Illustration Friday – Colossal – Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors

When I read this week’s theme for Illustration Friday, colossal, my mind started racing all over the place. I was thinking Godzilla, Jack and The Bean Stalk, James and The Giant Peach. All these classic, legendary characters and illustration ideas kept popping into my head. Then I started toying around with ideas about the city and the skyline, and it landed to me gift wrapped.

This whole season for my Toronto Raptors has been overshadowed by one question: will Kawhi Leonard stay or will he go in free agency? He is clearly the best player ever to suit up for the Raptors (not counting past his prime Hakeem). Vince had talent; Tracy had skills; Curry could shoot; Oakley was a bully and stalwart defender. He scared people away from the basket. Kawhi can do all of those things. No one knows what will happen this off season, but the man is a giant, a colossus casting his shadow over the city.

I, for one, am stoked for the playoff run because for the first time ever, I know as a Raptors fan that we’re going to have the best player on the court, in any game. period.


Illustration Friday – Black and White

This week’s topic for Illustration Friday is black and white, which if you’ve ever seen my artwork before you’ll know is waaaaaaaay outside of my wheelhouse. I love colours. I love playing with colour, painting with colour, mixing colours, blending colours and using lighting effects that make the colours in my illustrations pop and explode off the page. Colours are a mask in my work, they hide the details, or lack thereof, and when they’re used properly make a picture come to life. So, about black and white. I knew that I wanted to explore texture and patterns, and I immediately thought of Picasso and M.C. Escher. What I came up with is an homage to both, Picasso as the subject and Escher as the lender of theme and style.

Picasso y Toros, an homage to M.C. Escher

Angkor Wat by bike – Infinite passages and paths

Angkor Wat is one of those magical, timeless places, a doorway into another era and yet ever present. I’ve never been that interested in guided tours, the controlled timing and static narrative doesn’t allow for discovery or surprises. I like to walk and stroll around ruins and archaeological sites at my own pace, but Angkor Wat is so big, it’s footprint literally that of an entire city. The solution: rent a bicycle. You could, also, hire an elephant or a tuk-tuk, if that’s your thing.

Like Palenque in Mexico, or Copan in Honduras, Angkor Wat is covered in the stories and narratives of the cultures past. Originally built by Hindus, then converted to Budhism centuries later, the temples are a palimpsest of ritual and spiritual meaning. Intricate stone carvings bevel and emboss the walls of every passageway and corridor. No surface is flat or unadorned. There are an infinite number of angles and routes to choose from, no two quite the same. Over the week I spent exploring the grounds, I biked well over a hundred kilometres, circling and spiralling between buildings and walls, over bridges and moats and through massive arched gates.

I’m a very tactile person, my sense of a place and its beauty necessarily involves touch. Museums and galleries often leave me cold and disappointed, everything forever out of reach, encased in glass, walled off from context. Being able to retrace my footsteps and bike route each morning, after having a coffee in Siem Reap and pedalling down the road, gave me a deeper sense of connection, of being able to feel how the inhabitants of the city connected with the place, and its spiritual connections to Vishnu and Budha.

The story of Angkor Wat as a tourist site, as a place visited and crowded and trampled by the commerce of European foreigners is, also, a very long one. In the 1860s, Frenchman Henri Mahout wrote of the lost city of Angkor Wat in his bestselling memoirs, inspiring everything from Indiana Jones to Tomb Raider. But even before that, in the 16th century Portguese explorer, António da Madelena, described the city as “of such extraordinary construction … that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world. It has towers and decoration and all the refinements which the human genius can conceive of.”

It is one of those endlessly lost places, even though it is flooded with tourists. As a foreign visitor, a tourist, I realize I am walking the footsteps of colonialists, and I realize that I am taking part in an economy that commidifies a holy site. But Angkor Wat is still the largest religious site in the world, and if you believe your interactions with the holy are based in your own faith and spirit, well, then it’s probably best to wake up at the crack of dawn, and to go alone down the road. There is no replacement, no substitute for watching the sun rise over the red flats of the Cambodian soil and the verdant green of the jungle, from the top of one of the many temples.

There is nothing quite like it, no way to describe it in words, to see the beauty and the stature of a culture trying to speak with their god through art and sculpture so powerful that it still speaks directly after a thousand years under the sun.

Illustration Friday – Fashion

This week for illustration Fridays, I’m posting a piece that makes me smile. For those of you who know me, I’m a sneaker head, old school hip hop loving, stuck in the 90s thirtysomething. So making an illustration of hightop sneakers just does it for me. Also, on a sad note for the 90s, RIP Luke Perry. You took TV to a different place, a true trendsetter, heartthrob, and game changer. You’ll be missed. You were the James Dean of the 1990s. Peace.

Illustration Fridays – Fairy Tale

One of my goals for 2019 is to share more of my artwork, and to try and be more active online, specifically, through sharing the illustrations I make. As a way of encouraging myself, I decided to challenge myself to enter an image for illustration friday every week. It seemed like a fun idea, and it’s simple, once a week there’s a prompt and you make a picture. This week’s prompt was to make a fairy tale image, here’s mine.


Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf