Friday, March 02, 2012

The Medium War

There is an endless debate in art circles over which medium is the favoured one for producing art.  The purists say oil but I never hear a sound enough argument for the preference.  There is the argument that the 'masters' used it.  Well they did mostly because they had no alternative beside watercolour, both having to be created by hand in many instances, not a quick fix at a local art supply store.  In some areas of life, we cling to the past as if it shows us the way forward, instead of forging out own paths.

The collectors have their preferences also, again societal followings lead towards oil too, but without strong argument for the choice.  Are we programmed to presume oil is a higher quality medium to paint with?  And, if so, what drives that thought?

Skill in handling is often cited as a factor.  But that can be said of any tool used to produce art.  If you cannot handle the medium well and know how it performs, you set yourself up to fail.  Oil painting, like painting in any other medium takes practice, many hours of practice to become competent in it.

I was told today by a gallery owner that buyers currently look for oil paintings and that works under glass are out of favour.  Whims? Trends?  Who or what is the catalyst that pushes the end user to decide which medium should be the chosen one?  Is it the same trend that dictates what colour we should wear each year or paint the walls of our sitting rooms?

What about the image itself?  Where does composition, competence in technique and eye appeal fall down in terms of mediums?  A beautifully drawn piece can be as stunning as a beautifully painted piece in any medium.  I believe that if the view has a connection with the image, the medium in which it is executed has little role to play in whether it has appeal or not.

There's an eternal circle that exists of one medium chasing or being chased by another, one claiming superiority over the previous til it runs full circle back to its origins again.  And then there is the snob appeal of materials within some artist circles.  Its another version of  "Whoever dies with the most expensive toys wins." concept.   Some individuals slavish purchase outrageously priced materials in the hopes that the the higher the price and/or quality, it will magically turn their mediocre paintings into gold.....'oh, yes, that Sheep's Hoof Brown, its only $120 an ounce and made from the elusive Tattamangoula male sheep in Outer Mongolia, but its just divine to paint with darling and XWY uses it in alllllllllll his paintings and you know how much *they* go for...'  I know, over the top, but you've all heard something similar somewhere before, right? ;)

My conclusion?  Paint what you like, in whatever medium you like.  If you are competent in technique and composition, your work will find its own level.

Mine has leveled  today with a local gallery representing my work.  Stay tuned for more details soon.

Thursday, March 01, 2012


 Watercolour, 200lb paper

Does this image look familiar?  Yes, its the Merry Christmas Hares piece that I painted and which sold at the Comfort & Joy exhibition just before Christmas. 

However, this isn't the original painting, its a replica that I'm currently producing.  The gallery rang me to ask if I could recreate the painting as the collector had an 'unfortunate accident' with the original.  I have painted the same object twice or more, but not the same painting, so took on the challenge.

This is were record keeping comes into play.   I usually scan or take photos of pieces at varying stages of production and the original hares drawing was scanned into the computer, as well the final painting was there too.  This helped speed up the process immensely as I could transfer the original drawing then just paint it.  Of course, it won't be the exact same piece, but close enough I think.  In fact, I'm liking this version more than the original.   Its nearing completion once I finish the hares and add some snow, then off to the framer again!

So record your paintings and progresses carefully, you never know when you'll need them again.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Edge of the World

A rocky coastline provides constant inspiration with endless changes of light and wave states.  Like many people, I love seeing the ocean at its wildest.  Those large crashing waves hitting the rocks, sending salt spray into the air. And the sound.  I think the sound of a huge surf clattering the pebbles as it drags them back down into the sea is so wonderful.

When I lived in Pouch Cove, I had a house at the edge of the sea.  This is where the inspiration for this painting arose.  At night during wild storms, I could  feel the rhythmic 'thud' over and over vibrating the house as the waves made contact with the shore.  To some it was frightening.  To me, comforting.  It felt like being alive, being part of the sea at the edge of the world.

This pastel is 6 x9 on sanded paper.  And a little clip of the ocean in Middle Cove after a storm.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weekend study

Between sleeplessness, followed by long naps, and the usual weekend chores, I've had some time in the studio and have pretty much finished the puffin piece. Waiting for it to dry, in off days I dabble with little studies for other paintings.  This is another view of the red boat that I painted earlier this year. 

Finishing up the palette is a good excuse to do a study and practice never goes astray.  I'm working out ideas and thumbnail sketches for new paintings, as well still finishing up pieces that have been left to sit for awhile.