Bella's Full Height Chart

Here are all 5 pieces assembled together to demonstrate the layout of the piece on Isabella's wall. The colour of the water is consistent from central piece to the satellite pieces, it's just all the pieces were photographed at different times of day in different rooms over the last week.

This will certainly be my last completed piece for 2009, I'm almost done my second player from my Original 6 Hockey series, but he's still a ways off and I wouldn't be too surprised if I do another painting or two before I get back to him. Thanks for checking the Blog out and leaving comments, I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2010. ~M

Depth Chart

This is the central piece to the 5 paintings I've been working on for Isabella. As you can see it's a height chart for her wall, and seeing how the little monster is growing like a weed, this may only work for her for a few more months.

I had the four colours of blue for the different depths of water, and each of the satellite pieces is painted in one of the four colours. The painting is 30" X 10" and it took about 24 hours in total. I really like how the Sea Turtle turned out, and I really like the expressions on the Shark and the Fish at the bottom.



This is the last of the satellite paintings around the larger piece. I chose the name Pufferbelly as a nod to a song my Mom always sang us. In the song pufferbelly refers to steam trains "see the little puffer bellies all in a row", but I thought the name fit for a blowfish. I tried spraying paint with a toothbrush for the first time to try and achieve the speckled texture. It worked I guess, but my thumb got all paint-covered and I had to run to the sink to wash it on a few occasions. The painting is 6" X 6" and it took about 5 hours.


8 Hugs

This is my favorite sea creature I've painted so far, he turned out well and the dry brush highlights and purples really made him look slick and wet and 3D. This piece took a solid 7 hours, and it is 6" X 6". I find I'm not too comfortable painting at this small size as I feel very clumsy with even a small brush.


Nite Lite

I always love seeing pictures of new deep sea fish. They look positively alien with their own light sources and nasty mouths full of crooked teeth. I can only imagine Noah's reaction when he hauled a pair of these fish up into the Ark's saltwater tank (Noah would have understood that a downpour containing enough freshwater to flood the entire Earth would have adversely effected the salinity of the oceans enough to kill almost all life adapted to the briny deep).

This piece is 6" X 6" and it took 4-5 hours.



Happy Holidays.

This piece is the first of 5 paintings that will all go together as an underwater scene for Isabella's room. There will be one central canvas with 4 little canvases around it (if a Triptych is 3 paintings will this be a Quintych?... spell check says no!).

I will post these over the next few days in the order I've painted them. Jellyfish first, and I'm hoping to have all 5 pieces hanging in Bella's room before the New Year. The canvas is only 6" X 6" my smallest painting yet. I was hoping that the small size and relatively independent nature of the pieces would lend themselves to me being able to start and finish a painting in one or two sittings, but that proved a little too optimistic. This one probably only took 4-5 hours.


Original 1

It's been a while since I've posted, sorry for the delay. I've been busy and I've managed to start 4 or 5 new paintings without finishing any of them. Hopefully it won't be another 2 months between postings.

This is the first painting of what I hope is a 6 piece series. I wanted to paint the NHL's original 6 franchises as you would have seen them on cards from the mid-fifties. Those old cards usually had a splash background in some ugly colour, with a cut-out action pose from the player.

The player is not a specific person, I just wanted to capture a 50's Brylcreem look with some of that great old leather equipment. This piece is 12" X 16" and the white border is measured in such a way to give the interior painting the exact dimensions of a hockey card. This was my first painting on Canvas Board, and it is acrylic paint. I'm about 2/3rds done the next one in this series (Boston Bruins), and I hope I have enough steam to do all 6 teams. I'm a little intimidated by the Chicago Blackhawks logo, and the Toronto Maple Leafs logo from the 50's as well. This one took about 45 hours in total.


The Night Game

This piece took a long time to realise as I found myself very busy with some series work. I was sketching bats for a children's book concept and I was struck by the visual absurdity of setting their entire world upside down. I drew these two 'fruit' bats in various poses and outfits but in the end I really liked them just having a mundane game of 21 or H.O.R.S.E. Going with my upside down world creates a few mechanical issues for basketball, but these bats are young earth creationists so they don't let the theory of gravity get in the way of their fun.

I really like how the tree bark detail turned out, I put a lot of effort into it. I also like the transparency to the wings. The signature is upside down on purpose in keeping with my topsy-turvy theme, and I realize it's not a 'night' scene but my title 'The Night Game' is for the bats... because to them daytime is nighttime. This painting is 12"x36", acrylic on canvas and it was probably 50 hours all together (though it has been hard to track as this piece was started about a month ago).


Street Scene

This is another digital development piece for the same project I posted for earlier. I am quickly realizing that my favorite colour is green. This was painted in photoshop, but the B&W art work was hand drawn in inks and scanned. It's dark and moody, which is what I was going for. It's not particularly artful in style but it got the job done.


Zombies come in Threes!

This painting was inspired by some doodles I was sketching during a confluence of morbid events. Michael Jackson had just died, so I was being nailed by all the creepy autopsy death talk as well as inundated by images from the Thriller video. At the same time a few other celebrities had died and I was being bludgeoned by the ridiculous and recurring myth that celebrity deaths come in three's... obviously if death comes in three's than zombies would also logically follow this apparently natural numerology. On top of that I was reading Mary Roach's excellent book entitled 'Stiff - The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers' which deals with decomposition, willing your body to science, and the human history of how we deal with our dead. Suffice it to say I couldn't really stop drawing zombies and skulls, and this painting is the end result. The piece is acrylic on canvas, 12" X 12", and it took me about 22 hours total.


Development Painting

This is a digital piece I did for a development project. It was painted in Photoshop, after all the hand drawn ink layers were scanned in to the computer. I really concentrated on the mood and the time of day. I wanted it to appear misty or hazy so close to the river, and I wanted to peg the time at about 3:00 am. The bridge was referenced from some very old stock photos of New York City.


Johnny's Wedding

This is the first painting I ever painted where I had the intention to give it away when I was done. This was difficult for me for some reason, as a lot of time and energy go into these things, and I'm enjoying their company so much. I have no desire to sell any of these pieces, so giving something away is somehow even more abstract(I've really learned to put a price on my artwork and time, being a professional artist will do that I guess). The target for this painting is someone really special to me, and I was going to be unable to go to his wedding (him getting married is the equivalent to witnessing a religous miracle, an alien spacecraft, and Bigfoot all at the same time... it was previously believed to be impossible, so missing his wedding is pure craziness). I painted this for Johnny Dimartile, a colleague and a friend, almost a brother, and a very very special guy. Obviously the concept is hell freezing over, which is appropriate in celebrating Johnny's wedding, but the double joke in there is that Johnny is a Catholic (An Italian Catholic, ash on the forehead, Pope is infallible, Italian Catholic), AND a loyal friend so he will undoubtedly feel obligated to hang this somewhere in his house... and I love the idea of a serious Catholic having a picture of the Devil up somewhere in his house. This painting is 12" X 12" acrylic on canvas, and is full of drybrush technique with the snow and ice everywhere. This piece took about 40 hours even though it's the smallest piece I've done, a lot of small details and a lot of drybrushing. Congratulations on your marriage Johnny!


This painting is of my favorite kitty. I had to put her down because of some serious behavioral issues, and in my last week with her I chose to paint a little homage. This piece is 18" X 14" acrylic on canvas, and I was definitely trying for a classic 'Golden Book' style of painting. Those little Golden Books (The Poky Little Puppy, The Little Red Hen, and of course The Saggy Baggy Elephant) had an awful lot of amazingly diverse artists working on them, and a lot of the artwork had an undertone of creepiness. The paintings were detailed, and usually very rendered, and I tried hard to treat Nero's fur with that textural brushy approach... she was a very fuzzy cat. This piece took about 30 hours, and it was actually emotionally difficult, but probably cathartic. I loved my Nero.


Isabella's Playlist

This piece was a lot of fun. I wanted to do something for my daughter, and she is such a musical little girl. She loves singing, dancing, and playing the harmonica (she calls it a 'hoo-hoo', so it's not uncommon for her to ask 'Where is my hoo-hoo?' when company is over). This piece represents her 4 favorite songs to sing and hear, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, The Wheels on the Bus, Incy Wincy Spider, and Baa Baa Black Sheep. The painting is 18" X 14" , acrylic on canvas. I tried to do a few different cartoon styles in there, a UPA background, Rain FX, and a few different character styles as well. She liked it, and she sang each song when she saw it. Her new favorite songs are Pop Goes the Weasel, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Wake Up Jeff (The Wiggles), and Cookie Face I Love You (My Mom)... so a new painting may be in order, but if I get into this habit how long will it be before I'm painting some boy band? The piece took about 32 hours, and it was worth it just to hear her sing one song.

Redcoat Diplomacy

My 3rd painting, Acrylic on Canvas, this one is my biggest so far at 18" X 36". I actually found it too big to work with, and I went with a rendering effect on the shadows (and shadows of shadows) which was painfully time consuming. It looks pretty cool up close, very textural, but the process is something I will likely avoid in the future.
As you can see, the small detailed (and controlled) brush strokes are meticulously placed everywhere. I wanted the painting to look flat with regard to colors, like a click and fill Photoshop style look, very clean looking with solid and flat textureless colors, so the little rendered details were very difficult to apply (for me) as they are not a brush effect but a solid color tone. I started experimenting with a 'looser' paint style on the gun only.

This approach was effective in giving the gun a gleam, and a metallic feel without straying to far from my 'cartoony' comfort zone. Other than clouds this part represents some of my drybrushing experimentation, and a 3 or 4 tone effect on the metal of the gun. I kept highlights and reflective highlights on some of the details to really try to sell the 'metal'ness of it all.

As you can see I also tried a frenetic outline around the image, sort of a boiling line effect. I have not tried to do this type of styling since, but as an experiment it had a cool effect that I may bring back in a future piece.

The inspiration behind this piece was the trial of the RCMP officers who had tasered Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at a Vancouver airport. Ever since the Maher Arar rendering and torture incident I've been disillusioned with our Federal Police force, and I was ashamed as the details came out throughout the internal investigation into Mr. Dziekanski's brutal death. The painting has nothing to do with either embarrasment, I just had the RCMP on my mind, and their uniforms are really neat. This piece took about 76 hours to complete, and I was pretty glad to be done with it when I finished.

Skeptical Yeti

My second painting, acrylic on canvas, 18" X 24", so, a bit bigger. I was listening to a LOT of The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, and they had been debunking all of the Sasquatch pseudoscience, so it started with a doodle. I had a lot of fun with the texture in the clouds and trying to make a luminescent moon. This is Jen's favorite for some reason. This one took about 44 hours total.


Bilderberg Cosmonaut

This childish painting is acrylic on canvas, 10" X 20". He was the first painting I ever committed to canvas and he got me into non-digital painting. The name is a vague reference to what media I was absorbing while I painted him (a common theme to come), and at this particular time I was looking at, and listening to, a lot of crackpot internet conspiracy movies and podcasts regarding the 'Bilderberg Group' and their alleged stranglehold on the world economy and world politics. Utter nonsense of course, but the word 'Bilderberg' has a nice rhythm and cadence to it especially when paired with 'Cosmonaut'. He took about 30 hours in total.



I thought this would be a fitting first post seeing as how a section of this painting is used in the title banner for this blog. It's painted in Photoshop, probably the 4th attempted colour version of this scene I've produced, and it's for a series concept I created over 10 years ago. Time flies.

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