Welcome. Here you can explore the various paths that my visual art has taken over the last decade. Through paint and pixel, professional and confessional, I've explored many aspects of art that reside somewhere in between my analytic and chaotic sides. Click and drag or double-click the mouse to move around.
This is a selection of paintings I've produced over the last 5 years. Most were done in acrylic, though I do enjoy using oil paints as well.
Ottawa, Canada may not have a big art scene but it harbours many unexpected gems. In the shadow of the National gallery and cities like Toronto and Montreal, a number of 'Ottawans' have honed their skills to be some pretty big fish in the pond.
This is mostly contract work or jobs I did for fellow artists. While this section and the digital art section are very similar, the thing that sets graphic design work apart for me is tackling the challenge of being creative within the specific criteria that the job demands. Also, the final product needs to satisfy a function, appeal to a target audience, and yet still be fresh and original.
These pieces are a part of a recent experiment that combined digital art with painting. They were featured in the show Consumption Patterns.
Leo, Tracy, Denny, Warnick & Larsen represent five parts of my personality in a story woven by Phil Steinersen.
I'm still relatively new to the idea of creating digital art that isn't for work. While all my art helps me make money in some way, these are pieces in which I approached the task more organically.
In 2003 I developed a style that I called Shapism (as in shapes) that looked like hieroglyphics without the linear constraints of linguistic structures. Click on parts of the images to explore!
It had been a while since I'd last updated my site. At one point over a year ago I built an entirely new site, but before it went online I fell out of love with it and the whole website thing sort of died inside me for a while. After that I knew that any new design would have to come naturally in a gush of inspiration. And a whole lot of months later, here it is: It lays things out in a more instinctive way for me, spread out on a large canvas with associations and groupings here and there, like the map pages of a corny fantasy book.
I'm more at ease with Photoshop than any web design kit or even notepad (my longtime sidekick), so relying heavily on graphics is more my thing. My apologies to anyone with a slow computer that chokes on this design (I am currently building a simple version). For the rest of you, click and drag your mouse around anywhere and you'll be able to explore beyond the borders of your window.
Lossy - Acrylic and ink on canvas - 2007 - The name refers to a class of algorithms used to compress computer images, most notably the "JPG" format.
They are referred to as 'lossy' because each time you save them, you lose a bit of detail due to how the algorithm makes some approximations.
The piece is about the proliferation of cameras in society, and the accompanying social networking websites that thrive on people's "cam-whoreing" tendencies.
People are both more in touch with reality and further from it; There are photographic records of people and their activities in staggering quantities,
but it also gives people that much more power to distort the truth. The piece focuses on a particular obsession of the modern internet society- sex.
Jess and Sergey - Acrylic and ink on canvas - 2006 - I did this portrait for my show "All-Ways" which featured 9 paintings of various couples I knew. Shortly after the show, Jess and Sergey broke off their relationship, which caused some to wonder if this piece was cursed.
The rationale behind the "cursed" theory was that this was the only piece of the show in which the two people were facing away from each other. Fortunately their break-up was not a messy ordeal, and they are still on good terms.
Since then, however, a number of the other couples have also broken up, which has led some to re-jig the theory to state that perhaps my entire show was cursed. If this were true, it makes me wonder what would happen if I painted a portrait of two people who aren't together (yet?).
Elaine and Lukas - Acrylic on canvas - 2008 - This piece was a pleasure to create... except for that tree on the right. Painting landscapes is generally very soothing, and for me it is almost like I am vividly exploring each part of the world myself, as in a dream.
Everything about the scene was going perfectly- the creek came out just right, the golden fields came very naturally, and the trees on the left were easy. Then I took on the task of painting the tree on the right. It took five tries.
Each time, the tree looked like a cartoon that had intruded the vision, making a mockery of my dream. Finally, after scraping off the fourth attempt, I produced something I felt good about, though full with lingering doubts. I still have trouble looking at it objectively.
Marty - Acrylic on canvas - 2007 - This was the first portrait of a dog I'd ever done. I had no problems, though I never met him so I don't know if it was a truly accurate portrayal.
Steven's Girls - Acrylic on canvas - 2007 - Steven's co-workers had commissioned me to do this piece of his two kids, so one day I went over to do a photoshoot. I was uncertain if it would go well. For one, I was worried the kids were going to think I was uncool and put me on the spot.
Secondly I had no clear idea of what I wanted to paint (though I prefer to take a serendipidous approach to inspiration). Luckily the girls were not only excited, but they were total hams and loved being dramatic about everything. I merely sat there and took photos, barely speaking.
Hue and Michelle - Acrylic on canvas - 2006 - I have many memories of clubbing with these two, and I wanted to convey that same feeling in the painting. The problem was, photographs inside clubs with colourful lights and that "I worship the DJ" look are very common and often very cheesy.
I wanted something a little more elegant but still had the sense of wonderment and elation. The presence of a DJ is only suggested by the upward look of the couple, and I pulled back on the colours to the fringes, muting the kaleidoscope of lights to something more ephemeral.
Jason and Zoe - Acrylic on canvas - 2007 - Some couples are easier to paint than others; Zoe and Jason were one of these.
The choice of colours, the edging, and the composition all came naturally because I had a sense for what they might like.
That sort of gut feeling is crucial to my inspiration, even though I never really know if my hunches are correct.
Natasha and Dave - Acrylic on canvas - 2007 - I was partially inspirated by Foujita for this piece, to produce something graphic but with gentler colours like in his watercolor paintings.
Both Dave and Natasha are Muay Thai practitioners, so I studied some classic Thai decorative art before starting with the paint. I particularly like how her hair turned out.
Monika, Emily and Amica - Acrylic and airbrush ink on canvas - 2006 - This is a pretty accurate representation of how I usually remember these girls: colourful and bombastic. I used carved linotype and airbrush ink to create the decorative elements like flowers and dots.
The approach was very much like a physical version of Photoshop- a lot of careful, exact layering. I was new to airbrush ink but someone had once recommended it to me for its very opaque quality and precision. It worked well.
"Chasing Tails" - Acrylic on canvas - 2007 - I had been thinking about doing a koi painting for quite some time before I did this piece. I took some inspiration from Japanese ukiyo-e, but modernized it by saturating the colours and using an anime-like style.
While pondering the koi motif, I decided to add a snake and make this piece an elaboration of the Ouroboros, or the ancient symbol of the snake biting its own tail. To me the koi represented divine beauty, mesmerizing and hypnotic.
The snake amplifies the enchanting quality of the koi because it is enraptured by it, drawn to its elegant tail. But ultimately, like the ouroboros, it is biting its own tail as well, and the cycle of life is completed as a double helix.
A live piece I did for an architecture show. That's my mother and I when I was about six.
Clean Up Your Act - Acrylic and digital print on canvas - 2008 - This is one of those pieces in which everything fell into place effortlessly.
I knew I wanted to use the image of a water bottle since it is instantly recognizable, both for its health but also for the lunacy of being sold water at atrocious prices.
At first I considered making the background represent the surface of water in a bathtub, with a person sitting half submerged, but when my girlfriend commented that the water
bottles turned upside-down looked like a "bombardment" of water, the final composition materialized.
Ka-Boom - Acrylic and digital print on canvas - 2008 - I started this piece with the "Ka-Boom" part and figured that eventually I'd think of
something clever to put in the middle. My girlfriend (again) provided some crucial input and soon the idea of a hamburger came about.
It's perfect; nothing quite sums up the cartoony, energetic feeling of the piece so nicely as a burger bursting in the air,
while still retaining a measure of enigmatic symbolism and curiosity.
Material Girl - Acrylic and digital print on canvas - 2008 - This is the first piece I did in this series, and the first in this new format.
It was strange at first because of how spare I had to be with the paint. But given the intricacy of the print pattern, less was more.
Jetsets - Acrylic and digital print on canvas - 2008 - The planes and dotted lines in this piece were all drawn digitally; the people were painted. The final result was something a little more "digital looking" than I wanted, but given that I was emulating those airplane safetly pamphlets,
in many ways I was right on the mark. I personally love travel, though I do wonder how long we will be able to sustain all that air traffic and burning jetfuel.
Anime nouveau #1 - Digital - 2006 - Inspired by Alphonse Mucha and Frederic Leighton, and of course, anime. Having grown up with it, I used to draw anime all the time as a kid.
While I don't have as much interest in drawing it nowadays, the digital medium together with its highly decorative aesthetic has sort of sparked a revival.
Recursion #3 - Digital - 2007 - Back in 2003 I had a lot of interest in fractal forms, eventually prompting me to try applying recursive algorithms to my usual digital art.
This series is my most recent experiment with the idea, though I feel like there is still a lot of untapped potential.
Applying the idea to images of hair on pretty women produces wonderful artwork that looks nice on the wall, but it isn't what I consider... terribly insightful or challenging.
Recursion #2 - Digital - 2007 - While the third piece of this series was my favourite, I liked the fractal in this one the best. It produced the nicest proportions in the repeating forms.
Recursion #6 - Digital - 2007 - This was up at an Ottawa art show called "Beats & Pieces" where people thought it was a portrait of another artist, Anchalie Miles.
Once it was mentioned to me, I immediately saw the resemblance. Luckily we're friends so it wasn't too awkward... though maybe that would it make it more awkward?
Heliotrope - Digital - 2004 - Heliotrope was an ongoing contract during my early years as a professional artist, and it was the name of a series of educational tools and methodologies.
I was happy with the way I rendered the sun in this image. It isn't necessarily realistic, but it conveys the right sense of radiance.
Beet Roots - Digital - 2008 - My friend Kwende asked me to produce a few images for his music night/radio show, and I did since I am always up for supporting other artist's endeavours.
In return he provided music, which is great, as well as a dope hiphop / funk / soul night called Timekode that he co-promotes with some other fine fellows.
Images from the book "Navigating International AIDS Conferences" - Digital - 2007 - This is some work I did for the United Nations Association in Canada.
I wanted to include this because it demonstrates what one can achieve in digital art nowadays, with a tablet.
While the treamtment of line can approach that of a real pencil or pen, the layering and filling is made incredibly easy (and adjustable) by the digital medium.
Evolutions - Acrylic and digital print on canvas - 2008 - The hills in this piece are actually those propeller maple seeds, repeated over and over in two colours.
The human-made versions of the same principle rise out of the piece like trees, strangely fitting despite their symbolism of our efforts to curb our dirty ways.
Peggy and Charlie - Acrylic on canvas - 2006 - In the background you see the lighthouse at Murphy's point, at Canada's eastern extreme.
I didn't have any photos of the couple's real-life trip to work from- so instead I studied one photo of the lighthouse, and one photo
of the couple in a tropical scene. This is one of those occasions where a good feel for colour really helps bring it all together.
Untitled - Acrylic on canvas - 2005 - This was a collaborative piece between me and John Gap. We did it live-art style: basically
while getting very inebriated at a party called Disorganised. I did a few live-art pieces at this electro/house/mash-up party,
though as the popularity of Disorganised rose, my ability to paint there declined due to all the drunken hipsters bumping into me.
Bucketheadland - Acrylic on canvas - 2005 - Jason commissioned this piece from me; he absolutely loves Buckethead. I didn't know who he was.
But I listened to a bunch of his music (very good guitarist) and surfed his website for a while, and eventually I "got" what he was about.
I hadn't painted too many creepy scenes before, but this was a good opportunity to try. A lot of it boiled down to one thing: blue.
Safer Sex - Acrylic on canvas - 2008 - I did this in front of an audience at a health promotion event that a friend was helping to organise.
It's interesting painting something a bit racy and explicit in public, though it also gives me a quiet thrill as people realize what they're looking at.
The Artist - Acrylic on canvas - 2005 - Originally there was going to be seven pieces in this series, "Allegories for Archetypes".
In the end I only finished about one and three-quarters. This piece is about the artist's conflict between following one's mind and
following one's feelings. And in the end, the conflict is only significant because eventually we all run out of time.
Youth of Today, City of Tomorrow - Acrylic on canvas - 2007 - I was commissioned to do this piece for the UN Association in Canada, for their eponymous program to help vulnerable youth. I like the subtle but jagged perspectives in this one.
Simon and Sumita - Acrylic on canvas - 2006 - Like many young artists, I went through a Van Gogh-loving period for about a year or two, which culminated in seeing his work at the
Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. This piece is an homage to the ear cutting genius who helped me understand the secrets of colour. It is also a portrait of some wonderful
friends that I never see enough of. I wish my paintings were also dimensional portals that I could step through!
Maya of Brahman - Acrylic on canvas - 2004 - An oldie but a goodie. The "Maya" in the Hindu religion represents the veil that covers reality and prevents ordinary people from seeing the true oneness of the universe. Brahman is, in essence, that very oneness- and in human form it is the Buddha.
The veil contains human preoccupations like war, power, love, lust, art, drugs and technology; all of which are embedded in this piece. To see up close, click on "detail" in the bottom left corner of this window. I am happy to say that Akash owns this one- Many thanks man.
Low Tide - Acrylic on canvas - 2006 - A commission from a friend, this turned out pretty good.
The only thing: the water bottle in the bottom right is way too small in proportion... but I decided to leave it.
Divergence 2 poster - 2005 - I did maybe 6 or 7 posters for Divergence, a GLBT-friendly party night run by my friend Caitlyn.
This poster remains one of my favourites from that series. I really enjoyed doing these because it allowed me to endulge in low stress candy-coloured designs
but also, more importantly, I was free to explore more deviant looks- it's a nice change compared to other jobs.
Dharma Developments card - Petals of a Blooming World - 2005 - Things that the digital medium makes insanely easy compared to more traditional methods:
Repetition of form; Arrangement at regular intervals in a perfect circle; Taking an image I had once created but never used (the city in the distance)
and using it in a totally different project. Sometimes I wonder how graphic designers ever made deadlines before computers and Photoshop.
Tribalicious CD cover (Paolo Michelli) - 2004 - This was one of my earliest jobs as a graphic designer. I think it still holds its own now, though the way I rendered the DJ in the corner (Paolo) isn't terribly exciting. I think it's mainly because I only had a few photos of him to work with, and this one "fit" the best.
Nowadays I might be more confident to freestyle that sort of thing and use the photos merely as guides. But who knows... when it's a matter of paying the rent month to month, my mind can often narrow my view to simply "get the job done". It's something I try to resist of course.
Sport in a Box poster - 2007 - Probably one of the most challenging posters I've ever done in terms of layout. A lot of text, several diagrams, divisions into sections, logos and photos, and a requirement that the main logo was to be right in the center and very prominent.
I have never taken any courses on graphic design, but over the years I've developed my own rules of alignment, proportions and divisions... not to mention aspects of purposeful dissonance. Sometimes I wonder if it all actually "works". At least the UN Association thought so!
Navigating International AIDS Conferences booklet - 2007 - A strong design that I look back to with a fair amount of pride.
The best part is that I took all the photos myself and cut and pasted them to form this image. Additionally it's great when your work goes towards a valuable cause too.
Doing great work for a cause you don't believe in would be the worst- basically selling your soul!
Hip Hop 360 poster - 2008 - I'm a multilingual Canadian living in Ontario. While I am fully in support of bilingualism, creating posters in both English and French is a huge doozie.
Business card for Simmi - 2005 - Business cards can be tricky things if you want to stray from the standard text-centric designs.
I also find that you want to keep things a somewhat abstract, since realism in a business card is both distracting and tends to look, oddly enough, cheap.
By the way, I removed the contact info from the card in case you were thinking that this was the most counter-productive thing ever.
Parliamentary Center booklet cover - 2006 - I had to go by a preset layout and font, so this isn't so interesting design-wise.
But I did a few of these and loved it each time because I got to practice my photography skills. It's neat when most of the design happens with a push of a button.
Art show flyer - 2007 - Really simple design, but Caitlyn's girlfriend loved the portrait I did of Caitlyn here. Things like that make me feel good.
FIPA report cover - 2007 - This one was a joint effort between me and my girlfriend Sabra. She took the photo of the ceiling of the Columbian national congress,
I added some extra elements to it and made the cover. Well, I guess the stained glass artist played a huge part. Thank you, stained glass dude.
My business card - 2008 - I designed this card during a period when I was obsessed with adding perspective to text. I found that even the subtlest skew would change its
feeling so much- I am frequently amazed at the acuity of human vision for that sort of thing. It's also a delight to artists since it allows for some clever designs.
Dharma Arts is an Ottawa-based online arts magazine that was conceived in 2007 by Akash Sinha of Dharma Developments, and since then has been produced on a quarterly basis by myself and three other principal members: Shannon Beahen, Ben Welland, and Matt Harrison. We cover anything and anyone with artistic merit inside the capital region, and take pride in the written, visual and dynamic quality of the site... and the fact that we pay our writers decently.
My good friend Phil Steinersen and I started Passive Depressive as a weekly online comic back in late 2006. It's half skit-comedy and half sci-fi fantasy, sort of like if Family Guy and Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a demonic Stewie as a bastard child. Many of the jokes are perverse and in bad taste, but it's a wonderful opportunity for me to draw totally outrageous things, and for Phil to... well, be his usual self.