Tuesday, November 5, 2013

2013 Tour of Alberta

It seems fitting that this was the inaugural year for the Tour of Alberta because it was a first for me in a lot of ways too. This was an opportunity that I just couldn't refuse. Although I had never done anything like this before I was intrigued by the challenge. The organizers approached me with the idea of creating and selling my art in a festival setting. Even though I was unsure of the idea I still committed right away. Seeing as I only had a month to prepare there wasn't any time to go through my usual phase of doubting and second guessing myself. I had to get to work right away. I knew that I wanted all of the imagery to cater to the event. I began with brainstorming ideas and bike related imagery. I started sourcing different materials and began creating stencils. In a very short period of time I created and cut an arsenal of biking related stencils. The main stencil is a pack of riders really pushing hard towards the finish line. I also did some complementary stencils of bicycle gears, bike tire treads and wheel spokes. To tie the overall image together I also used a few text based stencils. I cut out a stencil mapping the tour across the province and through another stencil I told a "story" of a bike race using a glossary of common cycling terms such as pace line, attack and leadout. With the permission of the organizers I was able to make a stencil of the event logo thus making my art pieces official commemoratives of the event. I did all of the painting live over two days at Churchill Square. It was a little bit tricky trying to navigate through the heat and wind but having a tent definitely helped. I built the pieces up using different layers and colours of paint. I worked very fast and spontaneously to give my work the flow and excitement and explosive feeling of the actual race. Doing piece after piece really helped. It was easy to follow through on different ideas that would spring up during the creative process and let them build off of one another. I'm really happy with how the pieces turned out and enjoyed being immersed into the excitement of Edmonton's cycling community. I would definitely do something like this again. It's not easy to set up to spray paint live in an overcrowded festival environment but at the end of the day the paintings really speak for themselves. I think I ended up doing 10-15 pieces over the 8 or so hours spread across the two days. Some of my favourites are below... It was hard to capture pictures of all of them as people were buying them left and right. These were the six that I was able to get photos of. As you can see, while the concept and execution may be the same, no two pieces look alike. One of my favourite parts of using spray paint and stencils is even within a series like this one no two pieces ever look alike. In all the pieces I really tried to push the perspective of the lead racer and show the excitement and movement of him pushing away from the pack.

[1] I really like the colours on this one. I love how the rainbow gradient of the spokes really draws you into the central image. I also love that bright warm blast of yellow behind the red gear, the two elements together really frame the outline of the lead rider.

[2] This is my favourite. I built up the image by layering different tire treads on top of each other. I love how the rest of the riders get lost in this piece and the focus lies on the race leader. I love the vibrant colour and constant juxtaposition of this painting. It actually feels like it's moving, like it's happening right now.

[3] For this piece I used a more pastel colour palette. I love how white space and what's not painted play a pivotal role in this painting. I love the focus on the "story".

[4] There is something about this painting... I'm always going back to it. I love the richness of all of the colours and the build up of the cyclists. This one looks really clean and gives the viewer an opportunity to appreciate the over spray of the paint.

[5] This was the only piece where I focused on one tone and really tried to build up the image out of like and complimentary colours.

[6] I like how the riders seem to be bursting out of the background on this one. It almost looks like they're coming from behind the canvas and are just about to ride through the painting at any given moment.

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