When did you first become interested in art?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been doing art but my initial interest actually grew out of my childhood love of comic book super heroes drawn by Jack Kirby.
"Works in Progress" Clarence Porter's Studio
What are you working on right now?
Right now, my time is being dividing between one large and six small pastels pieces and learning Zoom and a few other apps so that I can teach pastels online.
What mediums do you work with?
At present, I am working with soft pastels (not to be confused with oil pastels). In my freelance commercial illustrator days, I used a whole host of different mediums from oil and acrylic paints and inks to block cuts and scratchboard. Later, I did a lot of my illustration and design work on the computer.
What inspires your work?
All that is around me inspires my work.
"Showcased work at Earls Court Gallery"
What drives you to working large/medium/small?
My subject matter and how I react to it, will determine what size I want to do the piece: whether I want to draw the viewer in close to look at details or have them stand back and take in a vista in the same way that I did.
Which artist/s have influenced your work the most throughout your career?
My two bookends are Tim Daniels and Catherine Gibbon. Tim gave me my introduction into the world of pastels. He both mentored and inspired me with his understanding of the medium: colour, values and composition. Catherine Gibbon’s art showed me how I could fly. There are a whole host of other pastels influencers and so one of the things I do to honour them when I’m teaching a 3-day or 6-day pastel workshop is to show my iMovie presentation titled “My Pastel Heroes”.
If you were not an artist, what would you be and why?
I can’t think of anything else I could be other than an artist. I love teaching but it’s teaching people how to be creative: how to do art.
How has your artistic practice changed over time?
I started out using all of the standard artist’s tools of the trade and gradually morphed into working primarily on the computer where I did designs and illustrations using Illustrator, Photoshop InDesign and an assortment of 3D programs. And now it’s full circle, back to natural medium.
What is your dream project?
I don’t really have a specific dream project because I’m living my dream by being able to make a living doing what I love: making art and teaching art. Imagine…making a living drawing pictures. That’s pretty sweet.
"Lone Headlights on Ferguson Ave" 12" x 16" Soft Pastel
What would you like others to know about your art that you think is unique?
My art is the culmination of my experiences and my point of view which is what differentiates all artists and their art work. I find beauty in the everyday. That’s not a new approach but where mine differs, I think, is in the subject matter I choose and the colour palettes I choose to use against the subject matter. I think my use of brighter colour palettes are my attempts to see the world in a brighter light. That’s my best guess.
If you could give a younger artist some advice what would it be?
The number one thing I would say to a young artist is you must love doing this thing called “art”. Being an artist is one of the hardest professions you can get into so you better love it. Number two would be the advice that my Dad gave me: always have a backup plan. Very few people go from doing art to selling in major galleries. For the most part it’s a long process, so be prepared to do other things to support being an artist. Number three, art is work, full stop. Number four, don’t follow…lead. Learn from your heroes but find your own path. Mimicking a style makes you one of many doing the same thing.
Oscar Wilde wrote, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
Can you tell us about the sacrifices and reward of a long artistic Career?
My goal has always been to have a career in art. I have never felt that I’ve had to sacrifice to achieve that goal. I loved working as a freelance commercial artist but even the move from the commercial art world into being a pastel artist was a relatively smooth transition.Circumstances came together for me to teach at Sheridan College in the VCA Department and I’ve also had the opportunity to teach at the Dundas Valley School of Art, the AGH, the Aurora Cultural Centre and other venues. I’ve enjoyed all of it. I consider the sacrifices to have been almost non-existent, the rewards great.
"Reaching No. 1" 23.5" x 16" Soft Pastel
What kind of experience do you want the viewer to walk away with?
I want them to see and feel what I saw and felt. That’s it.
"Whether it’s plumes of soft billowing smoke contrasted against the angularity of steel factory stacks or shadows racing away from their street signs, trees or gas meters, there is a kind of beauty that can be found – if you can see it."