This book is intended to showcase my latest body of work, Encounters (2005-2006), put these pieces in the context of my past work, and show the evolution of my practice over the last twelve years. I originally compiled this sampling of work to accompany my 13 1/2 Essays On Practice. But the compilation took on a life of its own and grew to an unexpected size in much the same way as the essays. Note that while the introductory writeups for each body of work stand on their own, many of the issues I talk about briefly here are much more fully explained in the essays.
As the title indicates, this book traces and documents the development of my art practice through more-or-less eight bodies of work from late 1994 through to the spring of 2006.1 It shows my shifts in media from acrylic paintings on wood panels to digital media, back to acrylics—this time on carved wood and carved wood assemblages—and then large-scale unpainted wood sculptures, followed by yet another return to digital media. Common threads throughout this practice have been the use of anthropomorphic imagery, and my ongoing practice of drawing in sketchbooks. The sketchbooks—in which I have made approximately eight thousand drawings since 1988—appear in this document when I show the source or base artwork for a painting, assemblage, or digital piece but not as a distinct body of work. Despite the importance of these drawings to my practice, I have deliberately left them out as they could be the subject of several essays on their own.
Other omissions include the multitude of cartoonish-style digital illustrations—and their antecedent sketches—I did from early 1994 onward both independently and as part of my professional graphic design and illustration activities. I haven’t included the items such as the tiny paintings I made into fridge magnets or the hand-painted clocks, both of which I produced for fine craft markets. These craft items—produced from around 1999 until 2002—were simplifications in technique of the carved wood assemblages I was making at the time.
For the most part I have presented the work chronologically, but there are a few exceptions because my digital practice has occasionally been concurrent with my painting and sculpture work. Rather than keeping to a strict chronology, I’ve put Encounters at the beginning and followed this with the rest of my work in an order that makes sense to me. In the case of the painted wood assemblages, I’ve presented them all together as one body of work though there are really two distinct bodies: the smaller “portraits” and the larger assemblages. I’ve grouped these together in order to show more clearly the development of this aspect of my practice.
- In March 1994 I moved from Toronto to Saskatoon to take a job in graphic design. At the end of May my wife Lia finished her studies at York University and joined me in Saskatoon. In June we bought a house, which we renovated through the summer and into the fall. We moved in at the beginning of November, at which time I started to make paintings again. As for the most recent work having been completed no more recently than spring 2006, this is because it was at this time that I began writing my 13 1/2 Essays On Practice and this book. ^