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



Launch of the 2009 Vital Signs Report

I am proud to be included in the 4th Annual Vital Signs Report, released today by the Victoria Foundation!

Vital Signs002 House 1595 painting, on p. 22 of this year's Vital Signs Report

The Vital Signs report measures and grades Greater Victoria in a number of key areas every year, including Health, Environment, and Economy. The report helps to highlight the issues of the local community and, ultimately, to steer philanthropists and other policy-makers in the direction where need is the greatest.

This year, the Foundation decided to feature local artists in the report for each of the key indicators. A diverse group of artists was selected to represent all eleven indicators (one artist per indicator), and each artist was photographed holding one of their original pieces of artwork. The photos have been artfully arranged in the final report, and I think they really complement the survey findings. Kudos to the Victoria Foundation for their creativity and support of local artists!

My artwork was chosen to represent the section on Housing. Unfortunately, Victoria only received a 'C-' grade in this area, not to mention a few 'D+'s for some of the sub-indicators. Overall, Housing was the indicator with the lowest grade in the Vital Signs Report, pointing to a real need for more concentrated philanthropy and resources in this area.  The full report, including the photos of local artists, can be viewed as a pdf here.

Kunamokst Mural Mosaic, Part II

A few weeks ago, I received my panel for the Kunamokst Mural Mosaic in the mail:

Panel 102, Kunamokst Mural Mosaic Panel 102, Kunamokst Mural Mosaic

Even though I had selected this panel as one of my 'top 3' choices to paint, I was still surprised when it was shipped to me. It suddenly seemed very purple! (I scanned through the paintings I have completed over the past 7 years in this style and realized that only a small handful have ever had purple in them. I would need to expand my palette for this project, it seemed.)

I knew that I was going to paint either an historical 'west coast' building or a boat of some significance on my panel. Given the strong diagonal lines cutting across the panel (not to mention the purple!), I decided it would lend itself better to a boat.

The SS Beaver The SS Beaver

The SS Beaver has been on my list of things to paint as part of my ongoing Fisherman's Wharf series. I am drawn to the boat, which is actually a replica of an earlier vessel that was shipwrecked in 1888, because of its storied history and charismatic features. The SS Beaver was instrumental in the founding of Fort Victoria and, later, in chartering much of British Columbia's coastline (over 1500 kilometres). More information on the history of the SS Beaver can be found here.  The current vessel has been extensively (and beautifully!) refurbished and now docks at the Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria, BC.

A rendering of the 1888 shipwreck at Prospect Point in Vancouver A rendering of the 1888 shipwreck at Prospect Point in Vancouver

I started the process of making my mural panel by doing a quick sketch of the SS Beaver, with the basic composition of my particular panel in mind:

Sketch of the SS Beaver, copyright 2009 Martin Machacek Initial sketch of the SS Beaver, copyright 2009 Martin Machacek

Next, I added a smooth foundation of acrylic paint over top of the roughly painted base layer:

Although the tones and basic shapes in the original panel must be adhered to, the creators of the Kunamokst Mural Mosaic ask that no original background paint be showing the final piece. Although the artwork should adhere to the tones and basic shapes of the original panel, the creators of the Kunamokst Mural Mosaic ask that no original background paint be showing in the final piece.

Once the new 'base layer' was dry, I painted an outline of the SS Beaver onto my panel, and then I gradually proceeded to add more details and depth to the painting:

The 'ghost' of the SS Beaver. This photo was taken in different lighting so looks much darker and foreboding than it is in real life. The 'ghost' of the SS Beaver. This photo was taken in different lighting, so it looks much darker and foreboding than the panel is in real life.

... and out of the mist, a ship appears! The features of the SS Beaver become more distinct as the process goes on. ... and out of the mist, a ship appears! The features of the SS Beaver become more distinct as the process goes on. These colours are much more true to the painting in this photo, although the SS Beaver itself is black, not deep purple.

SS Beaver, completed panel of the Kunamokst Mural Mosaic. Et voila! "SS Beaver", completed panel #102 of the Kunamokst Mural Mosaic.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of contributing to this mural project. It was a challenge at first to simultaneously 'be original' but to stay within the panel's lines and colour schemes. However, I found this challenge to be very exciting and inspiring! It is truly an honour and privilege to be part of such a great collaborative project, in the company of so many other talented visual artists. I am looking very forward to seeing the completed mural!

Me with the "SS Beaver" painting, for scale Me with the "SS Beaver" painting, for scale. The mural will consist of 231 panels, each measuring 12" x 12".

The "SS Beaver" painting, step by step:





Update on Commissioned Paintings

As many of you know, I normally accept commissions for custom paintings on an ongoing basis throughout the year. This fall, however, my schedule has filled up quicker than expected. I am both thrilled and sorry to announce that I am completely booked for commissioned pieces until early 2010.

I am happy to discuss ideas for custom paintings to be started in January. In the meantime, please feel free to view and purchase my existing works, which can be seen at the Blue Fox Cafe and Vic's Steakhouse in Victoria, or at Cadence Coffee in Calgary.


Local Colour 2009 Event

I will be participating in a spontaneous celebration of the arts in Downtown Victoria this Saturday, September 26th!

Organized by the Downtown Victoria Business Association, the Local Colour event will have numerous artists stationed around the downtown core, creating artwork based on their surroundings. Some artists will be painting landscapes or drawing portraits of people. Not surprisingly, I will be focusing more on the Victoria's urban/architectural landscape, but instead of painting an historical or charismatic building this weekend, I will be working on a piece of the much-discussed Johnson Street Bridge (aka the Blue Bridge).

I will be stationed on the east side of the Johnson Street Bridge (corner of Wharf and Johnson Street) from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm on Saturday. A full list of the participating artists, as well as their approximate locations and time frames, will be posted at the Legacy Art Gallery & Cafe, located at 630 Yates Street. Please feel free to stop by and say hello!

The DVBA plans to host an exhibition and sale of the artwork created during this event at some point in mid-October. More details about this exhibit will be posted when they become available.

Kunamokst Mural Mosaic, Part I

A number of you will already be familiar with the breathtaking Mural Mosaics, designed by Lewis Lavoie and created by hundreds of fine artists in collaboration.

The idea behind these murals is both simple and groundbreaking: one large image is conceptualized and painted roughly onto a large mural surface. The surface is then divided into hundreds of 12" x 12" panels, which are given one at a time to fine artists and used as canvases for unique pieces of artwork. The catch? None of the participating artists know what the final image will be. Each artist essentially uses the colours and (largely indistinguishable) shapes on their panel as foundations for an individual piece of their own. It is only when the hundreds of finished panels are re-assembled together that the overall picture becomes clear.

A number of incredible mural mosaics have already been created. The large images range from Noah's Ark to horses to kings to Remembrance Day tributes. Through the project's interactive website, each mural can be searched by panel. It is truly mind-boggling to see how each artist used their respective panel to create something entirely unique yet connected to the theme as a whole.

In any case, I am beyond thrilled to be participating in the one of the next mural mosaic projects, which is entitled Kunamokst or West Coast Inspirations. I was approached by the producer, Phil Allain, while down at the Harbour this summer and have since selected and been shipped my panel (#102, for those of you checking out the active grid!).

I will be using the next few weeks to design and paint my panel, and once I have shipped it back it will be added to the active grid. Stay tuned to my blog to see the work in progress!
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