Monday, May 31, 2010

SHOOT FOR THE MOON!

Ok.....so, as promised, here is my latest....it isnt quite done yet.......but it is coming along!!
"Shoot for the Moon" is 15" x 30", and is part of my Arcade Series.
I have retro-fitted an old marble and peg game.......
Stay tuned to see the fiunal product, and more exciting work from this series soon!!
what do you think so far......
(Ok, I know this is WAAAAAAAAAAY less than 500 words, but just read it 6 times, and it is like 500 words!)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Pinball........

Well, as many of you know, I have a show coming up in September. It is called "Arcade" and I am currently working up the title piece. Here is the artist statement for this show:
"The origins of pinball can be traced back as far as the 15th century but really had their hayday in the 50’s-70’s. During this time they were a reflection of what was happening in society. Arcade games, through entertainment, dealt with issues related to the Cold War, space exploration and even feminism. The physical look of the pinball machine has always been about spectacle. The flashing lights, the sounds and sights of extraordinary worlds have an incredible and ageless appeal. 
Simply put, the arcade game is social commentary wrapped up in spectacular and entertaining package. It is this realization that has led me to the concept of re-creating arcade games as art to be viewed within a gallery setting. I want to use the visual appeal of the spectacle to draw attention to the truths of the present. As an artist, I am drawn to the idea of education though entertainment. What better way to start a conversation about society than through the pop culture phenomenon of the pinball machine?
Each work of art is designed, built and painted by hand and uses materials that have been repurposed. This clever use of recycled materials adds an additional environmental depth to each piece. Each of the art-pieces, like the games they emulate, is meant to both entertain and inform the viewer."
Ok....I know what you are thinking....what a long statement - well, I am aiming for 500 words here folks. You should feel fortunate that I am not employing the 'very very very very" approach to filling out my word minimum! Here are pictures of the pinball works I have completed to date:
This particular Pinball Machine is called "Space Voyage". It is made3 of found objects and handmade and painted by yours truly. It has my rollerblade wheels, scrap lumber, pieces from a vintage travel bingo game. It is made on wood and it lights up like crazy!! It took me just shy of a month from the first drawing to the final product. It was a LOT of trial and error, but the end result is STUNNING (if I do say so myself)
The other completed Pinball machine was meant to look like the top of the pinball machine or the 'back glass'. I entered this piece into the "Queen" Competition at The Artist Project in Toronto. I did not win, but that is ok! It is super clever......read all the little descriptive words!!
I will show you the newest in progress tomorrow!


Saturday, May 29, 2010

TIME FLIES......

Oh my goodness. I was hoping that I could do on-site work, and also have time for my painting and the blogging. Sadly, that is just not the case! I have been working on a mural project for a client, and then getting home for 6 and doing 2 hours of painting....and by the time that has finished, I am tired right out!
But, today is Sunday. Saturday afternoon is all right for blogging......SATURDAY.....SATURDAY (that was my homage to Elton John....ok...not the best!)
What is new?
Well, I have started work on new works for The Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition. Here are the latest details......I am at booth #Green 384. I think it looks like a pretty good location. It is new for me, as I have always been located at Green #311 which is right next to the LOUD hotdog wagons. It seems that every year it is more and more smelly and loud, so I was thrilled to be in another location! Also, the threat of people eating in my booth is curtailed - which is also a GREAT thing. Here is a map of my booth area:
 It appears I am right on the path that is the entrance to the show, and am beside the TOAE Booth. Which is good too (I think?) As you can see, there are quite a few less people exhibiting this year, which is also good (when it gets so big, it becomes a lot to take in for the art buying public!) I am super excited about the day, and the new work I am getting done!!
So whadda ya think? Good location?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

FIVE HUNDRED, TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND, SIX HUNDRED WORDS


Ok, so I got some news recently that will change my blogging style. I was told that if I wanted my blog to get noticed, I have to make sure that each blog entry is over 500 words. For me, I have aways been a 'pictures worth a thousand words' kind of guy. I mean, heck, I am an artist. So, based on my calculations, some of my blogs [on a 1 picture = 1000 words formula] are well over 5000 words. Certainly enough to get noticed in the land of the world wide webisphere. Truthfully I am worried. Although I do love to talk, i am not such a keen writer. I like to keep things short and sweet (like me!) Ok...ok....you got me, I am over 6' tall, and am not known for my sweet demeanor, but still I firmly believe, it writing brevity is the soul of wit!! Ok.....just to illustrate the point, up to this exact word, we are at a staggering 166 words! It leaves me with a few questions. HOW WILL I MAKE UP 500 WORDS, and WHO THE H-E-DOUBLE-HOCKEY-STICKS IS GONNA READ ALL THAT BLAH BLAH BLAHING? I mean, I am not exactly Tolstoy! Ok, so here we go, 294 words to go!

I have some news items. I am going to Cleveland Ohio to be part of a group show. The exhibition is called "From Canada, with Love....". Pennello Gallery is a unique fine art/craft and gift gallery located in the heart of Cleveland's Little Italy.  It looks like a beautiful area, and seems to be filled with great restaurants and little businesses.....I can't wait to eat there!! Anyways, at Pennello contemporary American, Canadian and Israeli artists are represented in everything from mixed media and jewelry, to painting, photography, ceramics, and sculpture. Personally, I will be showing 6 pieces from my Tin Toy Series. This show is special, as it is the first one of it's kind, and a few of us are going down for the opening! You can bet that I will be bloggin' all about it!

Meanwhile, back in Toronto, I will be showing some work at  as part of The 12th annual Riverdale Art Walk 2010. The R.A.W. is a 2-day, juried fine art show, with artists showing indoors AND outdoors. This year's exhibition areas will encompass Broadview to the West, Leslie St to the East, Eastern Avenue to the South, and Dundas Street to the North. The main areas will be along Queen Street East. I have been in this show (in the park) for many years, but because of the Pennello Exhibition, I will be showing at  Ethel 20th Century Living. For those of you who are not aware of Ethel,  SHAME ON YOU! It is THE store in Leslieville, for your one-stop shop for all things Mid-century Modern. I love the store, and they are super supportive folks! Go in and say hello, and by something super-fantabulous! (oh, and check out the art too!)

OK.....so believe it or not, I made it! 500 words! What a feeling of relief! I hope it was interesting enough for you! BUT PLEASE DO TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! I love to get feedback!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

SWEAR

Here is a painting I have been working on every night for a week. It is going to Cleveland as part of an exhibition. it is called "Swear" and the quote is from an anonymous author. Also, in the background is a street map of downtown Cleveland.....which I think is kinda funny!
This is Acrylic on Canvas and is 16" x 20". You can check it out on  my site too!!
Do you love it??? I am pleased! www.robcroxford.com

Monday, May 17, 2010

HE WORKS HARD FOR THE MONEY....

So hard for it, Honey!
Ok, so most of the time of the year I devote to my fine art career, but right now, I am also working at a house working on some mural and faux finishes. I am finding it hard to find the time to BLOG - as I work all day on-site and work for a few hours each night on my own art!
BUT here is what my day job is shaping up to look like! 
This is the little girls room - is is an apple green with a dark purple colour. I think it is kinda Scooby Doo influenced. I am pleased with the look - and so is the little girl. What do you think? Don't you wish you were little again, just so you could have this room? 

Friday, May 14, 2010

PAINTINGS ARE LIKE CHILDREN.....

For me, I always say that finishing a painting is kinda like having a child. You have put all your best work into it and in the end, you hope that it will have an effect on others in a positive way. I am always so proud of my work when it comes together, because there is so much planning that is involved. ALSO, for me it is like a child because once it has left my house, I DO NOT WANT IT TO RETURN! My Momma says that "the day Rob left home was the worst day of my life......until the day he moved back in!" Generally, I tend to paint my work at home and then take it to my studio and hang it up. I need to get the paintings out of my sight, out of my brain and out of my reach. If they languish around the house for weeks I will start to rework them, infact, I would keep working on them FOREVER AND EVER!! Then again, sometimes there is a painting that just bothers me.....something about it is just not right. I eventually bring it home and rework it! Here is a example, I brought this painting home so that I could package it up for shipping to a gallery in The United States. There was nothing REALLY wrong with it, but after a couple of hours here is what happened:
This is what I call the 'wham-o-blam-o'. I re-saturated some of the colours and the black to give it a bit more punch. I am much happier with this painting now......and it is still available for sale too!!! What do you think?
Better?
Worse?
The same?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

PINK IS THE NEW TEAL

Ok, so most people have a P.C.P. [Personal Colour Palette], or at least a 'signature colour'. For me, my signature colour is teal. Normally I have a PCP in my artwork. You see, to get the vintage look in my paintings, I need to stick to the palette of the Atomic Age era. You know these colours, and when you see them, especailly together, it immediately conjures images from 1950! 
This is a paint chip card from Sears in 1950. As you can see the 50's colours are quite bright compared to earlier browns, grays, and more subdued combinations. Not as vivid and eye-popping as what was to come in the Sixties, the 1950's still had its share of bright pinks, seafoam green, and chartreuse. Reds leaned toward orange or pink while blues were closer to teal.


Last night, after seeing a production of "Rock of Ages" I was seduced by the 'slutty' pink colour that seemed to be in all through the lighting plot. 
Yes, it was a show about rock and roll in the 80's, but it reminded me how much I love pink! Pink can tend to look more 80's than 50's, but I still love to use it. 


I have used pink rather sparingly in my work, and havent used it much in the last couple of years, but here are a couple of my pink inspired works:
1.) "Preen" (sold)
2.) "Good Times" (sold)
3.) "Bad Girls Do" (sold)
4.) "Read, Write and Sew" (sold)
5.) "Decay" (sold)
6.) "Perfume" from my A-Z series is still available
7.) "Chatty Lady" is also still available
























So? What about you? Love pink? hate it? What is your Signature colour???

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

ONE MAN'S JUNK...

Wow. That is kinda dirty sounding as a title. What I mean to say is 'one man's junk is another man's treasure'. Never has such an adage been true. As I keep mentioning, I have been scavenging like a squirrel in September, to find materials to add to my artwork. Bits and bobs. As mixed-media works, they are coming along swimingly, but they take a lot more time to plan and execute. Thankfully I have found a few places that have all kinds of normally useless stuff! There is one store in particular that specializes in electronic stuff and miscelanious doo-dads. Active Surplus in Toronto. I have compiled some photos that will illustrat how great the store is!








Look at these aisles packed full of junk great stuff waiting to find a use!












Just in case you can't find a distributer.....














Not sure who this is helpful for? But these babies are anatomically correct. YIKES!












If nothing else, any time you spend with a gorilla is undeniably time well wasted! If you are in Toronto, swing by Active Surplus! Check out thier selection on the website too!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

WHEW! TORONTO OUTDOOR ART EXHIBITION

Every year, most Toronto based artists apply to the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition [TOAE]. "Now in its 49th year, the TOAE is a juried showcase featuring contemporary fine art and craft that takes place on Nathan Phillips Square every July. As the largest outdoor art exhibition in Canada, the TOAE offers a fresh-air alternative to conventional art shows and galleries.  More than 500 artists participate and an estimated 100,000 visitors attend the exhibition every year.  Side by side, established artists, undiscovered talents and innovative students sell their work directly to the public and make lasting connections with art dealers and collectors." 
As a juried exhibition, there are only 500 spaces for the over 1000 artists that apply each year. So here is the process. You put in an application of your 10 best works with a cheque for 300 bucks, and then you wait to get the jury results. And then you wait some more. Eventually, you get a notice in the mail that tells you that you are accepted to the T.O.A.E. or breaks your spirit not so much. It is a horribly stressful wait! The thing is, it makes even the most secure artist, feel a bit insecure. "Am I going to be chosen - deemed worth it.......or am I not good enough???" YUCK! I have been super fortunate that I have been juried in 5 of the 7 years that I have applied. It is part luck, and hopefully partly because of the quality of the work. Honestly, the two years I was denied, I had a wierd feeling......a feeling of impending rejection. Fortunately, I was accepted this year for the 2010 Exhibition. UNFORTUNATELY, they are in the middle of the 'beautification' project at Nathan Phillips Square.....So it could be a huge disruption to the show......I look forward to giving you all the info as it transpires! until then, I am happy know ing that I am part of the chosen few this year....and I can begon to forget about last years rejection!

Monday, May 10, 2010

POPPIES, POOP AND THE ART OF EVOLUTION


     I have built a career stealing liberating borrowing quotes from smart people. I find that, generally,  best way to say something, is using someone else's clever words and pretend they are yours
"Some people can get a thrill, knitting sweaters and sitting still.
Some people can be content, playing bingo and paying rent.
Some people sit on their butts, got the dream, yeah, but not the guts.
That's living for some people,for some hum-drum people to be, but some people ain't me!"
     Seriously, why say it with MY words, when Mama Rose from "Gypsy" can say it so succinctly? What I am trying to tell you gentle readers, is that art, just like life, becomes stagnant when you stop changing and growing.
     Ok, so there are those artists that paint over-sized poppies for 20 years - each day waking with a feeling of complete contentment about the prospect of another poppy to paint. Now don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against the little red flowers - or those people that have the hots for poppies - but there is something to be said about changing things up! It keeps things fresh! Its called Evolution! And hey, if it weren't for evolution, I would be picking things out of my husbands hair and flinging poop, instead of blogging about art!
     Whenever I look back at older paintings, I can see how my work has evolved and changed. This piece from 2003 was one of the paintings that lead to my Etiquette and Tin Toy Series:

It is exciting! My latest work, though similar in theme, incorporates different materials including plastic wood and metal! The painting below is called "Spring Chicken" and incorporates metal and springs and some molding too!!!
It is this change that has pushed my limits!   I can't wait for whatever is next! New experiences, new techniques and new materials! And hey, if every day you wake with the singular idea of how to re-examine the poppy - you too are bound for long term relevance and success!


Friday, May 7, 2010

...THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT LOUISE



Hello gentle readers, I thought I might give you a little background about me, and my work....


Picture it. 2003. Toronto East B.S. (Before Starbucks). It was the best it times, it was the worst of times.  Actually, it was pretty much JUST the worst of times. For although I had a 33" waist and sun-kissed blond highlights in my thick wavy hair, life was not so great! I was living in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment, in a little 3 story walk up called "Louise" (No, seriously! It was literally carved in stone on the outside of the building - although I always thought of her as less of a ‘Louise’ and more of a “Lester”). Louise, built in 1937, barely had any heating and was far away from the downtown club scene that I loved so much at the time! I was working full time for an evil mural conglomerate that was bent on world domination, and they were feeding slowly on my soul. On the weekends, I began experimenting with my own paintings (in between the drinking binges!) I remember at the time, I didn't have an easel so I stapled canvas up on the wall, yes, that’s right renters, directly onto the plaster walls in the spare bedroom! Louise didn't seem to mind. I am not sure if it was Louise’s influence, but at the time I was super hot for all things Deco. It was the simple lines of the architecture, and graphic quality of the artwork that lured me into researching more about the retro-style. Being a muralist, I was used to doing tonnes of research and spent many hours at the reference library, looking through books for great ideas. Yes kids, I said BOOKS. For those of y’all too young to understand, think of books as a sort of a tangible representation of the content you now find through Google on the world wide interwebs. Sufficed to say, these first paintings, were very literally based on Art Deco stained glass. At the time, I thought it was a stroke of brilliance. Now, in retrospect, meh! But, here is the great thing about painting. A painting career is not unlike, say, a trip out east on a train. It is more about the journey than the final destination. All that research lead me to my next series of work – The Fairytale Series, which actually was kinda good! (More about those in a later post.)  I got these Deco pieces (and several others) done in time for my first exhibition.  And although the blue one was bought on opening night, unfortunately it was bought by Husband. I am not sure why Husband liked it so much, but to this day it hangs in the guest room of our little house. Although it makes my eye twitch, and my nose wrinkle when I look at it,  it serves as a constant reminder of how far I have come, and reminds me of those special, times at Louise. The End......
What do you think...interesting little story? Wanna hear more?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

TASTES LIKE CHICKEN!

So, gentle reader, are you sick of these yet? Well, too bad, because I just love these! Here is the newest.....little 9" x 6" guy called "Chicken Out". The tin toy chicken is from "Cock-up" which is available at my studio! Call now - operators are standing by!!!


The rooster in the background is from an older painting called "Baggage" that I did as one of my first landscape paintings in 2006. I added ink and paint for some 'pop'. I also added:
1. some of my leftover baseboard trim painted in a great blue
2. some scrabble letters
3. a bingo marker dot (the tiny red dot)
4. some painted metal (that is painted in rainbow colours)
5. a little chicken puzzle piece that I painted to match the colours in this piece.
I think it is quite cute.....and as I have mentioned before.....it is available RIGHT NOW!
Don't 'cha just LOVE it??

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

DIE VAMPIRE, DIE!

Recently I had an interaction with someone about my art. I left the conversation feeling like crap. Thankfully, when I am down, I have Musical Theatre to make my day better. I would like to share with you excerpts from the song “Die Vampire, Die”, from the Broadway show “Title of Show”. I think this songs lyrics can be inspirational to all sorts of creative types!

There are some people in the world who say that writing stories, or composing music or dancing sparkly dances is easy for them. Nothing interferes with their ability to create. While I celebrate their creative freedom, a little part of me just wants to punch those motherfuckers in the teeth. This song, is for you guys and for all the rest of us.

You have a story to tell, a novel you keep in a drawer.
You have a painting to paint, but you lazy like an old French whore.
You have a movie to make, Shrinky Dinks you can bake,
but you best grab a stake, ‘cause…
In sweep the vampires, in creep the vampires, knee deep in vampires,
Filling you with doubt. Insecurity, ‘bout what you art should be,
in sweep the vampires, die vampire, die!

You sketched that turtle you saw in an ad on late-night cable TV.
But your fourth grade teacher said ‘you can’t draw’.
Aww, those vampires just won’t let you be.
Fuck you Ms. Johnson, Word!

And when they come run like hell, see those bats in your belfry, then call on Van Helsing.
In swoosh the vampires, in a whoosh, in the vampires, ooh, all the vampires. 
Filling you with thoughts of self-consciousness, feelings of worthlessness. They’ll make you second-guess. Die vampire!

A vampire is any person or thought or feeling that stands between you and your creative self-expression, but they can assume many seductive forms. Here are a few of them!

First up are you Pigmy Vampires. They’ll swarm around you head like gnats and say things like:
Your teeth need whitening. You went to state school? You sound weird!
Just tell them, Die vampire, die!

Brothers and sisters, next up is the Air Freshener Vampire, she might look like yo’ mama, or your old fat-ass, fat Aunt Fanny. She smells something unpleasant in what you’re creating. She’ll urge you to spray it with some pine fresh smell ’em ups. The air freshener vampire doesn’t want you to write about bad language, blood, or blow jobs! She wants you to clean it up and clean it out. Which will leave your work toothless, gutless, and crotchless but, you’ll be left with two tight paragraphs about kittens that your grandma would be so proud of! You look at that Air Freshener Vampire in her fat ass, fat old fuckin’ face and you say Morte Vampir Morte.

The last vampire is the mother of all vampires and that is the vampire of despair. It’ll wake you up at 4am to say things like: Who do you think you’re kidding? You look like a fool. No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be good enough!

Why is it that if some dude walked up to me on the subway platform and said these things, I’d think he was a mentally ill asshole, but if the vampire inside my head says it, It’s the voice of reason.

You have a story to tell, pull your novel out of that sock drawer!
You have a painting to paint, you best paint it and then paint some more!
Oh baby, you must escape and grab it by the nape of its neck, by the trachea, fuckin’ break it, go on drive a stake in, yeah there’s no mistaking, now you’re shake and bakin’.
Die, vampire. I said, “Die, vampire”. I said, “Now die vam-pi-re, die!”

In fly the vampires, oh my the vampires, then die the vampires,
filling you with life, creativity, all that you heart should be, out go the vampires. Die vampire, die vampire, die vampire, die!

Monday, May 3, 2010

IT'S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE!

Ok, so here is another little shadow box that I have been working on......"Not Rocket Science".
Just to remind you, and to inform any new readers, I have stolen imagery from my extensive catalogue of completed paintings. I print the images, then reassemble the bits and bobs to create these super cute 9" x 6" shadow boxes.
This piece was built using imagery from my paintings:
"Artificial Intelligence" (the Scientist guy) which is still available in one of my galleries.
The rocket ship is from my painting called "Incredible" (and is sold, sorry). As you can see, I have painted and retinted the rocket ship to make it more pleasing with the other imagery. As usual, I added some ink on top just to make it 'pop'. On this piece, I also added some molding and some painted metal as well as a little pearlized button. 


Whadda 'ya think???