Saturday, April 26, 2008

Slow art

The Jumper - work in progress
Coloured pencil on Canson paper 11 x 14
copyright Jeanette Jobson

I never know if its because of internal or external factors or simply because the planets are aligned in your favour, but some days drawing just is easier than others. Other days you can struggle forever and nothing comes out as you want it. Today was the former for me and I'm hoping it will stick with me for the rest of the weekend so I can make some progress.

Today I started this drawing of a boy about to leap into the warm waters of a Florida lake. Being involved in the water safety industry, such images always make me a little nervous, even though I'm sure the child was just fine after his plunge.

Its only about 2 hours into the drawing right now and has quite a number of hours left to bring it to life, while it goes through its many stages before resembling what I originally wanted. Time is one of the points that I constant drum home to drawing students. So many want to draw a masterpiece in an hour and get frustrated and trash the piece before its barely begun. Instant gratification has always been with us but these days it seems more prevalent. No one can wait for anything, from food to drawing time.

Maybe its my nature, but I love the time it takes to develop a drawing and seeing little details emerge over time. Detailed coloured pencil drawings can take up to 20 hours or more to complete and I know that this frustrates beginners constantly because they don't under fully the process of building a drawing slowly. The knowledge of time involved in creating a drawing or painting often escapes commission clients as well when they expect a large detailed drawing in a few days and to pay next to nothing for it.

Artists are treated so differently than other craftspeople with so many expectations of generosity in terms of donations of time, expertise and product. Yet artists are, for the most part, those living on minimum amounts of money, grasping at grants and teaching or doing other jobs in order to make ends meet. Doctors, lawyers, mechanics, plumbers or carpenters are not asked to provide their work for free or are expected to negotiate, so why artists?

Friday, April 25, 2008

The artist's trade

Kolinsky sable
Graphite & coloured pencil
copyright Jeanette Jobson

Vivien's keeping me busy lately! Another interesting little project has people drawing their painting brushes and the results are quite interesting.
Your task grasshopper, should you wish to take it, is to sketch your paintbrushes...
This brush, like many others, has a story to tell.

In 1980 I was 26 years old and building my art, living on a farm near Coombe St. Nicholas, Somerset, with two dogs and two very small children and mostly on my own, as my husband worked abroad in the oil industry 9 months out of 12.

In one of the closer towns to me, Chard, I used to shop for groceries and art supplies. The art store would take some of my work, mostly watercolours back then, on commission. I had a couple of paintings in the store, small life studies I believe. I would somewhat forget about what was hanging in the store and rotate them when asked if nothing sold.

I was contacted one day by the store owner who tracked me down at lunchtime in the pub to say that there was a gentleman from London who was interested in one of my paintings and wanted to meet me. I went back to the art store and had a long conversation with the man who wanted to buy the painting and asked if I was interested in accepting brushes in exchange for the work.

Being a young artist and parent with the usual lack of cash that accompanies that status, I hesitated. The pounds that the painting represented were already being spent in my head, but the man went out to his car and came back with a small case. Inside were an assortment of Kolinsky sable brushes. Part of this person's job was selling artist's brushes and he was offering me two of these sable brushes in exchange for my painting.

I couldn't resist the offer, realizing that the brushes were worth even more than the painting was worth and that they would last a long time, producing many more paintings, so I accepted and the deal was done. We celebrated in the pub with a drink while dressing the brushes in a glass of water on the bar.

The paint is gone from the handles on this and the other brush and the ferrule's shine is diminished considerably, but the hairs are still soft as silk and paint like a dream, holding water and pigment beautifully even after 30 years.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A day in my life

Vivien Blackburn started this. She's fully responsible. And its wonderful.

It was a challenge on her blog to sketch from memory 12 snapshots of your day. So between last night and this morning I did just that and it was quite fun to recreate moments. Others have liked it so much that they want me to do sketches of their day now! See what you've started Vivien?

The sketches unfold like this:
  1. Propping myself up on the bathroom sink at 6am while I contemplate how much older I've gotten overnight and decide if I really want to go to work or stay home and draw all day.
  2. Downstairs, Tripod wants out. Very vocally out.
  3. Coffee. I have to have coffee to function.
  4. While I have my coffee, I do a little drawing or sketching.
  5. (the barn picture should come before the road one) The barn is opened and the geese and ducks swarm out at about a Decibel 7 noise level. If you're not awake before this, you soon will be. Tripod sits and watches, twitching his tail, wondering if he can tackle a goose and get away with it. He always decides no.
  6. A drive to work through Flatrock and Torbay, past the ocean, up and down hills, by trees and rocks. Thank God for iPods.
  7. Work. I feel chained to a computer some days with emails and writing, writing, writing...
  8. But I do get the alternative to the computer. Meetings. Lots and lots of meetings.
  9. I drive back home, and the mini Rottweilers I call geese, attack the car and me, given half a chance. One day I'm not going to slow down for them.
  10. Time to get some food prepared. Tripod feels every trip to the kitchen is for his benefit.
  11. I spend a couple of hours drawing most evenings when possible. Its my time to lose myself in 'the zone'
  12. Bed is where I read - or try to. Many nights I don't get past the first paragraph, but I have to have a book with me to get to sleep. And a pile in reserve in case I ever get past that paragraph.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Marketing your art

"A bar of iron costs $5, made into horseshoes its worth is $12, made into needles its worth is $3500, made into balance springs for watches, its worth is $300,000. Your own value is determined also by what you are able to make of yourself." - Wayne Dyer

I've been sifting through Alyson Stanfield's 'I'd rather be in the Studio' book and have been looking at marketing art and how I can make the best impression, reach the widest audience and improve art sales. This all takes work.

For anyone who thinks that artists simply draw pictures and people arrive on their doorstep to buy them need to seriously rethink that scenario. Artists, if they want to be successful, work like dogs to sell their art. And promoting yourself is not an easy task for most artists. You put yourself on the line. Its your work that you've put your heart and soul into that someone else gets to decide if it fits the market or suits the gallery. Rejection is part and parcel of this game.

However, market we must and the paper industry is a prime medium to get a message and image in front of the eyes of potential customers.

Postcards and business cards are traditional for most types of business and provide an opportunity to create a little piece of your vision and a sample of your artwork for the world to have and hold. This is a double sided postcard, with a dog portrait on the reverse and my email address which I use to promote the portraiture side of my work. I also use business cards and have invested in some magnetic ones. Some people keep card stock business cards in wallets or handbags, others stuff them in desk or kitchen drawers or simply lose them. But I have found that people keep magnetic ones, usually on the fridge or file cabinet or other metal surface and they have lasting impact as they are a daily visual reminder.

Post cards and business cards have a short shelf life, and I don't do large runs of them because I know that I may want to change them seasonally or promote another piece of art or have a different theme or colour. So runs of 100 or 200 are what I use. I use more before a show if I want to use them to tie into a specific event.

I distribute cards to many people in the course of my week. It could be anywhere from the post office to the local coffee shop. I also do random 'drops' where I leave a card on a restaurant table or bar and let it do its own work. For those who worry about giving out personal contact information, well, I don't know of a way to get responses without mailing, telephone and email information. Its a risk you take, however, I've never had an adverse response to date.

I have a few postcards and magnetic cards available from this run before I print new cards. The first six people who request it will receive a copy of both the cards. Just comment here or email me at jeanettejobson at

Monday, April 21, 2008

Drawing space

My studio that I created about a year ago in a spare bedroom is now too small for what I need and its time to move to a bigger space. I have my eye on the basement, as its not used much and is quite cosy there, being fully finished, however the light isn't great there, but it can be overcome with artificial light for the moment.

The other idea I have is to buy a trailer, something fairly large, gut it to the minimum and use it as a studio/classroom. It would be nice to have a private space and not have people trek through the house when I run a class or workshop. And a trailer would work fairly well as a long, but lightfilled space. I'll have to keep my eye on the for sale ads and keep saving.

Til then I need to reorganize my drafting table which is overflowing with everything, including this drawing that I have vowed to complete. I started this drawing as a symbolic self portrait quite a few months ago, then ran out of steam. I have the left and upper areas in place but the right defeats me in terms of content. I have to seriously sit down and think about what I will put in there.

This piece is quite large - 22 x 30 - and done all in graphite, so its fairly slow progress. I have a couple of ideas for additions to complete it. The interesting part of a symbolic self portrait is that every person interprets it differently. I can't really tell you all the symbolism as some of it is very personal. I'll let the viewer draw out of it what they think makes up the story.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Rain starts play

Indian food stall merchant
watercolour, pen & ink, 9 x 12
copyright Jeanette Jobson

I'm not a watercolourist. My preference is dry media, but I do come over to the wet side now and then and dabble. I love the effect of watercolour when done well and for every one artist who is great at watercolours, there are 100 who are not, including me.

Like any other medium, it takes practice to become proficient at it and even for the experts, there are still things that are not quite predictable which can make or break a painting.

I thought I'd try my hand at a drawing from the Weekend Drawing Event at WetCanvas and chose this image of an Indian snack/tea merchant. I think what appeals to me most about the image is the unfamiliarity of the subject matter. I can't relate experiences to it, yet there is a familiarity there too which appeals.

As predicted, my watercolour is weak so I tried to beef it up a bit with some pen and ink. Areas I like, areas are muddy, areas are non existent, but the general impression is there.

I have been trying to get some more jewelry produced and am finally making some inroads into sets. Necklace, bracelet and earrings. it sounds very 1950s when I think of matching everything, but I always think it looks good when worn. There are bracelets that go with these sets, but I haven't photographed them yet. Yesterday's light was awful due to rain so it wasn't worth even trying to get a decent shot.

These are this weekend's efforts. Rain does wonders for productivity.

Sodalite, blue and copper rimmed glass beads, intersected with silver rice beads, around a large donut of dumortierite. The clasp is sterling silver as are the ear wires in the earrings. They are packaged in a beaded organza bag, tied with ribbon.

Wooden beads, carved nuts and tiger eye with a large focal stone of tiger eye wrapped in brass and copper, with an antique brass clasp. The earrings have sterling silver ear wires.

This set comes with a reusuable bronze organza bag tied with brown ribbon.