R - Totem

The History: This is my story and I’m sticking to it… for now.

This odd little face grew out of nothing… a play with colours that evolved into a face, then a head, then a totem… There are spontaneous events in life that allow us to just push forward and express ourselves in ways we normally deny. This little gem came from a competitive spirit I didn’t know I had. On a sunny summer day in Mont-Tremblant, the wind was blowing gently and the sun was cooking us slowly, we sat and decided to pull out some art supplies and play. I felt the competition for who could be the most creative, and to challenge myself to draw something from my imagination, instead of from observation or imitation. The Totem is a symbol for me that I can do it and a reminder that all the studying and practice can pay off.

The Technique: How I did this awesomeness!

I believe I worked from the inside out on this one, working the watercolour from solid surfaces and then thinning it out with a clean water brush. No pencil drawings, or lining was used, just free flow and play with the materials. Watercolours are amazing that way. One needs to let go to achieve magic.

The Influence: Confessions of a Plagiarist, sort of

I distinctly recall reading many books on Tiki imagery at this time, and somehow connecting it to Haida & Inuit sculpture. These transformative images never wanting to remain stuck to the canvas, but feeling like a bug specimen helplessly impaled to display with a pin. I later learned to connect forms to bases like this in sculpture and realized it was from the sculptures and drawings of the Giacometti brothers I acquired this vision. As I look at it, I realize how much of the masks I saw at a James Ensor exhibit are revealed in this one as well.

Someone Very Special To Me Is Grateful When you buy The Artist’s Stuff: Prints, Mugs, T-Shirts, Pillow, Shower Curtains, and other awesome stuff.

What inspires an artist?

“All they see” is the first and most literal answer. For me, that is literally hundreds of gallery & museum exhibits, thousands of books, and tens of thousands of images online. 

When asked where to start a book collections, I almost always recommend these art bibles: Janson’s “History of ArtOR Phaidon’s “The Art BookBoth give a nice overview with good pictures. Once you’ve discovered what you are attracted to there most, you can then dig deeper into that area.

If I had to pick only a few of my major influences, which is a very difficult task, it would be Modigliani, Picasso, Van Gogh, & Andrew Wyeth. Here are a few of the best books I recommend from them.


Modigliani: Drawings 102 Colour Plates

Picasso:Man & His Work Part 1

Picasso: The Man and His Work – Part 2

The Mystery of Picasso

Picasso Line Drawings and Prints 

Picasso Portraits

Picasso Sculpture

Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Vincent van Gogh: The Lost Arles Sketchbook:   

Van Gogh: Complete Works

Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In

Andrew Wyeth: Memory & Magic

Here are a few others from my personal library, I return to over and over again.

Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis

SHAG: The Collected Works:

Original Sin: The Visionary Art Of Joe Coleman



Vilallonga : les lieux du rêve =: Vilallonga : cloister of dreams



Diego Rivera: Complete Murals 

If you have the time, you are free to visit my GoodReads library to see a fraction of the books I’ve read. The ones I remember, that is. Or you can visit the ever growing collection of images on my Pinterest account.

The Materials: Quick! Order this stuff right now, AND You too, can make masterpieces!

Watercolour Brushes:  The Review: I recommend getting a nice set of watercolour brushes for paint and inks. If possible, aim for natural hairs like sable. It hold the pigment and water better. If sable brushes are too pricey for you, then start with some bamboo handled calligraphy brushes. They are wonderfully versatile for line and broad stroke applications alike.

Pro-Art 9-Inch by 12-Inch Canson Watercolor Paper Pad: The Review: This paper is awesome. It has a semi-smooth surface and is sturdy enough to take some rough strokes. It is miles above newsprint, which has it’s own beauty. It is like having a smooth watercolour paper. I’ve also used this for gouache and acrylic paints. Both adhere very well to it, as does the colour from the pastels.

Prang Oval Pan Watercolor Set: The Review: You can use tubes if you want to prepare your palette ahead of time, but I like the simplicity of using galettes instead. This set offers an added bonus that the paint seems to dry with a slight gloss to it. The browns were particularly beautiful to use. Also, as long as you are using good paper, you can come back after the semi-dry point and thin out the coats for additional effects. These are awesome to work with, if you need a limited range of colours.

Photoshop for Mac:  The Review: You could use the free “ MAC Photos” program or Picassa and possibly get the same results, but Photoshop offers you the flexibility of presenting yourself as a pro photographer, like no other program. There’s a reason it’s considered the best of the best, after all. So, this allows you the possibility of selling this service to others and funding more of your creativity

Apple MacBook Pro 15.4″ Laptop:The Review: You may choose to get an iMac for the bigger screen, and I couldn’t disagree with the beauty of working with the 24” screen. I picked the laptop, because of the need to be mobile and the flexibility of multi-purposing it to use for client demos. As an alternative to the weight of this model, I would suggest the MacBook Air 13”. Most of us have become accustomed to mobile device size screens and it is much easier to carry around.

Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR: The Review: My first DSLR camera was the EOS Rebel T3. This one is vastly superior to the old model. Canon has a well deserved reputation of having top rated cameras. It requires a little play time to master it, and that time will be lessened by defining a clear idea of what you want to do with it, then jumping on YouTube for the multitude of How To videos. If you want a smaller camera to carry around, try Canon EOS M10 Mirrorless Digital Camera OR go small & powerful with the Canon PowerShot Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD & built in wifi.

Canon PIXMA MX492 Inkjet Printer:The Review: For me this has been the easiest to us for cleaning and cartridge replacement. It works reasonably well with recycled inks and the wireless is easy to set-up. The Canon has worked best for me on ink usage. When purchasing printers, always consider the cost of ink replacement… for the most part, this is the big difference right now in printers. For big reproduction lines it is better to outsource. For scanning, they are as good as the camera in them… this is one reason I’m a fan of Canon products. It does do a nice job on printing photos on good photo paper, and the black print is crisp and clean, provided you do regular cleanings and keep it dust free.


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