Tag Archive: Art


I may be forced to go to some dark places in my art due to things I’ve experienced very recently. I’m not sure what to expect, because I don’t normally draw on these feelings for my art. I have nothing against doing so and have in the past when the mood or inspiration takes me.

However, this time it’s different in a way difficult to explain, except maybe through my art.

The Patchwork Girl (300 dpi - Patrick Lemieux)

Becoming The Patchwork Girl. Copyright 2014, Patrick Lemieux

Think of this piece as a demo of what may be to come, though it started out as something altogether different.

We’ll see there this leads.

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Here’s a link to a story that’s making the rounds online, that of filmmaker Greg Karber taking issue with Abercrombie & Fitch’s branding of their clothes. Give it a look:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2324748/Abercrombie-Fitchs-brand-readjustment-Filmmaker-hands-clothes-LA-homeless-revenge-wanting-beautiful-customers.html?ico=ushome%5Eeditors_choice_six_of_the_best

Okay, I can hear a lot of you cheering out there along the lines of “Way to go, Karber! Way to show this jerkass company what’s what by taking matters into your own hands and helping the homeless at the same time! You’re a hero!” I know similar things are being said because I read a lot of such sentiments on my Facebook news feed.

And here’s where I step up and say “I disagree. A lot.”

This whole “rebranding” thing bothers me.

First, let me say that I think Abercrombie & Fitch are being douchebags in how they market their clothes and what they do with their overstock. Here’s the thing, though…It’s their choice. I don’t agree with the choice they made, but I respect that it was their choice to make. It’s free country and they are a business. If you don’t like their brand or marketing, the solution is to not buy their product. That’s your choice and it needs to be respected just as much as the A&F’s right to make their choice.

What Greg Karber has done has taken it solely upon himself to try to make A&F’s choice for them. And that is wrong. It is fundamentally arrogant.

“But he’s doing it for a good cause,” I hear you say, “He’s helping the homeless and trying to make the world a better place, which A&F should be doing.”

On that last part, I’ll say, “What gives him the right to tell anyone else, individual or large company, what to do and how to do it? His moral superiority?” If you agree that he’s in the right by acting as he does, I’m guessing it’s because you agree with his position. The problem is: what happens when he or someone just as motivated starts applying their moral barometer to your life in a way you don’t share ideologically? We’re back to choice and each person’s right to make their choice as they see fit. No one should take that away from you or anyone else.

As for the “doing it for a good cause” motive…? No, that’s not why he’s doing it. He’s doing it out of spite, or as the article above puts it, he’s doing it for revenge. Does it matter why, so long as he’s helping people? His cause is to re-brand A&F to align with his own sensibilities and to say A&F are jerks for how they behave. The “help” the homeless get with receiving free clothes is incidental to his cause. And what happens after he feels he’s made his point? Will his “help” continue?

Now, to address an even deeper problem I have with this re-branding notion. Karber is a filmmaker, so to partially answer my own earlier question of “”What gives him the right to tell anyone else, individual or large company, what to do and how to do it?”, he is an artist. As an artist myself, I respect using one’s medium to convey messages and ideas, to try to bring about change (hopefully positive) in our world. What I don’t respect in Karber’s case is, in addition to the aforementioned issues I take with this campaign, is his exploitation of the homeless to make his point. He points the camera at the homeless and hands them free clothes. Again, his motive is to show up A&F, so he needs the less-fortunate in order to make to his point. The people he gives clothes to aren’t in a position to turn it down and say, “No, we will not be exploited!” Of course they’re going to take what’s given and be thankful. That doesn’t make them any less taken advantage of, put in a position of gain solely because an artist needs to use them to make his point.

So, yeah, this whole thing bothers me. A lot.

Because neither side deserves any more free advertising, I’m not putting an image up that relates to either A&F or Karber. Instead, here’s a picture of a puppy. You’re welcome!

Who's a good little puppy?!  (copyright unknown)

Who’s a good little puppy?!
(copyright unknown)

 

(© Artists’ Network of Riverdale, 2012)

I’m a member of the Artists’ Network here in Toronto and we’re having an fundraising auction for the organization.

Here’s what the Artists’ Network does:

“We’re dedicated to supporting visual artists in their professional business practice. We promote professional development and entrepreneurship of artists by organizing seminars, providing exhibitions and networking opportunities.” Artists’ Network

Here’s the link to The Little Art Show auction.

There is a variety of great works by professional artists and it’s all very affordable. It features paintings, photography and sculpture in many different styles and genres.

These are the two pieces I have exhibited for sale in the auction, created for this event specifically:

“Recall”
Acrylic on Canvas
12″ x 12″
© Patrick Lemieux, 2012
Starting bid: $150.00

“Stage Left Cat”
Acrylic on Canvas
12″ x 12″
© Patrick Lemieux, 2012
Starting bid: $150.00

My Artist’s Statement:
***
Theatre.

After more than 20 years, it’s still a word that fires my imagination. The audience sees the stories performed onstage, but rarely sees the stories which play out behind the curtains, above the stage, or in the dark recesses of the space, where the memories of shows past remain, in names scrawled on old pieces of scenery, the tags of costumes and in tattered scripts left in the control booth. It’s a Twilight Zone of sorts back there, a place caught between places, between where the audience dreams and the troupers play. It is fuelled by vivid imagination, but driven by unrelenting reality. It’s hard work creating the fantastical. There’s never enough time, hardly enough money and more often than not, low-tech solutions will win the day.

Take a wander, now, past the sign that says, “No Audience Beyond This Point.” See what the theatre folk see. Glimpse what the theatre itself remembers. And I like to believe that it does remember the actors, dancers and crew who worked there and the shows they mounted. Is the theatre haunted? Maybe. Is Shakespeare’s Scottish Play really cursed? Well, there was this one time when…
***

If you live in the Toronto area, you can see all the pieces in the auction’s exhibit live, in person, at The Hangman Gallery, 756 Queen St. E., Toronto, Ontario.

The auction ends Saturday, November 17th, 2012 at 9 PM.

Here’s a sampling of what to expect to see at my upcoming art show!

All are welcome!

The video features one of the tracks, “Dominate,” from the new Symphony Of Nine album, THE GALLERY. The album features 14 new pieces of art commissioned by the band. You’ll glimpse some in the video and all 14 will première at PLAY OF LIGHT, as well those done this past summer relating to Theatre and those from recent years, all tied together through an exploration of light.

Take a look and feel free to stop by if you’re in and around Toronto.

Admission is free.

See the VIDEO here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QUvxew2L2U&feature=youtu.be

 

 

 

Anyone in and around Toronto, Ontario, your are welcome to come out and see my gallery event, featuring the recent artwork done for the band Symphony Of Nine and the Theatre-themed pieces worked on this summer, as well pieces done over the years.

I’ll be there, too, if you want to say “hi” and talk shop!

Cheers,

Patrick

Some recent sketchbook entries:

Sunday, May 13th, 2012,

“Need new artwork. Theatre-related?”

Theatre painting ideas from the sketchbook (© Patrick Lemieux, 2012)

Monday, May 14th, 2012,

“Rebound” video shoot today [Symphony of Nine’s recent single and forthcoming video]. 2:43 PM and awaiting Scott and crew’s arrival. Sitting on the patio of the Flatiron  & Firkin. It’s a beautiful day.

Debating an experiment where I try a painting a day for five days a week through June, excluding holidays and vacations. Could be interesting. The problem with a piece a day is ideas. What would I paint? Also, would I burn out?”

Scott Brown & Taylor Brown at The Flatiron & Firkin, working on the “Rebound” video. (© Patrick Lemieux, 2012)

[After the shoot, the band and I went to The Sphagetti Factory for dinner. I told them of my idea of doing a painting a day in June, excluding weekends and holidays, and that I hoped to have maybe 15 pieces done by the end. They, too, wondered if I could do it.]

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

A page of sketches. Was thinking abstract in the second one. (© Patrick Lemieux, 2012)

[At this point I was leaning heavily toward the June Paintathon, as I call it. My thought was to sketch as much new material as I could, so all I had to do each day was pick one and paint it. It was a good plan, insofar as I only sort of stuck to it.]

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

Two sketches. (© Patrick Lemieux, 2012)

[After Day 1 (Friday, June 1st) had gone so well and I was taking weekends off as part of the June plan, I was on the GO train to visit my brother and was sketching a few more ideas.]

Monday, June 4th, 2012

(© Patrick Lemieux, 2012)

[A quick sketch for compositional purposes for that day’s piece, followed by the actual artwork completed that evening. You’ll notice I pulled ideas from a few different sketches made previously, rather than just painting a single one. Turns out, I’d do this a lot, mining those ideas.]

Notes (Acrylic on canvas, 8″ x 14″, © Patrick Lemieux)

Saturday, June 8th, 2012

[A day off after most of the week was spent painting. I got four pieces done in five working days, as one piece took two days to complete. Was on the patio of The Pour House when I sketched these.]

Sketches (© Patrick Lemieux, 2012)

So, today is the 20th of June. I’m pausing in the marathon of painting to post this, since I’ve learned so far that the occasional day off is needed. I’ve also painted on at least one Saturday, so I guess one big thing I’m learning is that pacing myself doesn’t quite conform to a weekly schedule when it comes to creativity.

In the next entry, I’ll let you know how the the rest of the month goes.

Symphony of Nine are:
Scott Dion Brown
Radek Smaczny
Giovani Agostini
Colin Campbell
Taylor Brown

Symphony of Nine is a band I’ve known professionally and personally since more or less their beginning. I wasn’t there at the beginning, mind you, but I knew three of the five band members (Scott, Radek and Taylor) through my job at the time as a theatrical Technical Director. Over the years, we got to be friends and colleagues, so when Scott told me they were gearing up to record their third album, I asked if they’d be interested in me doing a piece of album art for them. I was thinking of the many albums by artists who put real effort into making the sleeve a work of art as much as the music. I think in a lot of ways, the shift from LPs to CDs, then from CDs to MP3s and digital downloads has made album and single artwork far less a priority. There’s still hope as there has been a resurgence in LPs. It also says something about record collecting and the importance of good album art when 12″ x 12″ and 14″ x 14″ picture frames are now available specifically for the purpose of hanging LPs on the walls like the works of art they are. I have Queen’s debut album coupled with the 2011 Commemorative release of their debut single in one such 14″ x 14″ frame hanging on my wall. It looks nice there and I’ll probably put up more.

When I suggested doing a piece for the band, they were interested. That was a year ago, so get comfy and let me tell about what happened next….

Nothing.

I got busy and never really followed up for a few months. As the kids say, “My bad!”

Well, by the fall, things cleared up and I found myself with the time to do a piece for them. By this point, work on the album was progressing and their first single, “Tonight,” was out. That spurred me on and at Scott’s birthday festivities, I said I was still interested in doing a piece. They liked the idea, so I started playing with ideas. Just before Christmas, I did a piece that I figured would look cool in the album, with subtle references to the band and the song “Tonight.” I thought that would be it and hoped they’d find a home for it in the sleeve when they finished recording the album. Scott called and suggested I do a piece for each song. Since this piece turned out so well, and I was riding the high of artistic accomplishment, I agreed to try.

Over the next few months, I painted pieces and the band wrote songs. It was collaborative on one level, where I was told a bit about each track, including the title, and I went off to work on my own. I decided early to not want to know too much about the songs for fear of painting pieces too literal. If the song was about, say, a break up, I didn’t want to end up with a painting of a break up. I wanted to spark the listener’s imagination, to suggest imagery that may or may not directly be related to the song connected to the piece without doing the heavy-lifting of imagination for them. However, I wanted the pieces to connect to the band and each other as a whole collection. Not an easy balance, as you can imagine.

Here are my notes on the track “Revelation.”

[from Scott, the songwriter]
Revelation
– Dreams
– The line between wakeful and sleep
– awake and alseep

When I finally started on this piece, I wrestled with the idea of dreams and reality and that threshold between. I was also incorporating text, among other elements, into the pieces. And I didn’t want to just paint someone sleeping. It’s been done and it’s too literal.

So, with these ideas going round and round in my mind, I started sketching, really rough, to get ideas down and to see what would stick.

My sketches date from February 8th, my first idea was of people in a field moving toward…something. A ruined city? Surprisingly, soon after, I hit on a set of images quickly. A window. A table. What to put on the table, though? I thought on it a bit and thumbed through old sketches for unused ideas. What was out the window? Those people in the field? Maybe. Then, as with a lot of creativity, the mind starts making connections. I’d done and illustration a while back of a character in a field. The character was loosely part of a series I was working on years ago of single pages to books which did not exist (an experiment in illustration-based storytelling). In flash, I had answered both questions. not only would the field through the window be the same she walked, she would be in it, far in the distance walking toward the same bridge. The moment captured in the years-old illustration would be viewed from a different perspective in the painting. I’d angle the bridge and Aileen (the character) in such a way as to account for the building not being seen from the reverse angle of the original illustration. And to add that bit of mind-blowing play on reality, the original illustration and a few other such pieces from that series would be sitting on the table.

Because I wanted the older illustrations laying on the table, I had to photograph the illustrations on a table at the correct angle, individually. I took the pictures, printed them, cut them out (so it was just the illustration image in forced perspective) and applied them to the painted table. That immediately created the depth I desired.

I painted the piece on February 9th & 10th and sent it off to Scott.

Revelation (copyright 2012 Patrick Lemieux)


Here are my notes from February 13th:

Waiting for Scott to see the painting (Revelation) and to get his thoughts. Five pieces down and at least 4 to go. Should start on number six, I guess. The way I do it is to either sketch some new ideas or to go look at previous, unused ideas if nothing is forthcoming. I can usually drum up some inspiration. What’s good about older ideas is that looking at them fresh provides new insight. Sometimes, it’s one whole idea or a piece of an old idea that triggers something new. Or I take bits of a few sketches and piece them together. I used to be sort of “all or nothing,” rejecting old sketches wholesale, or considering old ideas as not worthy of reconsidering. Back then, my pint was to always be new. If I drew something, either as a sketch or a finished work, then that was it…it was finished. and it was time to move on. Now, to see old sketches as a wealth of tap-able ideas is a revelation for for I should try pulling out old sketchbooks and going back further.
For “Revelation,” combining and recontextualizing several older illustrations into the painting was something I’d never considered before.

The band liked the art for “Revelation.” Shortly after, they shot a video for the song, but neither of us thought to use it in the footage. It would have been hard in retrospect to work it in, but in the end, when taken as a whole, the video, the art and the entire album, songs and sleeve imagery, will all work together. I won’t say any more on the forthcoming album than that.

Here is the finished single sleeve:

Revelation single sleeve (copyright 2012 Glenmore Records)

Here is a link to the video:

Here is where you can buy the single:
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/symphonyofnine2

It’s also available on iTunes.

The link above will take you to YouTube, where you’ll see the evolution of the piece seen below.

I’m friends with the local Toronto band Symphony Of Nine, who are now writing and recording their third album. This piece was done for the forthcoming album, tying into their song “Change”.

As I told Scott, the singer and songwriter in the band, I don’t believe in matching images (be it in music videos or album art) too literally with the song or songs. When you do, I think you limit the imagery the audience associates with the song. The audience should be allowed to create their own video in their head when the song plays and to conjure up imagery. Good album artwork, a dying art form in my humble opinion, will meet the audience halfway. It will suggest ideas and images, perhaps linking themes in the lyrics. No rule is absolute and so-called tombstone covers, with little to no imagery (such The Beatles “White Album” and Metallica’s “Black Album”), can be inspired approaches that elevate an extreme.

What you don’t want to do either is bore the audience. How many great album have a simple publicity still of the artist(s) on the cover? A lot of these in popular music are boring as hell. Some can look good, if stylized or artfully set up, but most are just bland. I see these and wonder if the record company could not afford a decent art director.

My approach with this piece was to evoke a simple, but elegant scene while referencing the song laterally. It helped that I created piece while only knowing the title and that style of the song. I also wanted to draw visual parallels to an earlier piece I did for the album called “Stage Door.” Not having heard the song could have been a hindrance, but since I wasn’t seeking a literal interpretation even if I had heard it, I felt free to suggest the song in the album art instead, with the posters on the wall. The details on the poster in the piece sneak in allusions to the band and the music, as they do in “Stage Door.” I won’t explain every detail, but a familiarity with Symphony Of Nine and their previous albums, as well as the band themselves, will reveal some of the more oblique nods.

Here are two of the songs from the album so far:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTR3aIMYtVo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTIJVdtav6w

And here are “Change” and “Stage Door”…

(copyright Patrick Lemieux, 2012)

Change

 

Stage Door (copyright Patrick Lemieux, 2011)

Where Art Meets Math

Aurora - A Horizon Line Novel (Back & Front Cover Spread) (copyright 2009 Patrick Lemieux)

I’ll be honest. I’m posting this piece partly out of pride, partly out of a desire to show off and partly because I want to demonstrate something. We’ll get to that in a moment, but first let’s back track. I wrote a book a number of years ago and like many hopeful novelists, I’ve been tinkering with the book for a while. Someday, I’ll call it done and send it out to publishers. I’ll keep you posted on that. However, if you didn’t glean from the caption, I’m also doing some illustrations and the cover art for the book. What you’re seeing there is the back (left) and front (right) cover. It would wrap around the at the left side of the tree. The back cover has space for the blurb and the upper portion of the front has room for the title and my name.

I learned quickly how to compose front and back covers when I wrote and drew a small-press comic back in university. In those days, I drew the image by hand.

Here’s an example:

Horizon Line - Issue 2, Volume 2 (copyright 2011 Patrick Lemieux)

Horizon Line - Issue 3, Volume 2 (copyright 2011 Patrick Lemieux)

Notice the same composition layout? Yeah, I thought so! It’s not rocket science. What I tried to do with the comic covers was to tie in, visually, the front and back. Here and in the painting up above, you can see I used a tree to mark the divide, between the two sides. When it came time to do the painting for the novel’s cover, I simply applied the same old technique.

Or did I?

Go back and look again.

Forgive me for sounding Socratic, I’m probably channeling my former art teacher. She taught me pretty much everything I know about art, art history and the critical thinking involved in both. Under her direction, I learned how to really look and to draw what I see. This was the foundation on which I built my professional skills. Before that, it was all free hand and whatever lazy techniques I developed on my own. It was like what Yoda says, “You must unlearn what you have learned.”

By my OAC year, my art classes got into much more complex ideas about composition. The masters developed and discovered things still employed today. And not just in Fine Art. Still photography and motion pictures adopted and refined in their own way much of the visual language earlier explored by painters, illustrators and sculptors.

And mathematicians.

Take a rectangle with the dimensions 1 x 1.618.

Now, remove a 1 x 1 square. The portion left should be rectangle of 1 x 1.618, the same dimensions of the original rectangle. You can, in theory, continue removing 1 x 1 squares and reducing the remaining rectangle into infinity. If there’s anything mathematicians like it’s numeric values that have no end. I’d say they’re strange that way, but no, they’re not alone in their love of geometric elegance as patterns of numbers cascade across a medium forever.

Here’s one more exercise with that rectangle: As you reduce the rectangle, look at the 1 x 1 square. Pretend the innermost corner in the center of a circle, with a diameter of 1. Draw the curve of the circle through the 1 x 1 square and you’ll get 1/4 of the circle’s diameter. As you reduce the rectangle, keep drawing that 1/4 diameter through the 1×1 square, each time beginning the line where the last curved line left off.

You should end up with something like this:

It’s called the Golden Spiral, both a geometric exercise and artistic composition technique used by the masters.

I’m not a master, but I could not help but include it in the cover of my book, if it ever gets published.

Forgive the crude line drawing, I did it with Microsoft Paint, which came with the computer.