Friday, November 19, 2010

Watch your plate...

After a hectic couple of weeks at work its finally Friday again and despite a horrible cold, I'm trying to make some progress on pieces that were sitting in limbo, waiting for attention.

One of the pieces was a print of smelt.  This was done on mulberry paper that has a slight veining through it.  I've added washes of colour to the piece and will wait until it dries to add more detail to the fish and complete it.

While I was at dinner one evening in Winnipeg another guest had ordered lobster and at the end of the meal I was fascinated by the shell.  I've seen lots of lobsters, but none like this one, it sure didn't come from the Atlantic ocean!  I sent the wait staff to the kitchen to find out what type it was and they said it was a Bermuda lobster.   Now I find it odd enough that lobster is on the menu in the prairies, but Bermudian lobster??  Whatever the case, I got them to package it up for me so I could take it home to paint, print, etc.  Most of my colleagues no doubt now think I've completely lost it when I scavange from their dinner plates!  What we do in the name of art...

And here is the lobster.  Its colours and patterning is amazing.  It reminds me of a painting I did some time ago of what was classed as a shrimp, but now I believe it may well have been one of these lobsters as the patterning is so similar.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

To date or not to date

 Here is a small update of the Italian soda bottle.  It has a long way to go yet, but the layers of pigment are starting to give form to the bottle and the contents.

There are two schools of thought on adding a date to your artwork.

One says that it should never be on the front with a signature, but added as a piece of provenance beneath the paper backing or with a certificate of authenticity.

The other says that dates for work should be prominent and have as much importance as the artist's signature.

Art that is sent to exhibition or competition is often time sensitive with juries demanding work between one to three years old.  I never quite understand that as the antiques side of me longs for date confirmation of items and paintings and the knowledge that sometimes one's best work could be 20 years old - or 100 years old. Otherwise why would experts be carbon dating, x-raying and inspecting old masters paintings for clues to when they were painted?  There is obviously two sides to this debate.

Where did this need for current work come from?  Is there a 'sell by' date on art?  Do the buying public believe that only recent art is worthy of money being spent?  What about the need for documenting the history of an artist's work and style over time? There is a thought that perhaps dated paintings, if older, are a sign that they have not been able to be sold.  Galleries only want newer paintings and often artists do not date work purposely to ensure pieces are considered new.

To keep the sellers and buyers happy, I sign my pieces on the front then provide a month/year on the back along with title, medium and artist name on a label on the back for reference.  How stable that little rectangle of information is over time I may never know.  I recommend to buyers to write down the information and keep it catalogued, along with other works of art they may own for future records.

What is your thought on dating pieces of art?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Peer groups

As artists, we are  often solitary, working in isolation simply because it is a necessity to produce our work.  However, there is also a need to communicate and network with others, to get input, critiques, pats on the head and kicks in the ass.  

One of the main motivations for me to create this blog was accountability to myself to ensure that I would produce and work and share and give and receive information.  And that has worked well.  But now I want to take it up a notch.

I would like to create a group of artists, preferably locally based, who are willing to support each other, provide honest critiques, sound business advice, meet weekly or bi-weekly to draw paint, talk, network, to put together an independent art exhibit and generally be immersed in the process of creating and promoting our work so it can be the best it possibly can be.

There can be online partners in this, as the advent of webcams and Skype make 'meeting' much more accessible and interactive.  I've set out some thoughts in the paragraph above, but would like to make it into something more structured - an art group?  Not in the traditional sense.  More a meeting of artistic minds that want to become more serious about honing their craft and establishing themselves more in the world.

If you are interested, email me and let me know.   We can talk more about it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The journey

 Meadow in November

I've been travelling for a few days and just too busy to post or even to draw or paint, however, the journey towards a new piece is always in my head even when my hands are busy with other things.

I keep a couple of sketchbooks with me wherever I go and try to add bits and pieces which become a visual diary of ideas for the future.  I have done this over a series of nights while in bed lately.  This is a cumulative sketch in which a piece or pieces were added one by one each night.  There are no references, only visions in my head and memories.

I remember seeing a drawing many years ago, I don't know who the artist was, someone local to me at the time.  It was a line drawing consisting of a mass of images and it has stuck with me over all these years.  The space of the paper was filled to capacity but each image became its own story.  I think that something similar is waiting inside me and exercises in sketches like this become the vehicle to get there.  Never stop drawing, it is the key to everything in art.