"Everybody knows a work of art takes at least an hour!" Lucy to Linus, (Peanuts)

FineArtViews Painting Competition - Twice in the Fav 15%

http://canvoo.com/boldbrush/badge/13203 three times selected for FAV15%, Fine Art Views Bold Brush Painting Competition

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Paint This Fruit Before It Rots

       The Napthol Red finally dried so I took out a couple of semi-large brushes, mixed up just a few colours (not my usual palatte) and splashed away. This isn't great art but I had fun. Good thing as the fruit is beginning to be on its way out. It was the first real painting I've done in ages. Once this dries I'll probably go back in and work more on the folds of fabric. I really enjoyed just letting stuff happen here and not trying to be too perfect, but I am hoping to get back some focus soon, start a series, paint something that means something to me. If the weather holds I can arrange for Mike Ward, the model, to come up to pose in the box which sits here in the studio like some mysterious sarcophagus or new age shrine that I dare not move because I'm not sure I could get it all back together again.

       I was thinking about a painting a series of unmade beds but I'm pretty sure that's been done already...the great thing about painting fabrics is that they hold a pose without getting hungry or saying they need a break.



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Step Back - A Step Ahead

       Just when I thought I was making some progress I had a sudden, unexpected setback. A week ago sunday I was sitting at the kitchen table finishing up addressing the envelopes for the 15 letters I was to send out for Amnesty International's Write for Rights campaign when I noticed I wasn't feeling well. I became restless, had to stand up, walk around, and suddenly rush for the bathroom; I'll spare you the details. Then the pain began, lower right abdomen and it felt also like I had been kicked in the kidney. Then after about a half hour I felt a bit better for a while and then it started all over again. This continued all day, pain, vomiting, etc. I just lay on the bed in a fetal position hoping I could die soon. By evening I wasn't too bad again and even managed to sleep pretty well through the night - not moving too much seemed to help keep the pain at bay. 

       Next morning I felt fairly ok so I got up, folded laundry, cleaned up in the kitchen, although I still didn't feel like eating (I hadn't eaten since the morning before). Then it all began again, only worse. I was doubled up and decided to call the doctor; they gave me an appointment for that evening (my doctor is an hour and a half away). By noon I realized I'd never make it until 7:20 at night so I asked Bob to call for help. He called 911 and inside of 15 minutes the ambulance arrived. I was deathly pale, freezing cold, nauseous and in terrible pain. They got me into the ambulance and into a hospital gown, and wrapped me in blankets and put very hot plastic bags in with me (they felt wonderful but I noticed they were practically burning the hands of the paramedic). She had me breathe in nitrous oxide during the hour trip to the hospital and it eased the pain considerably. My colour was better by then so I was placed on a blanket covered steel wheelchair, one of those extremely uncomfortable but sturdy types that you can't push around yourself, and wrapped me in blankets. I sat in the emergency waiting room for three hours. My blood pressure and heart rate were excellent so I wasn't considered a high risk to die or anything - it was kind of reassuring, sort of. But everyone in the waiting room was dressed except for ME and I kept hoping I wouldn't have to find a bathroom since all I had on was an open backed hospital gown, plus I wasn't walking too steadily at that point. 

       The emerg was crazy that day (one of the nurses used the word "crazy" so I know it wasn't me hallucinating or anything). A gunshot (hunting accident), a heart attack, and numerous fairly serious cuts came in after me and all had to take priority, to say nothing of the people who had been there before me. Finally I was wheeled into a small private room in emerg and somehow managed to give a urine sample (I really didn't think I would have it in me - I hadn't eaten or drunk anything in about 30 hours). Then blood was taken, more blood pressure and heart rate stuff for the umpteenth time. I was able to lay down at least and try to keep warm under one flannel blanket for the next four hours.  I was asked a lot of questions including "are you under stress?" and "are you depressed?" plus lots of poking and prodding. The pain was gone at least but I still did not feel hungry or thirsty - just weak and tired. At length I was told that I had a bladder infection and probable gall bladder problem. I needed to have an ultrasound for which I would have to come back later in the week. I called Bob and he had to come get me at nine o'clock at night. We stopped at a pharmacy that was still open and filled two prescriptions, including an antibiotic that was to knock me for a loop all of last week. The other was to take if I got pain and cramping back, which I did not. I was also instructed to take Metamuscil every day ( I've been vegetarian for years and get a LOT of fibre so I was surprised). I eat more greens, colourful veggies, and fruit than almost anyone I know, to say nothing of Bob's home made granola, whole grain breads, cereals, and other high fibre things. I even eat seaweed for pete's sake and I HATE seaweed. 

      So we got home by 11pm and I spent days laying around and was not even interested in reading for a couple of those days. I know I'm ill when I don't want to read. Slowly I felt a bit more motivated to be up and doing things, although I had almost every one of the awful side effects listed on the antibiotic notes. I had the last one saturday and that was great. I also went back for an ultrasound on friday and they spent a full hour pushing that little iron over my torso. I get the results tomorrow from my own doctor, who was notified and asked me to come in. 

       With not having to take any more pills I woke up sunday full of energy and motivation! I suddenly wanted to do everything, had more energy than in months. I even went for the morning walk with Bob and the dogs! And I have for the past three mornings, so I guess I'll be continuing from now on. I have started to plan some new work, and even got out all my knitting books and have some projects in mind for my stash, and started to design a new quilt for our bedroom. I wrote pages in my journal. I made dinner and two apple pies on monday. What has happened? I just hope it continues. The doldrums seem to be gone and I'm not going to question that too closely.

       I got a rejection notice for the above still life from a show I entered it in and I don't even care! Now that's progress.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Red That Won't Die

          I have a simple still life that I set up for my student a week ago thursday and decided it would be a good exercise for me to paint it too. I fussed with the arrangement and lighting for quite some time, gessoed over an old painting that I never liked and the next day I put a red wash over the whole thing. I often like
a bright red underneath my work as it acts as an interesting brightening agent for colours painted over it. I decided to draw the shapes in Cerulean Blue since the blue lines against the bright red sometimes show through in places adding extra interest to the total composition. This has worked well for me in the past. I have a new colour I haven't used yet, Napthol Scarlet by Gamblin that I have been wanting to try so I decided to use it as the underpainting. BIG MISTAKE. It does not want to dry! Painting anything over it, even though it feels dry to the touch, causes a blurry, muddy result. It stains my fingers and brushes and rags and just seems to be the red that won't die! It has now been days! I had no intention of doing anything beyond a direct, quick study here as a way to restart my stalled painting motor but I can't do anything with this until it dries. It won't wipe off completely either. It just sits there in all its bright scarlet glory. I know, I   know, I could get out another canvas and start again but I can be stubborn and I don't want to do that...I want to paint on THIS canvas. And I have to get this done by next thursday as the model is coming to pose in the box for me and  this set up is draped off the top of that box and onto a table right in front of it. It has to be moved when Michael gets here.

Maybe it is something to do with this canvas. It is 12"x16" and I have had it for about 12 years. I painted a very bad plein air work on it when I was still at the Alton Mill in Ontario which I didn't bother to finish...I could see a disaster happening so I walked away and stored the canvas out of sight. Not wanting to invest too much in this "study" I am going to do I thought the canvas would be the perfect choice to gesso over and work on. Maybe it's a bad luck canvas. I am not normally superstitious but have you ever noticed that there do seem to be such things as "lucky" items and "unlucky" items in the world? Just labeling it in my mind as a sort of throw-away piece of canvas has possibly reflected in my brain and caused a lack of serious thought I normally give to more "important" pieces that I tackle. I did not test the Napthol Scarlet to see how it would act and presumed to use an untried method. At least this is not the disaster that Leonardo once had when in a moment of unconsidered competitiveness with Michelangelo he painted a hurried fresco in a method he didn't normally use and tried to dry it with bonfires built in the room - everything melted off the wall.

Now I have a good excuse to get back to my pile of books in the house. I'm half way through the last book in the The Baroque Cycle trilogy, (each book is over 1000 pages - yummy!) The whole time I'm curled up with my books, though, there is a nagging little gremlin in the back of my mind reminding me of my laziness. It's enough to make me almost believe I must have been  Lutheran in a former life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Boxed In

       Now that I have committed to having Michael Ward, a wonderful model, come to my studio to pose for me next week I have found a bit of a fire under me to get ready for this occasion. I am actually planning and working toward the series I have wanted to do for a very long time and not being concerned about how long it will take or where it will be exhibited...or even if it will be exhibited. I am still scarcely touching brush to canvas but having the set up I need is going to change that. I have been building lately...a big box.

       It started with building a small model, scaled to hold the little plastic artist's figure that I have had hanging around for three or four years. I used to have one of those wooden artist's models but I think I gave it away. Anyway, I made the little box and put the figure inside and experimented with different ways to light it.

       This is just one of the things I tried. When I felt satisfied that this might work I asked Michael, the human model, what size box he would feel most comfortable with. I originally wanted it to be 30 inches square but we decided on 40 inches in the end. I spent a couple of days trying to figure an inexpensive method for building this box; I really don't want to spend money on real wood and have it carpenter perfect - it's going to be dismantled when I'm through with it. I have some large sheets of heavy cardboard and I cut two sides to the 40" size, reinforced one side with square dowl sticks (which I use for stretching silk when I silk paint), just taped on (with lots of tape!) and taped a large piece of cardboard over the top. I put together the 8" high model stand that I had used for posing Samanda last spring, covered it in soft velveteen that I had from an old futon cover and placed the box on top. I had to  support it by tying it to the stairs in the center of my studio, put a spotlight low behind the set up, and draped a cloth over the back.  The next day I decided I didn't like the dark look; the colour of the cardboard, the purple of the floor cloth, or the dark background cloth. I spent yesterday taking everything apart, moving the models stand to a better position, and covering the inside of the box in white fabric. 

       Now it's beginning to look right and it is surprisingly sturdy and easy to move around in. I can practise lighting from different angles and may even cut a hole in the side to light it that way. I sure hope all the tape holding everything together holds up for the next week. I really don't want to have to reconstruct this thing again.

       Reminds me a bit of those Primal Scream boxes that were all the fad about thirty years ago.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Studio time actually beginning to be productive

     Returning to painting mode. Worked on this a bit on tuesday when I went to the art group and then finished it today. At least it feels done enough that I can move on. That's what studies are good for, trying things, making yourself put brush to canvas, and finding out what's going to work and what isn't. I have no vested emotions here but I do have a possible buyer, which is always nice!

     Speaking of buyers, I got a message asking about purchasing the "Lisa" painting yesterday and it sounded pretty good but I have become so skeptical and cynical that I didn't trust it. Good thing. Today the person completely ignored my specifications for payment and shipping etc. and tried to tell me how he wanted to do things 'cause he's on his way to India on a business trip and then moving to Johannesburg and needs the painting "quickly" and wants his shipper to contact me, etc., etc. Bells, whistles, red flags. It's a scam, I'm pretty certain. Ah well. 

       The model I want to use has been back in touch and I think we are going to be getting together fairly soon. He has some stuff that could help me with my thoughts for posing him...being an artist himself and having worked with so many great professional photographers he knew exactly what I meant when I put my ideas to him. Getting started on a major project would be wonderful so I am feeling more hopeful. I don't want to go into details about any of this yet...don't want to take away its power or jinx it. I have a tendency to just tell everybody everything and often to my detriment. When it starts to happen I can get all Chatty Kathy about it. Hey, I'm thrilled to even HAVE any ideas about anything these days.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Where's a "Clapper" when you need one?

        It's official. I've fallen in a slump and trying very hard to get up! A hand clapping "Clapper" would be a nice thing to have right now...send for help. But, I actually contacted a model I have wanted to use for quite some time to see if he would be willing to make a trade with me; modeling in exchange for some art. I think he will be ok with it. Great model. I need some good inspiration right now. Then I came across a blog today that really helped:

Marla has an interesting take on things. I could use more of an interesting take on things these days. Thanks, Marla. I don't even know you, but thanks.

We've had rain and snow and a bit of ok almost sunshine. It's getting darker earlier. I have no ambition. I am actually COOKING a lot these days. I hate to cook. Trying out a bunch of new vegan recipes. Most are actually delicious and intriguing so that's good. It keeps me from thinking about all the painting I'm not doing. 

I have a student now. She came two weeks ago and is coming again this thursday. I set up some stuff for her to work from. Telling somebody else to draw and paint might get a fire built under me.

Tomorrow I am going to pull myself together, get out of the house by 8am and get down to the art group session, which I have been missing week after week. Even if only one other person is there it will help. I need some connection. Bob is great but he doesn't draw or paint and has some trouble relating to this problem I'm having. The three dogs are great too, but they don't draw or paint either. I like being alone, quite a lot, but not THIS alone. Stimulation. Some feeling of enthusiasm that makes me want to get out to this studio to work on some painting every single minute! Where did it go? I've been here before so I figure it will pass...but in the meantime it sucks. 

Think I'll go in and make a stuffed tofu/fake turkey roast.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Step in the right direction

     I chained myself to my art table (well, not literally) and worked this afternoon to overcome what was rapidly becoming a self defeating attitude. (Thanks Bruce for, once again, giving the needed pep talk:-). It is not the end of the world when the mind blocks but it sure is distracting. I started to feel it coming back and while this is not a top drawer piece it is beginning to have some of the sense of control that my personality type requires. I don't mind happy accidents but I do like to have a fairly close connection and concept to what the heck I'm doing. Choosing an all white setup was probably not the smartest way to jump back in. The light was changing a bit from the window and the overhead lights added some unwanted yellow cast but next session I might get out my colour corrected light stand and go over this again. Or just start something else. Right now I have to get back to all the petitions for world justice that I have lined up to sign. Apparently when enough individuals gather together to say the same thing the powers that be sometimes listen,(Occupy Wall Street case in point), although I have to admit I am glad there isn't a group out there getting ready to occupy my studio right now.

AshCan School - I Don't THINK so!

       I have not joined the Ash Can School of art but you wouldn't know it by the result of my first attempt to get back into painting. It put me off so much that I haven't looked at it in three days. I have changed the set up now a bit to simplify it even more and have taken myself to task to really LOOK at the colours that are in this piece of crockery. My head is floating around in clouds and down in the depths of confusion. I will be better again. I have to be up to my chops again. This is disgusting me. It didn't help to get the news that my piece, "Girl in a Garden" had to be sent back to me and won't be in the FCA 70th Anniversary show - it arrived "damaged." I don't know what that means as I haven't seen it yet, but I can surmise that the glass is broken. They have told me though, that the piece will still be seen on the website for the show so that is something. I shall have to switch to using plexiglass I suppose but I always worry about static electricity causing migration of pastel particles to the under
surface of the glass. I hate using fixatives as they can blob and discolour sometimes. 

       Meanwhile I have to get started my mantra while facing the setup and trying again, "I DO know how to paint, I DO know how to paint..."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pencil to paper

       It's pencil to paper! I broke through the wall, so to speak:-) Now if I can just get through all the past paperwork, emails, blog and FB posts, plus catching up on 68 Lines and Colors RRS feeds...www.linesandcolors.com check it out - wonderful artwork to look at from amazing artists around the world! There are just too many out there and the competition is killing me! But it's great never-the-less. Keeps everyone on their toes - kicks out the complacency - and keeps everyone sharp.
       Today I will put brush to paint to canvas...I swear!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Working up some steam

       It is finally beginning to happen...every day I move closer to actually putting brush to canvas!  I now have a simple still life set up and feeling that rush of anticipation to actually start. Putting aside the continuing pain of my stupid ankle, leg, foot thing is much more possible when I'm focused on something else. (I do think I may have to revisit a doctor if this isn't feeling better in a week or so). 

       I'm going to use a limited palette and keep the design simple, on a small canvas (5x7). Working from the still life direct, not photos will also stimulate my thinking processes. This jug has been a favorite subject off and on for a couple of years. Once this is completed I should be well on my way to larger, more challenging stuff again. Just deciding today which lighting to use.

       It amazes me how easily and quickly the muse can disappear and how hard it can be to coax her back. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Time to get motivated

To Tell A Story  -  oil  -  16"x40"

     Yesterday I received in the mail my certificate of Best Figurative/Portrait Award from the Annual International Representational Show (AIRS) through the FCA in Vancouver, BC. It is for the painting, "To Tell A Story," which seems to be a big hit with everyone who sees it. Along with the certificate came an unexpected surprise - a cheque for $500! Wow. And that almost covers the amount of money I have spent on entry fees in the past few years. Now that gives me a kick in the seat. I have been struggling with feeling up to getting back to painting and what more motivation could one ask for? Now the problem is, what do I do for an encore? Am I only as good as the last painting? Where was my head when I came up with this canvas? Can I get there again? Can I top this? Should I even care if I can or not? But no pressure...I wish. It's ok. With all the stuff going on in the world my little problems "don't amount to a hill of beans" as Bogey said. See. I feel better already!

      I think I'll stick with starting back in slowly. I have a request from one of my collectors ( I have like three collectors so it's one of those:-), for another one of my tiny jug paintings. That would be a good, not too demanding project to reacquaint myself with paints and brushes. I can't believe how daunting it feels though. My foot, ankle, and leg are continuing to be quite painful but I am gradually reclaiming mobility. I spend way too much time on this computer and this morning I deactivated subscriptions to a few newsletters. I may have to deactivate a few more before I'm done. Meanwhile I have to take up my supplies and actually begin. I did get a small canvas out the other day and I have looked at it. It's a start.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Empty Space

This shot is from last winter but is an adequate sentiment regarding the state of my art life right now. The space is empty - of me.  But not in my head or heart:-) Next week this cast is supposed to come off and physio starts so that the ankle can be strengthened and I will once again be able to hop, skip, or jump my way out here in all weathers!  I just hope I am not too rusty. I have not even been sketching. It's just not there for me right now. I do, however, sense things happening in my little grey cells, especially way in back, hiding underneath the blankets I have piled on to protect my fragile psyche while I heal. New paintings are fermenting...I can tell. Even I am not sure what they will be yet. It's kind of exciting, really, to be surprised when I start new work, especially when I carefully plan it and then it digresses from that plan.

Good news, though, in that my latest bone density scan shows improvement! That is the first time in a long time. The Strontium and Super D that I take daily must be working. I gave up on bisphosphonates (Fosamx, Actonal,) etc. after being on them for about seven years. They help in the beginning but only make the bones more brittle in the long run. Yes, I have osteoporosis. My mother had it and my grandmother, both quite severely. I refuse to give in to this. There is a utube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVfG-YiM4ZM. It is reputed to be Ginger Rogers at 92, dancing with her 29 year old grandson, but is in fact a 79 year old British lady dancing with her 35 year old instructor - but who cares - it is a wonderful example of what refusing to give in to feebleness in old age can do! Of course, I do know that some things can't be overlooked, ignored, or refused - some illnesses come without warning, without any way of fighting them, and without fairness concerning how well one has taken care of oneself. Still, I hope to maintain a modicum of dignity and strength as I age, and the courage to speak up about what is important to me. I want to hang on to all of my marbles as long as possible:-)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Slow Recovery

For any and all who might be interested this is the present state of my broken ankle - healing but more to follow. I am now on my second cast and they gave me this attractive boot to strap on to make getting around a bit easier. I can sometimes hobble out here to the studio where I have been catching up on paperwork, emails, blog reading, and insect murdering. (For all that I am a vegan, and I really do hate to kill anything, even bugs, but when they invade and try to take over my territory I am a regular Conan the Barbarian.) I even managed to pack up a painting to ship out to a show in Vancouver which I got to the shipper with the help of dear husband and help/mate, Bob.

I am working up to returning to actually painting and/or drawing. Somehow the motivation hasn't been there yet. I will reach a point where it is more painful NOT to be painting than it is to BE painting. 

Meanwhile I have to work up the strength to hobble back to the house and hope I get there before it starts to rain. I hate to see a grown woman cry.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Life is what happens while you're busy planning other things...

Trying to post this on my husband's computer as I can't get out to my computer in the studio. Gave myself an unexpected birthday gift yesterday (birthday is today)...broke my ankle. This is not how I expected to spend today. Good time to catch up on my reading I guess if I can get past the pain...hate the painkillers they gave me so I'm not taking them any more... well maybe tonight so I can try to sleep:-)

Catch up with you all later.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Trying Not to Destroy A Work of Art

This morning I took courage and tackled the opening of the frame and retrieval of the pastel so that I could fix the area that had smeared a little. Like some of you commented, the blurring effect didn't bother me really but the client was very upset about it and I do want her to be happy. Below is my sequence of art restoration:-) I am not an expert, and please, Don't Try This At Home unless you are prepared for possible consequences (like ruining the whole thing).

Oh, for those who asked, the piece is titled "Possession of a LyreBird".

Facing the problem.

Slicing through the glue holding the backing on.

Didn't slice neatly (can you tell?)

All those metal clips have to be bent up or removed.

Success getting it out! Left the mat and glass in place.

Corrections were so minor it felt like a crime to open this thing.

Tested the spray on a scrap first...now for the actual art.

A bit of blobbing but very lightly sprayed a couple of thin layers - one spot went right through the paper and left a slight stain. I was afraid of that. I have been able to sort of cover it with some pastel tone - it was on the background paper colour but I'm not pleased that it happened. This why I usually DO NOT use spray fix.

Attempts to cover it are not perfect. Struggle, struggle. Erase. Try new colour.

Not bad I guess, but I do feel that the original integrity is slightly blemished. There is absolutely nothing I can do about it so have to let it go and hope the client is ok with it.

Now back into the frame. The client will have to take it back to the framer to redo the backing. I'm not touching it!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spraying and Praying

Yesterday I met a woman in our local library branch who bought this pastel from me last year and had it framed. She asked me to come by and see how it looks framed and to evaluate an area where the pastel seems to have blurred and wondered if I could fix it.

The frame looks very good with the piece and is a nice professional job, which means the backing is sealed - tight! I really am not very concerned with this slight blurring that appears on the lower edge of the hands but it really bothers the owner of the piece so I will see what I can do and give an update on how it goes. It will mean breaking that sealed backing and then I don't know what I'll find, how the framer has attached the paper to the mount, etc. I just hope it doesn't turn into a real problem. At least this lady understands that she may have to return to the framer to have it sealed up again, and she will pay me to make this correction since it wasn't my doing. I didn't spray fix the piece - I hardly ever use spray fix as I find that on occasion it can blob and blotch and even change the colour of the pigments a bit. I will see what I can do and hope nothing gets ruined. I have some Fixatif Latour by Sennelier, which I haven't tried yet, so this may be a good time to do so. It is non aerosol, designed specifically for pastels and needs to be applied in several thin coats. It is supposed to be non-yellowing synthetic resin. Better do this outdoors also. Spray fixes are toxic. Keeping my fingers crossed that this turns out well.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

SCAM Warning

No pics today, just a warning, which I know many of you already are aware of. I received today this email:

Good day to you.

I am so excited that I came across of your work on internet search, I am interested in purchasing these creative artworks from you......................

Hydrangeas, Fruit Bowl and Two Decorative Boxes

Let me know their various prices. and how much discounts are you going to give? I will be happy to have these selected artworks hung in our new home in South Africa. As well, I want you to take out the shipping cost. I have been in touch with a shipping firm that will be shipping other house decoratives.

We are traveling from our Seattle home to our new apartment as soon as possible. On Paying for the artworks, I will be glad to pay you with a Money Order or Cashier's check in US funds that can be easily cashed at your local bank, please let me know on how to proceed for the payment of the creative artworks.

I will await your advise on how to proceed. Have a wonderful day.

Take care,
Rhoda Anderson

Punctuation, grammar, and spelling is just as it was sent to me (except I did put a space between sentences which the sender did not do:-). This email has been going around for months (maybe years) to various artists and some have fallen for it, unfortunately. It is a scam. There is a lot of elaborate back and forth about prices, etc., and you are getting more intimate with the supposed buyer. They send a check for more than you asked, apparently, and you are asked to send the generous shipping fee amount on to their "shipper". Their check, of course, is no good and you are out the money you "return" for overpayment of shipping cost and no shipper shows up to take your artwork. 

I have received this sort of email a couple of times before but never fallen for it, thank goodness. I am SO wary of stuff coming at me through the internet that even when something is legitimate I find myself researching it all before taking any action. It is such a shame we have to be so suspicious but better that than being taken. Even so, I was once taken by an extremely elaborate scheme set up by a con artist back in 1999 concerning a portrait organization & national exhibit - several fairly well known artists besides myself fell for this guy's line. I recently found out he is still out there and working his cons on other artists but due to legal constraints (which frustrate me no end!) I cannot name him. I won't name any of the other artists either as I don't wish to embarrass them. Most of us didn't lose anything but our pride but a few did lose a lot of their artwork to him, particularly an elderly lady artist (well known, now deceased) whom he charmed and took advantage of shamelessly. I guess he sold all her stuff...don't know. I wonder which circle in hell Dante would place him?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Petulance vs. Pleasantries

The Originals Only show kind of did me in last weekend and it has been a very busy week since so haven't posted in a while. I spent so much time getting ready for the exhibit that I neglected some things around here that I have had to catch up on now. Got a pretty good sunburn the first day of the exhibit - forgot about SUN (haven't seen it in so long) and covering up and using sunscreen. Fortunately my friend Lesley, whose place I stayed at saturday night, gave me some no. 45 sunscreen to use on sunday and kept me from becoming totally fried. I did have a hat to wear but it allowed sun to hit my chin...spent part of this week exfoliating rather obviously. 

The pastel here is, by consensus of all who saw it, finished. I had planned to do more (exactly what I'm not sure) but I'll take the wisdom of the masses to heart and call it done. I think it might have sold if it had been matted and framed...it received a lot of attention, as did my two paintings of Samanda, especially the one with the parrot. That even was published in the newspaper in full colour, which I didn't know until several booth visitors exclaimed "Oh, that's the one in the paper!" Lesley had a copy to give me which is nice for my "file of fame." 

Here I am in the booth trying to look artsy. It gets harder as you get older but the interest in the work was gratifying. Sold one of my large life drawings, which was matted and framed and almost all of my art cards, did three 20 minute on-site portraits and might have a couple of painting commissions coming my way. It wasn't as good a result as I had hoped for but certainly not a washout. Still, I am asking myself if the amount of work and nervous-wreckness is worth doing outdoor shows any more. I came home utterly exhausted sunday night. I think this may be a young person's game.

Bob and Tyler were extremely helpful in the setup and later the taking down of the tent and hinged doors (very heavy and awkward). I took them to dinner sunday evening with some of my earnings:-) I admit to being a tad cranky saturday morning as we got there a bit late and I still wasn't quite set up once ten o'clock rolled around. I had wanted to leave really early (it is an hour and 45 min. drive to the site) but that didn't happen. All the way there I was reminding myself to be calm, to be accepting, and to realize that it is NOTHING...not the end of the world if I am not quite set up on the dot of 10 AM. That effort only sort of worked as I set about organizing, hanging, and setting up while muttering to myself about punctuality. I wish I could extricate these mincing, minor, annoying, stupid tendencies in my character to get all petulant and testy over things that do not matter in the big scheme of things. 

It all turned very pleasant once people began to appear, which was even before I was ready. Happy faces and general cheerful and expansive moods helped mine immensely. While talking with some show goers I didn't notice an elderly man stroll in to look at my work until after the others left. From the back he looked very much like my father (deceased now for some four years) and it grabbed my heart...I thought for an instant that it was he. He turned around and of course it was not but I was so happy to see this man that I took his hand and told him my first reaction to seeing him. He smiled sweetly and was so nice. We talked at length about the work and he was very appreciative. He left and then about 20 minutes later returned to look some more. He saw my sign stating "Have Your Portrait Drawn - $20 for 20 Minutes". He smiled at me and said, "Why not?" and sat for his portrait. We chatted and I realized he was a bit lonely and was really enjoying this interaction. He was very pleased with his drawing and I saw him showing it to other people later on. It made me wish I lived closer so that I could become better acquainted with him and it made the entire weekend worth more than I can express.

At one point three little girls, about seven or eight years old, came by and were very carefully looking at all my work for quite some time, chatting quietly amongst themselves. As they went to leave one of the little girls stopped, came back to where I stood, and said with immense seriousness and intensity of feeling, "You are a REALLY good painter!" There is no price that can be put on moments like that:-)

I actually ran out of business cards - never had that happen before. If even just one nice commission or painting sale can come from all those who took a card I will be extremely pleased and grateful.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fruit and Privilege

It looks like I might even get this finished by Originals Only showtime next week. I have been sluggish and distracted. Yesterday's unusually lovely weather lulled me into a bit of a stupor for a while as I sat on the deck with this pastel in front of me, my tools next to me and my mind drifting.

I've been reading "All Art is Propaganda" which is critical essays by George Orwell. It is interesting and enlightening to discover that things are not so terribly different now from that time (late 30's, early and mid- 40's). Fears of a totalitarian takeover of the planet were high and artists were caught in the middle of feeling they had to take sides or be damned by all. Being able to fuss over the arguments between fascism, democracy, social democracy, and communism was for the privileged middle classes of most western countries but the great masses of the planet's population were concerned with just staying alive. It's the same now. I am not wealthy by any means but I am privileged to live in reasonable safety and have enough to eat.  Meanwhile millions are on the verge of utter devastation in the Horn of Africa.  I ignored the debt I have again (it gets paid down and then starts to build again no matter how careful we are) and contributed to UNICEF. It should be more. Taking heart in the peace and good fortune I experience here in my small mountain retreat and sending out hope and love to all those who living - and dying - on the edge. I can even afford to pose some fruit for a painting without worrying about how soon I can eat it.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Singing for my supper at TOSH

     Being in a show is always a bit of a bittersweet experience. The fact that I was invited to participate does not ease the somewhat jittery sense of self doubt that exhibiting frequently elicits. Is the work up to the quality of the rest of the show? Will my piece "fit" with the genre? Is there going to be any special notice of my contribution? There are some conflicting feelings of ego and humility involved too. Is it saying "Look at ME...look at ME!" when in a show? Yes, it must be - as artists we hope people will indeed LOOK. There is also the feeling of bearing one's soul to the eyes of strangers which can cause some discomfort, so maybe one would prefer "look at me...but not too hard." The whole exhibition process is an odd notion in some ways. In many more so-called primitive cultures art is just a part of every day life. Everyone appreciates the work but does not hold it on any special separate pedestal. Not having it around would be felt, the work is important to the collective soul of the group, but does the individual artist receive accolades? Here, on the walls of The Old School House (TOSH) gallery I sing for my supper so to speak...and do I get supper or do I go away hungry? There was definitely appreciation in the large group that came to the reception and that is a pretty decent meal.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Finding the Right Greens & the Price of Potatoes

Using the Pan Pastels for background with the little painting knife style tool...liking it a lot! Nice choice of colours from the portrait set I got so I think I'll investigate some other colours of Pan Pastel now. They work well for the large areas on the jug too. The grapes are being done mostly with pastel pencils as I don't have the right colour greens in any of my sticks, except for the Nupastel yellow/green. I love the Granny Smith Apple Green in the Conte pastel pencil that I have. Can't seem to locate that shade in any of the brands of stick pastels so far but I probably haven't looked hard enough. I have dozens of other greens and none are right. Interesting. Below are the colours I'm using most (again, except for the yellow green Nupastel). I have none like these in my soft or hard stick pastels. They are all either too blue or too olive, too light or too dark. I shall have to take some time to investigate online I guess. Opus Art Supply in Victoria has Rembrandt and Nupastels but other brands I have to order. Frustrating. Oh, they have the Pan Pastels now too - must check those when I get down there!

Actually I'll be in Victoria tomorrow but a busy day is planned and I don't know if I'll get to Opus. Taking the Brentwood ferry to Sydney to see friends for lunch and then to Victoria to pick up Tyler (13 yr. old grandson) and we'll take him and  his Mom to the Paint In on Moss St. put on by the Victoria Museum. About 100 artists chosen from a larger number who applied (I am told) and mostly doing demos of their chosen style and medium. And hurray! It is NOT supposed to rain as has been predicted all week (its been raining here non-stop for a week) but just cloudy, and I can live with that! We have not had much of a summer here but it beats heat and humidity...still some real sunshine that lasts more than a day - or a few hours -  would be such a treat! Farmers down province are filing for government aid since it has been such a wet year crops are rotting in the fields. There goes the price of potatoes again.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jug Serenity

There is nothing quite like soft pastels in muted shades on grey Canson paper. I find a quiet peace, badly needed lately. This jug in particular has wonderful proportions and I have used it in three other works. I think I spoke in an earlier blog about how I almost didn't buy this jug. It was a bit more money than I wanted to pay but I've been really glad I overcame my reluctance. 

Meanwhile I am struggling with the idea of coming up with a single focus, subject and medium, for what I do. I am so easily side tracked though. Yet I do return to subjects and styles eventually - I've noticed this is the case with many artists. It isn't easy finding a niche where one can maintain enthusiasm and creative ideas for it. Becoming known for painting, say, oversized dancing fruit in a limited palate of green, red, yellow, & black, or purple Rhinos in tutus with really big eyes, or heroic Greek myth characters in contemporary scenarios could get boring really fast. Some artists do pull off the one subject method really well, though. Sam Dolman for one, who specializes in head and shoulders portraits of farm animals, particularly cows - and they are incredible! My mind drifts off into hinterlands far too easily. Even while I am working on a painting that is fascinating for me I find myself thinking sometimes about other subjects to explore. And then I do, sometimes, return to a favorite, like this white jug. It has that timeless serenity of shape, and properties of light reflection which   mean endless, subtle changing tones of colour and value, and pulls me back  where  I see something new in it.  And the fresh faces of young women, especially with flowers, or beautiful birds which can seem to speak of longing and the unknown future they face. 

The jug calls.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Who's Who

     Last week while getting ready for the upcoming Fisherboy Resort Art in the Park event, held annually up here in Sayward valley, I was contacted by the Cambridge Who's Who team...I had received an email asking if I would like more information on this network building group and like an idiot I replied, ok, and expected to get more info online. Instead they had  my phone number and called me one morning. There was high pressure from the very friendly, polite, and flattering young woman who interviewed me. She said they had to establish that I had the right credentials for inclusion in this book, which is run by  the son of Donald Trump, all of which is true as far as it goes. My credentials hit the mark apparently and I was offered a very "special" part of the program...I KNEW the hit was coming, little red flags were flying all over the place in my mind, but I continued the conversation, seemingly unable to find my grownup self and put a stop to this snowballing event. Money, of course, they wanted money. A lot of it. When I responded that I couldn't pay that the price came down, a slightly less extravagant offer of benefits with the membership. After twice more telling her I couldn't pay she came up with a much more affordable deal and I found myself accepting!! I would be in the Cambridge Who's Who, with contacts available among all those thousands of other privileged beings...WHAT?? As soon as I hung up I knew I had been taken. This Who's Who is legitimate and I might even, indeed, benefit from membership, but the manner in which I had been shoved into it was irksome to say the least...embarrassing at best. I looked all this up online and found many others who felt bamboozled into membership. It is not a scam really, but it is high pressure sales that is morally questionable in my opinion. Vanity memberships are not where I want to be any more than I want to be part of a vanity gallery or any vanity publication. Anyone with the money to plunk down can participate. Merit is the merest part of the equation.

     The story ends well, fortunately. I called my credit card customer service and they recommended that I first talk to the Cambridge people and get them to remove my membership and the fee they took from my credit card, which had already been approved for payment. I had been given a phone number and extension to reconnect with the woman who "interviewed" me but I got voicemail. I hemmed and hawed and then decided to call the number again and go to their customer service extension. I got a different young woman who was taken back by my request for cancellation and my money back. She wanted to know the reason and offered me a yet cheaper form of membership. I said I wanted no membership and just to cancel me and return my credit card money. She persisted, almost demanding to know my reasons for canceling but by now I was Karen Martin Sampson ADULT-IN-CHARGE and very politely and quietly persisted with my request for cancellation and a refund without offering any explanation other than I had changed my mind and didn't want this service. She went away for a few minutes, got a supervisor and she very suddenly agreed to cancel me and refund my money to my credit card. Now I wait until my next statement, in about three weeks, to see if the refund is in place. 

     It left a very bad taste in my mouth and more self lecturing about yet "another fine mess" (ala Laurel & Hardy), I had gotten myself in and why do I allow others to manipulate me, and when will I finally grow up, etc., etc. My plans for the Art in the Park kind of got put to the side after this and I was all thumbs getting set up yesterday. I attempted a new method of hanging the art by having Bob help me put U shaped strips along the top of my hinged doors and having hooks and very strong lines hanging down to hold the art work. It seemed to take forever to get the lines  the right length and then the work seemed to be swinging a bit, plus some of the pieces hung with the top sticking outward so they hung at a wierd angle and were hard to look at. So much for my brilliant idea. I went back to simply hammering in picture hangers for the last few I wanted to put up... meanwhile two hours had gone by!  I had wanted to avoid continually putting more hanger holes in the doors but at this point I hardly care. I don't do outdoor shows often enough for it to matter. If I did I would invest in some professional outdoor tent wall hangers, the gridded ones that won't blow over in the wind and that can hold any number of paintings securely.  I have one more outdoor event, in about three weeks, a weekend down in Comox at the marina for the Originals Only show. I think I need to rehearse putting all this together beforehand. At least I made $20 yesterday:-)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cutting things up

     Waiting for the results of my submission to the A.I.R. show in NY and that won't be until mid August. Meanwhile I have two upcoming outdoor shows to get ready for and an exhibit in Qualicum Beach. The "Girl in a Garden" piece went down to the Qualicum Beach show at the TOSH (The Old School House Gallery) last week and will be part of the "Pastel by Invite" show starting July 18th. The first outdoor show is next Sunday; the small Art in the Park we have up here in Sayward every year. This is held on the grounds of the Fisherboy Resort, which now has new owners who are willing to keep the art show going, at least for now. It is not terribly well attended but enough tourists show up to make it worth the attempt to be seen! I usually sell a number of art cards and last time actually sold a pastel painting. It is also good practice for the rigamarole involved in setting up the tent and exhibit walls. There is live music and the Fire Dept. has a food booth; there are face painters and craft vendors. I actually enjoy doing it every year as there isn't a lot of pressure. The other outdoor show is a bigger affair; the Originals Only show at the marina in Comox next month. That is two days and requires much more planning. Fortunately part of the fee includes paying for overnight security so we can all leave our tents set up. As long as the wind doesn't whip up too much from the ocean it can be quite pleasant. Last time it rained a lot too. It's one of those times one could wish for the weather controlled domes we used to hear about for the "future" when we were kids...

Above is a pastel I did over two years ago and exhibited in the Originals Only; it got flipped over in the wind and the frame's glass broke. I had done some Poppy paintings before that sold well but this one was too contrived, too overworked and just not very exciting. It finally hit me yesterday that it is not a very good painting. I did it on Wallis, that very expensive pastel paper, which is white and quite rough. It does not suit my temperament in any way, there is  a lot of it left and I should just give it to someone. It is museum quality archival, though. I love Canson's Mi-Tiente Flannel Gray and some of the other gray tones...the smooth side. It gives me the effect I'm after and my experiments with other pastel papers and boards have left me very frustrated, although the Spectrum pastel boards aren't bad. The Canson's is supposed to be acid free, so I hope it holds up well over time as I really do like it's surface.

Back to this pastel though; I am going to cut it up in small sections and sell it off that way. The cropped parts look so much better, but even so it will take a moment of courage to actually perform this surgery. Once started I won't look back and I will be rid of the sense of dissatisfaction I have always had whenever I looked at this piece. 

     See, that is much better. I can probably manage four or five small pieces that will mat up nicely and sell for a very reasonable price - under $50 I think.

      Once these shows are finished I DO want to begin that series I have had in mind for how long now? About ten years?? What keeps me from it? I always allow myself to be distracted. It is that I fear committing to something that will take a long time, a fair amount of cash, and might turn out to be nothing very special. Ah, please, Karen. At your age why should you mind? Everything will be gone in a million years anyway...nothing is permanent...just enjoy the ride.