Jeff Lyons has a lot of girlfriends. Dozens, maybe hundreds. You'll see them hanging around upscale diners, cozy bistros, little gift stores and all over his inner city studio. They're attractive women, doe-eyed beauties with colorful hair who'll turn your head with an enigmatic glance and a provocative smile.
No, Lyons is not Calgary's version of Don Juan, He's a self-taught painter whose series of oil portraits, Girlfriends, is a throwback to his cartooning days (he used to sell comic strips to his school buddies for 25 cents a piece when he was seven). With animated figures, vivid colors and dramatic proportions, his paintings have a strong pop culture sensibility, along with influences from impressionism, surrealism and art deco.
In typically understated fashion, Lyons calls himself the "Charles Schultz of fine art" - but there's something more than Dilbert and Blondie in these paintings. Each girl evokes a personality from sassy to demure, sultry to cute, playful to reserved, with names like Anna, Tatiana and Zuzu. "It's all about the persona," he says. "People connect with them."
With over 130 sold, people are definitely connecting. Lyons has even started painting commissioned portraits of real people. Kind of a high-art caricature, buyers can render a loved one in Lyons distinctive pop art style.
After 16 years of painting, Lyons is not sure what he'll do next - right now his girlfriends are keeping him very busy. See Jeff Lyons' work at on his website, http://lyonsart.com