Saturday, February 28, 2015

Changing paths

On Friday I stepped down from my full time job and am taking on the role of full time artist.  Its not been a simple decision and there has been a lot of planning for lifestyle and financial changes that has gone into making this bold move.

Its interesting to note people's reactions to the move.  Many think that I'm retiring and others believe that 'artist' means I will have lots of free time and can do what I want all day, paint when I want and what I want and generally have a good time.  Its that same old belief that rears its head when asked what you do for a living and when you say "artist" the response is something along the lines of "Great, and what do you really do for a job?" 

Where does the idea come from that creating art is easier and less credible than any other job on the planet? The job of an artist is no different than any other job in terms of responsibilities. You have to get up, go to the studio and paint - whether you want to or not. The difference is that you work for yourself, not for someone else.  That ups the responsibility because only you are accountable for making it succeed.  Only you are responsible for ensuring cash flow, visibility, branding, marketing, production - every department.   And only you are responsible for its success or failure.

So if I lounge around all day and do whatever I want, I'm ensuring the failure of my art business.  If I work hard and follow my art business plan, it still may fail, but I will know that there were factors outside my control that contributed to its failure.

There are incentives to succeed both internally and externally.  They are the best motivation to succeed.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Eat the biggest frog first

 Rock Harbour
12" x 36"  oil on canvas

We all have sections of paintings that we don't enjoy doing as much as other parts.  And it can show if you're not careful.

The exquisite detail that is heaped on a focal point can tend to drift away when a vast background is staring back at us. There is a tendency to not pay as much attention to those parts that don't excite as much.  And yes, some areas can be a bit tedious, but they are equally as important as the main subject.  It's instantly apparent in some paintings where boredom set and where over attention was given to a focal object.  Its like seeing two paintings in one that are competing with each other.

What's the solution for disenchantment?

  1. Eat the biggest frog first.  Everything else after that is easy.   Tackle the largest surface area first and work your way down to the part you enjoy painting most.  Human nature gravitates towards the thing that provides the most pleasure and avoidance of what does not.  Its not always easy to create this way, as a painting that is built as a whole is easier to produce than one that is in sections. But, if your frog is big and ugly, you'd better start by eating that one first.
  2. Perserverance.  Equal attention must be given to all areas so that they become a cohesive unit.  While your left brain starts the argument with your right brain for abandoning what is perceived as not as interesting, its important to tune out that argument and concentrate on what is in front of you.
  3. Observation.  When we aren't as interested in something, we skim over detail.  We miss the subtle colours and nuances of values.  We don't visualize the whole image, only the part we like most.  In doing so, we dilute the impact of the painting.
  4. Never Settle for Good Enough.   How many times have I seen the "good enough" paintings??  You know the ones.   The subject is refined in detail but the background is weak and insipid.  The artist has lost interest in building the elements and at some point, usually when boredom sets in, says "That's good enough.  But is it?  Good enough for that moment in time, but never good enough for public display or a sale.  And inside the artist's head, they know it isn't good enough.  Not for them.  Not for anyone.  There is always a finish line in a painting.  Make sure you cross that line and don't let mediocre work be presented to the world. 
  5. Rewards.  When working on a section that doesn't thrill, its good to flit back and forth between it and the main subject, adding detail, tweaking, comparing.  It gives your brain a reward.  "Yes, I can work on what I like for a while."  You do need the discipline to return to the frog again however.
What's my biggest frog?  Grass and rocks.  Yep, those ones in the Rock Harbour painting.  All 10 million of them.  One by one by one...

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fishy Bits BOGO Sale


In 2013, I created a series of original relief prints of marine fish found in the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador.  I still have some original prints available and to put the series to rest, I am offering a unique opportunity to get two prints for the price of one until February 28th.

Each print measures 4" x 6" using oil based inks on Japanese washi papers.  A generous border surrounds each print.  The paper choice is random, but all are professional printmaking papers.  Each print is individual, created from a hand carved lino block and is signed.

North Under A Star

You can view all the fish prints on my website and when you purchase one print for $25, shipping included,  I'll add another to your package.  If you have a preference for the second, let me know in a note to the seller or an email and I'll do my best to ensure you receive your choice.  If I don't have sufficient prints, I'll substitute your second piece with another of my choice unless you indicate a second preference.

I will not be printing additional editions of this series, so once they are gone, they are gone and become a stack of historic relief plates! 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Winter Pear

 Winter Pear - Sold
6" x 6"

The end of a large painting is the herald for the production of a smaller painting using the paint left over on the palette. My self imposed rule is that I cannot add another colour, except perhaps some white, to the palette to complete the piece.

After Sea Harvesters was complete, I worked on this 6" x 6" piece, Winter Pear. The blues and oranges always work their way into my paintings, no matter what time of year, but I think in winter they are almost as good as sunshine therapy.

After more than 40cm of snow in a storm yesterday, more tonight and oh bliss (not)more on Sunday night, I'm wishing my winter away. I'm not a winter person in any way and driving in the stuff is horrible. I think the older I get, the more nervous I become about driving in snow. I was fearless once upon a time. What happened to that person?

Monday, February 09, 2015

Sea Harvesters WIP

 Sea Harvesters
24 x 16  oil on canvas

Fishing boats and harbours are a dime a dozen around Newfoundland and I love the sights and sounds that are ever present.  Motors running, people shouting, water lapping against hulls, seagulls overhead, they all create that unique sea town experience.

With that in mind, I created this painting of three fishing boats ready to head to sea to make their living.  I actually remembered to take photos at most points of progress so I put them together in this work in progress video.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 06, 2015

Fishing sheds

 New Perlican Fishing Sheds - Sold
6" x 8" oil on panel

New Perlican is one of the oldest settlements in Newfoundland, dating back to the early 1600s, perhaps before that.  Its a small community of just 188 people according to Statistics Canada's last census count in 2006. 

Historically a fishing community, it still has a very active harbour with colourful sheds perched partway on handmade wharves that curve the harbour shoreline.  The coloured sheds are common in some parts of the province, but seem more so in this part of the island.

New Perlican was one of my stops in my search for wooden boats last year and despite its historic significance, I could not find a single wooden boat there!  They were all fibreglass.  However the sheds made up for the lack of wooden boats and this painting is a closer look at a couple of them sitting on the harbour.  The green shed was a sketch from the other side of the harbour.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

January light

5" x 7" oil on stretched canvas
Available through Etsy

Maybe its that long dark month of January, full of snow and cold temperatures here, that's put me in the wrong frame of mind. Perhaps its dealing with lawyers and government and banks to make headway in executing my mother's estate that finds me sighing more than usually.

January 14, 2015  Brrrr

Whatever it is, it has to stop!  My frame of mind has a distinct impact on creativity.  When I am unhappy or distracted, creativity slows down or disappears.  Sleep disappears along with it unfortunately. Without a lamp to mimic sunshine, I chose to create my own light in this little painting of a bird of paradise flower.  It would be lovely to see these growing in a garden instead of as cut in arrangements in a florist's shop.

I'll also be adding to the winter light with a review of an Ottlite Easel Lamp and the chance of winning one for yourself.  I love the lamp already and if you're in a light deprived part of the world, you'll love it too I know.