Gang of Five:

R - The Gang of Five

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

After my daughter was born, I started reviewing and updating some old drawings… the goal was to create some fun characters to turn into stories for her, with illustrations… these were just a few that made it to canvas: Mud Boy, Little Ralph, Bean the Pole, The Dreamer, and Ed the Fish… I haven’t entirely given up on writing the stories either. I guess I need to print out a copy of the image to remind myself, as my Father has decided it’s his favourite and won’t even lend it to me for a while.

The Technique: How I did this awesomeness!

Let’s start with the troublesome canvas I chose: I had some old stretchers I inherited from a friend and wanted to challenge myself with a difficult surface, so I stretched jute over the frames and applied gesso. The gesso didn’t really have much to adhere to, so I stretched another layer of jute and more gesso. I did this two more times. To get a more solid, even if exceedingly bumpy surface. I used china markers to make the drawings, painted in the large blocks of colour… several layers worth. Then with many, many layers of dry brushing, added contours and depth, before finishing exasperatedly the outlines. Oh, and just to torture myself more, I did it all in a single sitting. In retrospect, I realize the better solution would have been to stretch the jute of a canvas, and I would have gotten the textured surface, without having to use so much paint. Live and learn.

The Influence: Confessions of a Plagiarist, sort of

I’m really not positive where these came from. In my few notes on them, I found references to poems I wrote and some short story ideas. I have to guess they are from my imagination. I had written a few children’s stories during my university years, but I sadly threw them out with old school papers. I cannot pinpoint any specific artistic influence in these. Possibly, Dr. Seuss for Ed The Fish.

Go Ahead And Brag A Little 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!

Burlap Fabric 60” Wide X 5 Yards: The Review: I’m not sure I’d recommend this for the application I applied it to. I used it for canvas to stretch over a stretcher… several times, in fact. It soaks up the Gesso in industrial quantities, and then does the same to the acrylic paint. The material itself is amazingly robust and it was fun to paint on. If you are going to texture or a rustic look, then use it over a pre-gessoed canvas to save on materials and time.

Liquitex Basics Gesso Surface Prep Medium: The Review: I’ve tried all sorts of gesso and they almost all work the same for me. This is an economical format and has been the best bang for my buck, when I need it. I don’t suggest you mix it with paints or tints, but if I’m honest, I haven’t played with that technique enough to tell you it wont work. The dusty finish is lots of fun to play with and could potentially add effects you may want to your paintings. My suggestion is to play with it and find what you like about it.

Stretcher Strips Stretching Bars for Art Canvas Frames:  The Review: At the start, I was making my own stretchers from pretty much anything I could. Some were, well let’s say less elegant than others. I found these bars and the process became much easier and sturdier. If you aren’t buying pre-made canvases, than this is the route to go, along with Cotton Canvas

Nylon Paint Brushes: Here’s a great starter kit from Hero Neo, but Windsor & Newton make my favourites. The Review: There are many to choose from and lots of cheap ones out there, but you will want to aim for a little more when you see how fast the glue holding in the hairs fails with cheap brushes. I tend to have a fan, several flat heads, a large round head, and a fine tip for lining. Play with them and see what works best for you. Make sure to stick with nylon to start and always be fastidious about keeping your brushes clean. It makes the difference between having a brush for only a week and having some for close to 30 years, like mine.

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.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.