Saturday, May 29, 2010

Beauty or the beast

Yes, another one found its way home, as beasties should never live singly.

Why I find these ugly birds appealing I have no idea. But everywhere I go now, I seem to see them in some form or another.  Hopefully this may get it out of my system and they can live their life out amongst the flowers in some bed hidden in the garden.

The line between beauty and ugly can be a fine one sometimes.  Perhaps its more the charicature aspect of these silly things that tips the balance. Beauty tends to be a certain placement of features that when seen triggers some internal primal emotion likely related to survival of the species.

So where does the line slide over into appealing?  Or is that related to some instinct to nurture a weakling that only humans have?  In the animal world, the weaker are dispatched pretty rapidly. Or is it simply human nature to like the quirky?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Talent or hard work?

This sketch about sums up how I feel tonight.  Its been a busy week at work and with art and soon I need to sleep.

I've been marketing my work, experimenting with new papers to print fish with, setting up meetings, etc., etc.  Whoever thinks that any successes in art are handed to you on a plate really isn't thinking logically about the workload involved in this field.

If I hear once more about 'God given talent' I won't be responsible for my actions.  Let's get real about talent. 

I don't have talent.  I have the ability to create illusion and that ability has come from years and years of practice, of colleges, workshops, self study about technique and more practice.   Anyone has an inbuilt ability to draw or paint.  Not everyone has the willingness to put in the hours it takes to do it sufficiently well.  Creativity needs to be nurtured hand in hand with technical skills otherwise the blob of colour on a canvas that the teacher praises will never allow the student to advance and put their thoughts into reality.

Yes, some individuals have an ability to see more easily the ways to create a piece or have a more advanced colour sense than others do.  But its not down to divine intervention or genetic makeup.  Its down to lots of good old fashioned hard work.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More clock

I have completed the painting of the clock face that I was working on a few days ago.  I've drawn in the numbers for the face and now need to drill a hole for the mechanism and insert that and it should be ready to tick.

Its whimsical and fun, done in layers of inks and watercolour on a piece of pine which was not primed, so the wood grain shows through.  Its been sprayed with several coats of varnish to seal it. I will experiment with other offcuts of wood that are around the property and I have my eye on a nice piece of natural slate that I found too.

So many ideas, so little time...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Funky chicken

Sometimes the world of ordinary or extraordinary catches my eye and I just know it will turn into a painting.  This was one of those things.

I found this strange bird in the supermarket garden section of all places.  I presume its meant to be stuck in a big flower pot or in a bed of flowers, nodding on its spring in the breeze.  Its weird and funky and I had to have it so I could paint it.

This is completed in watercolour, 12 x 15 on 300lb Arches paper.  This piece is now available for sale on my Available Art page.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gyotaku project

 Damp red fish print drying
Kitakata paper 

One of my goals for 2010 was to apply for a grant, which I did and was successful in receiving it.  Grants are approved through the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council (NLAC) and not everyone who applies receives their grant or gets the full amount that they requested.  I was lucky on both counts.  My grant project period began on May 15th and will end in April 2011.  I applied for a longer period of time, rather than a short project period, as I work a day job and need all the time I can get to produce quality work.

My project is to produce a body of work (10 - 15 pieces) in gyotaku, using fish that are local to the province. I'll be experimenting with different types of Japanese papers as well as ones traditionally used in art.  I will also experiment with different backgrounds and presentation methods. I will offer a workshop on gyotaku next spring, to share the knowledge that I've accumulated over the grant period with other artists.

I won't be sharing much of my grant project work with you online, as it will be offered to a gallery for exhibition after the project is completed and I don't want to spoil the surprises.

However, I can share some of my findings with you.  Today, I did a little experimentation with some Japanese papers that I have on hand as well as newsprint and masa.  I used an ocean perch, also known as red fish, that was lurking in the freezer, well past its best by date, so it was a little 'high'.  However a fish is a fish when it comes to gyotaku and fish odours are one thing that you need to get used to, as well as any queasiness about anatomy in preparing the fish.  I love the gill plates of this fish with their patterned edges and the large eye space provides lots of scope for painting.

Speaking of which preparation is likely the most lengthy part of gyotaku, if you want good quality prints from your fish.  It can take an hour or more to prepare the fish for printing, choose the print paper and ink, prep your worksurface, then get down to printing.

I've found that dampening the papers by spraying with water makes it much easier to mold around the fish's body, though it does make the process trickier as the paper is much more fragile then, especially if the fish is bony,, such as this one is.  I've commandeered some shelving to dry my prints initially and after drying completely, the eye of the fish will be recreated and any additions made in colour or touchups before it goes into a board press for storage.