“Spec Series”


Panels ready for painting

Panels ready for painting

Late last year I was fortunate to receive PEI Council of the Arts senior artist grant to develop a series of 20 abstract oil on panel paintings. The set of 20 pieces comprise a project entitled the “Spec Series.”

In keeping with a set of rules that I have established for my painting practice, each painting is 12×12 inches and is considered a series within my long term project called the Long Series. The Long Series is a production endurance piece that already consists of over 1,500 pieces and conceptually is meant to contain 10,000 when it is complete.

I built a drying rack.

I built a drying rack.

The Long Series already contains some series within series, including “The Canada Suite,” completed as a PEI Council of the Arts Sesquicentennial Public Art Commission. I have also used the Long Series to explore collaborative projects with artists in the U.K. and the U.S. Other small series within the Long Series are “The U.K. Box,” which contains collaborative works with a number of artists in the U.K., and I am currently working collaboratively with a U.S. artist, Phillip J. Mellen, on a box of text and image based works.

Also over the last few years, arts-based social media has become a major part of my practice, and so I document the creation of the project with blog posts and social media posts. The networks I have developed through social media connect me to groups of like-minded  artists in the United States and the United Kingdom and Europe.

Although the Long Series is primarily abstract painting, exploration of methods of presentation is important. While often hung on a wall, they are also presented in sculptural stacks or in self-contained storage boxes.

Detail Spec Series.

Detail Spec Series.

I have been a picture framer by trade and have incorporated framing into my artistic practice. Each painting in this series will be a hand-made framed panel.

The paintings in the “Spec Series” will be housed in a specially designed wooden case that I will build and that will act as both a storage and display unit. This case will house the complete set of 20 paintings and be designed for storage, shipping, and presentation.

I intend to display the finished work in a local exhibition in an as yet undecided location. Also, recently I have been receiving opportunities to show Long Series works in a number of group shows in the USA and the UK, and I have had enquiries for box sets and oil or acrylic works on panels. Proposing the set of paintings as a pre-built exhibition on “spec” may be part of the distribution and exhibition plan.

Early stages.

Early stages.

I would like to thank the PEI Council of the Arts and the Department of Culture and the Government of Prince Edward Island for their support with this project.

Follow me on Instagram for more posts concerning this project.

Studio morning. Working on the UK box.


20130404_095347I’m working on some of the UK box paintings. When I shift back and forth between projects it seems to take me a while to get my brain into a different gear. Things seem hopeless, and then suddenly I can feel the moment when the work makes sense, and I can carry on.

Long Series #1070.


#1070

#1070

This painting just wasn’t working for me. The colours were too soft, delicate, and insipid. A failed experiment, and so I added the black rings to create tension, and to heighten the sensation of layers and depth. I like it more now, but as always the great thing about working in a large series is that I can experiment, fail, and move on.

Long Series #1061.


#1061.

#1061.

This Long Series painting is painted directly onto a page from a book. I rarely do this, and it was an interesting experiment for me. Most often I would use images like this as a collage element rather than as a support. I wasn’t too concerned about longevity, but if framed properly it should last a long time.

Thinking Inside The Box.


The other day I decided to think outside the box, and so I went to the store and bought a box.  My idea is to make an exhibition box that will contain about 50 Long Series paintings and the materials for the creation of Long Series paintings. The box is essentially a mail art project, but it is also something I can easily travel with.

50 Long Series Paintings.

50 Long Series Paintings.

The box will contain instructions for the display of the artwork, and for the process for setting up a workstation so that people may participate in the creation of artwork. There will also be biographical, project, and news-media information included in the box.

Over the years I’ve shown in many different types spaces, and I’ve always been attracted to alternative approaches when it comes to presenting my work. I see this work in a small space with the paintings on the wall in a grid. A desk and chair would be in front of the wall, and the desk would contain sheets of 12×12 inch paper with art materials so that viewers of the work might join in and make marks that eventually when returned to me would become part of finished paintings.

Ideally I would like to work with a curator or the staff of an interesting alternative art gallery. I would welcome suggestions of curators or galleries that you think might be interested in an interactive exhibition.

Long Series #1031.


Long Series #1031.

Long Series #1031.

A bit of everything in this one. Several types of paper, ink, pastel, watercolour and gouache. One of my favourite types of mark is a loose scribble. I find scribbles to be graceful beautiful things, and full of energy.