Flower

Tiffany in the Star

Wow, my painting is the cover image for this article:

https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/visualarts/2021/05/24/torontonians-turn-to-art-to-express-their-pandemic-emotions-and-a-chance-to-go-on-display-at-the-ago-and-rom.html

Long live that link./article.

Proof from 8:28am, May 24, 2021.

I tried to get my hands on a print copy, but it turns out EVERYONE reads the newspaper on a holiday– at least on the Victoria Day holiday. It was sold out everywhere I looked! Pretty good day to have a painting in the newspaper.

“Courtesy Art Gallery of Ontario” is quite something, too. And the painting has been turning up in ads for the AGO on instagram. Very interesting. I wonder what will happen next…?

The Oresteia

The Oresteia is a three-play Greek tragedy written by Aeschylus. It consists of ‘Agamemnon’, ‘The Libation Bearers’, and ‘Eumenides.’ Chronologically speaking (if you can assign a chronology to Greek Mythology in the first place…), it’s one of the last stories to take place in the world of classical Greek Mythology (The Heroic Age? I guess that would be a better name for it. We live in the age AFTER the Heroic Age, the fifth age of the world; the age where gods no longer mix with mortals. More on that some other time, I promise). It’s post Trojan War and tells the story of Agamemnon’s return home, his murder, and the subsequent revenge taken by his children, particularly his son, Orestes. Of course the gods get involved, and it gets a lot more complicated, not to mention, well, tragic.

Anyhow, I don’t know how much of the plot I should really discuss here, because it’s definitely worth the read. And I mean, a thousand years ago when I used to make book covers all the time, it was with the hope of creating an interest in the story itself. And hopefully that’s the case with the three illustrations I made for the Oresteia. This story messed me up! In the best way! Got my imagination all fired up and I hope that comes across in the images and… maybe.. just maybe… does it toooo… YOU?!

Long story short, you should get a good translation and read the Oresteia! Or if you can time it right, go see them being performed somewhere! (Wouldn’t that be nice…)

So these three images sort of fall exactly into the middle of the stories. It was a scene from Libation Bearers that inspired this, though it’s not so terribly specific. They are each intended to be able to stand alone while still working together as a coherent set. The colours are carried through all three, as well as the set pieces. There is a tableau-ish quality to them, alluding to the fact that they are originally plays.

I did a rough draft of them in gouache, which admittedly is pretty close to the finals, but the final images are the final images. I’m actually very happy with how these turned out. I’m a little surprised that they’re almost exactly what I pictured. That, uh, doesn’t happen very often (though it has been happening more and more lately…).

Going from rough sketches to finals.

The originals are quite small, only 5″x7″, but I made them with the intention of making prints on a larger scale for the ’18 Artist Project. Scroll back a couple posts to see them! They’re on the Death Wall.

The framed prints that were up at the ’18 Artist Project.

And finally, the final paintings!

‘The Chorus’

‘Orestes and Electra’

‘Agamemnon’s Tomb’

The Post-Creative State

There were a few points leading up to the Artist Project this year where I looked around at the paintings in my studio and thought, “wow, I have done a hell of a lot of painting.” And I did. I really did. I shocked myself quite a few times with the volume I was able to produce before the show.

Which is great! Fantastic! Best-case scenario! Some of those paintings had been sitting around half-finished for years. And that’s not to mention the new paintings that were conceived and realized all within the last six months. I did it. I finally had the body of work that I’d been conceptualizing and working towards for a very long time. Essentially the body of work I wished I had completed for the 2017 Artist Project, but such is life I suppose. (I’m usually late for everything anyway)

But now… Well… Now what?

Not that I mean to dismiss what I’ve done or the significance of it to my artistic practice, it’s just that… well… I’m a little stuck now. It’s the post-creative state. That period after you’ve put so much time and thought and energy into creating something. When it’s finally finished and you can breathe for a second. And it’s… a little anti-climactic. It feels (though this is certainly not the case) as if it all matters a little less now that it’s done. You’ve reached the finish line aaanndd whiff. There’s almost a sense of loss…

It’s hard to get that pace back. That drive, that push. And I want it back, believe me. But I’ve been really struggling with creating since the show ended. Ok, I’ve STARTED nearly a dozen new paintings, but finished, uh, two? Two small ones? I certainly don’t need that; more unfinished paintings. And one thing I’ve learned is that starting a painting is a thousand times easier than finishing it.

What’s the solution? What’s the answer? I have no idea. I guess if I knew, I wouldn’t have to write this or feel this way. One could certainly argue that this, this lull, this low-period, is necessary and a vital part of the creative process. It’s certainly recurring, and that would certainly be comforting. But who can say? Maybe one day I’ll get over this and be able to keep going and going. I’d like that. One day. But as much as I’d rather it wasn’t this much of a struggle, I think I just have to struggle through. Keep painting. Keep trying. Today. Tomorrow. And the next day and the next and another day.

The Artist Project 2018

Hi! Long time, no see! Well I exhibited at the Artist Project again this year. How about we start with some setup shots?

A little bleak at the moment…

Organizing my thoughts.

I had a crack team helping out.

Nearly there!

I was in a corner booth, giving me four walls of hanging space… I organized them as follows:

The outside wall acted as the gateway… Mars and Venus guide you through landscapes and plein-air studies from the real world Florence into my imagined world of Mythology.

Of the interior walls, first I had the Underworld; the Infernal Realm.

Next was the world of the sky; the Celestial Realm.

Oh, I’ll post some close-ups of these ones soon… but you gotta wait.

And finally the earth, the world that humankind inhabits; the Terrestrial Realm.

Pretty neat, huh?

Charon

Y’know, I’ve been calling myself a “printmaker” for years. Maybe secondary to being a “painter,” but I’ve definitely said it a few times. Well it wasn’t until this past December (2016) that I did my first, proper print run. A proper edition. 40 prints of our boy, Charon, ferryman of the dead!

It was an interesting process to set this all up in my studio… that is, my apartment. It worked out very well in the end! I had to get a little creative in my setup to achieve the uniformity required for a proper edition though. Especially (well ok, MOSTLY) because I don’t have a printing press. But I documented the whole thing and here we go!

First we need our ink! I’ve certainly never had to mix this much ink for anything before. How exciting!

I love using small amounts iridescent colours in lino prints. It gives just the tiniest bit of extra luminosity without looking cheap or cheesy.

Oh, I should mention the fact that this was a reduction-print. Something I’ve never tried before. In all of my other printmaking, like the book covers and such, I’ve made a separate block or plate for each colour to be printed. With the reduction method, the same block is used for every colour; reworked at every colour change. As much as I hate to admit it, it was talking to my brother, Trevor, that made me realize a reduction-print was exactly what I wanted for this image. ‘Course Trevor taught me linocut printing in the first place, so maybe it’s not so horrible to give him a tiny bit of credit. It’s also really cool cause with this method you essentially destroy the block for each colour as you work, so I can never ever print this again! 40 of ’em and that’s IT! Here’s the second colour from block, to ink, to print, to mass drying.

So to make up for the lack of a press, I had to figure out some way I could print all 40 of them, and all four colours of each uniformly. I built myself a makeshift image-registration-apparatus. MIRA for short. My dear sweet MIRA was made of cardboard and packing tape. There was a hole to fit the inked block, and a kind of slot to line up the edge of the paper. The pressure was then applied by hand by yours truly.

Unquestionably professional inking station, of course. UPIS for short.

MIRA in action.

It worked remarkably well.

Sebastian helping out.

Little dummy only managed to get a big paw print on one of the prints, which now has a happy home. The print, not the paw. I let him keep that. (Actually I was unsure if I was supposed to sign that one Corey AND Sebastian… Maybe a monoprint? Maybe that made my final edition 39 and not 40!? But then I realized that if he was my unpaid intern I wouldn’t have to credit him in the least, so here we are.)

The third colour.

The final colour.

I spent two-days-straight kneeling in this cozy printing nest.

Looking goooooood…

Just look at them all!

And there he is! Our boy! Charon! Crossing the river Styx. A river so austere, even the gods swear their oaths by it.

Speaking of our boy, it’s me! Checking to see if they’re dry yet! Photo credit to our boy, Andy!