Be Yourself…Again.

I know I’ve likely written about this before: the importance of being yourself.

There is a catch however. Anyone familiar with the *90’s sitcom, Seinfeld will know how the character George Costanza surmised that to be yourself, especially if one has a very negative self perception, could be detrimental to getting jobs, girlfriends or a life for that matter.

Suppose your goal is to sell art. Sure you have to make it to sell it but let’s say you’re approaching it from the angle of selling. What if you think your art sucks or worse yet no one wants to buy it? What if you suspect the reason is your style, medium, or subject, etc. All of us artists have most likely googled ” What type of art sells best?” or “Do oil paintings sell better than water colours?” If not these questions then ones similar, no doubt.

My Take on it.

I think that creatives need to do what makes them happy. I think that pursuing art for just the money actually taints originality and creativity. This is not to say, imo, that we shouldn’t be aware of the market nor ignore the wants of our patrons and clients, etc. This is how I approach it. Customers are always going to like one piece of art en masse more than others. Any music fan will know that every band or song artist has their definitive collection of tracks or singles. We also know that having restrictions or boundaries placed on us can actually encourage creative problem solving ( a blog post on it’s own).

I’m Okay With Tweaking.

Double check that to make sure I didn’t say ‘twerking’

Our art , like our personal characteristics can always use some adjustment. I’m down with that. If we can’t aim to improve then what’s the point? Be nicer, be more courteous, avoid negative input that is not upbuilding. Change our art a little. If the public wants to see more of a different subject then create something for them. It’s not all about you or me. What’s the harm in being a little flexible. We can always learn and inform ourselves of new methods, subjects, techniques. If your patrons prefer your style and you want a change then move away slowly. Tweak.

I think it’s best to aim for what you love but allow room for change.

I think we’ll find life a little better if we stay positive about change while being ourselves at the same time.

What do you think?

Thanks for dropping by! Stay creative.

Buy some art! Buy me a coffee :^) Etsy!

Click on the image to visit my website, buy my art and support me. Thanks!

  1. *Seinfeld 1989-1998

International Lighthouse Day

Today is International Lighthouse day.

We recently made a stopover to visit and view the Sandy Point lighthouse near Shelburne Nova Scotia. I grew up near this area and used to have an uncle and aunt nearby that we made regular visits with.

There’s nothing like that refreshing ocean air, the lap of the water on the shore and the aroma of the nearby wildflowers and foliage.

Hope your summer is going great as can be. Here’s a pic of our visit.

Take care! Stay creative!

Buy some art! Buy me a coffee :^) Etsy!

Click on the image to visit my website, buy my art and support me. Thanks!

Something Greater Than Ourselves

Why do you do art? Why do you like art?

I think I was always a bit skeptical but never a ‘skeptic’. However as I’ve gotten older and can see things from a different angle than my idealistic nature, “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now” (Joni Mitchell).

Now I’m definitely a skeptic and perhaps agnostic. This would shock some of my old friends. “You mean you don’t believe in God?!” Well let me just say that I’d like a little more proof than what most religions offer- ancient texts and untestable miracles and the warm fuzzies.

This may come as a downer to them but really it’s not. I’m merely seeking honesty. What I do know for sure is that humans have developed an amazing propensity to seek something greater than themselves.

It is true that this search can lead to disaster. Even an old story like the tower of Babel still stands as a warning for us that we do have our limits in the universe. Tread boldly but with caution. The search for meaning can have existential implications.

There is something bigger even if it is just material and not supernatural. Just take a look at photos from the James Webb telescope that can peer back almost to what we think to be the beginning of time. The vastness is incomprehensible and it might leave us, as mere thinking apes, without meaning, connectivity or purpose.

This , to me, is where art, music, creativity, crafts, poetry, etc. come to us as not necessarily conduits to the divine (or God) but as meaning, connectivity and purpose in and of themselves.

We can reach each other with art, creativity and more. They do connect us. They do inspire us to at least feel some sort of transcendence. Maybe it’s just our brains trying to trick us to be so aware of something beyond the ordinary whether it is actually there or not. I say this without out reference to drugs or mood enhancers of any kind. I think the brain is capable of that on it’s on; endorphins and all.

Once when I was a young teenager while my parents were visiting family I noticed something. I forget most of the details now. However I do remember these relatives , a man and a woman who were much older, lived in the middle of a green valley surrounded by sweeping hills and fields. Anchored here and there were giant deciduous trees that have seen many days. This little house, or it appeared little to me as I sat in the car awaiting my parents return, had a deck with wooden railings. I saw an elderly man stroll out on the deck. He went to the end and held the railing. I saw him look over the vastness of the land. I’ll never forget this and even now I can feel the chills, the hair on my skin tingling as it were.

That man has long since departed this life but the image, the art that he was part of will never leave my mind or memory. I knew in that moment what he felt as he gazed over a lifetime. Bewildered by his own existence and unbeknownst of mine as well we connected. We have all felt this feeling and many more. Love, loss, anger sorry and ecstatic joy.

We all seek something ‘greater than ourselves’.

Buy some art! Buy me a coffee :^) Etsy!

Click on the image to visit my website, buy my art and support me. Thanks!

My Art Sucks!

You walk into a cafe to replace sold prints and the guy at the counter, the barista, says “Hey man, I gotta be honest with you, I think your art sucks!” Ha ha!

Well this kind of really happened a few days ago. I’ll admit I took a few liberties with the story. The guy’s point was, as he explained, “I personally don’t prefer your art but it’s the most commented on art in here this whole year…just so you know,” he continues, “I’m not f#cking with you.”

To add to this there was a customer seated at a table that overheard the whole thing. As I turned to leave, the patron began to ask all about the art. Later I surmised that he was likely feeling a little bad for me so he feigned some interest. Perhaps it was genuine. Who knows.

Ouch!

Ouch. I think I stubbed my ego! For creators this can be a very sensitive situation. Someone is honest and doesn’t like your art. Perhaps it’s too light, too dark, wrong subject, not their stylistic taste and what is often the case “not realism’. Realism is the go-to criteria often for good art…sadly.

The Parry

I’ve been at this for a few years, actually I consider myself a creative for my entire life, so the sting of the unintended jab didn’t hurt as much as it would have when I was nine and someone said my art sucked. It did draw some red medium however, otherwise it wouldn’t have made it into a blog and a dedicated cartoon to boot!

Basically the comment matters and deserves only some consideration. In a world full of a million galaxies does it matter that much that someone doesn’t like my art? Well yes and no. The first thing you could ask yourself is, “Do you enjoy what you do?” If so then keep doing it.

A second thought might be to ask , “Is my work boring?”. If you want to show it to the world the one without the million galaxies then maybe your art is boring. Try not to make boring art.

Don’t burn down the house.

People like what they like. People like what they know and what has meaning for them. We all do that. There’s some books I’ll never read and some movies I’ll never watch. We’re all the same. In my case I was actually there replacing prints that sold. That means someone cares enough to ask the prints be brought to the counter and purchased. That’s quite a decision y’know! Someone(s) were moved enough to reach in their purse and hand over the cash so they could adopt or gift my little prints. That says something.

Find the tiniest source of encouragement. Plant it. Water it. Grow it.

Don’t let your art be boring. Take every comment with a grain of salt. Yes even the good ones!

Thanks for dropping in! Stay creative!

Buy some art! Buy me a coffee :^) Etsy!

Click on the image to visit my website, buy my art and support me. Thanks!

Listen To Your Heart

There’s a lot I could write about personally but I’m trying to focus on what would be of most use to you.

One of the things that has been on my mind is the struggle many artists have with naysayers. I’m not sure this is true of other career endeavors but art and being an artist comes with the common belief that it is an impossible thing to achieve. How does one deal with this? I have a few thoughts on it.

Everyone should be open to some level of criticism, in my opinion. To be in an echo chamber is actually a dangerous place to be. On the other hand there is a major difference between receiving advice and opinion from someone in your own field with more experience (doesn’t make them necessarily right) than someone who is just critical of your existence as an artist.

Permit me to get a little personal. In my own life I’ve encounter this many times. I’m by nature an easy going person that likes to be unconfrontational. I’ve had shall we say, encounters with people who were somewhat close to me and yet very unsupportive of me being an artist. Perhaps it’s tougher being a male because as a cis gendered male one is expected to do “man’s work.” In fact my own landlord who is otherwise a very nice guy and who has received my rent for nearly 14 years religiously still considers me “jobless” (whether I work pt at something else or not)!

So one has to get to the point in their life that you realize some persons will just not understand you. Art for some is a hobby and to pursue it as a living is both self entitled unproductivity and vacuous -in their opinion. But you know who you are and how far you want to take your art. I must add here that I have and do have a very supportive partner, my wife, who never once questioned my drive to be an artist. For that I am grateful. Very.

The best thing is to surround yourself with people who are both supportive and honest.

Coincidentally , while musing about this topic, I came across a video by artists Raffi and Klee and I will include it here:

PERSONAL

Had a great day at the zoo as mentioned in my last post with my oldest son and family.

The farm on which I live hosted parking venues for the recent CFL event here in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. There was an estimated 10,000 visitors to the area. Fortunately it was great weather and mostly an outdoor event so perhaps covid will give us a break and everyone was careful.

Thanks for visiting! Have great day! Stay creative!

Buy some art! Buy me a coffee :^) Etsy!

Click on the image to visit my website, buy my art and support me. Thanks!

Artists Create Art

Grand Pre’ Historic Acadian Church

Hi guys! Just a quick one today as I’m about to head out and spend some time with the family. In the last post we discussed some ideas regarding the selling of art.

I’ve been musing lately about the simple profundity of how artists are creators. I’d like to have time to explore this further. However for today let me just say that for artists, creating an object or painting, etc is like birthing an idea into reality. Yes, I know it sounds so obvious that it might not warrant mention. The idea here , though, is that people who are not artists don’t normally make art.

In a way this is one thing that generally sets artists apart. They create art. Sure, people build houses and make motorcycles and everything else but art is made by artists. This means that if you intend to be an artist then you are the type of person that makes art without outside coercion. Sure, sure. One artist may create artwork on a daily basis whereas another makes it yearly.

I guess my goal here in this article is to give you permission to do what you naturally do. Create.

There is, of course the question of carbon footprint. This can be addressed using or reusing materials and perhaps creating digital art. A topic for another time.

So if you’re the type of person who likes to bring art into the world then perhaps you ought to just fess up and call yourself an artist. Be yourself. Create your stuff. Be , dare I say, proud of what you do and who you are.

Be an artist!

Until next time, thanks for dropping by and stay creative!! have a good one.

Buy some art! Buy me a coffee :^) Etsy!

Click on the image to visit my website, buy my art and support me. Thanks!

A Good day for Art!

Part of the latest display of my art at the Wolfville TAN Cafe

Anyone who tries to tell you that pricing art is an easy thing, is in my opinion, living in a different world.

I love every aspect of making and selling art except that one part about pricing art. However I have sold a few pieces and prints over the years and I think I’ve learned a few things. I’ve felt the joy of seeing someone pay for my art and also the sting of defeat seeing it leave my hands for well under what it’s worth. I’ve given some pieces away. I’ve had some damaged (one by a runaway gurney-true story).

The greatest problem is matching or meeting an agreement with the marketplace that satisfies some sense of worth and compensation by you, the artist. If you price it too low you will feel abused. If you price it too high it will either not move at all or discourage even further sales.

Added to this is the fact that each artwork can have it’s very own unique purpose. You can actually create cheap art to make a fast buck if you like. People respond to certain arrangements of colour (like in a sunset) so a quick splash of colours on a Dollarama canvas with Walmart paints can go for a much lower price.

So here are a few thoughts on pricing art.

A few thoughts on pricing and selling art.

  1. Beginners may want to keep prices low to moderate but not to the point where you are losing money on materials.
  2. Where you sell i.e. your venue may determine the price as well. Flea market art will go for flea market prices.
  3. Who is your target market? Some people do have money to buy expensive art. Are you reaching them? Are you providing an alternative (like prints) to those with less room in their budget?
  4. Look for collectors. Maintain a style that they recognize.
  5. Know thyself. Paint what you like.
  6. As you get more sales nudge up your prices. An underpriced artwork that took you months to create, not even considering the years of skill you have invested, is worth a lot more than you think.
  7. Aim for consistency. Overtime it might be nice to have each artwork be about the same price depending on size, medium, costs, time. Some people settle on a cost per square inch or some combination of time spent + per sq in + material cost + PROFIT
  8. When someone asks you to lower your price then explain to them the time it took you (divide it by the hour) add in costs including a portion of your studio/home rent and how much the vendor is charging you for space. Don’t be argumentative. Be pleasant and offer them an alternative (like a smaller print, etc, ).
  9. The BEST “exposure” is a sale! Don’t be fooled, free art or low priced art will be seen in low priced circles (usually). This will create a race to the bottom effect. Not saying you need to kiss up to the rich. It’s just like many things in life if it’s a luxury and if you can’t afford it then you just can’t buy it…right now.
  10. The price you set on your art reflects outward the value , in one manner of speaking, that you place on your work.

I hope these few thoughts may help you sell your art better. This is not an exhaustive list. basically what comes to mind over a breakfast coffee. perhaps an in depth look at these 10 points and more would make for good blog post topics.

Just one word of caution, take my advice and someone else’s with a granule of salt. Many factors can affect pricing and can change from country to country, from website to website and more.

Have a great day. Stay creative and thanks for dropping by.

Buy some art! Buy me a coffee :^) Etsy!

Click on the image to visit my website, buy my art and support me. Thanks!

Sunrise

Permission to Launch

Permission is a tough thing to ask for. We grow up expecting our parents to be the valve that allows all the good things to flow. Things like staying up late to watch a movie or having a bowl of our favourite ice cream. We get used to fun as something that must be permitted to happen via a gatekeeper.

Far be it from us to think we could decide on our own fun. As we grow toward adulthood sometimes we get accustomed to having to ask for everything along the way. Children expect more freedoms as they get older but soon learn that these have to be balanced with responsibilities, rule of law and the rights of others to name a few.

However there’s nothing stopping us from giving ourselves permission to do something we would call fun or something we just prefer to do. It’s the nature of children to scream for more freedom but it is the privilege of adults to make choices.

I would like to encourage you as an adult (or adolescent) to choose to be creative in all walks of life and to set aside time for art or your fav creative outlet. Remember to make choices that give you time to recharge your batteries for life’s battles. You don’t need outside permission for that. You’re the parent of you! Sounds a little Dr. Suess-ish

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by! Stay creative!

Buy some art! Buy me a coffee :^) Etsy!

Click on the image to visit my website, buy my art and support me. Thanks!

Father’s Day

One of the old houses of my Dad’s childhood. Oil Painting by Kevin Cameron

Happy Father’s Day to all you decent fathers out there or to those who at least tried and try their best.

I was very fortunate to have a good Dad for over 50+ years. Today actually marks the very first Father’s Day that I don’t have a Dad. My Dad passed away last August.

If given the chance , my Dad and I, would likely have done some things different as both fathers and sons. Although Dad and I got along and even worked well together (heck we even built a house together) we did not connect on an artistic or in the end, a shared world view. This was no fault of my father. He was raised to like cars, machines, and fixing motors. I had a penchant for art, stories, and fantasy type imaginary things. Sci-fi as well.

He just didn’t get it really. What is the purpose of people pretending to fly imaginary spaceships and explore “strange new worlds”? Once he commented on a photo he saw in one of the magazines I owned in my teens. The photo pictured a man holding a large spaceship model in a studio where these movie props were created. His comment was something like “he’s just playing…”. In other words he was fooling around with toys instead of being a real man and doing “man’s work”.

A lot of this is due to different personality types and interests arising in the same family. My dad was raised primarily in his surroundings that featured wood, machines and dirt. In fact his father was more of a farmer and my dad saw farming and ‘rock picking’ as the most laborious and unrewarding work. So he turned to mechanics and found his place there. Similarly, although spending decades of my life holding the light for Dad so he could fix a motor , I instead turned to creativity, art, writing, puppetry, etc.

If I gifted Dad one of my paintings, he in turn, would frame it with the most gawd-awful frame…ah, ….yeah (exasperation). I learned that if I was going to give him art and it needed a frame then that should come with my gift. He just had no sense for that sort of thing. But when it came to fixing things he really, really knew his stuff.

To be fair, my Dad was musical and could play almost any instrument he laid hands on.

The important thing, I guess, is having someone who loves you. Someone who will be a decent parent and take care of you. They don’t have to like the same things as you. If they do then that’s a bonus!

So as I end my written thoughts on Father’s Day I do end it with a wish that I could say Happy Father’s Day to Dad. Or as he would say , *Happy “Fiszhergrr Fahzhergrr Day”.

*A reference, I think, to one of his brothers trying to fake a knowledge of French vocabulary. So glad they never tried to pronounce charcuterie.

Buy some art! Buy me a coffee :^) Etsy!

Click on the image to visit my website, buy my art and support me. Thanks!

Break Time

The toughest thing about being an artist is finding the strength of purpose to keep going at times.

Things like Overwhelm and Burnout are common. They can happen to anyone and artists are not immune.

Of course I’m referring to artists that depend on art sales for some or all of their income. When you fall into this category you have that delicate situation of balancing your personal need to do art and your desire to sell. Knowing that money begets supplies, food, pays bills etc. you realize that a certain amount of drive is required to be successful. On the other hand , as an artist, you know that art is created from…well, simply put…the heart.

Art is done for the joy of it. Although it is possible to go all in commercial with art and simply do what is most popular just to make a sale. That is an option but in an ideal sense , I think, artist do their art for the pleasure of it or at least to escape the misery of not doing it.

In a recent podcast by CBC radio covering the now late artist Christopher Pratt (not Chris Pratt the superhero dude) said he painted images of Newfoundland because that’s what he loved. He loved his home province and considered himself fortunate to be able to make a good living from doing what he loved.

So if we truly want to do what we love then we will find , at first , some conflict with adapting this to making money. If the focus is on the art and not what just sells then you may find this an internal struggle to merge the two. I have truly spent a great deal of time studying both approaches. For me I want to give more attention to doing the art rather than making a sale. Making a sale means basically finding what the market wants and then creating that thing. Making art first means being in tune with yourself, nature , your emotions or whatever and then speaking that unto the canvas or into the sculpture, etc.

Perhaps in time we will find a merging or marriage of the two.

If you take the focus of art-over-market-demands then you may find yourself under considerable psychological pressure to produce a lot of art!

Herein can lie the problem of burnout and overwhelm. It is better imo to create good art than to make a good sale. When I used to study theology there was the question of which came first God’s grace or our faith. If it was our faith then it looked like we attained salvation by works. If it was by grace then it looked like we had nothing to do with believing. Faith was also considered a gift from God. The fact that I no longer concern myself with such questions I do see a similarity between which comes first- making money or making art.

Again in my opinion it is better to create something of value. Something that will improve the lives of others. We can go in to this more in another post. In this case I say the art (the grace) comes before the means/money (the faith). I think it is better, if possible to supplement one’s income outside of art while creating something of meaning and value. *This can be seen many ways of course and each situation is personal and depends on your needs.

Down Time.

If you feel burnout from the stress of trying to create too much art just so you can pay the bills then it is likely you need a break from the art. You may need some time to defrag. Take that time. Otherwise it will affect your sleep , eating behaviour, and a whole other host of life-related things. You will lose touch with yourself and with your surroundings and not in a good way. The quality of your art may even suffer. There is a fine line between disciplining oneself to work at your art every day and not stressing yourself to the point of sickness where you won’t be able to create art anyway.

So there you have it. In keeping these posts brief then the emphasis here is to stop and take a breather. Recharge those creative batteries!

Have a good one. Thanks for dropping by!

Buy some art! Buy me a coffee :^) Etsy!

Click on the image to visit my website, buy my art and support me. Thanks!

*There is nothing wrong with doing graphic design, illustration for popular consumption or whatever. I’m simply trying to say that it’s the quality of the work that matters if you want to make a lasting impact.