Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Cartoon City

This is a new painting I completed earlier this week for an exhibition called Cartoon City, which opens at Harbourfront Center on April 9th. The show features a great line-up of Toronto area comic artists, each contributing a piece about their neighbourhoods. In my case, I did my best to capture a section of College Street, a few blocks from my studio. If you're in the Toronto area during April to June, feel free to check out the exhibition. And if you're in on April 9th, come by and attend the opening which will be from 6pm to 10pm.

This is probably one of the biggest and most complicated paintings I've attempted in years. It's about 30" x 10" in size, and was painted in gouache and ink. Usually, I complete most works in one or two sittings, but this one took about four nights to finish. As detailed as it seems, I painted it fairly loosely because of its size and I really enjoyed the opportunity to use larger brushes. Everything on this was hit with a #5 brush and up. While working on it, I also discovered I enjoyed utilizing a few techniques I rarely use: 1) scraping out white lines with an x-acto blade and 2) using low-tack painter's tape to lift off ink and create texture.


ZackRock said...

Looks amazing (and daunting)! I wish I could see it in person.

I'm curious to know where on the painting you used the x-acto blade, and how exactly you wielded it. I read Herriman used a similar technique on Krazy Kat, but I've never had the knowhow (or courage) to try it myself.

Michael Cho said...

Thanks, Zack. I used the blade mostly on the streetcar wires and here and there on the telephone poles. Basically, I scraped out lines, flicking the knife at an angle perpendicular to the angle I would use for cutting. Its just a matter of flicking and scraping off paint/ink from the paper. This was done on watercolour paper, so it was actually easier than doing it on bristol. You can play around and try it yourself - just make sure you use a sharp blade. I often scrape out mistakes with a blade instead of using whiteout.

ZackRock said...

Ahh, I'll have to give that a try. Thanks!

MC Nedelsky said...

Ever been to Souz Dal? Is the bar on the left hand side of the painting with the big ball hanging over the entrance. They make a mean capirainha.

I also love how you've made my modern neighborhood look like something out of the 1920's. (Or at least my imagination of it).

Gary Chapple said...

Amazing. I love that area of Toronto - i often buy Xmas cards from Red Pegasus.

Diana Tamblyn said...

Gorgeous Mike! You should have this as a print for TCAF.

Michael Cho said...

MC Nedelsky: Been to Souz Dal a few times, since I live in the area. I was happy to draw it, and its cool sign.

Gary: Thanks, Gary. Glad you could spot the locale.

Diana: Thanks, D. I might make a print of it, but its an odd size.

Arkonbey said...

It's funny. With all of your work with superheros and supervillains, I find this to be one of the most powerful and technically amazing.

The way the blacks and cyans work to create a rhythm is astounding, especially given the complexity of the piece.

First: how long did this take you?
Second: It's somehow heartening to see someone making truly beautiful works with traditional methods. My wife keeps suggesting I try blade-scraping, but it scares me. I haven't felt this heartened about traditional methods since Jake Parker fixed it old school

Dominic Bugatto said...

Nice one , just down the street from Dragon Lady ;-)

Patty said...

Wow I would love if cities actually looked like that! Great work ;)

biri said...

Hi Mike. Great work!
As far as you know are there any plans for a catalogue of the exhibition?
Apart from Toronto's cartoonists' illustrations are there "proper" comics "on the wall"?
I'm an Italian architect and I'm very, very interested about City and Comics. Few years ago I even wrote a book on that topic (a follow-up to my old dissertation thesis for the University).
Thank you!

Michael Cho said...

Arkonbey: Thanks. Regarding your question, I don't really know exactly how many hours, but it took 4 sittings for the final painting, and another 2 for the underdrawing, so I'm estimating about 16 - 20 hours total.

Dominic: thanks. Yup, you know the neighbourhood.

Patty: thanks :)

Biri: I have no idea if there's going to be a catalog at all. It's a small show, with only 6 artists each showing 1 piece. There aren't any comics on the wall or anything like that.

the doodlers said...

It's a beauty Michael! Love this part of the city. And thanks for the analogue paint tips on scraping out the whites. If you do this one as a print, what would you sell it for?