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Tool paintings for Father’s Day

Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of tool paintings. I like the way my loose drawing style and field painting backgrounds contrast with the precise idea of a tool. Most recently, I painted this handscrew for art collector Don Alexander:

Handscrew, 12"x12, acrylic on canvas, Rob Elliott, 2014.
Handscrew, 12″x12, acrylic on canvas, Rob Elliott, 2014.

Is there a power tool you’re particularly fond of? A kitchen knife your husband constantly uses? Does your dad have a favourite chisel or socket wrench? Send me images and I can do a pop-modern painting of it for Father’s Day, June 15.

Prices start at $200 for a 12″x12″ painting. Other sizes are available. Contact me at

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Man-Bat painting


In the last Swizzle Studio newsletter, I noted that I was looking for new commissions. The first request came a few days later from Luckystar Studio’s Gene Evans:

Are you up for a painting of Batman? I collect artistic interpretations of Batman.


I started with drawing of a fully-armed Batman (part of the Batman legend is that he never uses a gun) based on poses I found in the Italian pulp comic Diabolik, but Gene gravitated towards a weird little outlier sketch:


I was ready to start on Working Title: Weird Bat-Dog when another email from Gene arrived:

Hate to change gears, but, how about a bat wearing a shirt and tie?

Sometimes gear changes are fortuitous, as the resulting painting in this case is rather nice. I switched from the planned square format to a long rectangle and got something pretty unique, Man Bat 9-5:

Man-Bat 9-5, 12"x6", acrylic on canvas
Man-Bat 9-5, 12″x6″, acrylic on canvas (click to view large)

Incidentally, there is a DC Comics supervillain named Man-Bat, but he lacks the charms of my little Joker-colored dude.


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Raccoon commission

Anja and Andreas have been great patrons over the years (as well as terrific friends). One Christmas, each purchased one of my paintings as a gift for the other. It took a fair amount of subterfuge to keep the double-secret, but both of them were genuinely surprised on Christmas morning.

Jaunty, 18"x18", acrylic on canvas, 2007, private collection
Jaunty, 18″x18″, acrylic on canvas, 2007, private collection
Fox &Bird, 36"x36", acrylic on canvas, 2007, private collection
Fox &Bird, 36″x36″, acrylic on canvas, 2007, private collection

Last winter, Anja decided to commission a painting for her husband’s milestone birthday. She was looking for an image that captured the spirit of their three young boys, and we decided on raccoons. Raccoons are the quintessential Toronto animal and exhibit the brothers’ same mischievous energy. Drawing the raccoons getting ready to break into a house with some serious tools struck us as funny and perfect.

Getting the painting right took a few covert studio visits and plenty of emails using accounts Andreas wouldn’t accidentally stumble upon. After a lot of colour testing and redrawing, we ended with a painting that was really exciting, with a sense of nightfall, yet the figures clearly defined.

First sketch
First sketch
Pencil study with ink
Pencil study with ink
Three Raccoons, 36"x48", acrylic on canvas, private collection
Three Raccoons, 36″x48″, acrylic on canvas, private collection (click to view large)

Though the painting was completed long before the birthday presentation, it was weeks before Anja could fabricate an alibi to visit the studio for a viewing. Delivering the painting required yet another round of stealth, but we managed to keep the surprise. Enjoy the painting, my friends!