"Once you see his paintings, you won't forget them... His unique vision may change the way you see." -Robert Amos: Arts, Times Colonist


 

Tuesday
Jul022013

Ask the Artist: All About My Custom Frames

Welcome to the latest installment of Ask the Artist , a monthly column dedicated to answering your questions about my creative process and my artwork in general. This month's question comes from Todd R. in Seattle. Todd writes:

I've noticed that some of your paintings are done on traditional "square" canvases and some on curved edge polygons. Can you talk about what influences your decision for specific canvas styles? 

I have been creating custom-shaped frames since my first painting in this style, and these frames are easily one of the most distinguishing features of my artwork. Contrary to what many people expect, I've actually moved from creating only custom-framed paintings at first to creating a mixture of both canvas and custom-shaped pieces now, not the other way around.

 
Christ Church Cathedral -- where this style began over a decade ago!


When I made the shift from technical architectural rendering to the fine arts in 2002, I was enamored with curved lines, and this love extended out from the paintings themselves into the frames as well. At first, I built special 5-piece wooden frames around traditional straight-edged canvases (as shown above with my Christ Church Cathedral painting). Very soon, though, I realized that I could create fully-customized frames in any shape and size. I was so excited about the endless design possibilities, I could hardly sleep for weeks! (It helped that I worked for a sign company and had access to a full wood shop at the time. As an emerging artist, my days were spent working my 'office' job at the sign shop and then designing and building all sorts of painting frames well into the evenings.)  
   


Agios Kendeas (2003) -- My first fully custom-shaped painting

As many of you know, all of my paintings start out as sketches. I love to draw even more than I enjoy painting, and the sketch stage not only allows me to hash out my composition beforehand but also to work out the eventual shape of my painting-- be it custom-framed or unframed on traditional "square" canvas.

I design frames around my drawings rather than try to fit a new drawing into an existing shape of frame.


By creating a sketch first, I am able to imagine ways to accentuate my subject matter with a certain frame shape. Once I am satisfied with a particular frame design, I cut and prep the custom-shaped wood and paint directly onto it. Some of my frames are 2-piece designs, with a thin wooden 'canvas' laid into a thicker and larger frame of the same shape, whereas other frames are a solid, 1-piece design, which I usually paint right around the edges.

A typical two-piece design (left) and a one-piece frame (right) painted right to the edges.

Over time, I started offering unframed canvas paintings in addition to my signature custom-framed pieces. Part of the reason why I did this was because of size-- larger paintings obviously weigh more than smaller ones, and I didn't want to create really heavy pieces of artwork when I started working on a larger scale. The first paintings I created on unframed canvas were the Wildland Sky diptychs in 2008 and were followed in 2009 by my first Glenlyon Norfolk School painting:

Wildland Sky- Green (2008), 61" x 23-3/4"

Glenlyon Norfolk School (2009), 23-1/4" x 30-3/4" 

The other reasons why I started offering canvas paintings had to do with risk mitigation and affordability issues. The custom frames can actually be chipped or damaged really easily if they are stored, handled, or moved improperly. (This unfortunately happened to me a number of times while I was exhibiting in art galleries, and the amount of time and work involved in fixing the damage was pretty extensive.) Also, due to the amount of work involved in actually making the custom frames-- designing, cutting, sanding, prepping, painting, glueing, wiring, etc.-- I am able to offer my clients much larger paintings for comparable prices when they are on unframed canvases. It is important to me that my artwork be accessible to a wide range of people, and in many cases, the difference between 'affordable' and 'out of reach' boils down to the custom frames, which alone cost $400 and up.   

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Thursday
May302013

Ask the Artist: How do I decide which paintings to create?

Welcome to another installment of Ask the Artist , a monthly column dedicated to answering your questions about my creative process and my artwork in general. This month's question comes from Carol F. in Calgary, Alberta. Carol writes:

I've been waiting to see if you'll do some more Calgary-themed paintings. How do you decide which paintings you'll create, and when? 

That's an excellent question, and it's one that I get a lot, albeit in different variations. (e.g., 'When will you have one of Hatley Castle ready?', 'Have you done a painting from Vancouver yet?', 'If only you had something of _________ done, I would buy it in a heartbeat!', etc.)

My wife has started taking photos of me taking photos. It's rare for me to be anywhere without a camera in hand! (This photo is from near Tubac, Arizona)

The truth is, I am easily inspired and just as easily distracted. :) I have yet to encounter a place in my travels that fails to spark my imagination in some way, however small. I've taken photos just about everywhere I've traveled to, and I have also created hundreds of sketches to become paintings at some point in the future-- it's just a matter of when.

How do I prioritize certain images over other ones, then? Well, I've developed a system. (Full disclaimer: my wife and I developed this system together. I'm a true, big-thinking Aquarian, whereas she's a meticulous, details-loving Cancerian. I told her I wanted to create a painting schedule. A few days later, she handed me a spreadsheet and a corresponding calendar. Et voila! The creative system was born.) 

My Creative System Encompasses:


1. New Victoria Images

A lot of my artwork is Victoria-based now, because I live here and also run an art booth downtown every spring and summer. Each year, I try to paint new Victoria pieces based on milestone anniversaries. For example, in 2013, some of the buildings that are celebrating major anniversaries include the Emily Carr House, Munro's Bookstore, and Emanu-El Synagogue (Canada's oldest!)

I also try to fit in some new Victoria-themed paintings based on special events that happen throughout the summer. Three of my favourite events are the Swiftsure International Yacht Race, the annual Dragon Boat Festival, and the ever-popular Classic Wooden Boat Festival on the Labour Day weekend. Every year, I try to create new paintings that correspond to each of these events.

Last year's Swiftsure-themed painting

2. Commissioned Artwork

The surest way to see your much-hoped-for painting climb its way to the very top of my priority list is to have me paint it as a custom piece for you. Every year, I create up to ten custom paintings for my clients, and these projects trump everything else on my wait list. I have painted everything from people's homes to the Disneyland Castle on a commission basis, and it's always a treat to see what I'll be commissioned to paint each year.

One of my favourite custom paintings

3. Artwork from Other Cities

I am itching to start turning many of my existing sketches into paintings. I have done a lot of traveling that isn't yet reflected in my paintings, so expect to see some European paintings in the works, as well as my first Vancouver, Montreal, Arizona, and Alaska pieces soon. I would also like to revisit some of my other Alberta-themed sketches and start creating a World Monument series (think Taj Mahal and Egyptian pyramids). 

Image from the Czech Republic. Sketch still hanging out in my sketchbook.

4. Soul Projects

 

I always hope for some time to create some artwork, just because. My wife calls these my Soul Projects-- paintings that don't have to be created at all, but paintings that I really want to make. Sometimes my Soul Projects overlap with Paintings from Other Cities or Milestone Anniversary Paintings, and occasionally my Soul Projects even get requested as Custom Paintings (which makes my heart sing!) Some of my previous Soul Projects have included a barn and a church from a tiny town in Northern Alberta, and last year's Just Because painting was actually the Space Needle, even though it happened to be celebrating its 50th Anniversary at the time. :) 

Do you have a system for getting things done?

Did you expect my creative system to be so... spreadsheety? 

I'd love to hear your comments below! 

___________________________________________________________________________________

Want to learn more about my artwork?

Sign up to receive my free newsletter, which will be delivered every two weeks right into your inbox. Stay up to date on my new paintings and upcoming art events, plus gain access to exclusive, subscriber-only content like discounts, free shipping offers, and fun freebies!

Sign up here! Your information will never be shared or sold, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Thank you for your support!

 

Want to submit a question for Ask the Artist?

Lots of people are curious about the arts and my unique style in particular. Not sure what inspires me or what my creative process looks like? Chances are, other people in our thriving online community have the same question as you! Submit an art-related question here for a future installment of Ask the Artist.  If your question is featured, you will receive a small gift in the mail. How easy is that?

Sunday
Apr212013

Ask the Artist: How was I trained, and when did my love of art begin?

For the first installment of Ask the Artist, I am featuring a question sent in by Ruth M. from the Seattle, WA area. She writes:


What schooling did you have, and did your love of art start in your youth, like so many artists?

 

Great question, Ruth!

I have loved creating art for as long as I can remember. I was drawing long before I knew how to write and took every art class that was available to me between kindergarten and high school.

Portrait sketched by Martin Machacek

Drawing came naturally to me and was always a passion of mine. I decided in high school that I wanted to pursue art as a professional career. When most of my friends were applying to medical or engineering programs at university, I submitted a portfolio of sketches and drawings to the Alberta College of Art & Design (ACAD) and was accepted into their Foundation Year. This was an exhilarating time for me but was met with caution and a bit of panic from my family, who wanted to make sure I had opportunities for gainful employment after graduation. Rather than majoring in Drawing or Painting at ACAD, I decided to specialize in Visual Communications. This program was quite revolutionary at the time, bringing in noted instructors from New York and offering classes in computer graphics, not to mention promising better career options at the end. :)

One of the required courses in the VC program was Architectural Rendering. I loved this class and subsequently excelled in it. My instructor, recognizing both my enthusiasm and potential for architectural illustration, essentially took me under his wing, suggesting guilds and associations I could join to pursue this line of drawing on a professional level. I took his advice, and upon graduation from ACAD, I landed a position creating renderings for one of the most prominent architects in Calgary. I spent several years working in the field of architecture and generated extremely precise illustrations of new buildings.

Hand renderings were becoming a dying art, however, with the emergence of Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) and other digital drawing tools. I enrolled at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) to pursue specialized training in CAD, but quickly realized that I was not interested in clicking a mouse for the rest of my life. My love of drawing is what got me into architectural rendering in the first place, and it is what ultimately took me out of it and onto a new creative path in the end.

The dynamic style of paintings I have been creating for the past 10 years is certainly informed by my years of experience in the field of architecture; however, I have not taken any courses or training specifically for this style. It emerged spontaneously one day when I was looking at a cathedral reflected in a glass building, and it has grown and evolved steadily since then.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Want to learn more about my artwork?

Sign up to receive my free newsletter, which will be delivered every two weeks right into your inbox. Stay up to date on my new paintings and upcoming art events, plus gain access to exclusive, subscriber-only content like discounts, free shipping offers, and fun freebies!

Sign up here! Your information will never be shared or sold, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Thank you for your support!

 

Want to submit a question for Ask the Artist?

Lots of people are curious about the arts and my unique style in particular. Not sure what inspires me or what my creative process looks like? Chances are, other people in our thriving online community have the same question as you! Submit an art-related question here for a future installment of Ask the Artist.  If your question is featured, you will receive a small gift in the mail. How easy is that?

Sunday
Jul102011

Join Martycultural Art at the 24th Annual Paint-In on Moss Street!

Hello, everyone! I hope your summer is off to a great start and that you are finding inspiration in unexpected places every day!



I'm pleased to announce that I will be participating once again in the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria's fabulous Paint-In on Moss Street event. The event takes place this Saturday, July 16th along Moss Street between 11 am and 4:30 pm. Over 150 local artists have been invited to participate this year.

This event draws crowds of 30,000 to 40,000 each year and is a phenomenal way to expose yourself to the thriving art culture here in Victoria, BC. My booth will be stationed on Moss just south of the Information Booth on May Street (closer to Dallas Road than to Fort Street). I can't wait to set up my booth and see you all there! (There will even be new images to unveil!)

Feel free to download the pdf map of artist placements here. Keep your fingers crossed for a sunny Saturday, and save the date for the year's best outdoor art event!

-- Marty
Monday
Jun272011

Fernwood Inn Art Display Comes Down July 4th

Hi, everyone!

Sorry it has been so long in between posts. I have been caught up with many things and keeping myself rather busy!

In point form, here are some of the art-related things that are going on lately in my world. Please stay tuned for some (more frequent) updates!

1. My exhibition at the Fernwood Inn will be coming down on July 4th, after a successful 3-month stint on the walls.

2. I have recently started exhibiting some of the paintings from my original series of Tree paintings at the Dominguez Art Gallery in Sooke.

3. I will be participating in this year's Art Gallery Paint-In on Moss Street, which takes place on Saturday, July 16th. (More details, including my site number and location, will be posted next week.)

4. It has been very busy for me down on the causeway in Victoria so far. Stop by on Canada Day (July 1st), weather permitting, for what is sure to be a bustling day at the Harbour!

5. I just finished designing the brochure for this year's Bowker Creek Brush Up Art Show and Sale, which takes place on Sunday, August 7th. I will be participating once again and will be stationed at my regular booth-- #2 just off of Hampshire Road in Oak Bay.

Once again, apologies for the extended hiatus! Be back again soon with some more information about some of the upcoming art events.

Wishing you well,

--Marty