Duffy’s Dispatches: Getting Colourful with Artist Callen Schaub

Callen Schaub is an artist and graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design’s Drawing & Painting program. Known for his spin and pendulum work, Callen has painted, illustrated, and sculpted for Story Planet. In 2013, he co-founded Project Gallery, a commercial art gallery in the Leslieville area. 

14-11-05_Cal_Object_0190

Duffy: I ended up here by accident, but I don’t recall you crash-landing as well. How did you get involved with Story Planet and what kinds of projects have you done for us?

Callen: I was in school and one of my professors thought I had an interesting illustration style. He thought I would be a good match for Story Planet.

When I started, I was mostly focused on illustrating for the Alphas to help inspire kids to write stories. I’ve also done some sculpture work with kids to make their characters, and I’ve helped at Story Planet’s portfolio-building workshop.

Gliese 436 b (Ice Planet) Acrylic and latex on canvas 12” x12” 2015 Gliese 436 b’s main constituent was initially predicted to be hot ice in various exotic high-pressure forms, which remains solid because of the planet’s gravity despite the high temperatures.
Gliese 436 b (Ice Planet)
Acrylic and latex on canvas 12” x12”, 2015
Gliese 436 b’s main constituent was initially predicted to be hot ice in various exotic high-pressure forms, which remains solid because of the planet’s gravity despite the high temperatures.

Duffy: You currently have a series up for sale in the Intergalactic Travel Authority featuring some of my favourite celestial bodies. I used to mine Gliese 436 b for its infamous hot ice for my equally infamous house parties. As an Earthling, what inspired this series?

Callen: My paintings are usually abstract, but recently they’ve taken on a galactic, celestial appearance. These planets just started coming to me naturally, but I wanted to add more context to them. That’s where the naming came into the fold: these names are more site-specific. I wanted to get more educated about these planets, and I wanted to get kids who come in to learn about space as well.

Duffy: I’m glad you brought up naming. I’ve been told I named myself after a disgraced Senator with questionable spending habits. How do you name your pieces?

Callen: I don’t usually make a piece and name it myself. I’ll ask people, get their input, and talk about what the piece is trying to do and how it makes them feel. Together we can arrive at a proper title, while still trying to keep the option of thinking differently about the artwork.

Methelusa (Ancient Planet) Acrylic on canvas 12” x12” 2015 Methelusa AKA PSR B1620-26 b is the oldest planet discovered in the universe, at approximately 13 billion years old. The planet has a circumbinary orbit around two stars, a pulsar and a white dwarf, and is the first circumbinary planet ever confirmed.
Methelusa (Ancient Planet)
Acrylic on canvas 12” x12”, 2015
Methelusa AKA PSR B1620-26 b is the oldest planet discovered in the universe, at approximately 13 billion years old. The planet has a circumbinary orbit around two stars, a pulsar and a white dwarf, and is the first circumbinary planet ever confirmed.

Duffy: Let’s get hypothetical for a parsec. If you were going on a space mission for two years and could take one book, one movie, and one colour of paint with you, what would they be?

Callen: *after several torturous moments of deep consideration* I would bring… a sketchbook! Then, I would probably make a home video of all my friends and family so I could watch my loved ones so I wasn’t lonely in space. Hmm… one colour? I guess I’ll just have to go with green. I don’t think there are a lot of things that are green in space.

Duffy: Well! You win for finding the most creative way around that question. Speaking of things going around, tell me a little bit about your spin and pendulum paintings.

Callen: The original idea came to me when I was in a painting class at OCAD. I looked around and realized, “I’m in an art college. I’m supposed to be pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is new.” We were all doing the same thing. So I ran down to the pottery floor, got a potter’s wheel, and started spinning my canvas on it and splashing paint. It sort of started as a gimmick, but I realized there was a lot of potential with the spinning technique. I have an interesting homemade contraption to spin my paintings. Five years later, I’m still spinning and finding new and interesting ways in which paint responds to centrifugal motion.

Duffy: Sounds like something I should give a whirl! I’ve been researching Earth hobbies. So far I’ve discovered that humans love strapping knives to their feet while hitting round objects with sticks, watching movies that stimulate their fear systems on purpose, and complaining about how they never get enough of this totally useless thing called “sleep”. Do you have any hobbies you could recommend?

Callen: I do a couple interesting things. I’m a unicyclist, which you should definitely try out. I’m also an arborist, which is a tree surgeon. That’s not really recommended for children yet because it’s a dangerous line of work.

Duffy: Okay. Last question, but the most important one: what is something that makes you laugh?

Callen: Tickling! Tickling makes me laugh.

Duffy: …Where?

Callen: That’s a little personal, Duffy. But probably my feet!

Check out more of Callen’s work on his website, and don’t forget to stop by the ITA to see his whole planet series in person.