18 Nov My Road to Weirdsville
Twenty years ago, I attended a lecture by the renowned architect Frank Gehry.
Meek and plain-speaking—like most Canadians—Gehry described his signature design process: “First, you get the building right. Then, you make it weird.”
Gehry meant a building must be structurally sound and functional first; a Gehry creation second.
My approach to still-life painting (although I often miss the mark) takes a similar path.
I want the drawing to be right first.
Before I ever picked up a paint brush as an adult, I studied drawing, completing 24 consecutive terms of weekly drawing classes—six years’ worth—at the Art League of Alexandria, primarily under the inspiring and ever-patient Milena Spasic. Only when Milena invited me to join one of her painting classes did I dare paint.
But drawing is only an oil painting’s foundation; its basement, to be precise.
If you want a painting to succeed, you have to make it weird.
My current road to weirdsville is the popular “broken” edge, which, I hope, helps remove my paintings from the prosaic category of illustration and puts them in the airier category of art.
Broken edges help me avoid producing paintings that resemble either out-of-focus photos or waterlogged cartoons.
They help me produce fluid, imperfect and, I hope, welcoming, images.
Please don’t get me wrong: I admire tight illustrators and photo-realists immensely. In fact, I envy their skill, and am studying techniques for precise renderings in oil as we speak.
But given the choice between illustration and art, I’ll take art.