Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Claire Loves... Balboa.

Ahhh. After a month of working full time at my day job I just spent my first Monday at home. It was a breath of fresh air. I painted and it was glorious. I actually have plenty to tell you about, but one thing at a time. For now, I need to tell you about a musical gem. 

Balboa was conceived of by one of Ronaldo's good friends, Raffi Der Ghazarian. A huge fan of the Rocky movie series, he and Ronaldo thought it would be great if there was a cover band that only played the songs from these iconic movies. And so it was. Balboa. That was nearly 4 years ago, and though they usually only play once a year, it's easily one of the most anticipated nights for me. The band consists of Raffi and Ronaldo on guitar, Warren Bray on bass, Eric Cohen on drums, and the incredible duo of John Rogers and Phil Naro on keyboards and vocals respectively. Phil and John are full time rockers. Their hair is almost as impressive as their talents!
Copyright Ronaldo Falasca Design
Copyright Ronaldo Falasca Design
Ronaldo has made a series of cool, retro posters to celebrate the event. He's a super talent. Lucky me that he's all mine! 

My favourite of the three that he made is this one. I love the iconic simplicity.
Copyright Ronaldo Falasca Design
Just think. Eye of the Tiger. Living in America. Hearts on Fire. It's pure gold. The next show is this Friday night in Toronto at the El Mocambo (just south of College St. on the west side of Spadina Ave.). For more info have a peep at the band's website and facebook page. If you are in the city on Friday night you ought to clear you calendar and c'mon down! We can cheers the Italian Stallion's legacy together.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

TROPHY. Care of Jon Todd.

So, I went to illustration school with the uber talented and all around nice guy Jon Todd. He's pretty much become a gallery darling in Montreal, Toronto, and L.A. I am pretty proud to say that I have a Jon Todd in my tiny art collection. I'm glad I bought it when I did, as I wouldn't be able to afford his work now. Talent costs, people. Here's the piece on my wall beside my studio set up, along with an illustrated tile from my friend Thadeus Maximus (or Ted, to me!)
Artwork by Jon Todd
Pretty sweet, no? I Have pretty much based any art purchases I've made on whether it will go well with this one. I adore it. 

Anyway, Jon has a show running in Toronto this month and it opened on Friday. The show is called TROPHY and it's running at Smash Gallery, which is located slightly west of Keele St. and Dundas St West here in Toronto. The show is on through until next Thursday June 2nd. Check out Jon's website for more details on hours, etc. 

The show was amazing. It's great to be able to see progress in an artist and Jon definitely had his newness on display. His new work has much more detailed elements. I really liked his use of this sketchy line work that he filled aspects of his paintings with. The different details and texture he layers into his work makes it fun and interesting to look at. 

Artwork by Jon Todd
Aside from the artwork, the event brought out many familiar faces from my college days. Some faces that I haven't seen SINCE college. Some I saw last week. Jon had constructed a huge wrestling ring right in the centre of the show. Here he is with a few buddies hanging out in it.
Then they started to wrestle. Don't worry. No one was injured in the making of this photo. 
It was tremendous to be able to catch up, find out what's new, remember the old, have a few beers and talk art. I couldn't have asked for a better Friday night.

Don't forget to check out TROPHY this week if you're in Toronto before it shuts down.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Workin' it in the rain.

Copyright Claire Manning

Copyright Claire Manning
This, my friends, has been the prettiest part of the whole weekend. The May flowers are certainly here and beautiful. Unfortunately, the April showers have not taken the hint and scrammed. Today was ugly. I decided to go for a walk with Ronaldo anyway. I am happy I did because after years of admiring The Workroom and the fabulous Make Something blog, I finally went in to the store. 
Courtesy of BlogTO.com
 The Workroom is located freakishly close to my house at 1340 Queen Street West. It is brimming with beautiful fabric, wonderful books, and offer a wide variety of sewing classes at all levels. They have a free monthly "stitch-n-bitch" that I will attend when I have my new embroidery project underway. And, in the case today, they put on some amazing craft and hand work sales called Trunk Shows. I was lucky enough to run across the Spring Trunk Show.
Copyright Claire Manning     
The place was packed and it had a great creative vibe. It was just what I needed to get in the mood to do my own work. I made some purchases on the show side, but was completely mesmerized with the colour coordinated wall of fabric.
Copyright Claire Manning
 I ended up falling in love with a floral laminated cotton. I bought the last of it and am planning on making myself a work tote. 
Copyright Claire Manning
As usual, my little super model had to get into the shot. I think she outdid herself- what's more beautiful? Ramona or the fabric? Seriously. 

Information on all the neat things The Workroom has to offer just head to their website, www.theworkroom.ca. If you live in Toronto I would recommend a drop in for sure. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Down, but not out.

It's been a frustrating few days.

I was mentioning a while ago that I had applied to an assortment of annuals and exhibits, etc. Waiting for the responses was hard, but actually getting responses has proven to be much harder. Let's just say that they have been less than desirable so far. It's never easy to get rejection. I admit, I had a mini pity party. A little black rain cloud sat firmly over my head on Friday night. I may or may not have though or said "why am I doing this?", "I'm never going to be good enough", and "I should just give up". Silly of me, really. As much as I would like to blame the world for my misgivings I know deep down that it's all in my control to make sure that the next time I send out an application the response is yes. So, I turned my frown upside down and got the out the paints. 
Copyright Claire Manning
 I'm starting small with completing another Christmas present. This one is for my dear friend Em (Not to be confused with sister Em). As disappointed as I was, I felt much better with brush in hand. 
Copyright Claire Manning
 The more that I work at it, the better I will become and it will bring in the work that I want. There is no room for self doubt in the art world and so I will not hold any. There are lots of projects in my queue and I am looking forward to tackling them and showing the results. Here's a sneak peek at another present that I'm working on. Can you guess what it is?
Copyright Claire Manning
 Onward and upward, I say.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


It's the first weekend in May and FINALLY spring has shown it's pretty face. I've started biking to my carpool everyday and am enjoying the fact that I can. 

So, what is "semi-digital" you may ask? It's a term that my Mom coined a few years back. When digital cameras came on the scene my whole family fell for the new technology. Everyone but my Mom. She loved her old camera, that used this strange film called advantix. She felt that since she received a CD with her pictures on it and that there was a digital photo counter on the back of the camera that it was practically digital. Or semi-digital. Eventually our family deemed it her "semi-dig" camera. As the years went by advantix film became scarce and fully digital cameras became the norm, Mom stayed true to her "semi-dig". We even bought her a nice new fancy digital one and she still found ways to use her old technology. It was always "Oh! Well, I just found these 5 rolls of film in a drawer at the cottage- I can't put them to waste! Once they are done I will retire the semi-dig". She must have stashed film all over the place because this went on for YEARS. In fact, the official "last photo" took place in November last year. It was momentous to her, and a LONG time coming for the rest of the family. I am happy to say that she hasn't looked back. and she hasn't found more film. Technology 1, Mom 0. Actually I'd say it's win-win. 

As much as I made fun of my Mom for holding on to the past and not giving in to the latest and greatest I have to say that I do the same thing. It actually applies to my illustration work in a big way. When I graduated from college I created my illustrations 100% traditionally. In fact, I didn't even have a scanner at the time so in some cases I would hand deliver original work to art directors. More or less, this is the way that I worked for the first four years of my career. In 2008 I started using photoshop and illustrator not just to enhance and correct my art, but also to pretty much create it. I found that it saved time on all sides of the process, and the final product looked cleaner and brighter. I could pick and chose colours, and if I made a mistake or didn't like the way something turned out I didn't have to start over again- a control Z here and magic wand tool there and "presto!", instant do-over! Though I still create original paintings for exhibition and will always hand ink my line work for my illustrations, I have been working "semi-digitally" for years now. 

Just recently I have been looking back on my body of work and comparing the differences between my digital illustrations and my hand painted illustrations. Though some may say, especially with my clean style, that you can barely notice a difference, I totally can. Here is an example:

This is some of my hand painted work, using gouache and ink.

Copyright Claire Manning
I can see the subtle details and variances in the paint strokes, but I painted it. Perhaps you don't see what I see. 

This is an example of my semi-dig work: inked by hand, but coloured and constructed in Photoshop.
Copyright Claire Manning
Using this technique allows me to layer colours and create clean cut outs in colour, like in the grass and with the buildings in the background. 
Copyright Claire Manning
Here is a side by side comparison of some spots I did for Canadian Family Magazine. The red head girl is hand painted over an actual cut out of kraft paper. The sunny baby is digitally layered. Can you tell the difference? I can. One took considerably longer to do. But the question remains: is it worth the time? Is there anything missing in the digital format rather than the original painting? I am feeling nostalgic for the days when I would have physical art at the end of a job instead of just some black and white line work on illustration board. Recently I was asked to do five spots for a magazine. I was intending on creating them with paint, but then decided to go digital at the last minute. I think they turned out really well, but a part of me wishes I stuck with my original plan. My next illustration, regardless of what it is, I will hand paint. 

Seeing as it's Mother's Day tomorrow I'm glad I got to write a little about mine. Though I deny it, I guess we do have some common traits. I am my mother's daughter after all!

Have a great day to all you Mommies out there!