So, we end where we began over four years ago. It has been fun and I will miss it, but it’s time to move on. Basic law of physics: “creative energy can neither be created nor destroyed.” I’m not sure where my creative energy will take me next, but I am looking forward to finding out.
After four years of telling you what a great artist (and person) I am, before I go, I feel must confess: I did not attend The Sorbonne or The London School of Art, nor did I teach at either of those institutions. I have never had a phone call from Merv Griffin, Justin Trudeau, or Random House. I have not been mentioned by CNN, the CBC, or the Christian Science Monitor. I Have had no contact with our National Gallery in Ottawa, the VAG, or the Tate Modern (however, The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has liked two of my tweets). I have never walked on water, turned water into wine, or performed any other miracles. I am neither buff, nor handsome, but I do still have a good head of hair.
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Over my run here, I probably faked my own death at least five times, maybe ten. Sadly, nobody noticed. I will continue to live and paint, but no more faking my own death, or being abducted by aliens, or kidnapped by art terrorists. No more late night studio raids, or arrests on trumped up charges. No more jail time - minimum, medium, or maximum security (OZ). No more time travel (backwards or forwards). No more reincarnations of me, or in me. No more possessions of me, or by me. No more festivals, parades, or celebrations (of life) in my honour. No more fake news, fake tweets, or fake outs. Just me.
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I did some maths. If each entry takes about an hour to choose a painting, format or modify it, and write about it, my Painting of the Day archive represents about 1,000 hours of work. That’s 125 days, or 25 weeks, or roughly 6 months of pen to paper, which, I think, is enough, so no more impersonating a famous artist, or a movie star, or a best-selling author, or a game show host, or an alien, or a God, or a chef/tennis pro, or the hero of a child book series (Papa Bear), and no more leading a new religion (I think the Face Book page expired anyways). Too bad, as GNAYtheism was just starting to take off! (particularly in France).
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After four years, 200 weeks, and about 1000 entries, I have decided to hang up my pen. So, no more painting critiques. No more art lessons. No more short stories. No more long stories. No more movies, TV shows, or Broadway plays. No more book covers or album covers (I actually never got around to doing this, but I have had a plethora of requests from Grammy and Juno winning artists). No more art history or art future. No more landscapes, still lives, or self-portraits.
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A solitary bather stands on a diving board in 1954 gazing across Burrard Inlet towards 2018. “The Swimmer” is illuminated by an early summer evening sun as he prepares to dive. An empty beer bottle hints at either a celebration or a sorrow. The deserted pool deck and calm waters imbue a quiet solitude. Who is the “The Swimmer”? Is it me, or is it you? As John Cheever says, “He might have been compared to a summer’s day, particularly the last hours of one.” That sounds like me, but I’ve already taken the plunge, will you?
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Moving right along, I have fleshed out the swimmer and the changing rooms. The shadows hint at a summer evening. The water is calm and so is the artist. As you can see (?) some areas of the painting are pretty much finished and some are barely sketched in. Q: Why is that? A: I knew if I couldn’t get “the swimmer” right (for me), I wouldn’t have a painting, so I completed him first. He is a bit like one of Cezanne’s bathers, with clothes. Not perfect, but who is? I have also sketched in the (modern) Vancouver skyline beyond the trees of Stanley Park. I love a good time warp. Tomorrow the finished piece, but today I have a city to build.
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Here I have taken the original (cropped) photo and stripped it bare. Boiled it down to a few simple elements: a swimmer, a retro pool, and a view. For me, this is the essence of the scene. They don’t build them like this anymore. Is the swimmer even conscious of the view? I doubt it. Joni Mitchell said, “… you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Well, this pool is gone. There is no view from the “Aquatic Centre” diving board. Another neighborhood recreation and meeting place (paradise) has become a training facility (parking lot). I want my painting to take you back to simpler times, reflect on the nature of change, and put a smile on your face. Time to start rebuilding!
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When moving from a scene or a photo to a painting, I always begin by taking things out. I boil it down to the elements that interest me, but will still give you the essence of the scene. My paintings often reference art history, pop culture, or literature. I don’t usually have a title in mind when I start to paint, but in this case I do and it’s called, “The Swimmer”. This is a short story written by John Cheever. Published in 1964, it fits right into this piece’s time frame, and its themes of aging, drinking, and financial ruin provide a solid “undercoat” for my painting. If you haven’t read the story, do. Or, you could also listen to it by copying and pasting this link into your browser:
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I am drawn to this picture and this week I am going to “GNAY it”. That is, do a painting inspired by it. The question is: why? I wasn’t even born in 1954 and I have never been to this pool, however, as a child I did spend a lot of time at the Kerrisdale Swimming Pool, which was similar, and probably built around the same time. Most of Vancouver’s former outdoor pools, like this one, have been replaced by expensive and soulless “Aquatic Centers”. So, my painting will be part a happy childhood memory, part a look back to a simpler time, and part (a big part) a great view of Vancouver, Stanley Park, and the Lion’s Gate Bridge. Let’s Go!
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