In this year of a helluvalot of time spent alone–either self-isolating as I was doing for the past two weeks after taking a trip, or just generally spending a great deal of time at home prudently trying to avoid the virus that’s plaguing humanity these days–it occurred to me that I might just be able to paint 100 portraits before the calendar flips over to 2021. I’m not 100 per cent sure where I’m sitting on that goal right now, but I’m pretty certain it’s over 70. It’s hard to keep track because I’ve been selling more and more of my work, so some of it is gone. Because of that, I can’t just count the physical objects. I do have photos I’ve taken of everything on my phone, but it’s hard to count them that way. It’s hard to explain. But anyway, around 70 is the number I think. Okay, I get it. You’re telling me to keep better track of my work. How hard can it be? And you’re right, I’ve done a terrible job!

Anyway, it wasn’t my goal to do this at the start of this year. Most years, I end up taking more time away from the studio than I have this year. Sometimes I do a little Extra work in the surprisingly thriving film industry here in Winnipeg. I have a friend who does the extras casting for probably about half of the productions in town and she often contacts me personally when my “type” is needed. I wouldn’t do it if wasn’t fun, and it is. So why not? Plus, let’s face it, I can use the money. This year, I know there are some productions going on, but it’s been limited for sure and I haven’t been asked. I’m okay with that because it means more time in the studio!

The other thing that ends up taking time away from the studio has directly to do with the fact that I’m able to set my own hours and take time off whenever I want. You see, most years my wife and I end up going out east to visit her family in Southwestern Ontario and when that happens, I can take an extra week to visit friends in Toronto or Montreal and see art and that kind of thing. Call it professional development mixed with r & r. So the point being, one hundred portraits is not normally something that’s really possible for me given a normal year.

And if I’m ever going to do it, I think it has to be this year. I realize that there’s a strong chance that next year will be much like this year, a year of not leaving the studio much, but I think I’ll have to push myself in other ways. Maybe create some larger paintings with more ambitious compositions and whatnot. Mind you, those will likely end up being–wait for it–portrait based! It’s kind of my thing. Faces are endlessly fascinating, so I yeah, I’ll probably do portraits. But like I said, larger ones with maybe several people in them. I don’t know, it’s all just in my head as of now.

The Argument, oil on canvas, 2020.

Anyway, it’s been suggested that maybe I start a kickstarter to make sure I reach my goal for 2020. Sales have definitely slowed down over the summer, and it’s getting harder to afford the supplies needed to finish the project. And let’s face it, I really enjoy making the little paintings of imaginary characters, but I haven’t sold a single one. So if I were to do a Kickstarter, I could offer that kind of thing as rewards. Or I could have prints made of my more popular paintings. I don’t know if I’ll do it. I suspect sales will pick up a little in the next month or two as things get back to a semblance of normal. I’ll think about it though.

One last thing. Here is a painting I did a few months ago that I wasn’t thrilled with. But I showed it to some of my artist friends and they universally liked it. So here it is. But here’s a question. Does this count as two portraits?