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary” – Pablo Picasso

At some point, I realized that my new practice of painting every day looked a lot like what I was doing back in the late 1990s.  1998-2000 were amazing years for me.  I had a new job working at the Art Gallery of Ontario, where I was constantly spending time in the art galleries looking at really good art.  I had just gotten a little studio apartment in Cabbagetown and had returned to school to finish my degree. Under the guidance of Hugh Leroy, I had developed the discipline of drawing every day, usually without any particular direction in mind.  The goal was to find my personal drawing “vocabulary” through discipline and consistency in practice.

I ended up carrying those drawings around with me for twenty years. From apartment to apartment, relationship to relationship, even from Toronto to Victoria, I protected and cared for this massive body of work like it was my legacy.  The unspoken implication was that I would never draw or paint again and that I’d better cherish and hang on to these little drawings as best I could.  I even bought archival boxes for them to make sure they were well preserved.

I went back recently and looked through them all and fell down a rabbit hole.  It was wonderful to see what I was really capable of, even 20 years ago. More importantly was the realization that I was in fact capable of much, much more.

As a result, I decided to let go of some of them.  The past is the past.  I have a new faith that the future will take care of itself IF I take care of the real business of life today.  I think that’s the real art of life.

My memory of making these drawings is rather foggy, and they’re not documented well enough to say precisely when each of them were made, but I do know they came from that blissful couple of years.  I feel good about letting these go today.  It’s an act of faith.  I’ve found a new wellspring of  inspiration. I’m a lot less interested in the assurance of keeping them than I am excited about what comes next.

Some of the drawings are done on stable paper (ph-neutral, or even cotton paper), but many of them are on plain old copy paper, so I can’t make any promises about how long they’ll survive.  Nevertheless, they’re all mounted and matted using ph neutral paper and linen tape to make them last as long as possible.

Take a look around the “Echoes Series”, and let me know what you think.


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Just Play

These are the words I kept telling myself when I started painting again:  “Just play with the paint”. It was a way for me to overcome the pressure I put on myself every time I sat down to draw or paint something.

Starting something new is often terrifying for me. It’s not just art, it’s life in general.  I worry a lot about failure.  I seem to want to be an expert at everything I turn my hand to.  So the condition I found myself in my mid forties was terrible:  A desperate desire to paint again, and a paralyzing fear that everything I made would be garbage.

The solution came from running.  A while ago, I learned that the cure for inertia in my running was to just get out and do it.  Get rid of any pace or distance goals, lace up my shoes and run.  By relieving the pressure that goes along with expectations, it became possible for me to rediscover the joy of running and turn dread into anticipation.

So I applied that approach to art-making.  “Just play with the paint, Stefan”, I told myself.  “Don’t worry about whether or not you end up with something beautiful, just do it.”  I didn’t even need to have any idea of what I was going to paint, I simply had to start making marks on the page and trust to intuition from that point on.

Painting really is like running in that way.  The biggest obstacle to doing either is my mind.  I find if I can muster enough willingness to lace up my shoes and get out the door, everything else takes care of itself.  Some runs are good, others aren’t, but at least I’m getting out the door and being active.  Waiting for motivation or desire almost never works for me, and I end up doing nothing at all.

I like Picasso’s take on it: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.”  

So, I try keep working whether I want to or not.  Now I paint or draw every day, no exceptions.  It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, it doesn’t have to get finished that day, but I must do something.

The interesting thing is that, like running, it’s hard to get started.  But when I lurch into motion, however haltingly, I seem to enjoy it and inspiration does pay a visit eventually.

Take a look around the “Just Play” Series, and let me know what you think.