Saturday, February 28, 2015

Formula for Success

Posted by: Dave

Well, I am beginning to find a fairly accurate formula for which of my works sell more than others after all these years.

However, don't be fooled.  I enjoy painting either of these themes and may eventually combine the two into paintings of sexy mountain men with painted faces holding a Victorian shotgun.  But for the time, I am leaning towards simply expanding my series of woman with painted faces.  The model for this piece is Kate's sister Jill, who, as a plastic surgeon doing her residency, has plenty of down-time to model.  I tried to document more of the beginning stages of painting, which I tend to forget to do, hence why Kate's step by step typically kick mine in the proverbial groin.  The painting needs perhaps one more day of work from the last documented image. 


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oh Really? Creepy Dolls Don't Sell?

Posted by: Kate

I heard from one of my galleries that "Poison" has sold.

Everyone--artists, galleries, and laypeople alike--have ideas about what's "sellable" and what's not.  There are certain things that we take for granted are going to be a hard sale (for example creepy dolls), and things that we take for granted are going to be an easy sale (pretty young women looking all pretty and young).  Even I had thought that the above painting, in spite of its bantam weight price tag, would be a struggle to sell.  It just goes to show that you can't know what will sell and what won't, so it's important to just paint what you want to paint.  At the very least, even if the painting doesn't sell, you will be satisfied with being true to your artistic vision.

I'm a sucker for making unsellable paintings.  I mean, I made this unsellable painting too.  Creepy doll missing an arm, again with the bird wings, ratty quilt, obscure symbolism.

Oh but, wait, it sold too.  Perhaps it's time to launch a series dedicated to dismembered dolls with bird wings?  The painting above is called "Icarus Ascending."  It is 27.5x17" and was painted on one of my home prepared dibond panels.  The influences that inspired it come from all directions and can be read about in the PDF below if you're interested.

The only really new thing about my approach with this painting is that I tried out the use of a grid to get the set up drawn out.  I assembled some very large stretcher bars, carefully marked off ticks along each side, and strung the stretcher bars with thread to make a grid.  I hung this up in front of the still life set up and drew a grid on my drawing paper too.  It went very quickly--about five times as fast.  And I can say that with authority because I actually had to draw this exact set up twice--once in my old home studio, and then again when I packed up and moved into my temporary studio while our new studio was being built.  It was a pain to have to disassemble and restart a still life, but it gave me the motivation to come up with a better way of drawing out a large set up.  Small ones are easy, but I find large ones just drag out.  Of course, the grid is just there to help.  It's not the boss of me.  After plotting out the set up I had to take the grid down and give the whole drawing a critical look compared to the set up.  Following a grid mindlessly can lead to stupid mistakes.

Below are some in progress shots.  My temporary studio was my parents' basement, hence the concrete walls and dim lighting.  It was kind of hard to get any work done while I was there because it was so easy to just wander upstairs and sit down in front of the wood stove and have my parents pour hot chocolate into me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

International Artist Magazine Article

Posted by: Kate

I am the last person in the world to see my own article in International Artist Magazine, so this hardly merits a blog post, except, YAY ME.

Now I don't know what it is with IAM and Canada.  I think the magazines get sent on donkey back over the Rockies and then upriver with a team of coureurs du bois, and then floated across to Vancouver Island strapped to driftwood raft.  But MAYBE I'm just searching for explanations of why I get this magazine a month later than everyone else.

Emily and Paul's mum has told me that they will be bringing in their copy of the magazine to school for show and tell.  *blush*

My Uncanny costar Teresa also had an article in the same magazine.  It was almost like a reunion except...oh, sorry Dave.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Open Letter to an Art Student

Posted by: Kate

Dear Art Student,

You find yourself now standing at the beginning of a long and arduous road, struck through with joyful milestones, confusing side tours, and misguiding road signage.  You will learn much and create some nice work (which you will hate within the year, but love again in five years when you can look back upon "Past You" with some affectionate condescension only made possible by the passage of time and the acquisition of greater skill).  People will ask you how you plan to make money, what your fall-back is, and, if you're a woman, what your husband does for a living.  But at this important moment of lacing up your boots and swinging that rucksack on your back, I would like to share some words of wisdom, words that I can spit out at any art student with certain confidence that they apply:

Your brushes suck.

Your brushes really, really suck.

You have, like, ten brushes.  I have almost two hundred, and I still some days don't have the right brush for what I want to do.  But it's not just that you only have ten brushes and not a single one of them is the right size for the thing you want to paint.  It's that your brushes really, really, totally suck in every way possible.  I ask myself a lot of questions when I teach students.  Is this actually a brush or a chopstick with some lint stuck to it?  Did you use this one to scrub out the grouting in your shower?  Is this filbert homemade out of Great Aunt Tabitha's chin hairs?  And how did you acquire hand-me-down brushes?  How does that happen?  Did someone say, "Oh, I heard you were an artist, and I have this ratty old homemade chin hair brush in my purse that I used to clean my bathroom with.  Want it?"  Does that happen?

Your brush bridges the gap between you and the canvas.  Your brush is the extension of your very fingers.  Your brush needs to be capable of transmitting every nuance that your eye detects.  Did you know that when you use a tool, your brain rewires to accommodate it as if were one of your own limbs?  I don't want my brain to rewire to accommodate crap.

A poor craftsman blames his tools.  Said no artist ever.

Are you not worth two hundred dollars in new brushes?

Because here's a secret: the quickest and easiest way to become a better painter overnight is to get yourself some good brushes.  I promise.  If you don't understand what's so important about a good brush, it's because you've never had a good brush.  Really, you're an innocent.  You're the victim here.  You need to know that there's simply more out there, waiting for you.  And it pains me to watch you chase paint around instead of actually painting.  There's a rich and vibrant world of sable, and mongoose, and long-handles, and cat's tongues.  Chungking.  Egbert.  Someday these words will cause your heart to speed up.  But for some reason right now, you don't think brushes are important.  You will shell out hundreds on paints and canvases.  You ask me what special mediums I use.  You rifle through artist forums for Old Master Secrets.  In the meantime, I'm here with an aching heart, waiting for you to come around.  I am your voice of reason, echoing unheard like a phantom siren call luring you across the stormy waters of your mis-allocated student art supply budget.  And my siren song is this:  Nice brushes: get them already.

An Art Teacher