Notes On Paintings

Harvey Milk and The Evil Force Clash by William Featherston

Harvey Milk was a homosexual politician and gay rights activist who was assassinated in San Francisco in 1978. The painting also refers to religious prejudice and the violence of video heroes. The multiple textures are about painting, the setting is about the slow aging and destruction of man made edifices of the past…a reflection of Ozymandius.

Harvey Milk and The Evil Force Clash by William Featherston

Harvey Milk and the Evil Force Clash 1986
Mixed Media on Wood 4ft. x 6ft.

Fred and the Parallel Universes  

The mural is a play on versions of myself in reference to theoretical physics. Simplistically: that we are all duplicated somewhere out there. It's mostly about colour and texture and certainly about scale.

Hassel Smith at the Casino (Toronto)

Hassel Smith was a great friend of mine. His work was influenced by theatre and music.  He often included a dog. This is my Canadian version, with added art and cosmic references.

The Teachers

I was exploring the various forces influencing our history. It was quite random. Some images are from the arts, some political or religious. All in a landscape that suggests some religious hierarchy….dark below…enlightened above- a cliché of sorts.

Relaxing with Rousseau

This is was part of a series which used inserts or central altars as a device. I just liked the vividness of the space and the intimacy of the insert.

New World Order 3

The bottom of the painting is the New York Studio of Chuck Close. It caught my attention because of the graffiti. Art and words had come together in a new way. Compared to the street art of Latin America, Cuba etc. the words were self indulgent tags at a time of impending political chaos. The main image in the painting is from Micheal Sandle's series on St. George and the Dragon… wars of the past. The faces are perhaps the doomed, nondescript amongst us.

New World Order 2

This painting was part of a series of pyramid paintings…a tribute to Karl Weschke (a colleague of mine in Cornwall). It also refers to the tree symbol of the Basque resistance movement. The cartoons at the top are references to Lichtenstein and Christo, the imprisoned King Kong and the oil fires of the ongoing middle east conflict.

New World Order

The Gulf War and George Bush Sr. are the basis for this work. The series of diagrams at the bottom depict conflicts of the past and present…the Crusades, the burning of Dresden and Desert Storm. the strange 3D graphics are Time magazine's abstract interpretation of the war; illustrating the conflict for the American people. There are portraits of despots and several art references. Again, the use of inserts allows for juxtaposition of ideas and images.

A is for Canada

This painting references entertainment, artists, architecture etc. 'A' is repeated in the Christ figure. The fresco is used to recall DaVinci, as are the whirligigs. Perhaps this is a comment on the bizarre elements of organized religion or belief systems in general. How they infuse culture.

Pears of Crows

These are both very dark. They were painted at the same time as the darker self portraits; also while I was doing some smaller works on 'pear' imagery. There was the play on the image and the words…ie. a pair of pears etc.  I also encountered some health issues which played out in the darker imagery (crows) and in the dark palette.


This painting is a 'coming of age' portrait…a realistic portrayal of aging. It's perhaps ironic that the surrounding images are colourful and playful. The cat and the small ball belonged to my kids. The grand old man lounging in a tropical conservatory (of the mind) …smacks of Rousseau's imaginings.

No One Asked Me to Dance 

This painting is from a series of dark self-portraits. The textures developed during a series called 'Paintings for the Visually Impaired'. I used routers and Braille to help the blind decipher the work. This was, of course, a statement concerning how inaccessible art is for many people. The pose and title is another comment on age.

Self Portrait

This painting is the darkest. In retrospect it seems a bit fearful, paranoid even. I think it espresses a feeling of general malaise. Anxiety stemming from vulnerability…vulnerable physically and politically.

Spoils of War

This is a colour composition with obvious reference to the middle east drug trade. Oil is oozing out of the image.

A Tribute to Mansfield Parrish 

A tribute to an incredible American painter. The Vancouver Library signifies civilization  amidst forces of nature, oil and military remnants.

Magritte at Abu Ghraib

A pile of people in a small space, much like Magritte's oversized apple. In this case they are humiliated prisoners in Abu Ghraib menaced by Magritte's assassins. It's painted sort of flat, like a Magritte painting.

Condi Plays, Lebanon's Ablaze 

This refers to Condoleezza Rice's highly publicized piano recitals. Perhaps an act of diplomacy to demonstrate her genuine sensitivity.  While she entertains, her administrative policies often cause terrible suffering and destruction. (Fiddling while Rome burns.)


Irene is the goddess of peace. The very colourful boats at her feet represent designs from Chinese floats made during the early 20th century.

Adultery is a Sin 

Condoleezza here is depicted as Ingres' 'La Grand Odalisque'. She is posing with her two administrative cohorts.  It's quasi erotic as the men are fully clothed…a familiar device in French painting.  There are voracious ravens in the bottom corner and coffins floating in from the current mid-east conflict. What's the real relationship between these people?


This is a revamping of Masaccio's 'Trinity' in Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy. The statue of Liberty hovers over a tortured prisoner. Soldiers replace saints. The crypt is bloody. A religious edifice becomes an anti war statement. Ironic since religion is a major factor in the conflict.

The Purging of the Philistines 

This painting juxtaposes the romanticism of the pre Raphaelites with the subtle but large modern military presence in the landscape.below.  Words and landscape support the main images. The rich colour, pattern and texture make the painting exotic, but war and greed (ie. oil) are the real subjects.

Wanted for Crimes Against Humanity 

The setting come from theatre. The suffering souls are from Abu Ghraib, Goya, and Ensor. High priests conspire in the shadows and the anonymous jury sits and witnesses from above. Banners, much like the ones hung in hockey rinks, hang above, depicting the leaders wanted for crimes against humanity.

The War Bully Takes No Sides

The three graces (conspicuously multiracial)  pour oil on the war bully (Hulk).  Politcal ideological mascots summon recruits and religious slogans are scattered like landmines throughout the landscape. Any fundamentalist belief system can cause real, substantial damage.

And Who Are the Patriots?

People who subscribe to inflexible belief systems have little tolerance for others. Who's correct anyway?  This painting includes many people who represent various ideologies. It also illustrates the fruition of those beliefs. ie. heaven, torture, prison. Symbolism and images which are found in my other paintings are also in this work. The books and writing may indicate knowledge which could lead us beyond either heaven or imprisonment.


My son boxed at the Astoria Gym on Hasting Street. It was a really rough area of Vancouver's east end.