Thursday, July 12, 2012


I had been neglecting my sketching and drawing lately, so am trying to rectify that. I do sketch most days, but not of scenes that I seek out.  My sketches are more utilitarian, sort of like taking vitamins.  You do it because you know its good for you.  I bought a lovely little hard cover sketchbook in Ottawa last month, one that fits nicely into a bag or purse without you noticing much that its there.   I've pulled it out over the last couple of weeks and sketched various subjects.  Sometimes I only have a few minutes and just get basic shapes down, other times I have longer and can work more on shading.

Today was beautifully warm and the water was calling me.  This boat, tied to a wharf fit the bill.  I spent perhaps an hour on this in total.  Thirty minutes wharfside and the rest filled in at home.  I'm still deciding whether or not to add a little colour to it.

This was the view of part of the garden at the rear of the house on Canada Day.  I sat in the gazebo and sketched part of the back of the house and shrubbery leading off to the woods.   I added a wash of colour to it after the initial sketch to provide a bit more interest. I would like to do more sketching outdoors and I  hope to get out this weekend.  Its a great way to capture some ideas for new paintings and drawing from life always is more fun, especially if you have people stopping by to see what you're doing.

I have an advantage of not having to go far to see pretty much any range of subject from water, trees, buildings, flowers, animals, fields, etc., etc.  One of the benefits from living in the middle of the woods!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Forging ahead

My schedule's been crazy lately and I haven't had a lot of painting time, so I steal time from either end of the day to work on pieces.  Its just how life is when you want to produce, but feel time chasing you.  There's not a huge amount of progress here, but I'm refining the fish and starting to block in the paper bag.  Its starting to come together now.  There is that turning point in a painting when you just 'know' whether its going to forge ahead or be wiped.  Its undefinable, that moment of knowledge, its when the painting talks to you.

I always make time for art in some form, no matter what else is happening.  Sketching in airports and on planes, photographing ideas for new pieces, working out ideas in a small sketchbook I keep next to the bed, drawing at lunchtime etc.  For me, its how I need to work to ensure that I can produce new pieces as well as work a full time day job.  Somehow it all fits in.  But isn't that the way if you really want to do something?  Anything can be done if you want to do it badly enough.  We can all throw up excuses about why we can't do something, but can we put the same effort ensuring we make enough time for creating art instead?  

There has to be selfishness in it, as well as the craving to succeed.  One won't happen without the other.  There has to be the discipline not to be swayed by less important things - television, surfing online, etc.  There has to be a well of inspiration that you can draw from, fueled by experiences, surroundings, art and people. 

There has to be support for your art - and not from family - unless they're paying for you to be the artist you want to be by providing living expenses that let you stay at home and create.  Support to create art is different from support for your art.  Family is not objective, has little understanding of technique, subject matter, art markets, collectors and the business of art.  Surround yourself with your peers, with other like minded artists and galleries who support and understand what you are trying to achieve and who can help you reach your goal. 

And it all takes time.  It takes a huge amount of effort and there are giant stumbling blocks that are thrown in your way constantly.  It takes money to buy quality supplies, to frame paintings, to market your work.  Sometimes it feels like a revolving door.  Money comes in from a sale and there's someone with their hand out waiting to take it to frame the next piece or buy the next set of business cards.

So why do it?  Because its amazing and only when you've struggled with blood, sweat and tears through  learning technique, practicing the requisite 10,000 hours plus, and learning from each and every piece you create, will you realize how amazing it can be. How much are you willing to sacrifice to get there?  Everything or nothing?  That is what separates those who make it and those who sit on the sidelines thinking up reasons why they can't do it.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Fishy exhibition

I attended the Reflection on Cod exhibition opening this afternoon.  It was a very warm, humid day and the gallery was wall to wall people, making it uncomfortably warm, but not a complaint, as I want heat!

I had three pieces in this exhibition, all gyotaku, one of salt cod, one fresh cod and the other an ocean perch, an alternative fish harvested after the cod moratorium was enforced 20 years ago.

Five Island Gallery is set in a lovely spot, overlooking the five islands in Tors Cove.  When I arrived today, the fog was shrouding the islands before the sun burned it off, making them look mysterious.  Fog and islands make for interesting photographs, but unfortunately I didn't have much time to take more than a couple of shots.

Richard Cashin was the guest speaker for the opening.  A former politician and fishery union man, he amused the audience with stories of his adventures in politics and the fishery and provided some insight into the decision around the moratorium and its effects throughout the province.   Being near the front of the room, and with Richard poised in front of my gyotaku images, it was too good a photo op not to take.

This room shot was taken before it was very crowded at the exhibition and the heat mounting by the minute.Shortly after the speech and conversations, I headed out to get some air and make my way home.  The slight coolness of the sea air against skin was so pleasant after being inside.

The exhibition runs until July 27th daily, so if you're in the area, drop by have your own reflection on the cod fishery and the moratorium.