It’s been a while since I posted, (as I was gently reminded on Twitter today), so I thought I’d update what’s been going on since the last post. I did have a really great post written a couple of weeks ago while I was on the bus but when I went to post it, WordPress Mobile ate it & I lost it all. I’m writing this on the bus too, but I’m using Evernote. I’ll post it when I get home, just to be safe. And I will get around to rewriting the lost post soon.

Anyways. Spring has been very busy. Here are the highlights.

The Varscona Hotel Mural Project

In early March, I saw a call for submissions for a large (27×80 feet!) mural to go on the backside of the Varscona Hotel in the trendy Whyte Avenue district here in Edmonton. Now I’ve never done a mural before, but I’ve been involved in many large scale outdoor sign projects in my years with the sign company in the 80’s. I thought, eh, why not & went to the information session. There were about 10 artists in attendance with varying degrees of experience. (I know because we exchanged emails & I looked them up online. Know your competition!)

I started playing around with ideas. None which were really working when I thought, “Oh, I bet I know what would look good”. I grabbed a picture of “Winter Solstice at White Sands” which had just sold, and Photoshopped it onto the building. Frankly, I was blown away at how good it might look.


Varscona Mural Project
Varscona Mural Project submission 27×80 ft

I spent the next week or so re-living my project quoting past life (again, courtesy the sign company) and came up with a budget. This included the challenge of figuring out how much paint to use. I found a great trick using Photoshop which I’ll have to write about sometime.

I submitted my project & then began the waiting.

I waited & waited. And waited. Inquiries went unanswered. Finally, almost 3 weeks after the supposed award date, I got an email saying, “Oops we forgot. You didn’t win.” And that was it. The project was administered by some art students as a project & I guess exams got in the way or something. I have to say I was pretty disappointed, not only with losing with what I thought was a very strong proposal, but with the way I was treated.

Fortunately, as part of my “hey what’s going on” inquiries, I sent an email to a consultant on the project. I got an email back with some more detail. It turns out that my proposal was one of four finalists that were submitted to the building owners who chose the winner. The winners are 2 professional mural artists from Montreal. It’s a bit disappointing that they didn’t choose a local artist, but I’m told they are originally from Edmonton (so that’s local-ish?). It’s hard to know what were the key factors. Experience? Well, my none is none. Cost? At full wall coverage, my project was expensive with over 50% of the budget in paint alone. Design? Well the building owners have to pick something that works for them.

In any case, knowing I made the final four, made me feel a lot better about the whole thing. Now I just need to find another wall & a sponsor. 🙂

Miscellaneous paintings

During the “waiting time” I managed to complete several works and start and stop on a few more.

One weekend, completed 2 small pieces, one of which is well in the style I’m most used to, and another which is very different.

“Aurora over Buffalo Lake” is something I think most people who know my work would recognize. I’ve resisted painting aurora because they can just be so cliché. This one worked well though, I think. I may do more.


Aurora Over Buffalo Lake
Aurora Over Buffalo Lake 10×26 Oil on Canvas 2015 © JayB

“Woman of the Earth” is quite a departure for me in terms of subject & technique.  I’ve wanted to combine landscape & figure for a while now & I’m really pleased with how this turned out.


Woman of the Earth
“Woman of the Earth” 10×24 oil on canvas. © 2015 JayB

I also completed a large (my largest ever in fact) canvas and another in my music series. I want to do separate posts about these 2 so I won’t go into detail about them here.

Supporting Another Charity event. 

In my last post, I talked about Letting Go of work & my donation of a painting to a great cause.  Well a couple of weeks ago, I was contacted on Twitter by someone from the Zebra Centre. They were having a gala & auction and the organizer, Chris, had seen my work on Twitter (value of social media anyone?) and wondered if I’d be interested in donating something. After I checked out who they were, I said yes. I looked at what I had and didn’t really see anything that I wanted to donate but since I had a couple of weeks, I’d paint something specifically for the event. I decided I wanted to paint a landscape with a tie to Edmonton. Despite living here for most of my life, I’ve not really done that. I thought it would be a good challenge. Of course, it’s hard to paint anything about Edmonton that doesn’t involve our beautiful river valley so that’s what I did. The basic painting came together in exactly one hour.


Work in Progress
Work in progress 22×26 Oil on Canvas 2015 © JayB

The next week & a bit was just detail & refinement. By the time it was finished, I knew it was one of my most successful pieces.

Sunset on the North Saskatchewan
“Sunset on the North Saskatchewan” 22×26 Oil on Canvas 2015 © JayB

So much so that I decided I should spend the money & have it professionally scanned.


Sunset on the North Saskatchewan
Sunset on the North Saskatchewan with miniature colour giclee on canvas proof after scanning


When Chris picked up the painting on Friday, he said something which I’m still chuckling over. He said “When I saw what you posted the first night, I thought hey, that’s great. Then you kept on making it better.” It’s funny that what appears done to other people & what I think is done can often be quite different.

So Saturday night rolled around & I’m watching Twitter for the hashtag for the event as they had said they were going to “live tweet” but I ended the night knowing nothing about what happened. I assume the organizers were too busy organizing to tweet. Not surprising I suppose. I woke up feeling nervous. Did anyone bid? Yes, I’m pretty sure someone did. But how much? Finally at around noon Sunday I direct messaged Chris on Twitter and asked how we did. This was the response.


After the Gala Tweets
After the Gala Tweets

I was a bit stunned. Kim had been telling me it will sell “for a lot” and I guess I thought there was a possibility of selling for “a lot”, but it’s hard to imagine what that means. But this blows me away. Someone looked at a painting by an unknown artist (me) and said, “I really want that and am prepared to pay $1200 for it.” I mean, I paid almost that much for my first car. It’s just wacky. But wow, what a great feeling. And to know that it’s going to a great cause makes it even better.

On a side note, a potential buyer was going to come over and look at some of my work last weekend. He cancelled. He’s going to be mad because my prices just went up. 🙂

Finally, a website.

One of the other reasons I haven’t written anything here is that I’ve spent the last couple of weeks wrangling a website into existence. You may or may not know but among other things, I build & maintain our company’s website. I’m right in the middle of final testing to launch the first redesign of the site in 4 years. The very last thing I want to do when I get home from work is work on websites. But since I had this gala thing, I wanted to have something in place should people be interested. So after deciding that I wasn’t going to build a site from scratch, I bought a premium WordPress theme with the idea that I’d just upload content and be done. Well, not so fast. Between complete lack of documentation from the theme developers & the cumbersome nature of WordPress, it’s been a struggle. But as of yesterday, I have something that is sort of presentable. There still be bunch of things that drive me crazy but I’ll work on them over time. I don’t want to build websites. I want to paint.

In any case, you can visit the new site at It has most of my work posted & contact information. I will be selling prints & originals through the site at some point but if you’re interested now just drop me a note on the contact page.  Eventually, this blog on will migrate to the website, but I’m not sure when.

Whew. That was a lot to catch up on. And I didn’t even talk about those other 2 paintings. I shouldn’t leave so much time in between posts but in my defense I’ve been busy with arty things so that’s a good thing. I did manage to write about 80% of this on the bus so I guess that may be a good option to keep more current (now that I’m not relying on the @#$#!%#% WordPress app to write it)

Now off to put together a submission for a show at the main public library here.  Busy, busy spring.

One thought on “Spring Cleaning

  1. Awesome. Nice to hear about an auction where the work actually sells for a reasonable price. I’ve done a few, and not even hit 50% of my set price. Kinda turned me off the auction thing altogether. Guess it just depends on the event.

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