Saturday, August 11, 2012

In the interrim

While filming I'm afraid that I'm not exactly able to keep this updated as often as I'd like to.
I'll have many stories when I return, but unfortunately must put this procedure on hold while I am away and simply upload the photos to the facebook group.
Thanks so much everyone for helping to be a part of this amazing project! I promise to have everyones journal done very soon!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Matti Paints - Subject Ala

Ala is one of the best storytellers I've ever met.
He is fascinating, crafting stories from everything from his song choices, (he had multiple stories for almost every song) to his colours and even his poses.  The entire time I was painting him was delightful as within moments he was cracking jokes. He's one of the few people who have come in and totally owned the space he was residing it. He wasn't challenging me, the process or the space, but he was aware of it all and gracious enough to let it happen. It was a strange but enjoyable dynamic.

He is a fascinating individual that I am so glad has come into my life.
I was so glad when I finally got him to come by and be a part of it. Plus, we both love the Tug of War era Carly Rae, and a fondness for Cory Lee.
According to Ala, Cory was one of his three major influences in his life. So if you're reading this Cory, you got a fan boy!
I'm not really sure how much else there is to say about Ala. His beauty as a person is undeniable both inside and out.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Matti Paints - Subject Brittanie

So I haven't done this before, but I really wanted to for this piece.

Now there are several paintings that I've done that I love. This was easily one of them. My immediate reaction after I finished it was "Wow... I did that?"

I guess a part of this goes back to my own personal insecurities (which I speak of in detail HERE), but when I finished this, I really felt like I had made something special. Something awesome. Something I could REALLY be proud of.

NOW, maybe I should take this back to the beginning.

Look! It's Brittanie!
She works with me at the Hot Oven and we generally get along famously. We've only had a few shifts together, but this girl has already kicked into the mode of surrogate little sister.
We joke. We laugh. Mostly that's about it.

Anyhow when I told her about my project she jumped at the chance and actually pitched me an idea.

"So, do you think you could do something like starry night?"
For serious? For true?
I don't think I can properly express how excited I was at the prospect of doing this piece.
Van Gogh has long been one of my major artistic influences. His use of colour and form are incredible and I LOVE working with new material.

So obviously the colours were picked for us and we just had to find a suitable playlist. Turns out she loves Red Hot Chili Peppers so we had a good base to start from. I had to introduce her to Petty Victories because that's just what friends do, and I added Tonight Tonight to the list simply because the song fits beautifully in with the painting style.

Combine this with an extremely photogenic model and we had our shot in a matter of minutes. I am in love with this painting and am so glad that I got to have this experience with Brittanie. She's a really amazing person and I'm so glad that I've got to meet her.

Is the picture an exact replica of Starry Night? Of course not. No one can copy his genius in twenty minutes. But working with what I had, I have to say I am so proud, not only of Brittanie but of myself for being able to do something so close to the original in so short a period of time.

I could go into paragraphs upon paragraphs about this piece so maybe it's best I end it here. But I am SO thankful and proud of this piece and this canvas. Thanks for letting me be your big bro for a day!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Matti Paints - Subject Ari

I think Ari was one my more pleasant surprises.
We met briefly at one of Libby and Cassie's wild parties. He was an interesting guy, and shortly thereafter he asked to be painted.

I really enjoyed everything about the experience. He was one of those quiet, cool guys you see and instantly know there's more to this guy than you thought.
Pictured: Dark and Mysterious
Turns out I was right!

Ari and I talked about many things during his session from school, to his life growing up in Bulgaria, to his schooling and the girls he was dating. He was a wealth of interesting information, and even though I could tell he was nervous at the beginning, as the painting continued he began to relax more and more. Before long it felt more like I was talking to a friend. Or more likely a bro. I now understand bromance.

 Musically he chose excellent songs. And a good and interesting variety of indie, rock and even a Reggae tribute to Radiohead. Lots of Killers too. We had some good talks about them.

His colour choices of orange and black ended creating an almost tiger like pattern on his face, and especially on his left shoulder which I really liked. It fit really well with his character which was a nice, fun element. I enjoyed contrasting a bit of the blue which I thought contrasted nicely with the orange.
Overall I was extremely pleased with how the picture came out and am really glad to have got the chance to work with him.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Matti Paints - Subject Adam

So in painting Adam, I had some cheats that make this picture a little bit more planned than the other ones.

I know Adam since he is room mates with Matt R. (You can see his excellent portrait HERE) and was pleasantly surprised when he volunteered to be a part of the project. We didn't know each other well so I was really looking forward to the experience.

What made his canvas so unusual was how the paint reacted to his skin. The gold and silver were applied in a thin coat all over, but it's so translucent that you can hardly see it! I managed to work around that easily enough however and ended up with  rather dynamic photo.

Our music tastes are quite different which is something I found amusing. It was interesting to force someone out of their regular music choices by making them consider and listen to a project. We of course managed to find some common ground.

The reason I found this such an unusual canvas was simply because in the initial batch there wasn't a picture that was useable so we went back and retook a variety of photos from the same angle. I like to think it's not cheating since I made the project, but a small part of me still feels guilty about it. That being said, I really enjoyed how it turned out. Especially the big bold pop-art style pop outs on his chest and face.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Matti Paints - Subject Amba

It's always interesting co-workers... but it's especially interesting painting co-workers you don't know extremely well yet.
I've been at my new job for over a month now. And there are good days. And there are bad days... And though the staff is large, I feel like I've started to get to know a few of them pretty well.
One of them is Amba.
She's one of the shift leaders there, and I find that we get along pretty well at work so it was nice to have her come and sit for me so she could see me in my natural environment.
Or as natural an environment as you find in a man's apartment. She had to comment on the messiness of my room, DESPITE the fact that I'd cleaned most of it. Just gotta work on my clothes mountain.
So even though I'd painted a lot of my old Second Cup co-workers, it was a very different environment there with a very different group of people.
How would someone from the new neighbourhood react to being painted?
Although I'm sure Amba isn't indicative of the entire population of Bloor West, I was looking forward to painting someone from my new environment.
What I wasn't expecting was for her to be a freaking model.
 The biggest surprise of the process was how her colours turned out. I really enjoyed the unique patterns that emerged on her face and the colour combination, while a tertiary colour palate (Which we all know how I feel about)was easy to work with and complimented her very well. I think the saving grace there was the white and pink which created a beautiful contrast.

The biggest shock from this came after the painting... Seriously. This girl can model.
It was a delight painting her and I am hoping that changing jobs will bring me a boasting of new models. Here's hoping!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Matti Paints - Subjects Seanna and Tarah

So Tarah has wanted to do this project for a while now...
Feel my excitement.
 So I knew right away that it would be an easier and enjoyable session. But then there was her sister Seanna who has been fighting this idea for a while now, despite the fact that I used her in my promo for the Kickstarter.

PS- for those who haven't seen it yet, what are you waiting for?

So when Seanna showed up with Tarah I was very excited at the prospect of getting to paint sisters again. I enjoyed my experience painting Sarah and Caitlin, so I was curious to see how Seanna and Tarah would end up.
However, one thing I did differently was I painted them both individually. Tarah and Seanna each got their own music to create their own pictures meaning I could take more cues from who they were as individuals rather than work on a cohesive piece. I enjoyed this tactic as it made it easier to bring out their own individual colours and features.
Seanna's Playlist

Tarah's "chill" Playlist

 There were many interesting events that happened in this process. For one, Tarah's colours she picked ended up looking much lighter on her skin than she had hoped, but actually ended up complimenting her in a way that dark colours wouldn't have. Plus I ended up doing some very interesting facial constructions on her face that really brought out her mysterious side. I have to say that after photographing her, I feel she looks a bit like a young Paulina Poriskova.

Seanna ended up with a series of bright colours that reminds me more of Avatar than any other painting I've done so far. Maybe it's the colours. Maybe it's her serene expression, but something about this painting suggests that any moment now... She'll see me.
Ok, that's the only Avatar reference I shall make. I promise.
It's funny when they were completed since they really didn't seem to go together until I put them together.
 The deatil on the shoulder was where the similarities really started to shine through. There's a tree-like quality to the way their arm colours blend together.
Plus after hearing how much their mother was a fan of this project, you know I could never turn away these delightful siblings.
Painting them together was a great experience. We laughed, we cried (mostly me and Tarah because her music choices were very... "chill") and overall I like to believe that I captured them in a very sweet, loving way that shows them as the beautiful girls that they are.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Matti Paints - Subject Bob

So this is Bob

So Bob is from Seattle, meaning that he is by far the person who has come the furthest to be a part of this project. (Not including WES or ALAN)

He's a very sweet person, which was something that I think was encapsulated in his painting very well. He chose very bright, excited colours which wouldn't necessarily compliment well, but pull together to craft a very calm and sweet number.

He's also an artist and his drawings always bring a smile to my face. For instance, he's the man who has crafted the logo for the Human Canvas Project.
Which is awesome. (He does a daily webcomic which you can check out at here. I'm starting you at the second one because it begins an adorable sequence I think everyone should experience.)

He has a really great heart and is so full of life that I really wanted to show case him in a creative and spectacular way. I think the painting was successful in a lot of ways as it showed a lot of his most positive sides.

My Style

As I pass the halfway mark of this project, there are a few things I really wanted to reflect on.
First off, I never thought that I was a good painter. This was the last thing I would have expected to be doing had you asked me back in high school.
I never had much of a handle on craft, or detail. My pictures were always rough and unfinished. They were cartoony. They weren't good. I never saw myself as being able to do this because I wasn't a good drawer.
"butterfly" 2003, watercolour
This was my work in high school. Rough, unfinished. Certainly not what I would consider the early work of an artist.

"Planetoid" 2004, acrylic on canvas board

I remember back to when me and Nathan were little. We used to gather around his families table and draw. And when we did this, he was always so much better than me. He had a natural artistic talent that I lacked. His pictures were always so clean and precise. His cartoons were good. Mine were not.
Out of this came some sort of inferiority complex that settled in me until I hit high school and took an art class with my friends Susan and Bailey.

Soon, I began to improve. I look back at my sketch books from those times and I realize how much I improved just by sticking to my craft.

But in my eyes, even with all my improvements I still wasn't good enough.

It wasn't until I went back to university that I finally realized that I had a talent. I see things in ways others don't. My unique vision is actually my own and through influences, I've realized that I have strengths as an artist that others don't.
This was my work in first year. A silly piece called "Breakfast of Venus" based around the "Birth of Venus" picture by Boticelli. It's silly. It's fun... but it was also a bit of a turning point for me. I started to realize that I could do things for myself.

As my other friends in the program got better, I began to get more experimental.

I played with colours.
"Duality" 2009, oil on canvas
I realized that even though my work was stylized, it brought with it a new set of delightful challenged specifically for me. While my friends were trapped within the confines of realism, I shot for absurdity.

The Vitruvian "Man", 2011 - acrylic on canvas

"By The Gods" 2011- acrylic on canvas
I began to get compliments from the people who I admired telling me what a unique and creative vision I had. Teachers who once came down hard on me began to get excited about my work.
"Drag Queens Last Supper", 2011 - acrylic on board

I've become something I never expected to be. An artist. And it's only now that I dive deeper and deeper into the Human Canvas Project that I'm realizing the incredible impact it is having on my life.

I'm seeing people differently. You know how some people claim they can see people's auras? Like that one is gold, or green? I'm secretly wondering what colour these people are on the inside? Am I truly capturing their essence in a photograph?

And the only way I really know that is if they or their friends respond with an enthusiastic yes.

It's a strange process, but one that I'm growing into slowly.

Now I find that I'm working with a completely new medium, but it makes sense in a weird way. I've always painted my people as every colour in the rainbow. Now I'm turning my friends into the people I would normally paint them as.  Bright colourful beacons to show off to the world.

It's a neat thought that what started as a form of self expression has turned into a form of celebration. A way for me to communicate how I have seen the world for all these years.

As the project moves forward, I'm excited to discover what will happen next.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Matti Paints - Subject Kevin C

What do you call someone who holds such a special and beautiful place in your heart that you've only met a couple of times?

Some might say confidant, some might say acquaintance... I would say it's somewhere between a lover, a cousin and a pet. I've had the privilege of having a few friends in my life who occupy this very affection position, and one of them is Kevin.

I have known this guy through thick and thin. He's seen me in every stage of my adult life and always been there to lend an ear.

Also it turns out he knows Patrick from way back when. I guess amazing people just run in packs.

I knew he'd been through a bit of a hard patch lately and as such seeing his playlist wasn't such a surprise. A lot of songs about healing, finding yourself and recovering.

Plus, one song I put in there as a bit of a bittersweet memory. Ten points if you guess which one!

I don't know why I love bittersweet memories so much. I guess they just make life more interesting.

Anyway, as a result I found myself being drawn to a very soft and gentle part of Kevin. I felt like he was wanting something more. He wanted to know that what he was doing was ok. I wanted to show him who he really was. Strong, handsome and powerful. 

Again I'm noticing patterns. I've been associating yellow with power lately. Mainly because the colour dilutes  and blends so easily that to have a solid stripe of yellow is hard, so to block off an entire section of the body in it becomes a challenge. Especially when paired with the green. You need to be very conscious of where the yellow will be, and the fact that the green lines cross over his heart seems to suggest a kind of guarded vulnerability.

Again, I work with a literal tree motif, but this time a strongly realistic approach over a solid grey backing. Why? I'm not really sure. There is something extremely solid and spiritual about a tree. And the fact that it's layered over grey suggests new life.

Am I looking too much into this painting? Probably. But that's what I'm supposed to do, right?

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Thanks for being so awesome. xoxo

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Matti Paints - Subject Ben

So Ben is a friend of Kevin's who saw the project and agreed to be a part of it.
And I am very glad he did.

First off, once again I forgot to take a before picture which is disappointing. I really need to remember to do that.

However, one of the most exciting things about this particular canvas is that Ben is number 50.

Yes. I have now officially done 50 separate canvases. Each  more difficult than the last. I've grown. The project has grown. What started as an idea and a very confused expression from Wes has grown into this with momentum still going strong.

So needless to say I was very excited working with Ben. I couldn't have asked for a better canvas. He was friendly and from the moment he entered my apartment, we were both at ease and enjoying the experience. Plus he chose Tina Turner. That made my day.

Ben was surprisingly enjoyable to paint. I ended up creating patterns on him that I hadn't made before. His face ended up with solid line work which is a style I haven't experimented with too much yet which ended up being a pleasant surprise. The back piece featured a giant spiral that was outlined in Celtic designs. His arms were a teal and pink mix of Aztec patterns followed by a chest piece that looked like armor.

So of course we choose a picture that features him as a pose from the side.

Awe well, I'm still very happy with the end product! 

To support the project check out the KICKSTARTER here to help us get a gallery space!

Matti Paints - Subject Luke

Luke was an interesting surprise for me.

He is someone who I have known for yeas, although we'd never actually got a chance to meet before. We've been great friends and had many talks, but never got to meet face to face.

It's amazing how quickly that changed when I got a paint brush in my hands.

So this is Luke.

If you're wondering why I don't have a proper before shot it's because I forgot to take one. This is turning into a very bad habit of mine, and one I promise I am trying to break.

Anyhow, meeting Luke was a good experience. We have a lot in common and our conversation was instantly enjoyable. Under the layers of awkwardness he's a really interesting person.

When Luke was 17, he was diagnosed with cancer. As a result, he's become a strong vibrant individual and I really wanted to reflect that. The colours he chose (only three I should mention) were very iconic. Blue, red and yellow. It's the most basic colour scheme you could get. But because of his history I really wanted to capture him in a new and unique way. Considering I got the three most basic colours, the fact that the colours never mix makes this one of the more interesting portraits I've done. It's oddly balanced and the colours on his skin reflect an almost super-hero-esque quality. 

Painting Luke was a joy. I really enjoyed getting the opportunity and I hope he enjoyed the final result as the rest of the process.

Matti Paints - Subjects Zane and Ryan

So one of the most difficult aspects of this project has been the group pictures.
There are many problems that arise when you decide to do two people in the span of time intended for one person. The most obvious being each person will only get 15-20 minutes of paint time meaning that each piece is half as detailed so you need to be extra careful in how you paint each person. Other factors come into play of course; how long will each song be? How will these colours work together? How do I divide the colours?
Just many issues.
So when Ryan aproached me about the possibility of shooting with his friend Zane, I was enthused, but to be completely honest I was nervous. 
 First off, they're two very different people. How would they photograph together? Their skins are very different, how could I find combine the paints in a way that would work beautifully on both skin tones? How would the paints react to a darker skin tone?
Many questions.
Many fantastic reactions.
I've known Ryan for a while now, and he's always a bundle of joy and enthusiasm. He's loud and proud in the best way and I really admire him for that. He's a delight so I knew anyone he brought over to be painted with would have just as much energy and enthusiasm as him. And Zane did.
Throughout the experience they had me in stitches, and while they both were nervous at the prospect and the final product, the painting process itself was a delight.
Ryan chose the colours, and as such they're all very bright and fun. Pink, blue, yellow, green, black and white. Almost a perfect primary coat to work with.

Their songs were varied, with me and Zane bonding over Maria Mena (which is just awesome in my books) and Ryan bringing a selection of dance pop tunes.
Overall the experience was very enjoyable. I greatly enjoyed their company and the picture ended up encapsulating a really soft, beautiful side.
Funny how lately the picture I think I'm painting never seems to be the painting I end up with.
I wonder what that's about.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Matti Paints - Subject Erin

So Erin's portrait is a bit of a happy coincidence. She was in the neighbourhood as I was painting ANGELA and JORDAN, strangely enough over with LIBBY and CASSIE since we all live in the same area,  and just decided to hit me up to see what I was doing. When I offered her the chance to be a part of the project she jumped at the opportunity. Literally. Look how enthused she looks in her before picture.
Look Matti. Look how enthused I am.
Erin, if you haven't guess already, is another friend from North Bay. She is the SOLE reason I passed history of drama my second year at Nipissing. She is also one of the smartest people I know.
Seriously. Her mind is so sharp it could cut someone. In fact it has cut me several times. She is someone I owe much to, and I don't even think she realizes the incredible impact she has had on my life.
Seriously. This girl is the reason I passed my second year of university.
This is not the first time I've got to artistically work with Erin. A couple years ago she was involved in my production of Love*Fool where she played the ever frantic and unnerved Peter Quince. Strange enough I have a hunch her character choices might have been based on me a bit...
(Me? Frantic? Never! Anyway...)
I was super happy with her colour choices EVEN THOUGH they were WAY outside my comfort zone. Red, purple, tan, brown and silver. After about three lines with Erin she told me she expected me to have difficulty with them.
Thanks Erin. Thanks a lot for that.
but in the end I really liked the direction it ended up. I find lately I've been getting a lot of earthy colours. Perhaps it is the season but it really is turning into a theme lately.
The painting session was relaxing and enjoyable, despite the fact that Angela and Jordan were hanging around when we were painting. There was a bit of a time constraint but I really didn't feel any pressure while we were painting. We were just hanging out. And I just happened to be painting her.
That's normal right?
In the end, I found a picture that I felt truly captured the spirited, amazing person that Erin is. I love it.
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Matti Paints - Subjects Angela and Jordan

This is Angela. (And Jordan in the background)

These are two friends from way back in North Bay days. Essentially I met Angela and Jordan while I was doing a production of Godspell with the Trinity church up there. They were 14. I was older. By a fair amount. But hey! The production was fun, and how many times does a guy get to play Jesus? If the answer is any more than one, you might have a god complex.

Angela was the one to contact me about getting painted, and given our history I eagerly agreed. I mean, how many times do you get to paint an old friend?

So since they're both new to the city, I figured I'd welcome them the best way I knew how.

Angela went first and between the two of them she's certainly the one I knew better. We would often talk back in the Godspell days about everything. Plus I vividly remember a day when I had to take the train south to Toronto when I had a tonsil infection, and Angela was there with her family. Her mom nursed me through the occasion with advil and Buckleys. Plus on the trip I got to visit her grandfathers restaurant and got to eat for free. (it was a good trip)
Plus, he made an amazing rum and coke. I'm still sure to this day that he used food colouring instead of soda.

Anyway, here's her playlist.
 No major surprises but we got a few good bonding moments over Cranberries, Beck and Alanis.
It was a great experience, and the fact that she chose purples and blues as her base colours, plus our history, it made for a really great experience. The paint job was very easy and in the end we ended up with a very beautiful piece.

What made this particular paint job so interesting was the open-door concept. It was never just me and Angela, or me and Jordan. It was me, Wes, Rob, Erin, Jordan and Angela.  My home was a hot bed of activity and as a result it became a very social and enjoyable experience. I'm not sure I'd be able to do this sort of thing with a stranger, but since everyone who came today was someone I'd already had a connection to, I figured I could get away with it.

So Jordan is a very different situation than Angela. Where with Angela I had a strong bond with her, Jordan was someone I never really knew extremely well. Sure, I always liked her and thought she was fun, but we never really got to spend any time together.

That being said, once I actually got a listen to the playlist she created, not knowing her better was something I instantly regretted. I mean come on! She chose Ingrid, Bowie AND Fleetwood Mac? How were we not amazing friends before?

Her colour choices were all very bright and helped to serve her positive outlook and spirit. She's a little bit awkward, but I really enjoyed getting the chance to get to know her better.

The painting process started in a very unusual way. I started at her mouth and did three diagonal lines up to her ear. Something I've never done but I ended up with a very unique patchwork design that I haven't done before. I really enjoy getting surprised by the process.

Overall, I really enjoyed getting to paint these two. It was a very fulfilling experience getting to spend time with these two, and a great way to get to see old friends.

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