Saturday, January 01, 2011

Aiming for 2011

This is the start of a painting that I began today.  Its 10 x 14, acrylics on canvas board and represents my beginnings for the year.  Its not complete, it looks a little odd in places because there isn't enough detail yet, but it has form and gives me enough information so that I can see success, just as my 2011 plans do.

If you remember my post for 2010 plans from last year, you'll see that I had a portent.  It came in the form of a fortune cookie.   A bit hokey or superstitious perhaps?  Maybe, but I like to think that something is out there guiding me.  I didn't have a fortune cookie handy, so I looked online and found one here and choose a random fortune cookie to see what form the guidance took this time.

You find beauty in ordinary things. Keep this trait.

Pretty good advice for an artist I thought.  Artists can take something as simple as a bolt and turn it into a piece of art, making the viewer see it in a way they never would have thought of previously.

I hope in 2011 I will continue to find beauty in ordinary and extraordinary things and will try to make the ordinary become extraordinary.  And now I will share some of my plans for 2011 that become my goals to work towards.  I am concentrating on two of the same areas that I did last year, productivity and visiblity.  Both push me towards revenue generation which becomes redundant as a category because without the first two, the other doesn't exist.


I will create a body of work representing water.  I have concentrated on fish for the past year and they will continue to be in my repertoire.  In 2011 I want to get to grips with their environment – water.  Surfaces, reflections, waves, etc.  I want to really know water and how weather, currents and environment shape it and be able to translate that into art.  The endless forms and light changes provide lots of opportunity.

I will create more pieces in dry media – charcoal, graphite, coloured pencil.  I miss drawing and believe it is ‘the’ most important tool for an artist to have under their belt.  I will work on more portraits and have ideas for other small series of drawings.

I will make more time for the business of producing art.  Its easy to get sidetracked into marketing or simply surfing online when I should be producing art.  Marketing is an essential part of art business, but getting off track and spending too much time on the computer sucks time away from production.

I will complete a book The Gyotaku Project and make it available for sale.  I want a permanent record of the past year’s work and learning process in fish printing. Both as a record for me and as a tool for those coming after me who want to know more about the joys and challenges of gyotaku in Newfoundland and Labrador.  A self published book will serve this purpose and should be available in late winter/early spring 2011.

I will create a local group of artists to produce, explore and exhibit work.  I will invite local artists and develop specific criteria to create an art group that is purposeful and functional.

I will create an exhibition proposal for galleries in Newfoundland and Labrador as well as in another province and in non traditional exhibition space.  Galleries can be difficult to be accepted into.  A exhibition proposal based on my gyotaku work, fish and what will be future water paintings will be created and distributed.  Exhibition of art in non traditional settings such as businesses, private homes, community centres, etc. will be considered.

I will create a media resource page and publicity plan for the year.  Publicity isn’t something I’ve done much of in my art career, but is common in my day job.  I will create a media resource page on my blog with my biography,  artist statement, photo and any media releases to date.  I will create media releases based on events as they occur during the year.

I will write articles about gyotaku and submit them and images to fishing/outdoors/boating magazines in Canada and the USA for potential publication.   There are local, national and international magazines and specialist publications promoting fishing and wildlife.  An article on gyotaku as well as images, if printed, will provide me with additional visibility and possibility for the future.

I will join the Craft Council of NL as an active member and continue my memberships with current art organizations.  The CCNL has an art gallery and membership will allow me access to exhibition space, resources and financial assistance.

I will monitor submission calls and participate in local exhibitions when possible.  I have seen exhibition potential slide by me in the last year and haven’t acted on it for several reasons.  I will create a calendar of local exhibition calls and ensure that I have pieces available and framed in time to exhibit.

I will explore additional outlets for cards and prints.  There are many more opportunities for distribution and sale of note cards and prints that I have not yet explored.  I will add additional distribution links for sales of my products.

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.