Michael’s Tattoo

Sun tattooI originally desigend this tattoo for Michael back in August 2005. Michael, who resides in San Francisco, wanted a design of the sun, a symbol he has always had a strong connection to. Over the span of a few weeks we went through several different designs and colours styles before we came up with the perfect image for him.

However, he didn’t actually get the tattoo until July 2009, while visiting Fargo, North Dakota. The tattoo artist did a phenomenal job, and I was extremely impressed with how well it came out.

For his design, the symbol, like Michael himself, is one that radiates creative emergence. The essence is the centre of the sun, which contains the symbol for the origins of the universe, depicting the seed of the universe rotating clockwise in the spiral of potential energy. I’ve met Michael a few times, and the amount of positive and creative energy emerging from him was also what I wanted to capture in the symbol.

(Photo courtesy Michael’s charming husband Jase Wells)

Simon’s Soul

Once again, another wondrous and mystical collaboration with a very willing and open client. Simon emailed me back in January as he was emerging from a dark time in his life. He was turning over a new leaf and embarking on significant changes to his life and mindset. Part of his new direction involved buying a new condo which he wanted to decorate with his own artistic flair, which included a reverence to his life in symbols.

This painting came about one morning as he was sitting on his couch having his tea before work and focusing his mind on how fortunate he has been in his life. He wrote me stating he wanted something “significant, pertinent, beautiful and spectacular” to fill his walls.

“… I want those walls to carry positive images, something that evokes positive feelings…images of aboriginal icons came to me because they are mysterious, they have a meaning, every time you look at them they are different but also they are minimal-geometric, they are a brilliant exercise of concise synthesis and communication of ideas…I realized that what I was thinking of at that moment was the images from your art work and I thought right then and there that the “something special, significant, pertinent, spectacular” I want there to fill my walls is one of your art pieces….I would be honoured if you consider to paint something for me in that big format …something that would be an inspiration everyday when I have my tea in the mornings, and something that welcomes me after a day out. Something that inspires me and tells something about me in that simple language of lines and planes of aboriginal symbols. Something that would lift my spirit and reminds me of all that is good and well.”

And thus, our journey began.

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San Francisco Buddhas

Buddha head and torsoBuddha head closeup

These paintings took a rather circuitous path in finding their rightful owner. Originally I was commissioned to do a set of koi fish for my friend Tracy, but I was having a hard time coming up with the right image for them. As I’ve said in the past, some paintings come in a matter of seconds, some take years.

Back in June 2007 I was heading down to San Francisco (I’m normally there once or twice a year visiting my sister) and decided to take a jaunt out to the Japanese Tea Gardens in the Golden Gate Park while I was there to gain some insight. I figured what better place to find an ample supply of koi fish ponds than a Japanese Garden. I envisioned getting photos of hundreds of different koi fish in a feeding frenzy, giving me ton of photographic opportunities for the inspiration I needed to complete Tracy’s painting. How dismayed I was to discover that in the numerous ponds that adorn this 5 acre park…I spotted all of about 3 koi fish. In total. Yep. Nowhere near the 100s I was hoping for. Three bloody koi fish in the entire park. More than a bit miffed – I suddenly wanted my five bucks back. Nonetheless, I meandered through the park making the best of it.

As it turns out, fate had other plans for me, and for my next painting. As I continued through the gardens, I came across the large bronze Buddha, cast at Tajima, Japan in 1790. I was at once completely and utterly awestruck. Why wouldn’t I be? I am a Buddhist of course. While I’ve known I’ve been a Buddhist since I was about 8, I didn’t officially become one (“seek refuge”) until about 7 years ago (Tibetan Lama’s are a bit of a rare commodity in Calgary). I spent a good half an hour taking photos and basking in the essence of this staggering sculpture and enjoying the enlightenment and inspiration it was emitting back at me.

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Same Same, but Different

Rafe and Alexa show off their paintings

Having recently returned from SE Asia where the term “Same Same But Different” is a common in Thailand as “eh “is in Canada, I found this the perfect name for this set of 4 paintings for Andy and Fiona. The reason being is that I already did a set of 4 for them back in 2005. However, sometimes people’s symbols change. That was partially the reason for the repaint. The other was Andy and Fiona moved. Again (this being the 7th house they’ve lived in in the 9 years I’ve known them). Thus, colours and styles have changed.

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Two Bears

This past August Rhonda and I visited a local Shaman just outside of Calgary to participate in our animal naming ceremony. I was intrigued to have my animal symbol given to me since I am often offering up my idea of other people’s symbols in my paintings, it would be nice to see what someone thought I was. I’ve been drawn to many animal symbols in my life, specifically the bird, otter and whale. At the end of the ceremony, Rhonda is a Bear, and I am a Red-Tailed Hawk. Our friend Heather also went a few weeks later, and was also a Bear.

Heather and Rhonda have been lifelong friends, and I consider Heather a part of the family. Thus, I decided to surprise them with paintings of The Bear for each of them. I wanted them to be similar, to symbolize the bonds of their friendship, with one slight change to Rhonda’s painting which includes the smaller bear within the larger bear which related to the point in her life (moment of her birth) when her animal symbol first appeared to her.

All for Humanity Fundraiser Donation, 2008

This set of 3 was painted for Rhonda’s All For Humanity charity fundraiser.

Three Buddhas, Take Two

Living room scene highlighing the three Buddha paintings over the sofaNot being happy with the original set of 3 Buddha’s I did back in 2006, I embarked on a second attempt in a more Andy Warhol-esque fashion.

Three Buddhas Take One

Living room scene with three Buddhas highlighted above the sofaLiving room from end angleI wanted to take a bit of time off from painting this year and experiment with some other mediums. This is my first foray off untreated canvas into a new direction of treated canvas. I had no idea how challenging working with untreated canvas was until I started painting on this type of canvas.

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San Fancisco Koi

San Fran KoiThis was painted to celebrate Shannon’s and Edmond’s 40th birthdays (just a month apart) and also to enliven their incredible new condo which resides just a block from Giant’s Stadium in San Francisco, California. Unfortunately, their 40th birthdays were actually in 2006… so I was about 10 months late in getting this painting to them. Luckily, I had to opportunity to hand deliver it to them finally this past June.

Their condo is decked out in simple yet modern tones of red, blacks and greys, a beautiful pallet that brings a engaged vibrancy to artwork of any colour that adorns the walls, but especially red. So I really wanted to paint them something simple, but engaging enough to pop off their walls with colour and contrast.

The Koi Fish is such a poignant and rich symbol, I feel it is a must for every household! The symbol of the fish transcends all folklore, religion, culture and corners of the earth. It is an auspicious symbol, and a double fish represents both happiness, good luck, and a harmonious marriage. A perfect combination for Shannon and Edmond’s vibrant apartment and vibrant life together!

Sunflowers – 28th Banff Midsummer Ball donation

Sunflower 1Sunflower 2Sunflower 3This set of 3 sunflowers have been donated to the 28th annual Banff Midsummer Ball silent auction, taking place at the Banff Centre from July 20th to 22nd, 2007.