For Parksville artist Chris Bullock, the vibrancy of Vancouver Island is a source of inspiration.
That’s the reason he moved to the island from the Fraser Valley about three years ago, in 2017.
First appearing in a gallery, her work can now be viewed and purchased from the McMillan Arts Center (MAC) until February 28. He will also be on site every Saturday until the end of the month, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In a ‘pre-COVID’ world, Bullock could be found selling and discussing his artwork at street and farmer’s markets across the Parksville Qualicum Beach area. With the current public health order limiting gatherings in public spaces, Bullock has sought different avenues to present his work.
Bullock began his illustrations once he moved to the island.
His inspiration naturally came from wildlife and nature, but somewhere down the road he extended into the “weird and stupid”.
“I’m heavily influenced by the old styles of 1950s comics,” he says. “I had a lot of these comics in the ’70s and’ 80s, so I grew up with them. And I really love the style. “
To emphasize his point, Bullock explained that one of his pieces, Horror fairy tales, was based on the 1950s comic book series Tales from the Crypt.
His method is to first sketch the illustration in pencil, refine the image, and then draw with ink and a calligraphy pen. Coloring is done either with watercolor washes or digitally on his computer.
But he said he doesn’t like to dwell too long on a topic, something he sees as both a strength and a weakness.
“Many artists will only be landscapers, for example. I sort of did it all. I try to focus and do series of specific things, like my Easter bunnies or my moms. “
Bullock is going Toad tripper The series, about a toad venturing across Vancouver Island with his dragonfly friend, was envisioned under pandemic lockdown in early 2020 and inspired by French Creek Marina.
Another piece, The hermit knight, showing a medieval knight riding a hermit crab, was influenced by Albrecht Durer, a German painter and printmaker of the 15th and 16th centuries.
He said that many of his works are actually influenced by woodcuts. So much so that he would like to dive into the medium, but remains hesitant because of the time constraints. Yet he sees it as a personal spur and aspires to hand sculpt an entire piece.
“I feel like there’s a balance between constantly learning new techniques and skills, and trying to create new characters and new scenes.”
The Mermother The series, he said, was created for Mother’s Day and depicts underwater mermaids cradling their toddlers. Bullock became a new dad in November 2020 and considers being able to hold his child in front of the series a special privilege.
“I want to leave something with her that she should be proud of,” he said.
Someone else who left a lasting impression on Bullock was his “super tough” high school art teacher, an apparent caricature of the strict bossy art teacher. He also admitted that she was someone who was there to challenge him and introduce him to new things.
While some of Bullock’s work can be purchased online, he prefers to sell the majority in person.
One of her first sales experiences was with ‘grandmothers selling used books from her basement’ etc. at markets and street fairs. Something he sees as a comfortable way for an “anxious artist” to start.
All officially mentioned parts and series can be viewed in person at the MAC until the end of the month.
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