Dave Nielsen and Craig Friesen in front of some of their work at Village Brewery.Read More
Please join Craig and Dave for the opening of “Interior Solutions”, the new Quality Painters exhibit at Village Brewery Tap Room. The show is in conjunction with the launch of Village’s new brew “Father”.
Wednesday, June 1, 2016. 2-6 p.m.
5000 12a St SE, Calgary, AB T2G 5K9.
The show runs from June 1 - July 31.
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After Odysseus, Quality Painters needed some time to re-group. After their hiatus, they came together in full-force creating nearly 300 new, original panels.
Here is some insight to the process:
Together, Quality Painters create an abstraction on the panel. They next divide the panels between themselves, where on their own they create whatever come to mind. The then trade the panels start all over again, only this time they must react to whatever the other artists has put on the panel. The fourth step sees both artists re-unite with the nearly completed panels. There, they will "name" each panel and write the title on the board in pencil - giving some insight into their process. The piece will have the title painted on, and finally covered with a strong layer of polyurethane.
Quality Painters want to get their name 'out there'. They want people to recognize their name and their work. 'Odysseus' is a broad, big, bold introduction to Alberta. But it is massive in scale. The duo has been fortunate to be recognized by a few publications. So, to get their work 'out there'; Craig and Dave created nearly 300 original works for sale at Calgary's Market Collective.
Not only did they make nearly 300 original panels for sale, but they created them all in 5 weeks. It was a creative flurry, that had both artists digging in deep and joyfully producing. A sample of these panels can be viewed in the 'New Work' section of this site.
Quality Painters believes that everyone should have access to original art for affordable prices. Their desire was to create art for those just starting their collections, or adding a QP cherry on top of their already existing collection. As Craig and Dave are two galleried artists, they were frustrated by the limited access their work has to the general public. By participating in Market Collective, the people of Calgary could be introduced to Quality Painters and vice-versa.
From the onset, Craig and Dave wanted to see if they even could create as many 8"x12" panels as they could that were one-of-a-kind. They did not want to rely on stencils or prints.
The process for each panel is fresh and unique. Each piece starts with an abstraction done by both painters simultaneously. This first stage is known as 'blizz blazz'. The boards are then divided for their 'second pass', where one artist lays down a 'drawing' in paint. The 'third pass' sees the panel going to the other artist. There, Craig or Dave will interpret, react and draw on the panel. There is a nod to the 'Immaculate Corpse' and 'Free Writing' of the Surrealist movement. Sometimes, just stumping the other artist with a juxtaposing image was the goal..and the joke. Finally all the boards were assembled together for a 'naming ceremony'. Together, Craig and Dave would look at each panel, and simply find the connective tissue between each image - and come up with it's title.
Two Local Artists Reimagine Homer's Odyssey and It's Epic
Two local artists, 18 panels and inspiration from a classic Greek story resulted in a painting of epic proportions.
Artists David Nielsen and Craig Friesen didn’t exactly set out to make their first collaborative work a series of 18 wooden panels that run 24 feet long when placed side by side. But in taking inspiration from a subject no less epic than the First World War and melding it with a literary inspiration no less epic than Homer’sOdyssey, it’s not such a stretch that their Odysseus would turn out to be somewhat epic in nature as well.
The artists, who collaborate under the tongue-in-cheek moniker Quality Painters, were brought together in 2010 when aspiring art teacher Friesen received a practicum placement with veteran art teacher Nielsen at Bishop O’Byrne High School. Despite an age difference of 20 years, the two became fast friends, connecting on everything from taste in music to sense of humour.
They also connected as artists, sharing an appreciation for the work of German painter Max Beckmann, while Nielsen found fresh inspiration in his younger counterpart’s penchant for “drawing with paint” and incorporating narrative elements to create comics-inspired mash-ups on canvases made from repurposed wood.
When the two decided to embark upon an artistic collaboration in 2012, Nielsen brought up The Odyssey as potential subject matter. The literary classic was close to his heart since his young son, Oskar, had recently read an adapted version of the novel aloud to him, cover to cover.
The duo decided to reimagine the saga in the context of a soldier from the Canadian prairies going off to fight in the First World War and his epic journey through war-ravaged Europe to return home. They drafted a concept for six panels (two sheets of four-by-eight-foot spruce plywood, cut in thirds). By the end of their first day, it was evident an additional six panels would be required. Ultimately, they used 18 panels.
Both artists contributed to all aspects of Odysseus. Working on six panels at a time, they began by painting an abstract “base,” then built the historical and literary references on top, such as the depiction of the soldier’s own “Penelope” back on the home front, facing mounting financial woes and fending off predatory males on her doorstep. Text elements were added in the later stages, adding to the graphic novel feel already created by the multiple panels and narrative structuring.
But despite looking like a graphic novel, Odysseus is no compact volume that can be slipped easily into a commuter bag and thumbed through on the CTrain. The 18-panel work’s ambitious scope is its biggest challenge and the question now is just what kind of future it might achieve.
Since its completion in June 2014, Odysseus was selected to be part of the TREKS program, which tours works of art into rural areas and sometimes larger cities of Alberta, though participation was contingent on the artists producing a more compact version. The smaller panels, which are scaled reproductions, embarked on their tour this past September and will stay on the road for the next two years.
As educators, both Friesen and Nielsen hope to see the original Odysseus displayed in a facility such as a museum or other public institution, where it can be interpreted for its connections to both Canada’s military history and classic literature.
“What we’d love to do is sell it, but we want to do it in a way that it could benefit veterans,” says Nielsen. “It would be incredible to use our work to raise awareness or raise funds for veterans and then to have [the panels] work as educational tools.”
Essentially, though, for all its lofty intentions and weighty subject matter, Odysseus is a human story at heart, created out of a friendship.
“It’s really about one man’s desire to go home,” Nielsen says. “That’s everybody’s desire, in a way.”
For more information, visit qualitypaintersyyc.com.
This article appears in the November 2015 issue of Avenue Calgary. Subscribe here.
Craig B. Friesen and David Nielsen, aka Quality Painters, have re-created a collaborative tome of grand proportions. Hints of Beckmann, Lichtenstein, Chagall, Kline, Renoir, Millet, Kirby are sprinkled throughout. It takes the viewer on a journey, and goads them to be active participants. Odysseus was made for adults and children in equal measures.Read More
“Odysseus” came from a desire of two artists to collaborate. Craig B. Friesen and David A. Nielsen, first met in 2010 when Friesen was a student teacher for 8 months in Nielsen’s Art studio at Bishop O’Byrne High School in Calgary, Alberta.Read More
Odysseus is one man’s journey which takes him from his home and family, and his desperate attempts to return.Read More
“Often people from curators to the general public ask us, who does what? The truth is we do everything together. There is no panel which is uniquely my work, or uniquely Craig’s work. We work on all panels simultaneously. There is movement and communication.”Read More
"Artists tell WWI story through paint" By Jeremy Simes
Calgary Metro. Wednesday, October 7, 2015