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.

Friday, July 17, 2015

2007 or 2015?

 Mission Figs

6" x 8" oil on panel   -  SOLD

Eight years ago I painted figs with oils using a brush and wrote a blog post about it..  The fig painting sold at an exhibition but over time I kept thinking about that image and it kept popping up when I looked for things to paint.  Over time an artist's style changes and I thought it would be interesting to paint the same image using palette knives and my current palette of cool and warm colour and compare the two paintings.

Similar colours are present but my style is quite different now. It is looser and impressionistic.  The 2007 version is tight and controlled but soft. These days I am bolder with colour and contrast levels.  Both values and colour saturation are more marked in the 2015 version of the painting.

If the person who bought the 2007 version saw the 2015 version, I wonder which they would prefer? 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Summer scheduling

I think life has speeded up since I left the day job at the end of February.  Not that I'm complaining about it.  I enjoy the pace and the variety and potential for the future that is unfolding.

Between working on a number of projects and commissions, I have managed to finish Flatrock Harbour and tackle another large piece that I'll share in a post another day. 

On Saturday July 18th, I'll be heading to the Wooden Boat Museum to do a painting demo of a new piece.  I painted at the museum last summer and its always interesting to meet people who come through and let them have a try at painting with a palette knife.  My new business cards should arrive next week, just in time to take with me as I'm running very low.

Then at the end of the month I head to Rocky Harbour in Gros Morne to run some gyotaku workshops. A dash back across the island, then I get on a plane to head to Saskatchewan and Alberta for a couple of weeks. Finally at the end of August I'm taking part in a local studio tour that winds its way through communities close by.  I haven't done one previously so am looking forward to taking part and comparing notes afterwards.

Meanwhile renovations are taking place to put in a new kitchen, patio doors and deck.  With some delays making work run behind schedule, I've had to cancel the first two workshops for September, but hopefully all should be done before the last two workshops are due to start.  

So with my schedule I may be even more scarce on my blog than I have been this month, but I'll try to get more posts in when I can.  You can always find me on Facebook or Twitter and follow my adventures there.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Reduction printing

 Shallow Water

I have never done a reduction print.  I've done lots of lino prints, but nothing that takes a lot of left brain thinking like a reduction print.  I decided to tackle one - a very small one - and see I could create.  I had a 3" x 4" lino block and used Rosaspina paper torn to about 7" x 10" and Akua Liquid Pigment to print.  Reduction prints are also called suicide prints.  Pretty much sums up what I was considering after the first couple of steps!

Reduction printing involves cutting away areas of lino, printing a colour, then cutting away more, printing, cutting...until you have reached saturation point and have little printing surface left.  The final lino is no more than a skeleton of the print and has no further use.   Of course a registration jig is required as well to ensure effective lining up of colours and I did try that.

Original tri-colour print

Being me, I was in a hurry and didn't take quite enough time to make either the jig or the paper guide completely square so after applying the second print colour it made me think I was drinking.  What to do?  There was no point trying to adjust the registration jig so I thought I'd do them by hand and hope that the printmaking gods would be on my side.  I put on the final dark colour in the hopes it would pull it together a bit and it did to a degree, but I think I wasn't generous enough with the initial ink loads and the result was a bit patchy.

What to do with nine prints?  Add colour!   I used a variety of mediums from watercolour to coloured pencil to transparent marker to add layers of colour to the prints.  And this is the result.

What did I learn from the exercise?  Planning is everything.  Patience is everything.  Luck comes into as well as troubleshooting.  I will try another reduction print when I have time and I enjoy the process of printmaking.  And the good thing?  I found the etched plate I was looking for after I last cleared up the studio!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Flatrock Harbour

I tested some of my handmade charcoal for the underdrawing of a new painting. These are some small boats tied up to the wharf in Flatrock Harbour, in the town where I live.  Flatrock is tiny, with about 1400 people and rural.  Its on the coast as much of populated areas of the province are with a small fishing community, but most activity around the recreational fishery in July and August.

The charcoal that has been produced is what I'd call soft, meaning it gives a dark, rich mark.  Its very smooth to work with and to blend.  After the underdrawing, I sprayed it with fixative to prevent the drawing smearing and mixing with paint as I applied it.

I've blocked in colour for the background of the wharf and boats and will refine detail as I proceed.  I build layers of paint with a palette knife, which is my usual painting tool, the same way as I would with a brush.  The initial layers are thin as I establish colour and placement then I increase paint amounts to the final textured painting.

The palette is fairly subdued in the shadows of the wharf and boats with light hitting the ends of the flats (boats).  The foreground of the water is much brighter and will provide the visual interest with the subtle colour and value changes that I love to paint.  The painting is on a 15" x 30" canvas panel.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

After the exhibition

I'm drifting down after the flurry of the last week with the solo exhibit opening last Friday night and the artist talk on Saturday.  Both were well attended and it was good to meet old friends and make some new ones.  Here's a look at some of the fifteen paintings that were hung at Peter Lewis Gallery for the exhibition.  You can see images of each individual painting on my website on the Wooden Boat page under What's New.

All the pieces are in oil and measure 30" x 40".  I think I'm going to paint in miniature after this!  The exhibition runs until June 26th if you have a chance to drop in and see it.

I produced a book to accompany the series that I distributed at the artist talk.  I've made the book and my presentation available as a download from my website if you'd like to read them.

Artist Talk, June 13, 2015
I've been drifting a bit in terms of starting new work and I think that's pretty normal after producing a series of work, exhibiting, etc.  I've freed up my summer (or tried to) until workshops resume again in the fall.  But I do have a couple of commitments.  I'll be teaching gyotaku (Japanese fish printing) workshops at The Glass Station in Rocky Harbour in Gros Morne on the west coast of the province in late July/early August.  Gros Morne is full of spectacular scenery and I can't wait to fill up on some new ideas for paintings while I'm there.

Tethered  16 x 20 oil

On July 18th from1 - 4 pm, I'll be doing a boat painting demo at the Wooden Boat Museum in Winterton.  I did this last year and had a great time meeting and talking with people coming through the museum.  Now I need to decide what to paint while I'm there!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Final countdown

The final touches are in place for the opening of my solo exhibition tonight. Touch wood!

I left Maria, the gallery curator, busy unwrapping and hanging paintings at the gallery yesterday.  It really is a gorgeous space to have an exhibit in an old heritage building in the heart of St. John's.

On Saturday, I'll be doing a talk at the gallery at 2pm to provide the background information, sketches and photos of boats and areas that inspired the paintings.  I have a limited number of draft books that accompany the project that I'll be giving away at the talk.  I'll also be making the book available as a free download from my website and an option to purchase a hard copy.

I hope to video the artist talk and have it available online and will try to do a short video of the paintings hung in the gallery for people unable to attend and/or in far flung places.

I did an interview with The Telegram, a local paper, about the exhibition and series  which you can read here.

Crop from "Home Port" - J Jobson
So start your engines, I'd love to see you at the opening tonight and/or talk on Saturday!