Artist Journal

'Grid Gallery' is now 'Grid Inventive'

Posted by Shayne Brandel on Friday March 11, 2011

Grid Art Gallery is moving in a new direction. As of April 1st our current location will be closing. We will now be known as Grid Inventive. The most successful aspects of our collaboration are evolving, and will be incorporated into a more site specific, event based approach. This will allow a more flexible foundation facilitating wider collaborations with artists and clients in our community.

Grid Inventive’s first collaboration will be a fundraiser for Nelsons Grans to Grans entitled ‘In Praise of Pews’. This event, originally slated for exhibition at our previous location, will take place in May at a location to be announced.

We’d like to thank the community for it’s support and patronage over the past year.
Please watch for information and updates at

Shayne now working from home studio

Posted by Shayne Brandel on Friday March 11, 2011

Shayne has moved his studio home. Life with a young family and the purchase of his first home has dictated this move. Please stay tuned for updates as Shayne is planning to have an open house to celebrate this new creative space.

Summit Time Lapse Video

Posted by Admin on Wednesday March 11, 2009

This video shows the process of ‘Summit’ seen through 211 photo’s from Shayne Brandel’s studio over a 4 month period 2008-09.

Artist Writen Word: "Falling" 2009

Posted by Shayne Brandel on Monday February 23, 2009

There are two important aspects that I would like to address about this group of paintings: Surface development and the context of the imagery.

I think the launch point for the falling series was the way I was feeling upon arriving back in Canada after backpacking around Southeastern Africa for the first 4 months of 2008. I left Canada armed with stories from concerned family and friends of famine, violence, and danger. Consequently, as I set out, the need to control and guard my experience was impossible to ignore. But as my journey began to unfold, my preconceived ideas dissipated and I surrendered to the adventure. Somewhere in me, conceding to my vulnerability had planted a seed which would culminate in my next body of work. The experience was nothing what I had expected and far from my family’s wondrous imaginings.

Throughout my time in Africa a book that I had read prior to my trip continually lead my thoughts: “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn. It would be a metaphor from this book that would inevitably become the launching point from which “Falling” takes flight.

In the book, Quinn compares the birth of civilization as we know it with the birth of flight. Like the pioneers of the air, civilization took flight, naive and unaware that there is a law that must be complied with in order to achieve “civilizational flight”. Since we are not abiding by this unknown Law, we have been in a state of free fall. It’s only now that we recognize that the ground is rushing up at us at an alarming rate.

**see bottom for quote

So then, it was with this in mind that I began to paint. I tried to focus on the essence of Quinns metaphor.

What is the essence of that moment in which we lose spatial control when we jump or fall? We leap… then… It’s a momentary, ephemeral shift between control and chaos. One moment we are the masters of flight. The next, we are complete slaves to gravity’s deterministic certainty.
The first few images were self portraits.

I tried to capture that ephemeral shift. I tried to choose images that portrayed that moment. But something within the way I was approaching this metaphor wasn’t ringing true. Looking back through the work, I can’t remember any sort of conscious decision being made, or in any way being aware of how the images were changing, but it seems obvious to me now. As this body of paintings developed I became more aware of Quinns strategy, and less focused on the metaphor.
Looking back, this metaphor seems to be a very pessimistic view on things. It seems to feed our desire for catastrophe. It’s as though we have developed an unnatural desire for self destruction. The more imaginative or dramatic, the better. Not only on a civilizational scale either, but on a personal scale as well. This certainly wasn’t what I was trying to explore. Quite the opposite. It was leading somewhere though, so I continued on.

It was through the development of the final, largest image that things began to come back into focus for me. By this time I had veered off the course of self portrait and had been using found imagery to use as my subject. For the most part, the choice of each of the images were moments of recognition. I’d be flipping through pages after pages of online image searches and all of a sudden come across an image that would stop me. It’s hard to put a finger on the pulse of something so intuitive, but in each of the images I was sure something was true, leading, or worth saying. This was especially true for the largest canvas.
I look at it now, and it seems celebratory. Life giving, rather than life taking.

I want to be very careful here not to assume that some sort of answer has been located. I’m a firm believer in the continuity of thought, rather than questions and answers. So let me phrase it like this: This final painting has shown me that the tendency within humanity is not to move towards destruction of life, rather the natural progression is a motion towards supporting life.
The figure here seems to be in absolute control. Nay, it seems that control is unnecessary. It would seem to me now that any hindrance in understanding life lies somewhere in the desire to control it.

The surfaces of these works are as important to the philosophy of the series as my intent imposed in the subjects on the canvases. Once again, the discussion leads to issues of ‘control’.
I think it’s natural for most people to assume that the artist approaches a canvas with a specific idea in mind. In fact many artists do paint this way. They formulate an idea as to what the final product is going to look like and from the moment of the first brush stroke to the final touchups their goal is to accomplish something similar or exactly like what they had in mind at the start. I learned long ago that this was not a successful stratagem for my creative process. It’s not that I couldn’t accomplish something close to what I had in mind; it was simply the fact that I didn’t learn anything from the process and consequently the final product always lacked integrity.

For the past few years I have been focusing on what I call ‘the Grand Unified Visual Theory’. Science has been searching for a Grand unified theory for many years. It has even popped up in movies such as ‘Pi’, and popular books like Steven Hawkings ‘A Brief History of Time’. The premise is that there is one all encompassing theory to bind all mater, time, and space. If you were to apply this theory to any scientific, mathematic, or philosophical branch of reason, it would act as the equation to solve all questions. You get where I’m going with this… My exploration deals with how we view the world, visually. I have set out to find a Grand Unified Theory that stems from the branch of visual recognition. Not that I expect to find it, rather I use it as a compass to guide me through the infinite possibilities that exist in every blank canvass.

As I look around at the world, one thing stands out to me. The surfaces of the objects and environments around me are all in a constant state of change. These changes are caused by the forces of nature. Nothing is absolutely stable; everything is under multiple forms of stress. Physicists will tell you that predictability is subject to two main things: initial conditions and the forces that interact with any given object since the initial condition. Once the object has more than two forces acting upon it, its actions are no longer predictable. This may seem like a tangent here, but I invite you to recognize that almost everything at every time is under the influence of more than two forces. The effect of this is that there is a level of unpredictability in the surface of every thing we see.

Artists spend their whole lives staring at the surfaces of things and trying to replicate what they see. Realistic or abstract, most artifacts are indeed an artists attempt at replicating reality. With the knowledge that there is an inherent amount of unpredictability in every surface we look at, I have recently turned my focus to recreating that unpredictable aspect of our visual reality. Throughout this body of work I have developed a process in which I build in a certain amount of unpredictability into my mark making.

I begin without any premise of what the final image will look like (other than it will be a person in a falling state). I layer paint on, non-objectively over and over, each layer having very little to do with the one before it. Once I have a good base, I scratch as much of the paint off the canvas as I can and begin the process over again. The goal here in the early stages is to build the layers on the canvas to a point whereby I can work the surface both forward (by adding paint) and backwards (by scraping paint off). Once the surface can be workable in both directions I search for an image to base my subject on. I do a rough drawing and begin to rework the surface to develop that image. Throughout the rest of the process I work the canvas forward and back in hopes of developing a successful appropriation of the image. By subjecting my surfaces to this kind of exercise, most of the mark making has a level of unpredictability to it.
Upon scratching away at surface layers the marks that appear are subject to the layers that came before, layers that were composed long before the image was ever chosen suddenly re-appear. It’s this conflict between what mark I am trying to make and what lays beneath the surface that results in unpredictable outcomes. Once that mark is made, I am obliged then to deal with it. Sometimes, these unpredicted outcomes produce successful results, and other times they don’t. It’s often my ability or inability to recognize which are which, that decide the success of the final painting.

Weather it be the marks on the surface of a painting or the context of the subject I’m painting, my artistic practice remains focused on the process in which it all happens. It’s only the process, not the artifacts that give my art validity. I hope ‘Falling’ has given you reason to explore your own process.

**P.105-108 from Ishmael

Ishmael the teacher speaks with his student…

“You remember how the Takers (Modern civilization as we know it) went about trying to achieve powered flight. They didn’t begin with an understanding of the laws of aerodynamics. They didn’t begin with a theory based on research and carefully planned experimentation. They just built contraptions, pushed them off the sides of cliffs, and hoped for the best.”
“Alright. I want to follow one of those early trials in detail. Let’s suppose that this trial is being made in one of those pedal driven contraptions with flapping wings, based on a mistaken understanding of avian flight.”
“As the flight begins, all is well. Our would-be airman has been pushed off the edge of the cliff and is pedaling away, and the wings of his craft are flapping like crazy. He’s feeling wonderful, ecstatic. He’s experiencing the freedom of the air. What he doesn’t realize, however, is that the craft is aerodynamically incapable of flight. It simply isn’t in compliance with the laws that make flight possible—- but he would laugh if you told him this. He’s never heard of such laws, knows nothing about them. He would point at those flapping wings and say, “See? Just like a bird!” Nevertheless, whatever he thinks, he’s not in flight. He’s an unsupported object falling toward the center of the earth. He’s not in flight, he’s in free fall. Are you with me so far?”
“Fortunately—-or, rather, unfortunately for our airman—- he has chosen a very high cliff to launch his craft from. His disillusionment is a long way off in time and space. There he is in free fall, feeling wonderful and congratulating himself on his triumph. He’s like the man in a joke who jumps out of a nineteenth-floor window on a bet. As he passes the tenth floor, he says to himself, ‘Well, so far so good!’
“There he is in free fall, experiencing the exhilaration of what he takes to be flight. From his great height he can see for miles around, and one thing he sees puzzles him: The floor of the valley is dotted with Craft just like his—-not crashed, simply abandoned. ‘Why,’ he wonders, ‘aren’t these craft in the air instead of sitting on the ground? What sort of fools would abandon their aircraft when they could be enjoying the freedom of the air?’ Ah well, the behavioral quirks of less talented, earthbound mortals are none of his concern. However, looking down into the valley has brought something else to his attention. He doesn’t seem to be maintaining altitude. In fact, the earth seems to be rising up toward him. Well, he’s not very worried about that. After all, his flight has been a complete success up to now, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t go on being a success. He just has to pedal a little harder, that’s all.
“So far so good. He thinks with amusement of those who predicted that his flight would end in disaster, broken bones, and death. Here he is, he’s come all this way, and he hasn’t even gotten a bruise, much less a broken bone. But then he looks down again, and what he sees really disturbs him. The Law of Gravity is catching up with him at a rate of thirty-two feet per second per second—-at an accelerating rate. The ground is rushing up at him in an alarming way. He’s disturbed but far from desperate. ‘My craft has brought me this far in safety,’ he tells himself. ‘I just have to keep going.’ And so he starts pedaling with all his might. Which of course does him no good at all, because his craft just simply isn’t in accord with the laws of aerodynamics. Even if he had the power of a thousand men in his legs—-ten thousand, a million—-that craft is not going to achieve flight. That craft is doomed—- and so is he unless he abandons it.”
“Right. I see what you’re saying, but I don’t see the connection with what we’re talking about here.”
Ishmael nodded. “Here is the connection. Ten thousand years ago, the people of your culture embarked on a similar flight: A civilizational flight. Their craft wasn’t designed according to any theory at all. Like our imaginary airman, they were totally unaware that there is a law that must be complied with in order to achieve civilizational flight. They didn’t even wonder about it. They wanted the freedom of the air, and so they pushed off in the first contraption that came to hand: the Taker Thunderbolt.
“At first all was well. In fact, all was terrific. The Takers were flapping away and the wings of their craft were flapping beautifully. They felt wonderful, exhilarated. They were experiencing the freedom of the air: freedom from restraints that bind and limit the rest of the biological community. And with that freedom came marvels—-all the things you mentioned the other day: Urbanization, technology, literacy, mathematics, science.
“Their flight could never end, it could only go on becoming more and more exciting. They couldn’t know, couldn’t even have guessed that, like our hapless airman, they were in the air but not in flight. They were in free fall, because their craft was not in compliance with the law that makes life possible. But their disillusionment is far away in the future, and so they’re pedaling away and having a wonderful time. Like our airman, they see strange sites in the course of their fall. They see the remains of craft very like their own—-not destroyed, merely abandoned—-by the Maya, by the Hohokam, by the Anasazi, by the peoples of the Hopewell cult, to mention only a few of those found here in the new world. ‘Why,’ they wonder ‘are these craft on the ground instead of in the air? Why would any people prefer to be earthbound when they could have the freedom of the air, as we do?’ It’s beyond comprehension, an unfathomable mystery.

"Falling" Series. First images now posted.

Posted by Shayne Brandel on Thursday December 11, 2008

Shayne has started a new body of work entitled “Falling”. It deals with economic and societal turbulence in the world of today. Derived from influences such as the novel “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn, the recent collapse of world markets, and his recent adventures in Africa, this new body of work is exciting both from a visual basis, and contextual. The first three pieces in this series are complete, and can be viewed in the Portfolio section of Keep your eyes open for more images to come, as they immerge from his studio, they will be posted right here.

Shayne now showing at Stratus Gallery in Banff, Alberta

Posted by Shayne Brandel on Thursday December 11, 2008

Shayne Brandel is now showing at Stratus Gallery in Banff Alberta. Keep your eyes open for show dates and events. (See links in his Contact page.)

Big Changes in 2008

Posted by Shayne Brandel on Sunday November 9, 2008

Shayne has now moved his studio and art practice to Nelson B.C. Over the next few weeks he will be updating the site to date. Please brows the new paintings and events as they are added throughout the next few weeks. is now live!

Posted by Admin on Thursday August 16, 2007

After months and months of hard work, is now live. Check back often for updates on Shayne, his work, showings, and related news.