Ideas & Art from Rob Elliott and Christine Cosby

Author: Rob (Page 94 of 99)

Rob Elliott dispenses creativity under the moniker Swizzle Studio.

The meteorology of art openings

Last Saturday’s Shanghai Scooters reception was a lesson in how temperature affects art openings. August openings are perilous anywhere, with vacations and outdoor fun reducing the crowds. But Southern Ontario’s notoriously-humid late summer nights can render social butterflies into air-conditioning junkies.

Despite NAC’s efforts to get a breeze going, there was no way around the fact that spotlit area where the art was displayed was ten degrees warmer than the unlit side of the gallery. Add a bowl of spiked punch to the cooler side of the gallery and there was little chance of anyone taking more than a quick look at the drawings. Like moths against an invisible screen door, the patrons crowded at the threshold until we shut the lights off at 11 p.m.

The art of motorcycle drawing

The Shanghai Scooters exhibition is just about ready for next Saturday’s opening. The drawing show, which I’ve been working on since February, is based on two trips I took to China in 2009 and 2011. I was impressed by the way traffic flowed in the city. Cars, scooters, trikes, bicycles and pedestrians weaved through the packed city streets with little regard for signals or rules.

I took hundreds of traffic photos with a plan in the back of my mind to do some sort of project with them. I experimented with a few techniques but decided to use gouache.  The opaque ink has a unique ability to reveal both the bright colours of the vehicles and muted tones of the always-damp air.

The final results are pretty satisfying. Repeatedly drawing an object like a scooter let me really hone in on technique and figure out what was important in each scene. Ponchos and recycling piles were reduced to abstract forms. Portions of the drawings were left uncoloured for emphasis. Faces reveal the joy and hardship of daily life riding the streets of Shanghai. (you can see all the drawings here, or click the SHANGHAI SCOOTERS tab).

Shanghai Scooters runs from August 20 to September 2, 2011 at the Niagara Artists Centre, 354 St. Paul St., St. Catharines, Ontario

Opening reception: Saturday August 20, 8 p.m

Provincial Place Cards

Last week, my friends Mark and Claire got married in Scotland (with the reception in Wales). The bride and groom are Welsh and English respectively, but have lived in Canada for the past five years. They wanted to represent their new adopted country at their wedding, so they asked me to create place cards depicting the Canadian provinces.

My first instinct was use the official animals of each province, but a bit of research found that some Canadian provinces don’t have an official animal, some are uninspired (picked by a Centennial committee, no doubt), and some are just goofy (I’m looking at you, British Columbia). So I made my own choices from a stockpile of natural history pamphlets.

By all accounts the reception was a hit, though there were more provinces than guests. The maritime provinces ended up sharing a single table, while the mighty animals of the Arctic guarded the desserts.


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