January 29, 2016

Mickey Mouse – A Nine Part Commission For Andrea

This can technically count as nine paintings for 30 Days 30 Paintings. The challenge is nearly done and I’m sorry to see it ending.

But this is a commission for someone who has always had my back. Who bought my art before anyone else did. Who alternated between patting me on the back and telling me to find my lady balls and get out there. And in less pretty language. Friends like that you have to grab on tight to and never let go. They are treasures. I am so fucking lucky to have more than one in my collection.

This subject is entirely outside of what I’d normally do and if anyone else had asked me, I would have turned down the job.


I knew immediately that I didn’t want to do a one off portrait of Mickey. He has such a varied history visually that it was important to me to capture that. And I had just the thing: a ton of wooden cradle board left over from when I was doing encaustic mixed media work. I love working on the board because it’s so beautifully made. And so forgiving. But painting on it, without priming, is a whole other ballgame.

I have mixed feelings about priming or gessoing surfaces. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.  I always gesso or prime canvases or buy them preprimed. I don’t have time to prime them myself with the number of paintings I do each week. I’d have all surfaces in my space eaten up with drying canvases.

But on small boards like these? I’m not inclined to prime. I like to see the grain of the wood and feel it change as I paint.

And I really love to draw on raw wood.


Because each tiny painting was meant to be a part of a whole, I worked on them all together. And I played with composition to make sure that when Andrea goes to hang them, she has options for how to hang them. Square formation, in a line or rectangle. They work.


This is the one time where red wasn’t a bitch. Amazing how I fight and tweak it like mad on canvas but on raw wood it goes on just right.


I’m a huge fan of colour. Colour moves me so damn much. Bright and attention grabbing. Giddiness in visual form.


But you know, part of the joy of commissions is knowing and painting for the client.


And I got to the point where I had nearly done work and nothing was working. Not for Andrea who is a shades of grey type of person. And I really wanted to make sure that these little paintings were something that worked for her as much as they worked for me.


So I took the plunge, and it was scary because if it didn’t work, I’d be adding hours of work to this project. But look! Grey pulled everything together. Suddenly I could see the colours, the lines and everything really belonging.


When I picked the cradle board, I looked for a variety of depths. It’s hard to see in most of the photos but on the wall, the small paintings will have as much presence as the large ones because of their depth.

The last step I did was to add texture. Old film style. In these shots it’s still wet but it will dry more transparent and really finish off the work.

And I should say that though these look simple, technically they were harder to paint than any portrait I’ve done. The lines had to be more precise and steady. Try doing that with a brush. Woof! But I am thrilled I painted this set. Challenge accepted. Achievement unlocked.

sm_20160128_215854sm_20160128_215917-1 sm_20160128_215907sm_20160128_215912sm_20160128_215848

“Mickey Mouse”

9 paintings for Andrea

No prints or originals will be for sale. This was a special one-off commission.

I’ll be painting over the weekend where possible. Follow along on my facebook page here, and watch them come to life.  You can sign up for notifications from Facebook or sign up on my site and get an email when I update. All the fun, half the wait.

Want to see where I’ll be next? Check out my events page for more details. Right now, next up is Toronto ComicCon in March! Woot!