Smart phones are great for documenting the progress of a painting. It’s fun to be able to record how the sausage gets made. I find myself doing it more and more. It’s also good to be able to show people the process in stages.
I’m currently working on a commission that is based on a famous photo of the Beastie Boys. Yes, I have previously ranted about how much I dislike taking commissions but even I make the odd exception. I have always respected the fact that they didn’t spell Boys with a Z and for that reason alone am happy to pay homage. Also, money.
I’m also starting a painting of a hippo emerging from the water. I love the shape of hippos. To my mind, they are the reigning body-positive champions of the wild kingdom. They look so funny and harmless but are apparently surprisingly effective killing machines. Also, the ears are too funny.
Also doing a painting of a camel cigarette package. I guess it bridges the gap between animals (which I most often paint) and my recent foray/return to pop culture images. I recently did and painting based on a famous photo of Marilyn Monroe at the beach. Maybe the camel cigarette painting is my attempt to reconcile the two apparently opposite directions.
I wonder what advice that I would give my younger self if such a thing was possible. I also wonder if I would take that same advice now. Is it too late to take my own advice? Has the opportunity to take lessons from the things that I have learned in my life passed me by? Will I trust myself enough to take it?
Here is some of what I might say:
• Develop your own opportunities and don’t depend on others to do it for you.
• Learn other languages as soon as you can. It gets way harder as years pass.
• Invest in technology.
• Focus on your art.
• Enjoy your kids.
• Embarrass your kids for fun but not too often (that way there’s an element of surprise)
• Believe in yourself.
• Be a morning person.
• Maintain a healthy life.
• Connect with other people who do what you do.
• Work hard. Play nice.
• Don’t self-sabotage
• Don’t bother with twitter. Please follow me at @hummygoo (please, I’m begging you)
For 10 days in July, I participated in a studio tour that happens in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. The tour covers the general region including the town of Knowlton, where my wife and I have a place. It was the first time that my current painting style/incarnation had been seen by anyone outside of a few friends and family. Overall my paintings and silkscreen prints got more of a positive reaction than my ability to speak French. Admittedly, this is a very low bar.
This blog post isn’t really about the Tour Des Arts so much as it is about the responses that my previously (mostly unseen) work got from those that visited.
It’s fair to say that the majority of people who had seen photos of my work on TourDesArts.com or in the printed brochure were surprised to see that my medium was painting rather than wood-cut printing. I suppose that they were expecting the images to be smaller and on paper. Of course, this was true of the 5 silkscreen editions that I had on hand but most of the pieces were acrylic paintings on wood (acrylique sur bois). The sizes ranged from 2′ x 1′ to 4′ x 2′ and tended toward the latter.
It’s also fair to see why they were confused. The linework does have a similar graphic quality to wood-cut printing or engraving. I have many more layers than one would tend to have in block printing but those tend to be more visible up close and at full size. However, when seen in reproduction or at any kind of distance it has that same kind of binary quality that comes with printing one colour at a time.
I actually do paint with a single colour at a time across the whole surface of the painting. This has become my technique, or even formula, for painting. This formula, in large part, dictates what one could describe as my style. I am guessing that both ‘formula’ and ‘technique’ are both dirty words in the realm of art but it only makes me love them more. My nom de plume is LooseCanine after all.
The majority of visitors also said that they saw a strong Native American influence in much of my work. Many also mentioned Australian Aboriginal influence. I can certainly see both, which is funny to me. I would never have thought of either as being something that I have looked at a lot or would ever try to emulate. Nonetheless, these things do present themselves, along with others, during the process of painting.
I am often working on something and well along when I see influences emerge. It could be anything from a stain-glass window to a Dr. Seuss illustration. I can tell you that is never intentional, at least not consciously. More often than not though, once I see an influence emerge I tend to just go with it.
In summary, I would say that having a few hundred people drop by for a quick look was very informative and provided some interesting insights into my work that I hadn’t necessarily thought much about. I’m planning on participating in the Tour Des Arts again next year but have a feeling that work done between now and then will open up some new worm cans.
Making and selling art is a tough slog. Beyond the time and effort involved, the costs are much higher than people realize.
I doubt that most artists have a clear sense of how much they are actually spending to pursue their vocation. I tend to avoid doing so because I just don’t want to know.
Between art supplies, transport, framing, it adds up very quickly. You also spend money on things like websites, business cards, invitations and other promotional items. Every time I go into an art store I am amazed by how much everything costs. Renting studio space, as many artists do, is a whole other world of financial pain.
Artists typically spend a lot of time making each piece of work. Most of us spent the requisite time and cash for formal studies, so there’s that. We’ve also spent years learning, developing, and practising our trade. All of that time and experimentation is critical to our overall development as artists. Lots of time, money and trips to the art store.
The majority of an artist’s production over the course of their career will likely never be sold. Also, brick and mortar galleries typically take a 50% commission. The 50% that’s left over for the artist gets eaten up pretty quickly by the expenses already mentioned. Even online galleries take 35%.
Making art actually costs us money so we do other stuff to subsidize it. Geez, did I say this was a business? – L/C
As an artist, social media creates a whole new set of pressures and anxieties.
I’m not really sure what to do in order to post effectively. Am I supposed to hashtag a bunch of keywords as part of the post? Am I supposed to follow a whole bunch of people and then unfollow them as soon as they follow me? That seems to happen a lot in the often insidious world of followers, and likes. People can be so awful and disingenuous on social media. It makes me crazy.
The pressure comes from an expectation that you have to promote yourself and specifically your art on social channels like Twitter and Instagram and that you have to constantly grow your audience. Your following has to be big and constantly getting bigger. Size matters.
The anxiety comes when I post something and then compulsively feel the need to constantly check to see how many likes and or retweets the post has gotten. So far my social media savvy has proven to be underwhelming. But like I said, as an artist, I am made to feel that this is a necessary avenue of pursuit and something that needs to be mastered. Ahhhhh!!!!!! – L/C