Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sweetie Pie

 Sweetie Pie - SOLD
5" x 7"

This time of year the markets start to ramp up towards the Canadian Thanksgiving (first weekend in October) with a variety of squashes and pumpkins for sale.  The little ones always catch my eye as they're so cute.  The variety Sweetie Pie is pie sized and a perfect miniature of its larger pumpkin cousin.

October in Canada is the federal election and back in July I was asked to participate in a national CBC series Voters of Canada.  The project consisted of interviews with Canadians from a variety of professions who would speak about issues they felt were important.  I was the artist in Newfoundland & Labrador and the resulting interview can be seen here.   The image below shows the producer in the studio filming the painting I was working on at the time - Red Boat.

Interview content when aired is always misleading as so much is condensed to so little. The interview took three hours by the ocean and in the studio and ended up as about 2 minutes of footage. There have been a lot of funding cuts for arts across the country and recognition for the work that the arts contribute to society both economically and culturally is very important. Strong arts policies and appropriate funding should be a crucial part of the support for the arts.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Late Summer Fields

 Late Summer Fields - SOLD
6" x 6"  oil on panel

Late summer always brings rich colour that heralds change.  The colour zigzags across the landscape, pulling the eye with it and leading into the next, reminding me of those lines in old pinball games leading down and up to guide the ball.

This is a small painting done with leftover paint on my palette after a larger painting was complete.

"In the garden, Autumn is, indeed the crowning glory of the year, bringing us the fruition of months of thought and care and toil.
And at no season, safe perhaps in Daffodil time, do we get such superb color effects as from August to November."
-  Rose G. Kingsley, The Autumn Garden, 1905

Monday, September 07, 2015

Labour Day for artists

Home Port

 24" x 30" oil

For artists that work full time in the profession, Labour Day (or many other holidays, statutory or otherwise) tend not to exist.  Oh they exist in the day to day world with store closures and public building shutdowns and well deserved some of these holidays are for those in a 9 -5 job.  Artists, like many other workers outside the 9 - 5 realm, tend to work through holidays, unless prearranged plans prevail.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking holidays, I'm all for having a break from work, its needed to refresh and unwind.  But if you're self employed, holidays are a bit iffy.  I always seem to find myself in the studio at some point in the day, no matter what day it is.  Yes, even Christmas.  Especially Christmas! Its a refuge from the madness. :)

Its part habit, part necessity.  Yes, an artist can take a day off, but usually feels guilty if they do and has that niggling feeling all day about the current project and what needs to be done with it.  Inevitably, its an "I'll just go to the studio for 10 minutes." Which turns into 2 hours or more.  There should be no guilt taken about when or if you take a day off.  It doesn't have to be on the day designated for the rest of the world.  In fact, taking a day mid week is wonderful, as everything's much quieter then.

But even then, I'll bet most artists will still find their way into their studio at some point unless they are physically distant from the location.

Whatever your job, whenever you take your break, enjoy it, indulge and if you work, make sure you enjoy what you do.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Using oils in a sketchbook

After being away from home for three weeks I needed to test my painting ability again.  When I don't have the opportunity to paint for an extended period, it both inspires and freezes me when I get back in the studio.  To break the spell, I needed to just jump in and paint.

This is a study of some tomatoes from the garden, basking in full sun in a lovely old blue bowl that is one of my favourites. I've used my palette knife and oil paint in a regular sketchbook.  Yes, you can use a sketchbook for oil paints.  For me a sketchbook is a working tool, not a showcase of pristine pieces. My sketchbook is messy and I like it that way.  Of course, with oils, I need to wait until the paint is dry before closing the page and I do take the precaution of adding a sheet of deli paper on the back while it dries in case any oil seeps through.  However, once dry, I have never had any problems.

Yes, I hear the purists say "What about the future?  The oil will degrade the paper!"  That may well be, but as my current working tool, my sketchbook is not designed to be museum quality and if in a hundred years, it is crumbled, I have absolutely no problem with that.

I'm researching options for painting these tomatoes from sketch to completion live online, enabling interaction and others to paint along with me if they wish.  I need to test some camera and equipment capabilities first, but it could be fun.  I'm not sure of the platform yet, perhaps a YouTube Live Stream or UStream.  Bear with me while I experiment!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Studio Tour

I'm back from my travels, catching up on timezone changes and getting ready for a studio tour on August 29 & 30th. In my travels I had some time in the Canadian Rockies with a hike around Moraine Lake in Banff National Park.  The glacial lakes are amazing in colour and clarity, looking surreal.  Apparently its "rock flour" that gives the water that turquoise colour and even in August, the remnants of snow and glacier ice can be seen on the mountain peaks.  There's a few paintings waiting to happen there.

This year I will be taking part in the Pouch Cove Open Studio event.  This is a two day event where Pouch Cove area artists and artisans open their homes and studios to the public to showcase their work. This year I am one of the two artists from Flatrock who will be participating. On the tour you will find paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and photographs.

I'll be making my organic vine charcoal available only through the studio tour and will have a range of prints and original paintings to browse through.  If you're in the area, take time to visit all the artist studios, you never know what treasures you'll unearth.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

A little break

I've just gotten back from time on the west coast of the province in beautiful Gros Morne National Park, where I taught gyotaku in Rocky Harbour and had some tourist time, as well as getting reference material for future paintings.

Bright and early tomorrow morning I'm off west again, but this time further afield to Saskatchewan and Alberta to visit family and explore and research more painting material as well as be a bit lazy.

Crossing the Line - SOLD

With travel and renovations at home, painting and drawing time have been limited.  But I am taking my sketchbook and pens with me and hope to fit in some work.

I'll be back in the saddle on August 19th and no doubt anxious to get to the studio and do some painting.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

What you don't know about artists

The Red Boat  30" x 40" oil on stretched canvas   $1700 Canadian dollars +shipping
 Email the artist for purchase details

A comment overheard at a gallery recently made me think about the contribution that artists make to the economy, something which seems to be overlooked. The comment was about pricing for a painting and the person said something to the effect of  "That artist must be making a fortune.  And funded by government money too."

For individuals who are not artists, it may seem that the artist pockets all the money paid for a painting in a gallery.  However, there is a significant investment in time and money before a painting can end up on a gallery wall which eats into the final amount that the artist ends up with.  Industry springs up around artists, but artists are often the lowest paid and those who are asked  the most for discounts, deals and donations.

Artists contribute to the business community, such as art supply producers and sellers, framing businesses, marketing materials such as business cards and posters, book sellers for all those "how-to" books, website hosts, media industry for interviews for newspapers and magazines and to the tourism industry in communities, producing local images, prints, greeting cards, t-shirt designs, etc.

Without grants, artists may not have the resources available to explore new work and create new art.  Investment by government into the art industry is vital for healthy communities and growth of the culture and heritage.  Like the behind the scenes work and dollar investment that goes into a painting before it ever hits a public wall, a grant doesn't pay for trivial things.  It is essential to create, innovate and exist sometimes without undue hardship that affect these things. 

But still artists have to fight for a place to be seen in the world and have their work recognized and yes, sold.  It is a business, after all.  Of course art must be of a high enough quality to feed these industries and meet public need. With the deluge of "artists" who have discovered the internet, the market is flooded with images and it takes a strong soul with lots of time to weed out the doe eyed children painted on velvet and find quality art.

But before it ever reaches public display there is a cost and a risk to the artist.  Investment in tools and supplies, training, practice and inspiration all go into the production.  Then framing.  Professional quality framing is required, no off the shelf frames for most reputable gallery representation and of course that comes with a price tag. Transportation may be required if pieces are large.  Insurance if stored in a studio or home.

Gallery commissions take a portion of the sales costs, anywhere from 30% to 50% of the price on the gallery wall.  And they do their work when representing an artist, from holding paintings to insuring, marketing, sales and shipping if required.

So with the upfront costs incurred, commission fees and the hope that the right person comes through the door and loves your piece enough to purchase it, you can see that it is far from all profit for the artist.  This is why artists diversify into teaching, writing, design, prints and second jobs as the industry can be fickle and expensive.

However, I still love what I do and wouldn't change it.