Sunday, September 14, 2014

Worth repeating

9 x 12 oil on panel
Available on Etsy  $95 plus shipping

I teach workshops in palette knife painting and find its a wonderful introduction for beginners who are intimidated by a more structured approach that requires more intensive drawing skills and control.  It also works beautifully for more experienced artists who want to free themselves from tight representational control and loosen their approach.

This little yellow boat is a piece has been used several times in workshops.  Its simplistic shape makes it approachable, yet subtle shading provides enough of a challenge in colour mixing and shape manipulation to have a good learning curve.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Art as a business

Wave - oil study

Waves have a lot in common with artistic life.   They are ever changing, but have a constancy that is reliable.  These studies were done as demos for an art class and painting water is one of my favourite subjects.  Its very nature is forgiving and allows you leeway in form and colour.

When an artist decides to seriously invest time, money and effort into an art career, it takes on a life of its own.  Like any business, the amount of reward comes from the size of the investment.  A career from art doesn't come easily - anymore than any career does.  There is training, practice, marketing, sales, inventory, production, etc. that has to be done on a daily basis.

There is a thought that an artist's life is an easy one, where we sit in the studio and 'play' with paints, effortlessly producing paintings that get sold magically, or we flit about going to openings or mixing in exotic circles of people at wine bars and cafes all the time. While there are moments of that, the reality is much further from there. 

Wave - acrylic study

Here's a typical day for me:

1.  Up at 5 - 5:30, coffee then into the studio
2.  Check emails and social media
3.  Paint for an hour or hour and half
4.  Go to the day job
5.  Home to get supper, do chores
6.  More studio time for painting, marketing, admin, or teaching
7.  On weekends, change out the day job for more concentrated studio time and run all day workshops about once a month

This is a constant pattern.  It doesn't change on holidays, birthdays, Christmas, etc.  Well, except the day job part, but then more time is devoted to catching up in the studio, developing marketing, making contacts and painting.

Wave - acrylic study

Also an artist's life is very solitary.  Producing art can of course be done in a group, which is often a workshop or practice session, but producing art that is intended for sale or exhibition it is usually done on your own.  You have to be content in your own company, introverted perhaps and willing to make sacrifices and yes, be selfish.

Its very much a business and being self employed, you do everything from the fun stuff to the mundane to the downright nasty, whether you want to or not.  What provides the incentive to move ahead is determination, and the level of need.  Its not for everyone. Making a living from art takes time, patience and a big leap of faith sometimes that all will be well.  It makes you take a long hard look at your life and lifestyle and how much you are willing to give up and accommodate to reach your dream.  More than anything, a solid plan is needed and a willingness to act on it, no matter what.

I'm pushing towards my dream and can see an end in sight.  How's your dream coming on?

Wave  - acrylic study

Monday, September 01, 2014

The Winningest Punt - in progress

The Winningest Punt - in progress
22" x 28"  oil on panel

I spent Saturday at the Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador, starting work on a boat painting.  I didn't get a lot completed at the museum as I spent time talking to people who were visiting and letting them play with a few strokes of the knife on the painting.  It was good to share the process and information about the subject with others and the environment was perfect, surrounded by original wooden boats.

I've  put a few more hours in on the painting since Saturday, but need to let it dry a little before adding some final details. I usually work wet in wet with all my palette knife pieces, but the layers are getting thick in places and I wanted a bit more precision so will let the paint skin over before adding more.
Landscapes are not my forte so I was steadily carving out colour and 
detail of the rocks, vegetation and houses of the background.

I asked for references of wooden boats to be sent to me as potential subjects to be painted at the museum and from the submissions, chose this punt taken at water level by Mark Hiscock. This punt is called the winningest punt, because of its ability to capture first place in punt races at Fogo Island over the last four years.  Mark will receive a fine art reproduction of the finished painting for allowing me to use his image to paint.  The background of houses and above that a rock face, is The Battery at St. John's harbour.  It still looks very much like the original fishing village it was, despite being smack dab in the city.  Its one of the city's treasures and I hope it never changes.

A Gander River Boat made a great display for my sketchbook and business cards at the museum.

Of course with the glare of light off the oil paint, its near impossible to get a decent photo of the painting in its current stage.  Photographing paintings is my least favourite part of art.  Well not so much the photographing, more the editing!  However, here's a crop of the piece at its current stage.  I'll post the final image when its complete, hopefully sometime this week.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bleeding Hearts

 Bleeding Hearts
10" x 20" oil on panel
$400 - shipping included in North America

The current boat painting I'm working on just isn't cooperating, but I will conquer it today if it kills me!  When one piece frustrates, I start on something entirely different to get over the hump and reassure myself that yes, I still can paint!

Here is the completed painting of Bleeding Hearts that I started yesterday over an abandoned painting.  These old fashioned flowers are a favourite, especially in northern gardens as they flower profusely and for so long in spring.  For me, they'll never go out of favour.

9 x 12 oil on panel

And....don't forget to check out my Sunday Sale on Etsy.  Most Sunday's I am virtually giving away an original painting at half price.  I am making room in the studio as this new series is taking up a LOT of room.  And I love making original art affordable for people.  Have a look, you might find a great gift for yourself or someone else to start their original art collection.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Recycling supports

 As much as we would all like, not every painting turns out as we anticipated.  Mine get put into cupboard, tubs or on shelves to be pulled out weeks sometimes even years later for review.  Some are worked on more, some torn up or trashed and then there are some that I paint over.

I had this image of bleeding hearts that always appealed to me.  I had several of these plants in the garden and always loved the old fashioned heart shaped flowers that bloomed reliably year after year.  I was looking for a rectangular panel and had nothing new in the size I wanted.  I rummaged around and found an old painting that never quite worked and decided it would fit the bill.  Its a 10" x 20" canvas panel so fit the composition nicely.

I'm no purist. I don't sand and gesso and sand and gesso an old piece before painting over it.  I jump straight in.  The rule is that it must be the same medium on the old piece as what I am using.  Other than that, there are no rules.  And as I'm using a palette knife, any texture on the original painting doesn't affect the new layer.

So stay tuned for the finished painting.  And yes, it is flowers.  I know.  I must have hit my head somewhere...

Monday, August 18, 2014


5" x 7"  oil on canvas

When animals pass on, I like to commemorate their passage with portraits.  Lucky was around for a long time and Lily was more the newcomer of just a few months before the fox changed all that.

Lucky in Sunshine
Stillman & Birn Gamma Series sketchbook
Pen and watercolour
7" x 10" 

White Pekin ducks are lovely creatures, so pristine white with brilliant orange beaks and legs.   I did a little watercolour sketch of Lucky and with some paint left on my palette from another painting, decided that I would create this little 5 x 7" painting using a small palette knife.  I love the texture a knife can provide, but find going this small with one can be a challenge.

Lily will be next for her portrait when I have a spare moment to fit her in.

I use what I consider 'fast' mediums when I create sketches.  These are paints that dry quickly such as watercolour or acrylic, along with pen and ink or graphite.  But it doesn't stop me from adding oils if the mood takes me.  The sketch demands the medium and all dry eventually.  The beauty of a Stillman & Birn sketchbook in most all of the series that I've tried, is that the paper is quite substantial and will take a lot of water and stand up well.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Sales

The Tragedy of the Commons - SOLD
oil on panel  5" x 7"

Whenever I clean out the studio, I get inspired about finding homes for paintings and supplies.  Now that I can see the floor and work surfaces again and have more room for a lot of large canvasses, I have launched a Sunday Sale on my Etsy site.

On Sundays during the year, I will offer original paintings or drawings at half price. While I do this large boat painting project I need all the space I can get and I enjoy others being able to purchase original art at affordable prices too.

To launch Sunday Sales, I'm offering The Tragedy of the Commons.  This little worried cod is my interpretation of the impact of the cod moritorium in Newfoundland and Labrador. The tragedy of the commons title is based on an economics theory by Garrett Hardin, according to which, individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one's self-interest, behave contrary to the whole group's long-term best interests by depleting some common resource.

Keep an eye on my Etsy store on Sundays and see if you can grab a bargain for yourself or someone else.  Remember Christmas is only 129 days away...