Monday, June 23, 2014

What To Do With The Kids®

From Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, welcome artist and author Brian Presley!
Brian is an advertising, marketing and special event person.  Above all however he is an artist.  He has been an artist all of his life.  In grade school the content of his school projects may not have made much sense but they always looked great.  In high school he specialized in commercial art and attended the animation program at Sheridan College.  With dreams of moving to the United States to work for Walt Disney crushed, Brian decided to switch career path towards advertising.  After graduation he was fortunate to work for a number of companies as a one-man, full service ad agency.
Following his second layoff, he became a stay-at-home dad to a two year old and a six month old.  Fortunately he literally grew up at the local Boys and Girls Club where he developed leadership skills.  As a teenager, Brian started working part-time and eventually became a program leader.  He was a camp counselor at the residential summer camp and ended his career as a program director.  As a stay-at-home dad, his kids lived in a home-made summer camp.
Brian attended many playgroups and library clubs with his kids and noticed that a lot of the parents were great at looking after their kids but didn’t have much experience in playing games or doing crafts with them.  He decided to write a book that would feature simple games, crafts, party ideas and special events, so in June of 2001 Brian launched the self-published book What To Do With The Kids®  at BookExpo America in Chicago.
The book sold a few hundred copies and can still be found on Amazon and in public libraries across the United States and Canada.  The website featured a few games and crafts but was designed to promote the book.  With the girls going to school full time, Brian was able to find marketing and graphic design contracts that would keep him from promoting the book properly and the website was left to sit for a few years.
In late 2010 Brian was tired of working for other companies and needed a change.  When he checked on his website he noticed that he was receiving over 50,000 visitors a year so he decided that he would update and expand the content.  In January of 2011 the new What To Do With The Kids® was launched and it’s been growing ever since.
What was your first creative endeavor?
As a young child I was attracted to drawing on the walls in our hallway.  This prompted my parents to keep a 4 by 8 sheet of plywood there for me to draw on.  I’m sure in the first few months it had a quarter of an inch thick layer of crayon wax on it.
My first professional endeavor was a high school art assignment for a local business.  A submarine sandwich shop allowed me to design a logo for them.  The strange part was I received a B at school for the assignment but I sold it to the submarine shop for $100 who used the logo for a few years.
When did you begin painting faces?
I am not a professional face painter but I have been involved in a number of events that needed someone to paint faces.  That’s when I developed an admiration for their work.  Painting can be tough but when your canvas is constantly moving and they can still create a beautiful piece of artwork, you know that’s talent.  I’ve seen professional face painters create amazing work in just minutes and that’s why I wanted to help promote the face painting industry through our WTDWTK Special Report.
Where is your favorite venue?
I’ve always enjoyed working in a studio.  I’ve tried painting and drawing outdoors but I usually end up taking photographs of the subject and working from that inside.  I like that I can control my environment especially the lighting and temperature.  It’s also great to have a coffee maker and bathroom nearby as well.
What do you enjoy most about painting?
As an artist I’ve always enjoyed taking a blank piece of canvas, illustration board or even a wall and creating something out of nothing.  Over the years I’ve become quite the commercial artist since I wouldn’t do anything unless I was being paid.  When my wife was pregnant with our first child, she suggested having a Winnie the Pooh theme in the bedroom.  I found a few images in a library book and started a mural that was roughly 15 feet wide by 6 feet high.  It had taken a few weeks to do since I could only work on it during weekends and evenings but it was an incredible feeling to really paint again.  A few years later I painted the girl’s bathroom with Ariel and the other characters from The Little Mermaid and a few years after that painted all four walls of their playroom with a Sponge Bob theme.  Photos of the how the mural developed can be found on my website.  It was a great joy to do and I only wish I could do it again.
What other artwork is in your repertoire?
I used to work with water colors but mostly with acrylics.  Long before computers I was also fascinated with pen and ink.  I still have some illustrations that were produced by using a technical pen to make a lot of little dots.  It was always a great challenge to create tones and shades using only black ink.  These days however, I can create the same design using Adobe Illustrator in a few hours what used to take me a few weeks.  I have also done a lot of woodworking over the past few years and would like to find the time to combine it with my painting.  Mixed media as us old timers call it.
What is your favorite medium to work with?
My automatic response would be paint and brush but having used it for so long; I would have to say the computer.  It may sound strange but I’m not as patient as I once was so working on a piece of work for a long time, only to have to make changes, is not very appealing to me.  I live for Adobe Illustrator and if I get a design idea, I can create a rough in just a matter of minutes and add colors and textures to it to see what it would look like in no time.  When I do create the final piece, I can have it printed on almost any surface without worrying about it being damaged.
Are you currently exhibiting?
The last time I ever exhibited anything was in college and that was back in 1984.  I used to enjoy going to exhibits but I haven’t really enjoyed myself the last few times I attended.  A friend of my wife was exhibiting along with her graduating class at a local university and I found that almost every piece lacked any technical merit and any true meaning.  Walking into a small dark room where a paintball gun would fire at a plastic doll a few feet away every minute while a slide show in the background showed images of open fields spoke to me and it said “we just screwed you out of 4 years of tuition.”
Do you have a favorite painting of your own creation?
I have a pen and ink illustration of four tin soldiers that I’ve kept in my old portfolio for almost 30 years.  My wife has always wanted to frame it but I keep telling her that I’m not finished with it yet so it sits in a case in my basement.  I also have an acrylic of a collector’s doll I had given my mother years ago.  My wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, said she really liked the doll so I decided to paint a copy for her.  It was the only real painting a made for her and she kept it for years.  Of course now it sits near my tin soldiers.
Who is your favorite artist?
I’ve enjoyed a wide range of artists and styles.  Growing up my favorite painting was Ken Danby’s “In the Crease.”  As a Canadian and as a hockey goaltender, this was a classic.  The painting captured a piece of Canada.

Escher is the artist that inspired me to do pen and ink.  His work can be summed up as an unusual illusion that will make you think for days.  He is extremely creative and technically amazing.  You have to see his work to fully appreciate how this was created by hand.

Another favorite is actually the album cover to the Meatloaf album “Bat Out Of Hell.”  The illustration was created by Richard Corben and still fascinates me today.  The artwork captures the music beautifully.  It’s also the first record I ever wore out.

Connect with Brian… 
Brian Presley – Director of Marketing
What To Do With The Kids®
427 Tanager Bay, Suite 200, Ottawa, ON  K1E
If you have kids you need to know What To Do With The Kids®

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