Thursday, November 1, 2012


A birthday gift inspired by Disney’s animated film, ‘Brave’ for one of my closest friends. The painting borrows from a scene where Merida and her bewitched mother are taking shelter in a dark grove. While the other slumbers, Merida lies awake in guilt and recalls happier times with her mother during childhood.

The lack of reference used in the overall painting distanced me from my traditional realism and brought out a whimsical quality that I might not have otherwise achieved. I’ll admit to avoiding moonlit environments where possible because of the change in visual perception. According to a recent scientific hypothesis, moonlight is not blue, but slightly redder than the average colour of direct sunlight. There is nothing in the interaction between the sun’s reflection on the surface of the moon to suggest the colour blue. Although the colour-receptive rods in the human eye are incapacitated by moonlight, scientific instruments have shown them to be most sensitive to greenish wavelengths of light. As a result, blue-green hues appear lighter in tone in dim conditions. The phenomenon is identified as the Purkinje Shift. It is different from, and often mistaken for, the perception of moonlight as blue. Despite adhering to the Purkinje Shift in my painting, Merida’s hair is still a fiery and brilliant red :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sunny Quail

Each year at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, artists voluntarily donate a 6” x 6” unique artwork to support the exhibition’s fundraising effort, Art Squares. I chose to create an illustration inspired by Foster the People’s uplifting concert at Downsview Park on June 19, 2012. Tuesday evening’s performance, featuring Foster the People and local openers Tokyo Police Club, went ahead despite a tragic stage collapse that occurred before a scheduled Radiohead concert the preceding weekend. I recall merging with the migrating crowd on a long stretch of road toward The Meadow when the wreckage came into view. An aura of sombreness and foreboding hovered over us all until greeted by the up-tempo beats, captivating lyrics and impressive light show of the concert’s double feature. Midway through Foster the People’s set, Mark Foster paid a touching tribute to the late Scott Johnson, a casualty of Saturday’s incident. “We make music to bring joy to people” Foster said poignantly as he went on to describe the bonds of friendship shared between a band and its crew members while touring. Foster the People and musical guest Kimbra continued their celebration of life in grand fashion and proved yet again that music is integral to the healing process.

Foster the People formed in Los Angeles and carry many Californian sensibilities. Accordingly, my decorative painting features the state’s national bird, The California Quail. The quail is widespread and appears in the mythology and legends of numerous cultures as a symbol for a contrite spirit, communal love, victory and the hunt. I always found it quite humorous that their call sounds as though it were exclaiming, “Run, Run Run” or “The man is coming, the man is coming!”.

The expressive anthropomorphic flower gestures at the animated sun the band featured in their main act. The mood of the piece was made to reflect the positive vibes the band’s music exudes.

Grad Show and Graduation

The weeks heralding our Grad Show on April 19 and 20 were charged with heavy emotion and anticipation. Late nights and early mornings were interchangeably spent finishing artwork and essays, conducting self-promotion initiatives and getting our grad show display underway. We survived the endurance test on our souls and creativity by encouraging one another and never losing sight of our goals. Thank you to everyone who has journeyed with me through these past four years :). You are exceptionally talented and wonderful people. I offer my heartfelt congratulations to all. Above all, I must acknowledge those professors who underwent much toil in preparing the graduate classes and coordinating the setup for our final exhibition.

The layout of my final display board and accordion on corner table.

 Family and friends on the first official night of our Grad Show.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Thesis Accordion

Although exceedingly late in commenting about the crowning events of my four years at Sheridan, namely Grad Show and Graduation, I would be more than pleased to share my sentiments with you in retrospect. I apologize to those followers who have been patient with my infrequent updates. The following half of the summer will guarantee plenty of creative progress as I prepare for FanExpo 2012.

The stretch of months between January and April of this year comprised alternating periods of conceptualisation, execution and revisions to my final thesis project. More than often they did not ensue in this order. I felt compelled to speed up my rendering process by turning to media outside acrylic and oil paints that could demonstrate similar painterly effects in a fraction of the time. I harnessed a method which combines the vibrant colour and effortless blending of soft pastel with tight brushwork in acrylic. With each piece this experimentation revealed more aspects of its character, ranging from cooperative to untameable. I eventually learned that acrylic and pastel can co-exist while occupying discrete areas on the same surface, only lightly infringing on each other’s territory. That and never throw gouache into the same mix. The latter is what led to obliterating thick layers of water and sky by means of industrial sandpaper. 

Eight of my thesis paintings were completed by this method and later compiled in an accordion book under the series title, The Sleepers.

Finding a printing bureau that could manufacture a one-off 11” x 72” accordion at a decent price and quality was no small feat. Then again, this is one of several cases where an artist’s vision is incompatible with the harsh practicality of reality. Thankfully in the final weeks before my graduation exhibition, a company called Global Printing Enterprises took on the challenge and excelled magnificently. The cover was created by refurnishing an old children’s book and applying a faux leather bind. Here are the results :)

Interior of  “The Sleepers”. A full length 72” accordion opens on the right hand side.

 Those “King Under Mountain” historical and fictional characters eliminated from the greater body of my thesis appeared as cartoons in the inside cover.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012


The completed Frederick I Barbarossa, Holy Roman Emperor (A.D.1122-1190). I am actually quite pleased with how this piece in the series turned out.

Toell the Great (Suur Tõll)

Toell the Great (Suur Tõll) in Estonian mythology is a great giant hero who lived and ruled as king on the Baltic Sea island of Saaremaa (Ösel). In Tõlluste village he made his dwelling place as a modest farmer who was in the habit of tossing large rocks at his archenemy Vanatühi or other enemies of the Saaremaa people. He was reportedly so tall that he would walk the distance to the neighbouring island Hiiumaa (Dagö) in easy stride. His walking stick was a 5 fathoms spruce trunk. Toell's life came to an abrupt end when an opposing giant decapitated him in a confrontation with invading Danish hordes. His body, headless and transformed into wood, grasped the foe and annihilated him before taking hold of his own head, impaling it on a sword and walking to his grave. Upon his death, Toell gave a solemn vow to rise from the dead and help his people in case of war. insolent children, however, mocked his promise by circling his resting place and yelling aloud, "Toell, Toell wake up, there is a war in the yard!." Toell rose, gerw angry with them for their trickery and returned to his grave swearing never to return. These circumstances render Toell the Great as an anti-King Under Mountain hero.

The giant's story is celebrated in the 1980 Soviet-era film, Suur Tõll. The full animation can be seen here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Oedipus Rex

Portrayal of the tragic figure Oedipus Rex from Sophocles' Greek tragedy, "Oedipus Rex"; Created as part of a collaborative show for my freelance internship this past summer.

Bolesław I Chrobry

Bolesław I Chrobry or Bolesław I the Brave (967-1025) was Duke of Poland from 992-1025 and the first King of Poland from 1025 until his death. As firstborn child to the revered Miesko I, the first historical ruler of the Piast dynasty, Bolesław's remarkable tact as a politician, strategist and statesman elevated Poland into the pantheon of Europe's elite. The first crude effigy of the Polish White Eagle, the emblem of the Piast dynasty, can be found on the first crowned king of Poland's silver denarius.

Month of March

A hand-painted mosaic calendar portraying Mars, the Roman god of war and agriculture.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kukai (Kōbō-Daishi)

Kukai (Kōbō-Daishi) was a 9th century Japanese monk, civil servant, scholar, poet, artist and founder of the Shingon or 'True Word' school of Buddhism. According to Japanese folklore, he is not dead, but 'meditating' beneath Mount Koya, awaiting the coming of Maitreya. Kukai's followers deliver him nourishment and a change of clothes daily, and a massive cemetery has sprung around his resting place.

This fifth piece in my King Under Mountain series was perhaps the most enjoyable to make, as it was rendered entirely in pastel. Despite the trickiness of the medium, it yields beautiful effects with enough patient experimentation.

Le Morte d'Arthur

"His life was gentle; and the elements 
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up 
And say to all the world, This was a man!"
William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar Scene V

King Arthur (Arthur Pendragon) is a legendary British leader of the late 5th and 6th centuries who led the defense against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. The fine points of Arthur's tale have been gleaned mainly from folklore and literary convention, and his sparse historical background from various posthumous sources including the Historia Brittonum and the writings of Gildas. As he and his warriors prepared to march on Rome after a series of conquests in Norway, Denmark and Gaul, Arthur heard word that his nephew Mordred, whom he left in charge of Britain in his absence, had seized his throne and married his wife Guinevere. Arthur returned hastily to Britain, defeated and killed Mordred on the river Camlan in Cornwall but sustained mortal injuries of his own. On his deathbed, he bequeathed his crown to his kinsman Constantine and was taken to the isle of Avalon to be healed. From this point the Arthurian legend curtails for he was never seen or heard from again. Local folktale sources claim that Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table currently reside in a remote mountain dwelling, sleeping until the hour of Britain's greatest need.

In nearly all of my thesis pieces, I have used a common visual motif where nature encroaches on man or the long-time sleeper. For the sixth painting in my King Under Mountain series, I capitalized on the watery element of Arthur's katabasis or symbolic journey toward death in Avalon.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Old Falka and the Sleeping Giants

A three page narrative that tells the Polish legend of the unknowing blacksmith Falka and the mysterious stranger who leads him through the valley of Koscielisko to a high mountain peak where King Bolesław I Chobry and his knights are slumbering. Segments of the original tale have been included in the text of each illustration. Read the full account of the legend here.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I decided to handcraft Christmas ornaments as gifts for close friends this year. Owing to my extreme fondness for matryoshka dolls, I initially intended to create a Nativity scene of Russian doll tree ornaments and gift these individually. Unfortunately, I was unable to find the appropriate shape in pre-made wooden crafts so I had to settle with wooden eggs and flat ovals. I had a great deal of fun painting these and exploring the graphic sensibilities of each character design. The Nativity as portrayed here consists of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus, a Magi, St. Joseph and Archangel Gabriel.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Freelance Business Project

As part of our fourth year business class, our professor assigned us a semester-long project that required us to become entrepreneurial thinkers and build upon our knowledge of effectual advertising. We were asked to create a merchandise line that would highlight the use of our illustrations, Our business venture was geared toward promoting our work in an entertaining and functional manner. I chose to expand upon my increasing interest in English heraldry by fashioning a line of men and women's jewelery that features the decorative families of furs, portents and vairs. These simple and attractive patterns have made their way onto military dog-tags and circular lozenges, housed within a gossamer bag with a full description of the historical emblem's design. While a few represented existing coat-of-arms or national charges, including Richard the Lionheart's and the Polish, German and Byzantine eagles, the remainder were combined tinctures.