Saturday, May 31, 2008

Recently, a painting by Lucian Freud, Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, sold at auction for $33.6 million, the highest price ever paid for a painting by a living artist. The model for the painting was Sue Tilley. Today's question is: How much of that $33.6 million will Sue Tilley see?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Student No.2

ink and charcoal on paper
30.5 x 22.9 cm (12" x 9")

The first drawing of this university student, entitled Student, was posted on Wednesday. This is a slightly different look at the same model. For this drawing, she wasn't wearing glasses.
The Greeks, a survey of 8,000 years of Greek culture, opens today at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa. The Museum of Civilization will be the only stop in Canada for the international tour of The Greeks. The exhibition will run from May 30 to September 28, 2008.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nude in Greens
ink, charcoal, and pastel on paper
27.9 x 43.2 cm (11" x 17")

The model for this drawing is the same model as in Tuesday's post.
It's curious how different we can appear, when seen from different angles.

The model, by the way, is a terrific model. Her enthusiasm for her job carries over to the artists.
Trovador , a 1954 by Rufino Tamayo, set a new auction record for Latin American art, selling for $7.2 million, last night at Christie's in New York. The record had previously been held by Frida Kahlo's Roots, which sold for $5.6 million in 2006. Tamayo's previous record was $2.5 million, set at Christie's in 1993 for his painting America (Mural). The Latin American art sale continues today at Christie's.

Trovador was formerly part of the collection of the Maier Museum of Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia. The school decided to sell four paintings from its collection in order to shore up its endowment. This decision was not received favourably.


This is animation by Italian artist, BLU, made by painting on walls. In this case the walls were in Buenos Aires. It's ridiculously clever, and, no doubt, required a ridiculous amount of work.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

ink, charcoal, and pastel on paper
25.4 x 43.2 cm (10" x 17")

The model is a first year university student hoping to study architecture next year.

The drawing was done last night.
Three cheers for John and Amy Phelan, whose undisclosed contribution has made possible free admissions to the Aspen Art Museum for the next ten years. Previously, the admission fee was $5.

John Phelan is an investment fund manager who sits on the board of the Whitney Museum of American Art; Amy Phelan is a member of the Guggenheim's board.
Once again a Tom Thomson sketch sold for over a million dollars at auction. Last night, View From a Height, Algonquin Park, sold for $1,207,500 at Joyner Waddington in Toronto. The following is an excerpt from Joyner Waddington's press release:

Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven continued their dominance of prices in the Canadian Auction Market during Joyner Waddington’s Spring Auction of Important Canadian Art.

View From A Height, Algonquin Park, 1916, an 8 x 10 ins oil sketch by Tom Thomson sold for $1,207,500 on Tuesday evening (all prices include buyer’s premium). The price was the third highest ever recorded for the iconic painter who died under mysterious circumstances in 1917. Joyner Waddington’s was delighted with the result for the “compositional masterpiece”. “This incredible work by Thomson was admired by many during our auction previews and certainly deserves the result it achieved this evening, a price that exceeded the high end of our pre-sale auction estimate”, commented Rob Cowley, Director of Joyner Waddington’s.

Is this good or bad news? Probably a silly question for an artist to ask.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Starting an art gallery? The Globe and Mail's Report on Business has some advice.

Green Girl

charcoal and pastel on paper
30.5 x 22.9 cm (12" x 9")

This was done last night. The pose was twelve minutes. I used greens because these were the only colours I had on hand. (Speaking of hand, I never got around to finishing the model's hand.)

Tom Thomson's at it again. $1,957,500 was the auction price for Pine Trees At Sunset yesterday at Ritchies/Sotheby's in Toronto. At 10.5" x 8.25", or 26.7 x 21.0 cm, that's $3491.17 /cm², almost double last Thursday's price at
Heffel in Vancouver of $1,150,000, or $1994.04 /cm², for a similar size Thomson sketch.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Reclining Man with Heater
graphite, ink, and charcoal on paper
30.5 x 45.7 cm (12" x 18")

An older drawing again. Some of the subtlety of the original drawing has been lost in the scan. The drawing is a little off; the legs are probably too long. Away from the actual scene, it's difficult to tell how long they should be.

What I like in particular in this drawing is the heater. It gives a context to the drawing, that of a studio, which otherwise would be missing.

Tired of record auction prices for art?
Well, another record, this one for a work by a contemporary Asian artist, was set Saturday evening at Christie's in Hong Kong, when Mask Series 1996 No.6, by Zeng Fanzhi, sold for $9.5 million.

Zealous Canadian patriots will, no doubt, remind us that Zeng Fanzhi's enormous painting, 2 x 3.6 metres, sold for only $131.94 /cm²; whereas, Tamarack Swamp, by dead Canadian artist, Tom Thomson, which measures 21.6 x 26.7 cm, sold last week for $1,150,000, or $1994.04 /cm². They'll also want to point out that not even Lucian Freud can touch Thomson. Freud's
Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, which is 151.3 x 219 cm in size, and sold for $33,641,000, comes in at a paltry $1015.28 /cm².

Who, aside from Canadian zealots, says art is all about money?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

As expected, or at least, as hoped for, Tamarack Swamp, an 8.5" x 10.5" oil sketch by Tom Thomson, went for over $1 million CAD Thursday evening at auction at Heffel in Vancouver. Canadian Press has the details. Four more Thomson sketches will be auctioned off in Toronto this week at Ritchies/Sotheby's, Monday, and Joyner Waddington, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Reclining Model
graphite and ink on paper
17.8 x 33.0 cm (7" x 13")

This is an older drawing. I have no memory of doing the drawing, when it was done, or who the model might have been.
The Guardian has an interesting article on Sue Tilley, Lucian Freud's model for Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, the world's most expensive painting by a living artist. Sue Tilley's ten favourite paintings of women are included in a link in the article.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Getty in Los Angeles, despite recent layoffs, has hired about 60 goats to act as groundskeepers. The Getty's official press release has the details. Rumors, that the goats may eventually replace some of the curatorial staff, seem completely unfounded.


graphite,ink, and pastel on paper
41.9 x 25.4 cm (16.5" x 10")

There are some mornings when you wake up with nothing to say. This is one of those mornings.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

charcoal and pastel
30.5 x 21.6 cm (8.5" x 12")

Do you get the feeling that I was in a rush when I did this portrait?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Spring, Juba Park
oil on paper

38.1 x 50.8 cm (15" x 20")

Juba Park is a small park in downtown Winnipeg, which borders the Red River, in an area of the city grandly referred to as The Waterfront. Away from the river, new condos overlook the park. To the north of the park is a rather rundown, if interesting, semi-industrial area, which, I think, is properly called south Point Douglas.
You do the math: Hélène Fourment, the second wife of Peter Paul Rubens, is reputed to have posed for 6,000 paintings. She was 16 at the time of her marriage; Rubens was 53, and he died ten years later at 63. Ten years, 6,000 paintings?

Monday, May 19, 2008

John Updike addresses the subject of writing and visual art in an interview entitled, The Artist As Showman, in Humanities.

Jersey Trees

digital image

This image is based on a small drawing done while waiting for a bus near Newark Airport (Newark Liberty International Airport), where much of the land is swampy, low, and desolate.

The original drawing was done with ink, charcoal, and oil.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Forced to write about art: The Lost Art of Writing About Art , a report in The Wall Street Journal by Eric Gibson, might help.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lucian Freud is very much in vogue these days. Julian Bell has a terrific review of three new books on Freud in the New York Review of Books.

Salvador Dali on What's My Line?

I couldn't resist stealing this YouTube video from The Guardian Art & Architecture blog. It's Salvador Dali in the fifties on the American panel show What's My Line?

Friday, May 16, 2008

More non-signs of an impending art market recession are expected at three spring auctions in Canada, where at least two of the five small Tom Thomson oil sketches at auction are expected to sell for $1,000,000 plus. The auctions are at Heffel in Vancouver on Thursday, May 22; Ritchies/Sotheby's in Toronto on Monday, May 26; and at Joyner Waddington in Toronto on Tuesday, May 27.

Prospect Park, Brooklyn

oil on paper
14.0 x 8.9 cm (5.5" x 3.5")

This oil sketch covers a graphite drawing. The underlying drawing was done about a month ago, in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, on a beautiful spring day. It was coloured just for fun.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The expected recession in the art market just doesn't want to happen. Wednesday evening's auction at Christies in New York set a new record for a work by a living artist, when a Lucian Freud painting sold for $33.6 million. MAO, Modern Art Obsession, has the grizzly details. (Cai Guo-Qiang, whose exhibition at the Guggenheim I was criticising a couple of days ago, saw one of his drawings go for $481,000, which is about $481,000 more than what my drawings usually sell for.)
Mud, Floodway
oil on paper
38.1 x 50.8 cm (15" x 20")

There's something inspiring about mud. Even the word has a nice ring to it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

American artist, Robert Rauchenberg, died Monday. He was eighty-two. The New York Times and the Guardian have obituaries.
Are you one of the eight most influential people in Canadian art? Check Andrea Carson's list at View On Canadian Art to find out.

And the eight least influential people in Canadian art are? I'm accepting nominations.

Captain's Hat

charcoal and pastel
30.5 x 21.6 cm (12" x 8.5")

The model is an actor/performer. He appears as an extra or bit player in most major locally shot films. His latest role, if I understood correctly, was as a motor cycle riding pimp in Make It Happen, a Hollywood produced film shot this summer in Winnipeg.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Two Again
ink, charcoal, and pastel on paper
22.9 x 30.5 cm (9" x 12")

These two models were at the Spring Studio a couple of weeks ago. I have already posted several drawings of them. My placement of the figures is a little arbitrary. I don't think that they were positioned quite as they appear in the drawing.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Guggenheim Raft
graphite on paper
14.0 x 17.8 cm (5.5" x 7")

This drawing was done a couple of weeks ago in the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The raft was part of an exhibition of the work of the Chinese/American artist, Cai Guo-Qiang, currently at the Guggenheim.

The exhibition took up almost all of the Guggenheim, and
most of it, including the exploding cars, left me cold, as does most conceptual art. I'm either too lazy or too disinterested to bother working out the conceptual basis of the art; and when I do bother, I find the concepts involved, and what the art is trying to tell me, too simple to have much, if any, relevance or importance for me. The effect of the Guggenheim exhibition was much the same as walking through an over-priced adult fun house, except that it wasn't very adult or much fun. What did catch my attention, and what I did love, however, were several works in the show, which, stripped of their allegorical meaning, and regarded simply as objects in their own right, were delightful. The hanging raft was one (minus its' two Toyota car engines) , a reed and/or wood raft pierced with arrows was another, and finally, an installation, which took up an entire room, and involved some hanging wood bodies and a simulated river complete with boat. (By the way, the kids seemed to love the riding the boat through the river coarse.) In my ideal world, you could enjoy such weird and wonderful objects, just for being weird and wonderful, instead of having to worry yourself about what they might mean.

Cai Guo-Qiang continues at the Guggenheim, New York, until May 28, 2008.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mark Kosatsky, whose exhibition opened last Thursday at the cre8ery in Winnipeg, reports that his opening was a success, and that sales have been good. Mark has two days left in his show, which closes Tuesday, May 13th. Still time for me to add more to my collection of Mark's work.
A gallery dedicated to the work of west coast Haida artist, Bill Reid, opened yesterday, May 10th, in Vancouver. The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art is in the former Canadian Craft Museum buidling, which already houses the Chief Dan George Foundation. The gallery is administered by the Bill Reid Foundation. The CBC has more of the details.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Boat Launch Road, Floodway
38.1 x 50.8 cm (15" x 20")

The scene has a familiar look to it. It almost could be anywhere.
It happens to be just south of Winnipeg, near the beginning of the Red River Floodway.

An exhibition of recent paintings by eclectic Winnipeg artist, Mark Kokatsky, continues until May 14th at the cre8ery in Winnipeg.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

graphite and pastel
22.9 x 30.5 cm (9" x 12")

This is a portrait of a friend, or, at least, she was a friend until she saw her finished portrait. She denies any resemblance, and is now seeking a real artist to do a real portrait of her.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Dead End, St. Mary's Road
38.1 x 50.8 cm (15" x 20")

This is just south of Winnipeg proper, and since it is, more or less, still Winnipeg , you have to distrust any hills. The one in the distance is man made. It's Courchaine Road, which runs over a control gate on the Red River at the beginning of the Red River Floodway.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


ink and charcoal
25.4 x 20.3 cm (10" x 8")

The strange object behind the model is the back of another crouching model. It's not well defined in the drawing, and not have any shading doesn't help. You can see two shoulder blades sticking up, and the line of the back, but that's about all.

I kind of like the oddness of the ill-defined back, with the other figure turned away. It's the romantic in me.

Monday, May 05, 2008

ink and charcoal
22.9 x 30.5 cm (9" x 12")

As with last Thursday's drawing, this drawing was done at the Spring Studio in New York a couple of weeks ago.

It always a challenge drawing two models together, particularly when the poses may only last a few minutes. You're usually happy, if you get any semblance of a drawing, and particularly happy, if you manage to get both models down. Often, the artists, for lack of time, will focus on only one of the models. With this drawing, I got lucky, and got them both.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Gertrude Stein in Bryant Park

ink and pastel
25.4 x 20.3 cm (10" x 8")

This is a drawing of the sculpture of Gertrude Stein which sits in Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library. The sculpture was done by Jo Davidson in the early nineteen thirties, I believe. The National Portrait Gallery in Washington has a similar terra cotta sculpture of Stein by Davidson, although I think it's smaller.

It was a bright, sunny Friday afternoon in April, when this drawing was done. Bryant Park was packed. You can see the backs of some of the people enjoying the weather in the lower corners of the picture.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


graphite, ink, charcoal, and pastel
30.5 x 22.9 cm (12" x 9")

A rather heroic looking model. I think that I exaggerated the size of the body relative to the head. All the better, if you want heroic looking.