I recently had the opportunity to create two interior murals for a local adult high school in Ottawa. The goal was to bring some new life and positive energy into a setting that is constantly looking for new ways to inspire its students.
Glow Fair is an annual festival that takes over Bank Street in Ottawa for one weekend, transforming the street into a place for art installations, live music, vendors, and in general just a big party. For this year's event myself and fellow artists Dom Laporte and Dan Martelock built a temporary cube structure on which to paint. Here is my piece from the event.
Last month I had the opportunity to travel to Spain to paint in the second edition of GarGar Festival. It was located in Penelles, Cataluña, a small village about an hour north of Barcelona. The festival aims to bring urban art, murals, and installations into a very rural setting, thus transforming the village and creating a focal point for local tourism. I was one of about twenty artists/teams participating this year. There were also bands, workshops, food trucks, and craft beer. I met some incredible people during my stay and had a blast! I can't wait to return to Spain.
The theme of this year's edition was El Mundo Rural (The Rural World). For my piece, I chose to focus specifically on the theme of Spanish agriculture, and worked with an image that I had taken during my last visit to Spain for a residency at La Postiza in 2015.
All in all, 2016 was a crazy one. Aside from getting married, I was fortunate enough to fill my year with a variety of projects, including several mural gigs. Here's a quick summary of them.
Canada Science and Technology Museum
Organized by House of Paint, this mural was one of many for the Canada Science and Tech Museum in Ottawa. The murals are on the construction site hoarding wall of the new museum, which is set to open in Fall 2017. I was given a private tour of the museum collection, and chose to use certain antique objects from this tour in the mural design.
Bellevue Community Centre
This colourful and vibrant piece was commissioned by Crime Prevention Ottawa and Ottawa Community Housing as a way to bring life to an otherwise grey area. This was an incredible community engagement project, as I was given a stack of sketches from a local youth group and was given the task of drawing inspiration from them. Some themes that the kids wanted me to include were inclusivity, love, colour, peace, and community.
City of Ottawa Underpass Program
This mural was commissioned by the City of Ottawa as the latest addition to the city's murals on underpasses program. The wall is adjacent to the Rideau Canal pathway and is therefore themed around the history of the canal as a UNESCO world heritage site and a local landmark.
This piece is located inside the local creative hub Makerspace North.
One of my murals this past summer sent me in a bit of a new direction. What made this project unique was the amount of community engagement and collaboration with youth groups. This sort of community-centric process was something very new to me, but proved to be a rewarding experience.
This mural started as a youth engagement project. Kids at the Caldwell gym were given sketch pads and were asked to put some ideas to paper and explore a little bit of their creative sides. The sketches were collected and given to me, and it was my task to use them as inspiration to put together a cohesive design for the mural. It was a great experience for me working with the kids' designs as inspiration. I found that across all the sketches there were themes of community, peace, love, and togetherness. This gave me a solid base of ideas to work from. In working with the unique space ratio of the wall, I created one main focal point in the center, which I think is more impactful to the viewer than having to read a long group of images across the entire length of the wall. The group of hands embracing each other represents those themes mentioned earlier, and are meant to be a symbol of inclusivity and togetherness.
Although it isn't a direct copy of the kids' sketches, the design is a creative interpretation. The ideas that I used from their sketches were: the colourful background pattern, a fading from dark to light/colour, the idea of "helping hands", the use of mandalas (symbol for the universe, unity, harmony), and building outlines.
It was an absolute pleasure creating the piece because I got to interact with the community as I worked, and received an overwhelmingly positive response.
I recently met with Andrea Stokes, a writer for the Kitchissippi Times, at my Ottawa studio. I'd been elected to be featured as part of a continuing series on local artists. I shared my thoughts on art and murals in Ottawa, what the current situation is and how it's changing. You can check it out here.
After wrapping up my artist residency in Murcia, we headed to Valencia and Barcelona for a bit of sightseeing and relaxation. We then headed to London to visit some friends, where I managed to hook up with the guys from Global Street Art and paint a quick piece in Shoreditch. It was great to paint on a busy street and get people's instant reactions, in contrast to painting alone in hot, rural Spain. If you're in London you can find this piece along the hoarding walls on Great Eastern Street.
Not too long ago I finished up my time at La Postiza Artist Centre in La Cueva, Spain. I was there for one month doing an artist residency. As I previously wrote about, I started off the month with a main project in mind, involving a series of oil paintings on panels, but soon shifted focus to the opportunity to paint a few site-specific murals. It was challenging working in an environment that is nothing but scorching heat during the day, but in the end it was worth it. Here are some photos of my finished pieces.
For those who don't know, I'm currently spending the summer abroad in Europe, and am at the moment in Spain completing a residency at La Postiza Artist Centre for the month of July. While I'm here I have several projects on the go, including paper works, oils on panel, and a large mural.
The residency itself is situated in La Cueva, a small village in the countryside just outside of the city of Murcia. The setting is quite unique and offers up a stark contrast between what we're used to in Canada. There is endless sun (along with endless heat), fields of lemon trees, and desert-like landscapes with mountains on the horizon. There isn't much out here near the residency house, aside from one very small grocery store, stray cats, and a gang of pleasant elderly Spanish women who go for daily walks together. But the isolation is conductive to productivity, and although it's impossible to do anything until around 5pm because of the insane heat, it feels like I'm getting a lot done here.
I started out the month slow, adjusting to the heat and resulting concept of Spanish time (I totally understand the importance of siestas now), doing watercolour sketches, gathering source images, and planning some paintings.
As my main project I planned a small series of oil works on canvas board, using some local subject matter. Alongside these pieces I've also been doing some larger works on paper. Part-way through my stay here however, I shifted my main focus to a large mural project as I was offered a perfect wall across from the residency building. As I'm looking to take more of my work outside and start doing more mural pieces, this project has been a great opportunity for me. It's been incredibly engaging working on such a large scale and using nothing but a roller and a pole.
After wrapping up this mural I'd love to see if I can get another, smaller wall done. There is a unique situation here in that because of the Spanish economic crisis in the past few years there are numerous abandoned or incomplete buildings. I've got one week left here so we'll see what I can do!
I'll post the final results of my mural and other pieces at the end of the month!
I currently have three small 6x6" panels available online through Hashtag Gallery in Toronto. They're a mini-series/triptych of apples in varying levels of treatment. Have a look!
I started on a larger piece recently. After painting the same format for over a year it's feeling good to loosen up and get painting big again. My goal is to take some of the techniques from my portrait series and be able to produce the same effect on a much larger scale.