2018 buttons - Dan Holst Soelberg

New buttons for Fan Expo 2018

Fan Expo is upon us once again and I have some great new buttons! They are 1 inch gems that I am seriously ecstatic about.

I’m also stocked with my new print, Bunnies + Chainsaws.

Bunnies + Chainsaws print - Dan Holst Soelberg

Bunnies + Chainsaws is a signed print that measures 32cm x 32cm. It’s the same size as a vinyl record jacket and fits a standard Ikea frame that comes with a mat.

I feel like I’m constantly working on a new book that’s never finished. Mostly because I’m constantly working on a new book that’s never finished! It’s all about priorities, and deadlines. Lots of people are asking when I’ll have a new book and I promise I’m working on it. Thanks so much for the interest! It’s encouraging to hear the enthusiasm from everyone. Please feel free to share your photos and comments about my work here. I read everything. I’ll be sharing progress photos on Instagram and report on developments here.

I want to take a moment to reflect on my personal creative projects and creative process. Here’s my confession: I have been going through a funk. I usually spend part of my mornings and evenings making things without deadline and free of anyone else’s direction. It’s my opportunity to be completely limitless in creative expression. For a long time now, I feel like I don’t have the focus or drive to make it happen. The mojo’s gone. The free-flowing creativity that was easy ten years ago has gone away. So, I’ve been beating myself up, which just creates a downward spiral.

But something changed recently. I’m feeling energized and excited. What’s changed? Why am I suddenly driven and focused?

I changed my perspective. Or rather, my perspective was changed for me. I took a week vacation with my family to a YMCA camp that completely shook up my brain. In an instant, all my daily routines and concerns were gone. There were no expectations at all. For a whole week! The stark contrast to my usual life showed me that ten years ago, my life was very different and I had fewer concerns. Over time, adult responsibilities mounted. Two kids happened. A different life creeped in so slowly that I didn’t notice. Tiny, incremental changes in direction are barely detectable from one day to the next, but looking back after ten years, and the landscape is completely changed. My mojo’s still there, but the time and space isn’t. Demands on me have mounted and taken up space in my life and in my head – space that used to be free for me to play. I miss playing.

I can’t go back to the life I had ten years ago, and that’s not my goal. There’s a lot that I don’t want to change, but I can change my priorities and make sure that I live my values. I value playing. Play is necessary.

I hope you find time to play today too.

Bunny and Chainsaw button - Dan Holst Soelberg

All the new buttons and the print shown above are available in my online shop.

Fan Expo is in Toronto Thursday, August 30 until Sunday, September 2.

Full details are on the Fan Expo website.

See you there!

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Dan Holst Soelberg - Bunnies + Chainsaws closeup

Pattern – an Art Exhibition

Bending Spoons Gallery @

Vesuvio Pizzeria & Spaghetti House

3010 Dundas St W, Toronto

Show Runs until April 29, 2018

 

My new art exhibition focuses on pattern. Every piece in this show is a unique and original artwork, but each has also been developed with the intent to become a repeating pattern.

Dan Holst Soelberg - Pattern Exhibition

So, why patterns? Aesthetically, the seamlessness and infinite repetition of pattern is so damn appealing! The artwork that comprises a pattern is simultaneously contained in a finite shape and limitless in the shapes it can fill. There is also something fantastic in the messiness and organic freedom in a hand drawn pattern. Within the bounds of any pattern, there are limitless fun possibilities.

Dan Holst Soelberg - Sunday Afternoon

 

Pattern isn’t just a superficial aesthetic. In creative expression, pattern and repetition are elemental. Repetition is a powerful tool used in communication, storytelling and art. Our logical minds seek out order (repetition), and any disruption to the pattern of order signifies change that immediately stirs a response from the audience.

Dan Holst Soelberg - Bumbling Dan Holst Soelberg - Circular Growth

Repetition is often used to establish the setting in which we find the hero of a story. Think of the last time you read a book or watched a movie that relies on repetition in the first act to communicate the idea of order or a boring status quo that the protagonist is stuck in. Then something different happens that disrupts the pattern. Something new and out of the ordinary jolts the protagonist out of hum-drum boring into an adventure that sets the plot in motion.

Dan Holst Soelberg - Bumbling closeup

I believe all creative pursuits rely on pattern in some way. This exhibition is my exploration of it.

Due to schedule conflicts, I won’t be hosting a reception for this exhibition.

However, this exhibition is free for viewing at the restaurant now. I will be adding more artwork on April 8. The art will hang in Vesuvio until April 29.

Dan Holst Soelberg - Bunnies + Chainsaws closeupDan Holst Soelberg - Pattern Exhibition

 

 

Dan Holst Soelberg - Cat Print Art

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Art exhibition & Fan Expo

Dan Holst Soelberg OutgrowthAlas, my exhibition is coming to a close, but there is still time to see it! Come to Toronto, have a fabulous Italian lunch or dinner and look at some tree art.

InsideHalton.com just published a story about me and my show. You can read it by clicking this link.

For directions to the restaurant and a preview of the menu, click here.

Dan Holst Soelberg Outgrowth artwork

Some of the Outgrowth art hanging in Vesuvio Pizzeria & Spaghetti House

As the article mentions, I will be at Fan Expo in just a couple of days. Fan Expo runs August 31 to September 3, and I will be in the Artists Alley at table A265. I’ll have my usual wares all stocked up, and a couple of new things that I haven’t had time to share here, so they will be a completely new surprise. As a teaser, I can tell you that one of my favourite greeting characters, the “arrogant cat” is making a comeback in two new cards. Come to Fan Expo to see them!

For all the information on Fan Expo, click this link to the official website. Hope you can make it!

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August art exhibition “Outgrowth”

“Outgrowth” is my new exhibition of art currently on display at Vesuvio Pizzeria & Spaghetti House until September 2, 2017. Please join me for the reception on Sunday August 13, 3–5pm. I invite you to leave your comment on this blog, or write in the exhibition comment book at the show.

I decided in recent years that it’s a bad idea to have an art exhibition in the summer because it lures me to the solitude of my studio when I should be outside enjoying the weather. Well, somehow I convinced myself that I could finish the artwork for my current show in the spring, which didn’t happen exactly as planned. I’m not a procrastinator in the typical way, but I do tend to cram in as many “final touches” in the very last minutes before hanging an art exhibition. If someone had forced me to hang this show an hour earlier, there would have been one less artwork!

This series of art is completely different from anything else I’ve done. It has been an indulgence for me to immerse myself in trees, examining rugged ridges in minute detail. With this show, “Outgrowth”, I am inviting you to explore every bark fold, crack, burl and crevice in the stark contrast of black ink. A close inspection uncovers my sincere and earnest reverence to the smallest features that reveal a tree’s individuality and history that may span several lifetimes. Step back, and the tiny ink lines soften and blend to form a naturalistic depiction.

The trees I studied for these pieces are all real and live near Lake Ontario’s shore in Oakville.

Bending Spoons Gallery @

Vesuvio Pizzeria & Spaghetti House

3010 Dundas St W, Toronto

Show Runs until September 2, 2017

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Dan Holst Soelberg - Cat Print Art

Cats, cats, cats!

Dan Holst Soelberg - Cat Print Art

Pencil sketch that became this new artwork

I have been drawing cats lately.

Not just any cat, but a particularly shaped cat. I envision this as a pattern. I haven’t figured out yet how the pattern can be used exactly. I also want it to live as a print that can be framed and hung. I’m excited to introduce it!

Dan Holst Soelberg - Cat Print Art

The complete artwork

I will officially introduce the artwork at Geequinox in Halifax this weekend. Click here for complete Geequinox event details. I will have prints for sale, along with the original artwork.

If you can’t attend, the print will be available at my online shop May 1, 2017. Click here to pre-order.

For those who can attend, see you at Geequinox in a few days!

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Sketch Page & Geequinox 2017

I’ve been silent for a while. It’s a natural part of my creative life. I go through periods of introspective planning that require silence and input; I observe and let the world come at me and live through me. Now that I have two small children, silence rarely happens. I can go days on end without any meaningful silence. When I do have some precious quiet after the kids go to bed, I’ve been in the habit of sabotaging it with television or some other senseless silence-killing act. Nevertheless, silence is vital to creativity. If creativity is part of your life, you know what I mean. Like a night of deep sleep that repairs and heals the body, silence is the mind stimulant that promotes innovative connections between ideas and generates new thoughts. Silence and stillness make action possible.

So, while I am still seeking silence, I am feeling the need to express myself more than I have the last few months. I didn’t mean to be silent on this website for quite so long, and all of a sudden I feel that I have a lot to say!

For starters, I have drawn a new self-portrait.

Dan Holst Soelberg - self-portrait

I have also created a place on this website to keep some of my personal drawings.

Excerpt of sketches by Dan Holst SoelbergMost of these drawings were first posted on Facebook, and now they will have a more permanent home here. Click here to visit the page.

On to announcements: I’m excited to let you know that I will be attending a Halifax event next month as a featured guest!

geequinox-2017-Dan-Holst-Soelberg

Geequinox takes place April 22nd and 23rd. To quote the official website, “Geequinox is a two-day event held at the Halifax Forum focused on gaming, cosplay, comics, and art.” This marks my first Nova Scotian event, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I will be joining the (again, quoting the official site) “vendors of geek centric goods and services” and I will bring as many wares with me as the airline will allow. I’m flying NewLeaf for the first time direct from Hamilton to Halifax. Both the airport and the airline are new to me and I’m enthusiastically anticipating the experience. I love travelling and everything to do with travel. Even waiting in the airport feels like an adventure to me.

A big, heartfelt thanks to Marina Smith for inviting me to Geequinox. Marina has been wonderfully supportive of me and my work, and it will be exciting to finally meet her face to face. Also, a special thanks to Alex for giving me a place to stay in Halifax. Your generosity and kindness are unequaled.

Please click here to learn more about Geequinox.

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My 2016 Christmas card

Dan Holst Soelberg - 2016 Christmas cardIf someone can tell me how to have more time in a day I am all ears. I’m not talking about wanting to cram more activities into a day, I’m literally talking about having more time. I’ve been thinking about this—if I could add about six more hours to every day I would have just enough time to do everything I want. That’s all. Just an extra six hours. If you know how, let me know.

Speaking of non-existent segues, it’s time to unveil my new Christmas card. I’m excited! It’s been a couple of years since my last Christmas card and I’ve had requests for something new. So, I dug deep into my cavernous well of ideas and sketches. Here’s what came out:

Dan Holst Soelberg - Cover of my 2016 Christmas card

Cover of my 2016 Christmas card

Dan Holst Soelberg - inside 2016 Christmas card

And open the card to reveal the horrors that await smiling, candy cane loving children. (click image to enlarge)

What better way to say “bless you on this sacred holiday” than the image of bones in the snow and the threat of bodily harm from a mutant tree? I wrote the poem and sketched this idea a while back but it didn’t feel resolved.

Dan Holst Soelberg - 2016 Christmas card

Left to right: Initial sketch of the card front; Original sketch of the axe-wielding tree monster; Revised tree monster with enormous hands instead of the axe. Without the weapon, I wanted his facial expression to be more animated. The ruled lines are drawn to help me figure out the layout, and to transfer elements to the final artwork.

The tree holding the axe didn’t feel quite right. The image is just a little too close to the axe-wielding boy in my headless snowmen card, so I kept sketching until this monster with huge grappling hands emerged.

Because I was strapped for time (seriously, six extra hours every day would be awesome…even just five!) I had to change up my usual process and find ways to speed it up. First, I drew it at 100% scale. Like most artists, I usually draw at a larger scale, but when time’s valuable, a smaller drawing translates to less time.

Second, I really felt that colour was important for this card (rather than my signature black and white). I like watercolour, but it can be finicky and time-consuming. I recently bought a drawing tablet for the purpose of speeding up my process, but for some reason it wasn’t giving me the results I wanted. So, after a few frustrating minutes of failed attempts, I ditched the tablet for my trusty Apple cordless mouse. It did exactly what I wanted and the result is satisfying. I like how the Photoshop watercolour brush can be adjusted to work like the real thing. The happy accidents feel and look remarkably natural. And if a brush stroke isn’t working, it’s such a fantastic feeling to command+z my way out of it!

The card is available for order on my online shop, and I’ll start shipping them out next week. If you want yours in time for Christmas, please place your order now at this link. If you’d rather buy directly from me, just send me an email at dhsoelberg(at)gmail.com.

Dan Holst Soelberg - 2016 Christmas card

Here is the completed pen drawing before applying colour on the computer. Notice the misspelling of “dear”. Photoshop can do wonders! (click image to enlarge)

Dan Holst Soelberg - 2016 Christmas card

Here is the final product, with the silhouettes completing the 3-act play, and punctuating the punchline. (click image to enlarge)

If you want to buy from me personally, you can tomorrow! As mentioned in a previous post, I’ll be selling my wares at Frost Bite in Toronto on Sunday, December 11 at 11am to 8pm. It’s at Pia Bouman School for Ballet, 6 Noble Street, Toronto.

Click here to go to the event’s official facebook page. You can also go to the website for more information: http://theBazaarofTheBizarre.org/

 

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