Saturday, May 21, 2011

Out of My Depth

 Out of My Depth
monoprint 8 x 12

I'm working out ideas for a collograph print and while doing so, remembered a little print that I did last year.  Not a collograph, but a basic relief print which was impressed into foam then printed on BK Rives paper. 

I had dampened the paper prior to printing and didn't blot it enough so there are splotches on the surface, but I rather like the look of them.  I added some colour to the print, just playing around and this was the result.

 original print

I'll work out more ideas for the collograph in my head and on paper over the next day or two and hopefully have something to show for my efforts.

Friday, May 20, 2011


This is a few hours into a new water painting.  The smooth water is drawn downstream to pour over a stone ledge, forming a small waterfall.  

The values of the water as it moves can be created through reference photos, but being able to study the water in real life is the only way of becoming very familiar with its movement.  Repetitive motion remains the same but the changes of light on the surface can bring very different results.

Here, the brown, boggy bottom turns the water to tea in shadows and to rich blues where it reflects the sky.  On a cloudy day the colours would be silvers and greys.

This is a 10 x 10 painting in acrylics.  I'll add more detail and depth over the next few days to try to get that smooth surface that moves into rougher texture.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Trees for Life Charity Fundraiser

 The Gatekeeper
6" x 9"  mixed media

Update:  This piece is now on the Trees for Life Fundraiser website and available for sale.   You can see it and other pieces of art as they are posted on the TFL site.

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.

I am pleased to take part in the Trees for Life charity fundraising exhibition which will take place in Edinburgh, Scotland.  The exhibition will open 1-13 November at Out of the Blue.  The opening will be on November 3rd. The initiative is spearheaded by Trevor Jones, a Canadian, living in Edinburgh. 

Twitter to the rescue!

Through the phenomenon of Twitter I want to track down 140 generous artists who will each create a 6x9 inch (16 x 23 cm) artwork inspired by the forests or some element of the natural environment where they live. I will be organising a two week exhibition and sale of all the artwork in November in the wonderful space at Out of the Blue art complex in Edinburgh, Scotland.

All money raised from this project will go to the worthy cause of restoring the Caledonian Forest supported by the charity Trees for Life. Each postcard will sell for £40 and, along with donations and opening night fundraising, we’re aiming to raise £10 000!

One of the many goals of Trees for Life in 2011 is to plant its one millionth tree! The money raised from this event will help the charity achieve this while laying the foundations for its ultimate vision of restoring a ‘wild forest, which is there for its own sake, as a home for wildlife and to fulfil the ecological functions necessary for the wellbeing of the land itself.’

A special online gallery will be set up to view and purchase the artwork. Links to each artist’s website will be attached to their work.
After a bit more tweaking, I will be shipping this painting to Scotland within the next few days.  Some of you may recognize the tree from a previous post done a couple of years ago of an old decaying larch tree on the edge of the woods in my garden.  The tree has lost limbs and bark, its fissures and rough bark show its age.  I think of it as the Gatekeeper to the thick forest behind it, old and gnarled but hanging on til the younger ones are strong enough to take over.

True to the theme of nature and trees for the exhibition, I wanted to go with as natural materials as I could. I used a piece of TerraSkin for the base, a treeless support made of ground stone. On this I added a layer of gesso, then Japanese mulberry paper that I tore for texture, with more gesso over those.  I added washes of watercolour that brought out the texture of the tree and background and used ink for definition and texture in the grasses.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Questions, questions, questions

 Pink and white - not your average boy

Some days it feels like such a farce, this art stuff.  I go to my studio and produce a mess that I try to turn to gold without success.  And it makes me second guess myself and the purpose of the materials around me and why I'm doing this or trying to do this.

Then there is the pretention of the art world.  Not the artists usually, but those who feed off their efforts.  The galleries, framers, dealers, critics and exhibition organizers are the vultures waiting to pick the bones of artists.  Artists are like farmers.  They bust a gut to produce a product, whether potatoes or paintings and the merchants become rich off the proceeds.

Then there is the uninformed buying public who think there's no difference between a mass produced reproduction from Walmart and an original painting and want the same for $19.99.  Framed. Or commission  a complex piece with all their relatives and animals, make endless changes and haggle over price as if its a pound of sausages at the butcher's.

There are also the artists who consider that they are superior because they can afford a particular brand of paint or brush or slavishly use the brand and palette of an artist they admire, as if by owning or using it, it gives them magical powers of mastery over that medium.  Or the slightly mocking, patronizing tones of those who can only produce a painting from life instead of reference photos or who use oils instead of watercolour  because the masters did or use watercolour instead of graphite because the latest workshop guru told them to or who could never use a grid or goes on and on ad nauseum.

What has happened to art and those that artists choose or must choose to interact with, ply their trade?  When did it become big business and so cut throat? When did artists begin to hold technique so close to their chest and not share in case someone might learn how to do the same thing?  Did they forget how they learned?  Wasn't it from someone else?  When did artists start counting statistics of how many people visit their blog or website instead of concentrating on simply producing beautiful art?

I don't expect answers to these questions.  They are what rattles around in my head sometimes when I think about the often futile and fickle world of art production and sales.

Ok, rant over.  You can come out from behind the sofa now.  Its safe.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Free Advertising

Well, nearly. I  did have to purchase the signs, but after that tiny investment, every exposure of the words to the passing public is free.

I'm always searching for new avenues for marketing my art and had considered mobile signs for awhile.  These are magnetic images applied simply and quickly to your vehicle, weather resistant and easily removed without any damage to the car surface.

How many signs to do you 'read' when you're on the road.  Billboards, store signs, bus and truck signs all bring messages that we absorb, sometimes even without knowing that we see them.  My drive to and from work is about 20-30 minutes each day which gives me an hour of exposure to thousands of vehicles and pedestrians.  Another cross town trip a few times a week and I have exposure to a different section of the public.  The costs for the same exposure commercially would be enormous and never within my budget.

So I'm giving these signs a trial to see if they generate any additional interest or visibility.  There's one on either door of my car. (I put one on the back of The Other One's truck, but don't tell ok?) :)  Its an inexpensive way to get my name in front of the eyes of the public.  Who knows who will pass by and see it?

Marketing is a huge part of art.  If you make it, they won't come and see it unless you tell them about it. So get out of the studio and start spreading the word about your art!