Grant Boland – Friday Night Guest – March 10, 2023
(Submitted by Sally Williams)
Grant Boland is a realist painter, residing in Newfoundland. He majored in printmaking but favours oils and gouache and has exhibited across Canada and Europe. He paints all genres but as his slide show revealed, each piece tells a story.
After a concise introduction to his work and with no demonstration, Grant was more than happy to talk about his passion. Being fortunate to grow up in a house filled with art resources, encouraged by his family and living near working artists, there was no doubt in Grant’s mind that art would be his profession. Artists such as Scott Goudie, Mary Pratt and Christopher Pratt were proof you could do what you love for a living. As a teen, he’d go to Mary Pratt’s studio, absorbing her discussions about technique and glazing, and preference for using watercolour sable paintbrushes – not bristle – for oil painting.
The online chat and Q&A confirmed that Grant’s work is all about what the viewer brings to the story. Rather than deliver a monologue, each painting is an unfinished narrative, open to interpretation, often with a mysterious light source (light plays an integral part in his work).
Painting is the oldest form of communication, there are no barriers, it’s a universal language. Whether you paint realistically, or abstract, you can evoke a mood and spark a conversation and Grant’s paintings tell stories in a breathtaking way (even a floral still life oozes mystery). Teasing viewers to repeatedly examine the piece, he succeeds in having them become engaged participants in the storytelling.
Grant favours the alla prima technique and doesn’t use a lot of medium but when he does, he adds liquid medium to thin paint. He also has a crock pot and blocks of wax (beeswax) to create cold wax/encaustic (there are many youtube videos on how to make your own).
He imports his photos into Procreate and uses the program to digitally stage a scene (it helps move the props around until he’s satisfied with the composition). He doesn’t use a light table or projector but works from an iPad, drawing and painting straight onto the support. He draws larger shapes to get proportion and then works in the details with paint. He reminded us that an artist can use their expertise and judgement to prioritize what is portrayed (e.g. the camera captures everything, but the eye doesn’t). To quote John Singer Sargent: Sharp edges don’t exist in real life.
The conversation between Grant and attendees also covered art residencies and the business aspect of art, such as gallery representation and pricing. He was represented by galleries for many years, but also marketed his own work for approximately nine years. He voiced his opinion on the pros and cons of both (e.g. Galleries earn their commission by helping you get exposure and taking care of shipping and packing the work). Pricing artwork is hard to answer and there are many factors at play: the artist’s career length and what stage they’re at (emerging or established, etc). The market also dictates the price (e.g. the more in demand an artist is, the higher the price).
You can find out more about Grant’s work via his website. Perhaps a story will emerge for you…