I was born to a family sprinkled with amateur artists in the prairie town of Brandon, Manitoba, and as a child I loved to draw. I remember days spent sketching on the sunny floor of our living room - Transformer battle scenes and hockey goalies were my two favourites - and being an artist was all I dreamt about.
When my family moved to Victoria BC in the early 90s, however, my artwork slowed to a trickle, then to a stop. I stopped taking art classes, sketching lost my interest, life changed. And despite living on Canada's beautiful West Coast and a yearning to learn how to paint, I never did. Instead I chased an education and traveled everywhere I could, being sure to check out every art gallery I found along the way.
One day all that travel led me to Sydney, Australia, one of the most inspiring place I’ve ever been. I was in awe of the buzz of the big city and the colourful scenes all around me. Eventually my daily ferries across Sydney Harbour, evening dips in the ocean, and cockatoos preening on my balcony proved just too much inspiration for me to resist. I borrowed a set of acrylic paints, watched a few YouTube videos, and out poured a whole lot of Colour. Below are two of those first paintings, both on paper and both still sitting in my closest.
After a couple of months of experimenting it was time to move to canvas in case I painted something worth keeping. My first complete acrylic on canvas painting was The Apple, based on a YouTube video by UK artist Will Kemp.
Cezanne's Forest, modeled on a painting by the artist of the same name, wasn't far behind. Both works were finished sometime in early 2015 from my apartment on Sydney's beautiful north shore.
By 2016 things were progressing nicely as I found myself watching fewer videos and focusing instead on finding my own style. I started to tackle more complex shapes, ideas and techniques too. Below is Balmoral Beach in Sydney's Mosman neighbourhood, my first successful attempt at painting water. In the same month I painted my first canvas of Amsterdam, a city that has become a regular muse of mine, focusing on the interplay of light and shadow.
As my paintings became more detailed and complex, I also started taking bigger artistic risks, leading to the creation of my first abstract paintings. Looking back these early abstracts are very autobiographical in nature, reflecting three common themes of my life in Sydney: the beauty of my surroundings, the buzz and intensity of life in the big city, and my work-related struggles with stress management and anxiety. Often, paintings such as Sydney in My Head and Sydney in Scribbles below were exercises in trying to regain some composure and focus after a particularly stressful day of work.
As this style progressed my paintings became more complex, detailed, and original, and they grew in size from small letter-size pieces into 2x3 and 4x3 feet canvases. Big and Epic was the goal, as well as shown in both Cockatoo Dreaming and The Watchers below.
Painting by painting, my own style grew into something I now call Urban Escapism, an examination of life in urban environments and people’s relationship with the flora and fauna living along side them. Urban Escapism is about looking through the concrete and re-imagining our world in an idyllic way using layers upon layers of colourful brush strokes to make our surroundings a little more picturesque. It’s about embracing the intensity of our lives through dramatic imagery while escaping from the people, noise, traffic, or pollution that hold us back. And it’s about seeing our cities and the impact we have on our environment from the unique vantage points of those creatures eking out an existence in our trees, shrubs, attics and garden beds.
As this style took shape 2017 rolled around and suddenly Canada came calling once again. And while selling off the contents of my one bedroom apartment in Sydney I was surprised by the level of interest my paintings received from random Sydney-siders who stopped by my flat to buy my few remaining possessions. I was selling as much artwork as furniture and suddenly my hobby was paying for itself.
With the move complete I was back in Victoria for the first time in 8 years and keen to paint the city that I remember so well growing up. As such my return produced a series of new works portraying life in Victoria’s character-filled neighbourhoods, again touching on the challenges of our city existence and on the interplay between animals and urban spaces, but now also celebrating community pride and the natural beauty of Canada’s West Coast.
Now in 2019 from beautiful Victoria, Canada, life is again pretty relaxing and my art business is humming right along. My Victoria and West Coast inspired paintings are growing in number every month, and there’s still so much more to paint! And paint I will, I won’t make the mistake of neglecting my love of art twice.