Friday, October 14, 2016

All-Inclusive Spa/Painting Retreat Weekend

Please stay tuned in the coming days for the skinny on an "All-Inclusive Spa/13-Step to a Finished Painting Retreat Weekend". In this day and age of rushing from one activity to the next, it might be very refreshing to set aside an entire weekend to pamper yourself at the world-famous "Manitou Springs Mineral Spa".

I checked in with the manager of the Spa and she very graciously sat with me to create a price list for both single and double occupancy, that includes meals and soaks (in the zero-gravity mineral waters that attract hundreds of thousands of people every year!) that will beautifully compliment my offering of the "13 Steps to a Finished Painting" Workshop.

After 3 very successful workshops this summer and fall, I felt it was time to up the ante with an all-inclusive weekend. I really believe that the combination of benefits with the super-relaxing soak/float along with nice meals and the workshop will make for excellent results ( re: the painting) and the participants will be thrilled with the finished piece that they may subsequently hang in their homes with pride and self-satisfaction.

Participants in a recent "13 Steps to a Finished Painting" Workshop with their completed paintings.

It gives me a lot of satisfaction and pleasure to witness the delight of the participants when they see how rewarding the 13-steps technique really is! I have heard time and time again from my "peeps" how delighted and surprised even, they are when they complete a vivid, gorgeous painting in the allotted time. I carefully guide them through all the technical steps...nothing flim-flammy in my process! Actually, I create an atmosphere of total trust. With hands-on step-by-step demonstrations, I thoughtfully carry the group through all of the specific 13 steps so that each and every one of you comes out the other end of the (total of) 8 hours over two days. All that I ask is that everyone follow along with every step, so that you are guaranteed to arrive at a strikingly beautiful, original work of art! 

Lest you need a bit more convincing, Manitou Springs Mineral Spa has been the recipient of multiple awards over the past few years. This workshop will be a REALLY good time!

Now, before I sign off, go ahead and check my website to get a feel for my qualifications as one of Canada's leading "painter of monumental murals". Over the years, I have perfected and streamlined my painting technique...thus I can offer this expedited, accelerated "13-Step" workshop with 100% confidence.

As stated earlier, I will follow this post up with a "W-5" (Who, What, Where, Why, When) poster. Spoiler Alert: The workshop will take place on the weekend of November 12-13, 2016.

Stay tuned...over and out for now.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Beyond Mural-Painting...the Art of Writing

 Even as a painter (of some repute in Canada) of monumental murals... the writing and publication of my first book was a daunting task...perhaps the most challenging project ever!

After a (wildly successful) kidney transplant that sustained me for over 34 years, I arrived full-circle back on dialysis in mid-May of 2014.
One of the 1st things I did after returning to dialysis was to purchase a laptop. I wanted to put my time to good use and this is what I have done. After a long simmering process of writing and thinking, I decided that there was much more urgency to finish and publish my book. After all, if I didn't do it, it would NEVER get done and that was simply not an option!

Within about one year my ambition was honored by the universe and I was treated to the thrill of holding the first "copy proofs" of (what we'll call) Book 1 in my hands. There are a lot of moving parts to a project of this magnitude so I am sure you can imagine what a huge rush it was to finally materialize such an ethereal pursuit! "Dancing with Rejection: A Beginner's Guide to Immortality" was squeezed out of the ether and into the material world.

Now, the 1st book of the trilogy is out and receiving VERY positive reviews from some highly respected sources. Check my website to see for yourself. Point your search engine here for that.

I wish I had boundless energy to convince you to pick up my join the hundreds of readers who are part and parcel of a growing, vibrant world-wide community. Last week, for instance, readers from California, England, Nova Scotia, Ohio and Ottawa acquired a copy! 

Daniel Bushman of the Watrous Manitou Newspaper photographs the artist, standing with the official banner trumpeting

Not to put too fine a point on it...however it must be said that certain acts of creativity can be achieved through the "art of writing" that are pretty impossible in any other medium. Even as an accomplished visual artist (of some repute) I can say with all honesty that the nuances, color, contrast and vividness of "magical realism" in writing has the power to evoke subtle changes in the emotional make-up of the reader. I'd even go so far as to suggest, when done extremely well, the impact can be PROFOUND!

Here, I am going to share a link with you...the 1st 90 pages of "Dancing..." This will carry you right into the thick of the story, so hang on for the ride!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Homage to the Humble Bumble-Bee

With all the buzz in our global media about the near and present dangers facing the ubiquitous bumblebee, I thought it was a fitting tribute to portray one of these magnificent creatures in a work of art. Fittingly, my Facebook feed popped up a painting this morning from 2012 called "Homage to the Humble Bumble-Bee".  Take a look:

"Homage to the Humble Bumble-Bee" painted in 2012.
This painting was posted on my Facebook feed just after I finished it and it created quite a buzz! In fact, the very same day, it was snapped up by a dear old friend in Nova Scotia. I quite like the vivid colors of the flower that are nicely offset by the soft focus, imaginary background. But the star of the image is the humble bumble-bee, one of my favorite of Mother Nature's creations.

About the Artist/Author:

Posing with Daniel Bushman of the Watrous/Manitou Newspaper with my book and banner "Dancing with Rejection"

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Visual Prayer for Every Dialysis Warrior

In 1979 at age 19 I was admitted into the ER at Sunnybrooke Medical Center in Toronto. The diagnosis was "End Stage Renal Failure". Without emergency "dialysis" treatment I would be dead in a matter of hours. It was a full-blown "Near Death Experience". It was hastily decided that I would require surgery to initiate a "Shribner Shunt" that would allow immediate life-saving dialysis. It was do or die!

Emergency surgery to initiate a "Shribner Shunt" allowed immediate life-saving dialysis therapy.

Despite the gravity of the situation, it was the best news I could have hoped for that day. Sure beat the obvious conclusion of any further procrastination. It would NOT have been pretty.

Once I was feeling marginally better a couple of months later, I designed and painted a mural called "Recovery 1", which I donated to the hospital that saved my life. Talk about grateful. My desire with the mural was to inspire everyone who saw it to strive toward their own recovery in whatever form.

"Recovery 1" designed and painted at age 19 in Toronto.
Only 7 months after being admitted (though admittedly if felt like an eternity) my brother Steven stepped up with incredible courage and generosity to donate a kidney to me. This Gift of Life sustained me for over 34 years, a longevity record in Western Canada! It was in mid-May of 2014 that my transplanted kidney finally gave up the ghost and I was obliged to return to thrice-weekly dialysis treatments.

It was a glorious time. Other than twice annual check-ups and diligent compliance with my anti-rejection medications, it seemed like an ordinary, healthy life. Having said that, the contrast between living dialysis free and dialysis dependent could not be more marked! 

I decided at the time of my Near Death age 19...that I would not leave this planet without creating a lasting impression of my time here. The concept of mural-painting as a way to accomplish this was rather mural-painting it was! This link will steer you to my mural-painting portfolio.

Three times a week for 4 hours each time...dialysis is a life-saving intervention as I await a 2nd Gift of Life.

Fast forward to 2015. Once I realized that my fate was sealed to return back to dialysis, I began to contemplate a revised design for my notorious "Recovery" motif. Thus, "Recovery 15" was created. This time around, I specifically included a kidney embedded into the lower right abdomen of the final figure on the far right and that figure is striding energetically off the canvas. My vision for this latest mural is for it to stand as a powerful "Visual Prayer" for my own (eventual, God willing) second "Gift of Life" aka a second kidney transplant! I also want this image to be a source of inspiration for EVERY dialysis warrior who is on that challenging quest for a "Gift of Life". 

In "Recovery '15, the figure on the far right strides off the canvas with the "Gift of Life".
As another bid for "immortality" I was compelled to write my memoir that would chronicle my Near Death Experience and my triumphant kidney transplant. The book would also track my rise to become one of Canada's most successful painter of monumental-scale murals. The book explores the bohemian times of the 60's through to the 80's in cities across Canada. Titled "Dancing with Rejection: A Beginner's Guide to Immortality", please visit to read more about this project and to purchase a copy. It's only one click away.

It was a natural, organic decision to incorporate the image of "Recovery '15" as the cover art for my 1st book. What better way to spread the "Visual Prayer" across the globe to be a catalyst for the millions upon millions of dialysis warriors to continue on their harrowing quest for that elusive Gift of Life that has the potential to lead to a healthy, robust life, freedom from the machine? 

"Recovery '15" was the natural choice to become the cover art for "Dancing with Rejection..."

I decided to add this image to my Fine Art America portfolio so now, it is readily available as a museum-quality replication. Steer your search engine here to see all of the available formats. I am doing my part with this image to continue, as a working artist, to raise awareness of kidney health. It is an undertaking that looms large in the world, as millions of everyday people...your brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, loved ones and friends...continue to grapple with kidney disease and its fallout every day. God help us all.

Friday, September 4, 2015

"Premiere Van Lines" Pick up Mural Panels...

Yesterday was a big day in my world.  About a week ago, I scheduled a pick-up with SGEU for "Premiere Van Lines" to come from Regina to pick up the painted panels...of the two murals for SGEU. I was just putting on the "finishing touches", so the firm date added a sense of urgency, you might say. Nothing like a deadline to get things done!

The friendly, professional Premiere Van Lines team arrived exactly on schedule.
In a world full of "OK" so-called "professionals", the team of movers rolled in exactly on schedule. After I plied them with a quick coffee, we settled in to deconstruct the second mural, which was still affixed to the temporary frame.

A reminder of the first mural of two...while it was still mounted.
By this time, I had already dismantled the first mural and had stacked it behind the temporary frame. The second mural was also finished and we needed to take it down to move it. I had mounted the panels with an absolute minimum of hardware, thinking ahead to the move.

The second (slightly larger) mural remained affixed to the frame until the day it was moved.
It was fast and easy to dismantle the second mural...there were only 2 or 3 screws holding the panel in place. So, coffee sipped, we were ready to get down to business.

Al and Tanya agreed to pose for a quick snapshot, for posterity.
I decided before the "Premiere VL" arrived to be conscientious about taking lots of photos of the process. I was happy that the team cheerfully agreed. This was an intense painting adventure for me, as I recognized right from the get-go that it is one of the most...if not THE most, important mural commissions in Saskatchewan this year. Remember, while the originals are destined to be permanently installed at SGEU's spanky new Headquarters in mean feat in itself...but also, perhaps more important (in terms of high-profile visibility), the artwork will be dramatically enlarged to fully TWICE their original size and pressed into service as highway billboards at a "very high" traffic location. So, the grand pretty astounding. You can rest assured that I will chronicling the whole trip!

Al wore his "The Art of Moving" shirt...very appropriate considering the task at hand!
I was deeply impressed with Al's "The Art of Moving" sweat-shirt, very fitting, don't you think, considering the task at hand! I specifically asked him to pose with the slogan on his back. He cheerfully complied...which I thought was pretty darn cool.

The movers brought lots of blankets along to protect the precious cargo.
I watched as Al and Tanya very methodically loaded and positioned each panel. They were very careful to make sure that there would be no issues with the panels getting scratched or damaged in any way. They thought ahead, and brought plenty of blankets to ensure a safe, uneventful trip.

I was really impressed with how extremely careful and respectful Al and Tanya were moving each panel.
If you look carefully at the above photo, you will see that after the panels came down off their frame, they  were never allowed to touch the ground, until they came to rest inside the truck. See? This panel is held free and clear of any contact with the gravel underfoot by being strategically positioned on the steel toes of each shoe under the left and right foot! Attention to detail much?

Tanya snapped a quick photo to show the dismantling in process.
 I thought it would be a nice touch to ask Tanya to snag a quick shot showing me wielding my cordless drill, in the act of dismantling a panel, down off its frame. Al helpfully stood by, holding the panel in place, lest it fall forward. 

Al agreed to stand with me just prior to loading the final panel on-board.
Just before they loaded and secured the last panel -the one on the far right of the second mural- into the truck, Al and I posed for one final picture. Thanks for doing this, Tanya! We made a special point to maintain the correct order of consideration of taking them of the truck for them to be photographed in Regina...with instructions to replicate the order upon arrival at SGEU. I reasoned, may as think ahead to avoid any mix-up down the line.

Now, if I was to grade the performance of both Al and Tanya from "Premiere Van Lines", I would reward them with a five out of five gold stars, without hesitation. One star for professionalism, another for friendliness, a third for promptness, four for respect, and a fifth for carefulness.

Stay tuned for the rest of this story. It's not over until the artwork reaches its final destination...out on Saskatchewan highways, blown up to twice this size and up in the air on their billboard infrastructure!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Your Guide to the Mural-Painting Method (Part 2)

As the second mural of the Saskatchewan Government Employees' Union (SGEU) commission comes swiftly to fruition -as promised- I will take a pause for the cause and post some more pictures of the "work-in-progress". Sometimes it's a challenge to keep up with myself, as once I get painting, I have to make a conscious effort to stop long enough to photograph my progress! You will recall that the last picture(s) in my previous post showed the addition of a translucent "violet" glaze. After this, it was time to add the "translucent blue" glaze.

The shadowy bits really start to sing with the addition of a "blue glaze".
With the addition of each successive glaze -in this case blue- the image increasingly "pops".

When contrasted with the previous pictures (sans blue) you can see the amplification of the detail.
It's always exciting to watch the images clarify with each new glaze. Not only does each step add appreciable detail, but also beefs up the contrast...which of course is fundamental to the process.

The shapes and forms take on a more vivid appearance...
I decide to "pan" across the surface of the mural so you could see how the "global" approach to glazing...persisting in completing each successive treatment from left to right, and from up to down, before moving on to the next glaze. This approach creates a dynamic uniformity; put another way, visual continuity.

A sweeping view of the mural: 6' high (plus the extensions) x 24 running feet.

Remember, there is absolutely NO white aka light as of yet. The background hue -a warm golden orange- is standing by as the neutral base. It is only after all of the "tonal study" is completed that white is introduced for the first time.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Your Exclusive Guide to the Mural-Painting Method

As usual, the first step in starting any painting...from easel painting to the most massive separating the light from the dark by indicating everything "dark" with a translucent orange glaze. This the first step in the "tonal study" and must be executed across the entire surface. No dark shape, shadow or form is left behind. In case you haven't noticed, this "global glazing" technique creates a wonderful visual continuity from the very beginning of the 13-step process.

The so-called "global glazing" technique creates "visual continuity" throughout the 13-step process.

No shadow, shape or form that qualifies as "dark" is omitted in the first orange glaze.
When I start a painting, I work methodically across the entire surface to indicate separation between light and dark. This "global" approach not only keeps the process nicely organized, but also immediately creates a certain continuity, which will pay off in spades as the painting develops.

Time to fire up the 2nd glaze, a translucent red.
 With each successive glaze, the resolution increases dramatically. I consider the first glazes as "sketch" glazes, preparatory studies that allow me to make critical decisions in the refinement of the detail. This is possible due to the fact that each glaze presents so much more detail.

The second (red) glaze nears completion.
You can plainly see that the details of the mural increase exponentially with each successive glaze.

Look what happens with the addition of the "violet" glaze!
Once I initiate the "violet" glaze, things really start to pop. I think of violet as the first really definitive glaze, as far as the resolution of the detail goes. Put it this, you better make sure that you have a good handle on the composition and detail by this time, because by now, you are definitely committed!

Violet is a definitive glaze, as it really pops the detail.
I always find it so gratifying to reach glaze three, which is a translucent violet. Even with ten remaining glazes to full-on technicolor, the violet glaze creates a powerful impression of the potential of the image.

From one end to another and from top to bottom, each glaze is methodically applied.
This so-called "Global Glazing" technique is something that I have meticulously developed over the course of sixty-odd large murals and hundreds of easel paintings. Make no mistake about it, this technique was developed over many years of trial and error, but mostly it is common sense when the desired end game is a lustrous, rich, life-like result.

The third glaze (translucent violet) shown in its completion.
Followers of my blog will recognize that each glaze serves to enhance all of the preceding glazes. One of the huge advantages of employing the "translucent" glaze is that all of the successive glazes mingle and dance with their fellow glazes. Nothing gets "buried" as I progress through the complete 13-step process, but rather, all of the glazes compliment each other, glowing in their full-spectrum glory. So stay tuned, as this mural will blossom rapidly in front of your eyes!

If you want to see a sneak preview of the entire 13-step process, feel free to check out this 48-second video that I created a while back.