"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

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.