Friday, December 31, 2010

Year end finale

Yesterday I posted my evaluation of 2010 based on my goals I had set at the beginning of the year.  Well there are a couple of more things to add to that, thanks to Katherine Tyrrell of Making a Mark and to the art blogging voters. 

1.  I received the "Going Greener Gong"  for my work with gyotaku fish printing and the connection with the realities of the fishery in this province.

This award is for the art blog which Katherine found most stimulating in relation to getting us in touch with nature and the environment.

2.  Tripod, my cat has won "The Moose" 

Named after the first winner of this award.  This award is for particularly noteworthy artwork about an animals or animals (wild or domestic) posted to an art or illustrated blog in 2009
Tripod gives his reaction below.  He crops up a lot in the blog in drawings and photos whether I want him to or not. (picking cat hair out of the paint)

3.   My image of A Tangle of Capelin shared third place with James Hollingsworth's Black Grapes No. 3 in the The MAM Award for Best Picture of the Year on an Art Blog

This is awarded to the picture which got the most votes cast in the poll.

Thank you Katherine and thank you to everyone who took time to view and vote.  Congratulations to all the winners who created such beautiful art in 2010.

Tripod on winning 'The Moose'

The female human disturbed my sleep this afternoon to tell me that I was a moose. She does ramble on sometimes and I don't understand half of what she's saying, but I tried to pay attention as she seemed insistent.  But I had some questions about this moose thing.

Ok, now I'm awake, more or less.  What do you want?

Is there tuna, treats or live animals involved in this?
Do I have to pose for more photos?  I wish you'd put that camera away...

So no food, I've won a moose and you want me to be happy about it? 

Wait!  I've won a moose!!!  They're big!  But I can take one on.  It will impress the ducks, they're not too smart at the best of times.

What do you mean, be nice?

Ok, here goes.....thank you Katherine for The Moose Award, I love you to bits.  There will be a small package labelled 'fresh meat' arriving at your door soon. 

I'll just go out to the barn and rustle up something special for you.

I'll have my people call your people to arrange something.  Happy New Year to everyone. Now back to my nap....zzzzzzzz

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 in review

 Caplin - dished
photograph, Jeanette Jobson

I've had a look at my goals for 2010 in my previous blog post and used them as a measuring tool to see what I have achieved in the past year.   I gave myself twelve tasks to achieve and have completed nine of them. This completion rate is similar to what I would hope to achieve in any realistic work plan. I can always do better and learning from mistakes or miscalculation of time or market is how I continue to improve and move forward.

My main goals for 2010 were Production, Revenue and Visibility - likely the standards for most artists - as they represent what we do, why we do it, and how we help ourselves to move towards those goals.

I've looked at blog statistics and numbers are growing steadily.  Statistics in 2009 compared to the 2010 show a 28% increase in page loads, a 21% increase in unique visitors, a 15% increase in first time visitors and a 28% increase in returning visitors.

Keywords are always important as they show how they connect with the blog and if I do something to help keep those individuals on the page.  I have produced one quick sketch of gummi bears in 2008 and it is a consistent hit for individuals searching for how to draw or paint them.  Zorn palette is also another common keyword that lands on my blog as well as the entry point via a blog post on Fish, cats and ice.  I have no idea why that post comes up so frequently.

I have outlined the 2009 goals and what my plans were to reach them below.  I've used a colour code to help me visually see progress.  Green means I have completed it, yellow means its in progress, red means that it has not happened.

Producing pieces of art is the essences of being an artist.

Bluegill - gyotaku/multimedia

Smelt - gyotaku/watercolour

I will produce a body of work in gyotaku.  This will be a minimum of 8 large pieces that are cohesive and connected and that will be exhibited at a local gallery. I am hoping that it will be tied into a grant, but if the grant doesn't materialize, the work will still exist.  I will simply have to work harder to produce other pieces to support its existence.    
  • I have completed this body of work and additional prints are still in progress as it spills over beyond the required task.
 I will continue to produce portraits of both people and animals for pleasure and commissions.  

Masai woman

 The artist's mother

Katie - commission
  • I have completed a number of portraits this year, some for pleasure, some for commissions.  Commission numbers grew by 18% compared to 2009.
  • I sold 43 pieces of art this year.  Not enough to give up the day job yet...
I will experiment in other mediums and become familiar with them.  

 Lionfish - batik/watercolour

  • I spend time perfecting the technique of gyotaku;   
  • I experimented with learning and sharing a technique of faux batik.  
  • I reacquainted myself with acrylics and their benefits and drawbacks.   
  • Early in 2010 I used frost as a new medium!
I will take a portrait class with Gerry Squires.   I have wanted to do this for years, but timing has always clashed.  Its not cheap to do, but well worth it in terms of information learned from him

  • I still have not found a class at the right time, but I will persist until I do.
Additional work:
  • In late summer I started a series of paintings of Hidden Rivers in St. John’s
  • I have produced paintings of fish and water in watercolours, oils, acrylics and dry media.

I haven't devoted enough time to network with other local artists in the real world.  The online art community is vital and important, but the real world is often where more art sells and I have neglected that.

I will become involved in the creation of a local artist's group to draw or paint with, exhibit with and learn with.    
I have tried off and on during the year to start a group, but have had no success to date locally.  There has been nterest internationally online. 

I will become a member of two other art organizations locally that will increase my visibility and allow me additional opportunities to show my art.    

I will submit art to the provincial Art Bank, Arts and Letters Awards and to a minimum of two juried exhibitions.   
  • I submitted three pieces of work into provincial Art Bank, but they were not accepted. In 2009 I di have a piece accepted.
  • A piece was submitted and is currently under review for Arts and Letters Competition.  I will know status in the spring.    
  • I entered a piece in the Artist Magazine Multi Media competition.

Addtional work:
Kisses for Haiti Ebay Charity Auction reproduction
  • I produced the first monthly newsletter in September 2010 and have done so on the 15th of the month since.
  • In January 2010I held an online auction to raise funds for disaster relief in Haiti.  Kisses for Haiti raised $255 in the sale of a Purity Kisses 12 x 18" reproduction. The proceeds went to Doctors without Borders.
  • I revised the look of this blog and created a ‘brand’ that is used on email signatures, blog, etc. 
  • I created dedicated pages on the blog for sales, tutorials, etc.
  • I created a new business card to reflect my gyotaku direction and tie in with the project
  • I am near completion of a book about the process of The Gyotaku Project what will be available in 2011.

Art is the bread and butter of artists.  At this point in life, no I don't need it to exist and yes if I did, it could be a tenuous existance.  However, I want recognition for my work, tangible recognition for my creativity, years of learning and hard work.

I will produce and market prints and greeting cards of my work through local stores as well as my Etsy shop.     

  • In September I signed a contract with Heritage Association to distribute Purity Kisses and Merry Christmas Hares in print and card form in select Heritage Shops.
  • I marketed prints and portraiture commissions on Kijiji and through Etsy  
    • I created pages on my blog to market art and prints. 
    • Gyotaku note cards are being used by a local restaurant for promotion/thank you cards.

    I will apply for a local grant to support the creation of a body of work,   

    I will develop drawing and painting tutorials which will be for sale online.  I would like to produce four of these as a minimum.   

    • Two tutorials available for sale on the blog, another tutorial is complete will be available free of charge before the end of the year; 
    • Two additional tutorials are partially completed

    I will market and offer workshops in my strength areas of drawing, coloured pencil, gyotaku and watercolour 
    • I have provided private drawing lessons to individuals, but have not had time to offer structured workshops. A gyotaku workshop planned for March 2010.

    I will hold an exhibition of works for sale.   
    • Bacalao  is currently holding a preview of gyotaku prints December – February.    
    • An exhibition of gyotaku project planned for spring 2011.

Within the next couple of days I will share some of my plans for 2011.   Have you reviewed your year yet?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Storm surge

 Storm surge
6" x 8"    acrylic

I've been reviewing 2010 today and documenting what I've accomplished and not accomplished and will be posting more about that review tomorrow. Part of my planning process is to review the past, take others opinions and input into consideration and study why I didn't succeed in some areas but did in others.   This shows me the path for the future and coupled with planning and a hefty dose of reality checks should point me in the right direction for 2011.

This painting of a storm surge is a hint of the direction I'll be moving in 2011.  While my gyotaku project draws to a close, there are many more areas that pull me and I will not be sitting idle.

As December and the year draws to a close, I was delighted today to be told that I have won the Going Green Gong award from Making a Mark.  I feel strongly about the ocean, the fish and the state of the fishery and environment.  Gyotaku brings me closer to the raw elements of all three and perhaps helps others see the reality of it on several levels.

As, well Katherine kindly nominated Illustrated Life as a contender in the Best Portrayal of Nature in 2010 awardGayle Mason and Tracy Hall are also nominated in the same category and you can cast your vote for this and other categories until 6am Greenwich Mean Time on December 30th. There is a lot of beautiful art in all the categories, so treat yourself visually and then try to make a decision on your vote. Its difficult!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


 Gyotaku shrimp on chiri

 After the collapse of the cod fishery in 1992, shrimp fishing became the industry for Newfoundland fisherpeople until this news on shrimp quotas hit this fall, affecting future harvests.

Newfoundland and Labrador's fishing industry is bracing for a big hit as shrimp quotas in the area known as 3L are being reduced by as much as 40 per cent.

The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization is reducing the total allowable catch (TAC) from this year's level of 30,000 tonnes to19,000 tonnes next year and then to 17,000 tonnes in 2012.

Read more:
What has this got to do with art?  Well, as I secured my first whole shrimp the other day for gyotaku printing, news like this impacts me and makes me wonder if I am recording what could be a slowly dying industry or slowly dying species.

So many species are becoming endangered and access more and more limited, making a living from the sea seems to be a daunting task.  Except for a few weeks of the year, people here are not even allowed to catch an ocean fish for dinner. 

I am allergic to shellfish, even though I've eaten it all my life.  My allergies are usually restricted to eating them, but in handling them yesterday, I was getting some physical reaction to the smell and perhaps some element of them transferred to eye/mouth when I took off gloves to adjust positioning, etc.  So today, I'm armed with gloves and face mask as a precaution.  It may be overkill, but I remember the reaction to shellfish enough to take these precautions and shrimp, of all crustaceans, is considered the most allergenic. 

I printed these shrimp on chiri paper and am still working out composition for them.   My concept is a sort of acrobatic display of shrimp tumbling in varying positions down a sheet of paper.  These are simple, fossil like prints with the only addition being the eye of the shrimp.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The deal

The completed painting is now available for sale on my Original Work page.

This fleeting image of Tripod in a Santa hat was a compromise between me and him.  He very begrudgingly wore the hat and posed for a few photos in exchange for a couple of handfuls of Temptations - the crack cocaine of cat treats.  Yes, the ads are right, cats will virtually come through walls to get whatever it is that is in these little kibble pieces.

I did a drawing of Tripod in a Christmas hat a few years ago, probably his first Christmas in this house and he was happy to pose.  Now its a different story. As soon as I pick up a camera he hightails it out of the room or, if on a lap, gives me 'the look'.  You know the one.  It plots your downfall at a later date as he considers which is the best form of torture for humans.  Tripod's favourite is the 3am cat call in my ear to insist on going out.

However, the deal was made.  He got his treats, I got my photos and this is the result of the painting.  Its on 10 x 10" canvas panel in acrylics.  I planned on oils, but had run out of thinners and couldn't be bothered to drive in to town to get more as I knew it would be heaving with shoppers looking for sales.

I still have some tweaking to do with this, but here are the progress shots to its current state of completion.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Little Heart's Ease

I've had a lovely day filled with food and gifts and people and feel a bit tired at this point.  I think its always the way after the  build up to Christmas, then the point when you can finally relax.

I have some sort of bug brewing and haven't been 100% for a couple of days.  It the kind of thing that wakes me early, so I take advantage and try to do a little work during the wee hours.  It usually catches up with me during the afternoon and I end up napping.

This morning I did some work on a watercolour that I had begun a couple of months ago.  Its of a little dory sitting in Little Heart's Ease.  Yes, there really is a place with that name!  Early morning before the wind has had a chance to come up the water is so still and this little boat floats at its mooring waiting to rowed out into the bay.

Yes, the composition is all wrong.  Dead centre seldom works for any composition and this may be cropped to change that.  Its not a piece that will be available for sale so the process is the learning element, with not a thought to the final outcome.   

This was done on a half sheet -  15" x 22" - of 200lb watercolour paper.  Getting even washes of colour over large areas is challenging and the varying changes in light and contrast help break up the larger areas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

This blog is approaching its fifth birthday on January 1st.  Its amazing that I've found things to talk about and art to show for that long.

I could not have done so without your support and friendship.  Followers, friends, supporters and even those who simply look and read are all part of my motivation to keep producing art and moving towards my goals.  Thank you!

The next day or two will be busy with holiday obligations and then I will be reviewing the past year and planning for 2011.  I'm still busy producing gyotaku prints as well as some other pieces.  Of course, whenever I get time off, I get sick.  This is no exception.  I don't think my body likes the concept of holiday. 

To everyone, Merry Christmas.  I hope your holiday, if you celebrate one, is peaceful, safe and enjoyable.

I have shared a couple of images with you.  The Christmas tree is decorated with white lights, silver and cream ornaments this year and looks quite pretty, despite being artificial.

The images here are today's sea state off Flatrock.  We've had a neverending storm for days and days now with constant rain, wind and fog.  The waves were powerful, washing almost up to the road at times and looked like walls of water coming in towards the cliffs.  I love rough seas.  I just wish the visibility would lift enough to get some better photos.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Red fish

I was up early this morning working on a pair of red fish or ocean perch.  The paper they're printed on is mulberry with sizing on one side which makes it easier to apply watercolour without fear of having it bleed too much.  It makes painting so much quicker than painstakingly painting almost dry pigment onto paper and using peach tree glue to slow the bleed.

This is a transition and a bit of an experiment for me with this piece.  I have added colour to the original print, then crumpled the paper and washed it with mixes of turquoise, cerulean blue and ultramarine turquoise.  The paint catches where the sizing is cracked, giving darker lines and a batik appearance.  I am going to try adding another element with melted wax, the true batik technique tomorrow if I have time.

And speaking of tomorrow, I know I was scheduled to do a Christmas gift giving extraganza of seven days starting on Christmas Eve.  I have decided to postpone this til later in the New Year, as my plate is pretty full right now and I need a little breather to catch up with myself.  So bear with me and thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I have this last (maybe) snowperson helping me untangle Christmas lights.  How do they get so confused just sitting in a box over the space of a year??

The wind and rain lashes against the studio window as a wild storm rages tonight and into the next day or two.  Better rain than snow I think, even if the snowperson disagrees.

I've also been doing a little study of BD, my favourite duck.  BD, if you didn't know, stands for Big Duck.  Not too imaginative for a name but after 10 years he's used to it and so am I.  And he is big. More turkey or goose size than duck.  He's a Muscovy duck that doesn't quack but sort of hisses and pants.  He's quite sweet if not a little unusual looking to many people.  I'll try a portrait of him in oils or acrylics soon.  The Other One says that when I do portraits of animals on the farm it tends to signal their demise.  I hope not in this case.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Snowy lane

I feel like a shell today.  Its as if all creativity has suddenly been sucked out of me, leaving me dry.  I did a little flurry of snowmen this weekend, but sat in the studio tonight piddling around achieving nothing, with nothing inspiring me. Its as if I'm waiting like a schoolchild for a teacher to come along and tell me what I should paint next.  I'm sure it will pass, as it always does.  There are ideas in my head but they're taking their time coming out onto paper or canvas.

Meanwhile, this little painting was completed a couple of days ago just 5 x 7 in acrylic. There is not a flake of snow around this year with nothing but rain and wind forecast up to Christmas.  This will be the closest I get to snow for now.  The blueness of shadows on snow always amaze me.  Its rather like water in terms of reflecting the sky.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Making time

Weekends are never my own it seems and this one has been no different.  I wanted to get some more gyotaku work finished but only managed tiny inroads into that.  I'll accept is as inevitable and keep trying.  I need to make more studio/painting time for 2011and keep phone calls/email/other people at bay if I am to make progress in what is already a limited window of opportunity for painting.

After I got some major things done today, a couple more snowmen fell off the brush.  Why I'm suddenly doing these I don't know.  Quick, easy and mindless perhaps, with no one standing over me for time or need.

Sometimes its necessary to just do something for yourself and let everything else disappear.  Its a form of relaxation and regaining of sanity for me quite often.  I used to feel guilty about taking time for myself, but not anymore.  Everything else can wait its turn or as a friend said, ' Make time to do what is necessary.  The alternative is far worse.'

Saturday, December 18, 2010


I don't know why I have a fascination with snowmen/people.  Their simplicity and brevity of life makes them appealing.  The reflected colours from their environment create levels of interest.  The character that emerges depending on placement of facial features is endless.

This afternoon, after a busy morning I got cozy on the sofa and created these little snow characters in watercolour.  They're in a watercolour Moleskine sketchbook and tiny, just 3 x 5 inches.  Just right for experimenting.