Canadian Visual Artists: Charlie Easton

Charlie Easton is a Vancouver-based landscape painter who moved to B.C. from Britain, where he grew up in a family of artists.

Killarney Rocks After Sunset by Charlie Easton

Killarney Rocks After Sunset

What draws me most to your paintings are the vibrantly warm colours – your landscapes are rich in incandescent oranges and blues that give these scenes the feel of being bathed in late afternoon sunlight. Can you talk a bit about why this particular palette? It seems full of joy – is that the intended effect?

Well, I paint as much as I can on location as I firmly believe that photographs are so limiting. They are amazing for detail, but they tend to flatten colours, blending them instead of layering them. When you are sitting in a field, or on a mountain, or by a river you see more colours – transparencies, hints and colour changes. I work in acrylic so you can apply glazes and scumbled layers really quickly to capture the colours without too much fussing.

Street in snow by Charlie Easton

Street in snow

It’s interesting that you pick up on the joy in the colour choice, I’m pleased you do. I often find that an artist’s work reflects his or her mood, and I’ve got to say that right now I’m an incredibly lucky guy. I’m doing what I love, and I’m glad that comes through in the work.

What prompted you to make the move from England to British Columbia? What differences did you notice in the artistic environment/community once you settled in?

I was working in advertising in London, and when the company I was working for was bought by a Canadian company the opportunity to transfer was too good to refuse. I initially thought I was going to be in Canada for just a year, but I soon fell in love with the country (and a fine Canadian girl!) so it is now my home. Seven years on my love for the place, for its amazing beauty and for the openness of the people, continues to grow.

Hot feet by Charlie Easton

Hot feet

In comparison with the UK, I find the art community here is more open to sharing ideas and techniques. I have painted with some phenomenal artists here and in the States – and that is far more difficult to do in the UK, where people are a little more guarded in their professional outlook.

When it comes to your process – what proportion of your paintings do you complete on site versus in your studio? Where do you enjoy painting most?

I start it ALL on site. Whether that is getting the piece 95% done in the field, or 5%, I think it’s really important to understand colour relationships on site. Sometimes I might paint a full 36”x48” piece on site, other times I might use a photo and a colour sketch I had done previously. Either way, I need to have an understanding of the colour complexities that I’m going to use in any piece, and you can’t beat it when you have worked those out first hand. In this way I guess I subscribe to the old traditions of the classic plein air painters.

Yonge morning by Charlie Easton

Yonge morning

I have just had the best painting experience of my life so far – I’m currently in Alberta, preparing for an exhibition in Calgary, and I have driven through the Rockies painting as I go. A few nights back I painted the sun going down at Moraine Lake near Lake Louise and was absolutely blown away by the beauty of it. I like the painting I did there, but there’s just no way you could ever capture the scale, the grandeur and the beauty of such a sight on canvas. But hey, what an experience.

What is it like growing up in a family of painters? Did you always know you were going to be an artist? Or did you go through a rebellious teen phase where you threaten to run away and join an investment firm?

Continue reading » » »

Playlist Friday: Drinking songs

It’s another Friday! This calls for a celebration. Cheers!

“If You Don’t Start Drinkin’ (I’m Gonna Leave) ” – George Thorogood

George Thorogood’s problem is that he’s got too many good drinking songs. Oh, and also, he’s a really bad influence on his sober friends.

“Salt of the Earth” – The Rolling Stones

So you’ve succumbed to peer pressure and the evening’s first brew is in your hand – let’s toast to something worthwhile. Here’s to the hardworking people, the salt of the earth. The two (now seven) thousand million. Hopefully not to each one individually.

“Drinking Song” – Jason Webley

Your typical drinking song tends to sound like a sea chanty because the same rhythm that helps a bunch of people keep a cohesive pace while oaring also helps them keep a cohesive swaying and glass-thumping pace while boozing. I’m just guessing here.

Jason Webley, by the way, also collaborates with Amanda Palmer on Evelyn Evelyn – a conjoined twins act. Yeah. But I mostly like him because he sounds like Kevin Quain.

“Catch You in the Rye” – Kevin Quain

Who’s Kevin Quain, you ask? This guy. He kicks ass.

At this point in the evening, it’s time to dance.

“Jockey Full of Bourbon” – Tom Waits

Still dancing, but starting to trip up now.

“One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” – John Lee Hooker

I like bourbon, so let’s stick with that. It’s last call anyway.

Continue reading » » »

Canadian Visual Artists: Rob Croxford

Rob Croxford is a Toronto artist whose paintings and mixed-media works playfully combine elements of graphic design and vintage 1950’s aesthetics with thought-provoking messages.

The In Crowd by Rob CroxfordRob’s personality, like his art, projects such optimism, that the first question I ask when we meet up for coffee near his Queen East studio is about what helps him to stay so upbeat.

“I’m just grateful that I get to do this. I worked some terrible jobs over the years. I’ve got so much going for me already – I get to do what I love every single day. Even if things are not always as financially rewarding as I might like them to be, I get to do something that I’m passionate about and that’s amazing.

“It really helps when you love what you do. My paintings are really upbeat and positive, and I try to really be playful – and when you have that around you all day you can’t help but feel that way.”

But the consequences of the recent economic downturn can be disheartening for a professional artist, and focusing on the positives requires an occasional self-reminder, especially after a disappointing show:

Things 2 by Rob Croxford“I have to say to myself,  ‘It’s ok, Rob. People are really responsive to the work, and it’s really good work, and remember you love to do it. It’s not about the outcome, it’s about the process.'”

Speaking of the process, how does he choose the phrases that make up are such an integral part of many of his works?

“I sit on some of them – there’s a few that I’ve been sitting on for some time, I can’t think of how to make them.  I don’t want to be too preachy, and I don’t want to be too ‘cat of the month calendar’ either.  So I sit on a lot of them until I find the right inspiration, the right imagery.”

One Answer by Rob Croxford

One Answer quotes Neil Gaiman:
“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.”

Rob admires many of the authors of the clever, funny and thought-provoking quotes that accompany his paintings: “They come from people who are the person I would like to be […]  I’d like to have the knowledge and experience it takes to say those smart things.”

He says it’s very exciting and rewarding when all the pieces of an artwork finally come together.

“I’m just finishing one right now. I’d started it one way and thought, ‘It’s a bit preachy, but ok, I’ll try that.’ Then I thought, ‘It’s not nearly funny enough,’ so I went back to the drawing board and made it a little bit funnier, a little bit sillier.”

Wanting to make his work more humorous, to “turn up the heat a little bit” sometimes makes Rob doubt its marketability: “Every now and again I get that voice in my head, ‘Don’t say that, Rob. No one’s going to hang that up in their house.'”

Free&Easy by Rob CroxfordBut his main concerns about turning up the humour in his work are not commercial. He worries that because his paintings are fun, they are sometimes dismissed as not being Art.

Continue reading » » »

A brief report on the Riverdale Art Walk

Thanks to everyone who stopped by my booth at RAW last weekend! It was a great show with lots of visitors, engaging conversations and talented artists.

My booth at RAW

My booth at RAW

The weather was all kinds of crazy, but not during the set-up and take-down times – so I think the weather gods liked my offering. Throughout the day, ten-minute bursts of drenching rain just cooled us off from the scorching sun and made sure we got our exercise running around covering stuff up.

I got lots of compliments on my mosaics, many fascinated visitors who haven’t seen mosaics before, a few who wanted to learn how to make mosaics, but on the whole not that many who wanted to buy them. One guy brought me samples of a material called smalt, with a printout of its history and properties – that was kind of awesome. A whole lot of my friends showed up all at once and then brought me amazing artisanal ice cream from a place called Ed’s. On Sunday, there was a bluegrass band playing between bursts of rain – a joy to my honky-tonk heart.

Also, my neighbour artists were fantastic – so here’s a shout-out to them, plus a couple of others whose work I enjoyed. Click on the images to go to the artist’s site.

Lynn Leonard Photography

Lynn Leonard
Photography

Rob Boerboom Painter

Rob Boerboom
Painting

Stephen Cooper Photography

Stephen Cooper
Photography

Rob Croxford  Painting / Mixed media

Rob Croxford
Mixed media

Paul Karkas Painting

Paul Karkas
Painting

Patric Lajoie Photography

Patric Lajoie
Photography

Andrew SmithPhotography

Andrew Smith
Photography

Deirdre Wicks Watercolour

Deirdre Wicks
Watercolour