10 Years After…but who’s counting!

Can you honestly go back to doing something you love even if you haven’t done it for years?

The short answer is , Yes, I think so.

I used to do live (and studio) caricature work for fun (and extra income) years ago while holding down a full-time job. I used to hit the malls or go to local events like school graduations, farm markets, etc.

The gallery below is from 2005. I believe, as memory doesn’t serve, that the last live event I did was in 2007.



Fast Forward 10 Years Later.

Over the years I developed some farsightedness that makes it difficult for me to focus on what is only a foot or two away (about the distance from my eyes to my drawing board.) Caricaturing means being able to see nuanced expressions in detail of a person’s face at about 4 feet away and then taking that mental snapshot and putting it on paper (about a foot away). Of course glasses can correct that,etc.

Also as malls and public places seemed to be giving way to online meet-ups it seemed harder to get places that were live events.

Then some insurance issues began to crop up where a shopping mall would have to ‘hire’ me under their insurance (I guess in case erasure dust or flying pencil lead might harm someone. “keep getting your caricature done, sonny, and you’ll go blind!”)

Weather for doing outside events is always ‘iffy’ with or without a tent. Since I live in the Canadian Maritimes it means weather can change almost instantly. It’s no joke and the saying goes here, “if you don’t like the weather then wait a half an hour..” We’ve been dealing with climate change on a micro level since Noah’s Ark!

Overall the pattern – the one I perceived- seemed to be on the downward trend. So I kinda gave up for 10 years!

I kept doing caricatures in my studio at home but gave up on live ones.

Then through a local business and personal development outfit I was encouraged to dust off (that lethal erasure dust) my drawing board and give it a try. I didn’t even know if I still had it in me to draw more than a stick figure. Honestly, the demons we create!

Here are some more older pics



I am , I know  not the best caricaturist out there..well, I am the best…ahem…within a one kilometer radius for sure. At least I think so.

Anyway enough trying-to-be-funny.

Never Give Up…Never Surrender.

Although sometimes it is necessary to give something up, the general rule of thumb is if it’s something you love to do then it’s best to push yourself and at least try. I had forgotten how it felt to make someone’s day just a little better and put a smile on someone’s face. For example,one young man walked away with his finished toon repeating …”that’s awesome..that’s so awesome…”. I mean it wasn’t that great but it sure made him feel great!  And that’s the point isn’t it.

Here’s some photos of the day…Ten Years After !

 

P.S.

By the way, I did have to use some dollar store reading glasses to help me check for detail just before finishing each caricature.

I do have a caricature facebook page or you can follow my artistic shenanigans here at my regular facebook page Kevin Cameron Art

Thanks for stopping by!

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The Thing about Art (and Artists)

This scene is based on a view near Halls Harbour NS. It’s a beautiful scene of the old house house contrasted with brilliant musk mallow flowers. Available on my Etsy shop. Please click on image.

‘Just read someone’s heart-felt, out-pouring lament about the despair that sometimes seems to cloud over artists.

To be honest I identified with what this woman was saying. All her life she wanted only one thing and that was to be recognized for her art.

The problem seems to be less with ‘money’ as  she says, but a lack of recognition and understanding among family and peers as to her ‘being’ an artist.

Also she says she only started showing her art when she was 48 years old and soon she will be turning 50. She says her “time is running out.”

On her facebook post she gets lots of comments of sympathy and encouragement. So obviously it is an artist thing. Okay I’m kind of mad at myself for thinking in a similar way at times and I’d like a good honest attack on what the heck is really the problem with ‘us’ (artists)! I’ve heard everything from creativity uses up so many ‘happy’ chemicals in the brain ( therefore leaving us depressed) to we were all just raised with a silver brush in our hands and therefore don’t know just how good we have it i.e. ingratitude.

So what’s the problem and what’s the answer?

I’m going to give it my best shot.

I want to dissect her lament (without compromising her anonymity).

First let me work backward and deal with this age thing.  These will be profoundly redundant truths but truths, none-the-less.

  1. Age is meaningless really. Most likely she didn’t start being creative when she was 48. She likely has been creating her whole life in some way; at least ‘seeing’ like an artist. We are always growing!
  2. Chances are she will actually have more time to create now that she’s 50 than since she was 16 ! Maybe not. Maybe she will have to look after an elderly parent or ill ‘child’. But if you factor in the time just spent making a living and raising kids between , say, 25 and 45 it likely took up most of her time. So a year of solid creating or painting is more time than she would have had spending an hour a week for most of her life. ( You do the math..I’m an artist, lol)
  3. She says her time is “running out”. Well I can empathize however a lot of people don’t make it to 50 and a lot more ( in our western society) are making it to 85 ! So the simple fact is WE JUST DON’T KNOW! ha ha ( maniacal laugh). So why even bother to pretend to see the hour glass that belongs to an invisible Creator? We don’t know.

Next she confesses discouragement is part of this creative life. I get what she’s saying. I’ve known (and continue to know) that too. But is it really? Aren’t there hockey players that thought they were just that good and wanted to make it to the big league but now ‘just’ coach the minors on a volunteer basis? Punch! Slam! Pow!  That must have been one big Holy Batman Bag of Hurt!

Then there’s the returning veteran who struggles with scars of night terrors and perhaps horrors that have robbed him of the very limbs he or she needs to lift a paint brush.

So maybe we are just whining and sighing and sounding like a rusty saw.

She says she finds herself often waiting and waiting (the unrung phone, the empty inbox) for someone to ask her to paint something.

Why?!

She , like myself,is looking for Permission! Seriously. What else can it be? Who can ultimately give us permission? I think you know the answer. I think I know the answer. Sometimes she questions herself  as to why  she ever wanted “it” so badly. I take that to be the issue of recognition as an artist. So that’s a whole ‘nother thing. Let’s tackle it. ( Hey I’m expecting you to comment and flesh out whatever I’m missing here).

One last thing about the age thing. Art ( the pursuit thereof) is a lifetime thing…it NEVER stops. It takes years, even decades to become proficient in one’s skills.

Recognizing recognition.

Okay so further on in the comments on her post she mentions a spouse that is “very supportive” and is able to pay the bills. I don’t know about you but this is sounding pretty ideal. In fact I confess to a space of time where my wife was able to pay the bills and I was able to paint and pursue artistic venues full-time.

Recognition is going to come in this life in one or both of two ways.

  1. You will sell your work.
  2. People will tell you in some way that they like/love your work.

Selling Out

This artist, all artists, myself as an artist has to ask one question. How far do you want to go with selling your work? Is that what this is really about I wonder?  We want the phone to ring? ” Hello, I see you are a great artist and I want to buy your work”.  GONG!  It don’t work that way. If your goal is selling out ( of stock) then it means creating, finding, marketing your work and that itself is a freakin’ full time job! Nobody is going to save your a$$. Really.

The good news is, I believe, if you’re willing to put in the time and the good Lord gives it to ya then you can make some kind of living from your work. It means uncovering a market, it means finding your niche. It means study, study, study and work, work , work. Yeah like a mad dog. That’s what it takes. It means getting a thick skin and thinking of the veteran who just took a bullet for you and stop feeling sorry for yourself

The next great news is that with the invention of the internet you can paint while listening to free podcasts and Youtube vids on everything from marketing to creating work. Listen and listen. Replay the best ones until it gets stuck in your head how to do a thing and then practice it.

Falling in Love

After you’re dead and gone and if you could be ‘a fly on the wall’ you would hear a litany of praise on how great an artist you were. People will remember and think of how YOU made them feel better. Young nieces and nephews will say ” Gee Aunt so-an-so was an artist. It means I can be one too. maybe it runs in the family”

Every time your name passes over parting lips you will be remembered as someone who had a great gift, ” a natural God-given talent”. They’ll say stuff about you that will make you smile. They won’t say “she wasted her time”. They just won’t. The few that are saying it now have their own internal,emotional crises and it’s bitter water coming from a bitter well. Why drink from it?!

Fall back in love with your work and that part of yourself which is a special gift to others. It doesn’t have to be sold to be appreciated but it can be. Just remember that creating the art and the business of art are two different things that happen simultaneously. The artist is one who gives- not gets. This giving attitude , I believe, is what it takes to get.

To Be Continued…

 

 

The Top Five

Hey,what’s your guys’ take on self-improvement? I’m definitely for it. There is a ‘but’ though. Have you heard of the “Top Five”?

Recent history has given us a plethora of self-ordained life gurus that appear plastered especially across social media. From Youtube talk shows to tweets and posts all telling us how to be a better person and get the good life. Is this where I become Debbie Downer? Ah, no. Maybe I’m being just one more opinionated self appointed life coach. Ah, no.

I’m coming at this as an artist and as just an ordinary human being.

Who are  the ‘Top Five’?

No. 1 Winter Chicadee. Acrylic on Canvas. K.Cameron. This was a break-through moment for me in painting. I studied the works of artist Rod Lawrence

Well for the past few years there has increasingly emerged this idea that we are only as good as the top 5 people we spend time with. ( pause for delayed shock effect)

This showed up in one of the online courses in art that I took and seems to keep popping up everywhere. If you want success and a better life then hang out with 5 people better than you. What’s even more amazing is the likes and hearts and other agreeable emoticons that applaud this thinking. Wait now. Hold on. Isn’t your Spidey sense tingling ?

First lets set aside the notion that higher ethical standards demand we stay with an abusive spouse or be nice to the psychopath that wants to stab us in the back (literally or metaphorically).  Nobody is saying we have to let our guard down and invite danger into our inner circle of sanity. Nobody is saying that we have to pull over and help a person broken down on the interstate which could be just bait to lure us in. Call the cops. They are ( presumably ) trained for that sort of thing.

Also I’m not saying we an spend an exhaustive amount of time with ‘exhaustive people’ that drain us of energy. Everyone has a bad day once and awhile. Everyone gets in a bad place periodically.

A recent study (sorry-no link) showed that surrounding yourself with only agreeable people as staff or in business actually could undermine your success. Why? Because a discordant voice can help us see a different perspective that may avoid a pitfall for which the business is headed.

No.2 TV Dinner Acrylic. K. Cameron For me this one has a special place and I truly felt ‘possessed’ by it when painting. It reminds me of the fun times we had watching TV shows when growing up.

True story.

My father, when I was young, once stopped for a dishevelled hitch-hiker/homeless person and gave him a lift to our home. He invited him to supper for which the vagabond traveler accepted and in a twist of bizarre life-is-stranger-than-fiction moment actually ended up serving us our tea at our table!  The glances my brother and I shared form across the table. hmmm

My heart is not as pure as my father, I’m sure. Besides he did come from a different time and place where travelers were welcome at the supper table no matter their status in life.

No.3 Peace. Lockeport Beach NS. After a very restful week renting a cottage on the beach this painting ‘happened’. It’s a favourite of mine and many others.

So here’s the thing. What if you‘re the one who is not part of the  Special Five. What if you end up with the Dirty Dozen instead? What happened to “Do unto others as you would have done to you” ? What about “ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “?

What happened to the principle of reaching a hand down to give someone a leg up? They say “What comes around, goes around…” Maybe you or I will someday need the hand up. Should we be so set on refusing it to others or worried that we are in with the top five income earners and the most positive people we can find?

N0.4 Star Wars Super 8 Cover. Acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas. A special gift for my son.

I don’t know how you feel but I certainly don’t want my flag of victory and success  to be raised atop a virtual mountain of skulls. What win is that? In my book, art or otherwise, it’s a loss.

 

No. 5 Old Tree. Thinned oil on canvas board. This was one of my earliest paintings. If you read the post..you’ll understand. 🙂

Once again, thanks for visiting my blog and feel free to comment below.

 

Character Lines

My Hiking Boots-Kevin Cameron 1994

Have you ever had to deal with character lines while painting a portrait? Character lines are important because they can reveal the subject’s personality and perhaps character , to some degree. Hence , I suppose, the actual use of the word character !

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about faces and particularly those of actors’. Actors definitely do need character lines to make their facial expressions of sorrow, joy, perplexity, etc as pronounced and communicative as possible.

Take for instance a few male stars that come to mind. There’s John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and  the contemporary Ethan Hawke. (Also let’s not forget those wonderful female leads as well. ) One wonders what made them stars to begin with. I don’t mean their talent, ability or hard work. What did the directors see in them? What did the audience see?  For one, I think they had defining character lines. If you watch them as young actors you do see they have a uniqueness in appearance. As time progresses these character lines seem to become more pronounced with age of course. I mean… compare the young Clint Eastwood with the present day.

As a some-time caricaturist myself, I do know the importance of getting character lines just right. Too harsh and the face appears harsh and perhaps more mature. Too much blending and softness may expose a softer, maybe even feminine characteristic. ( trying to be careful with gender references here, ha ha)

Character lines are , of course, manipulated with the modern magic of make-up artistry.  We can hide or disguise ourselves but in the end the character lines will win out the day!

So why not be a little proud of them? They are our proof of life !

As artists ( or not) we see our share of ups and downs. Life throws curves at us all. Sometimes as human beings we go through hell on earth as they say. Add to this the fact that art is about bearing our souls to an often critical and unsympathetic public can produce its share of emotional scars as well.

The one thing we do know for sure is that we will get character lines. We can be proud of those lines and know that we earned them, in a sense. I didn’t say we deserve or do not deserve some of the judgments that befall us !

 Character lines go deep below the skin. They mark upon our very souls I think. They create the character or person we play in this life. They become the hammock of smiles and the gutters for tears on our faces .Whether we are female or male I think there comes a time, regardless of what is in vogue or fashion, regardless of  what we think of beauty or brawn we realize it’s best to own them.  To say with a quiet confidence, “this is me, I am unique and these are my character lines.”

Hey if you want to add to my crazy thoughts then feel free to comment! Thanks for visiting!

Let Me tell you a Story…

Sketch and Illustration by Kevin Cameron for a book called Stuck ( by another author)

Artists are story-tellers.  I’ve thought about it for quite a bit and can’t seem to disprove it. Can you?

Artists aren’t  natural default liars. That’s another kind of story-teller; like the punchy uncle at the family get-together that spews out strings of mistruths and half-truths and no truth about wild adventures of former times…when things were simpler…and less true apparently.

Artists tell a story every time they paint, sculpt, photograph or make music, et al. Even if they do not sit and draft up a plan but seem to act impulsively they are in fact telling a story. Sometimes the story is obvious. Take for example Banksy’s starving huddled boy  encircled by flies , behind an empty bowl, wearing a contrasting colourful Burger King hat (crown).

The story is one of poverty ironically juxtaposed with abundance. The boy likely found the hat and like any child pretends a different life. He feels he may be worth royalty but is contrastingly treated as a pauper.

Sometimes the story is not so much the content but in the mode of transmission.  Bright , bold and cheery colours might be expressing joy and lightheartedness and in fact they may be a result of something quite the opposite. A happy person can paint a dark portrait while at the same time one we would expect to be forlorn from a heavy life might find peace and respite in a world of painting happier contexts. I’m thinking of Maud Lewis , for one, who had a hard life yet surrounded herself with brilliant works of art painted from basic oil paints.

Maud Lewis – Two Deer in Snow

So what is your story? As an artist what are you saying to your world? These two are questions I ponder as art for me seems to be about expressing whatever it is I feel connected to in the moment or in some phase of life.

Art , for me, is like some twin joined at the hip or maybe more like I am the shadow of it; the art being the reality.

What does art mean to you as story telling ? Have I missed anything? Feel free to comment below. Thanks for visiting!

It’s Never Too Late ( to do what you love)

Over the Moon

Timing is a funny thing. In fact where I live the time just went ahead 1 hour (Daylight Saving Time) . Not sure if that’s relevant but just more coincidental to this post.

Do you find ( like me ) that you think a lot about whether it is best to do a thing when you feel like it or to just discipline yourself to grind it even when the feeling is not there?

Honestly I think it is a bit of both. Moderation is a word that I often feel is limiting. I mean, don’t you feel that a Yes or No or either this or either that is the answer you really want?

When it comes do doing something you love, like creating art, etc. it seems  we want it both ways. I’ve often heard other artists say ( myself included wholeheartedly) that ” Today I’m just not feeling it!” That is to say that if I don’t feel like creating something right now I should walk away from the  easel. Ever notice how this occurs usually on your day off or time set aside to actually do your art!!?

 Here’s the thing… I think both approaches are okay. I think that there are times in the scheme of things we need to go for a walk, split some firewood or take a trip. Other times ( maybe more often so) we need to just pick up the brush ( both metaphorically and actually) and lay down some paint with no idea where this will take us.

The best thing is to avoid guilt. Guilt is not a good motivator. Habit can be a good motivator ( GM), Feeling Euphoric can be a good GM, a Kick-in-the-Backside ( both metaphorically and  actually) can be a good GM. maybe a good BM could be a good GM..no, scratch that 

Guilt never works. When we say we were guilted into it then it never ends well. There are other ways to force ourselves to do what we love. It is ironic one would have to say that :”Force” ourselves.  I mean by concentrating on the small picture or doing that first small step. The idea that I can pour a drop of paint on the palette and play around with it and then draw it on the canvas…squiggling a line from left to right, top to bottom. That sometimes does the priming right there and the creative spark begins to work. Other times a grand vision  of mural proportions energizes us to create all things great and small, all things bright and beautiful…

Sometimes for my own pleasure I like to play my drums/bongos. There are times I’m not feelin it but when I  sit and tap out a rhythm to a tune  I like and in that weighted moment my spirit seems to rise with the music and often ends after an hour of enjoyable percussion.

Whatever occurs remember it is never too late to start again to do something you love. Never. You may have to scale back for health reasons or the demands of life put upon you but say to yourself that the promise of the rising sun is that you have this one more moment which is clean and bright like an empty canvas waiting for it’s next conscription.

And if you work at night then let the moon and stars inspire you.

The Encouraging Voice

theencouragingvoice

Caricatures I did of the cast of Casablanca

If you listen you can hear it (them).

It’s no surprise that we have voices in our head.

After all the brain is a huge memory bank as well a processor of ideas and actions. Some of them become voluntary and some involuntary- which makes sense. Who wants to tell their stomach to churn the food you ate and to add all the necessary acids and hormones to do their job. The brain assigns jobs that we are not consciously aware of.

thebrain

I remember seeing a TV show or movie years back that opened with the scene of a man being thrown into the water after being wounded in a car chase. At least that is what my memory bank tells me.

The screen showed a man being plunged deep in the dark waters and you could hear his thoughts.

They went something like this as he told his brain and body to prepare for survival:

“Heart- Slow to 40 beats per. min. Lungs- maintain oxygen levels and exhale slowly, etc”

You get the picture.

The hero of the show was controlling his thoughts to improve his chances of survival.

Maybe it’s fiction..but…hold on. Do you hear the voice(s) in your head?

What are they saying as you attempt to go about reaching your goals?

Often times we pick up the negative, critical voices that surrounded us from our youth. I know I have. We too , may be saying words that hurt others and we’re not aware of it. 

We use those harsh words, backed up by our respect for authority figures ( teachers, parents, that aunt or uncle, etc) to twist together a long whip with barbs and bone. We then get in the habit of whipping our own selves with it mentally.

 

Those harsh words we have owned and put our own personal stamp on them. They become our words, our thoughts. ‘Not going all Spock on you here but you hear what I’m saying, right?

We chose to believe them.

Sure criticism is good. It helps us survive and helps us learn. However we can dwell too much on words that do not carry us forward to our goals.

Once we realize that the thoughts we think are our own choice we can begin to bring correction to our direction!

This is the starting point. We can try all kinds of external influencers but when it comes right down to it we have to change, sometimes slowly and with practise, our habit of thinking and self-talk.

Image from blog "What Shih Said"

Image from blog “What Shih Said”

Be mindful of what you are telling yourself. Is it wise? Or is it harming your ability to take action and embrace change and succeed at your goals?

“Brain- You can do this! Heart- You’re large enough for this task. Lungs- take a deep breath and Go For It!!”

Thanks for visiting. Drop a line if you like 🙂

 

The Road to Greatness

Old Halls Harbour NS

Old Halls Harbour NS

The Road to Greatness. That’s what this post is not about.

‘Achievement’ is a word familiar to the realm of art and creativity. Achievement is painted to be the ultimate goal. Achievement really never answers the question “Why?”

Why do you paint? Why do you write? Why do you sing? Is it for achievement sake?

Strangely enough I came across three separate interviews today that were all linked thematically in an unusual way. One was about a young child actress who confessed to feeling so isolated and alone while others looked on her success with envy. The next one dealt with the stress and pressure we humans feel and have always felt relative to our culture  due to being overworked, strung out and burnt out to the point of melancholy and depression. These latter ill effects are often praised in our achievement driven societies. Finally I caught some radio discussion on the joy of being content with being average. Many called in to confirm their increase in satisfaction with life when they finally decided to let go of some unrealistic  targets they had aimed for in earlier years. I never heard any of these articles in their entirety but just enough to piece together an overall lesson for myself.

I think , as an artist and yes, also as a person, I have longed for a time when life becomes an easier coast to success. It seems that without clearly defining a goal one expects a certain life of ease and to be able to float in one’s own success. I mean success in a more financial sense here.

For instance this summer I sold  several prints of my work however I did not sell out. I think in the bottom of my heart or in the back of my brain there was this longing for the euphoric success that would mean all of my prints would have sold out. It didn’t happen, of course.

That does not mean that success was not achieved but it does mean that my vision and view of how life itself should have unraveled was different. I know for a fact that purchasers were delighted with my work and it will be impacting their lives  in a positive way for years to come. Art, by the way, has the power to do that.

What I’m trying to describe is that feeling we all have that someday if we try hard enough we will reach a peak or plateau for which we will find greatness and thereby happiness.  But the summit does not bestow upon us joy. For many it will only egg us on ( sometimes miserably) to yet another higher, loftier goal.

For most of us, in time, we realize that those achievements lie as ruins like some ancient Babylonian ziggurat; a tower of Babel that has eroded into the sand from whence it came.

The Road of Greatness, I think, is the one we want to be on. It is that road that at all points finds us comfortable with who we are and being authentically defined as just who we are at any year, month decade or day.

Do we give up striving for greatness? Yes. Perhaps the road of greatness is more of self improvement rather than being reliant on the praise and accolades of strangers. That road seems to leave us as strangers to our own selves.

At 52 and closing in on 53 years of age I still feel that I have learned so little of what life is really about. I know, though, that with each year material possessions for the most part weigh us down as we trek this road. Perhaps the  death of vain wishes brings about the beginning of a release toward true wisdom.

I know now that seeking true greatness is not something to be attained but rather, realized…right now in the moment.

A Tapestry of Colour

Oceanrocks2016fb

The beauty of Creation is in it’s variety. Diversity abounds. You only have to look at the world around you to see that difference is something we have to live with. Really! There is not just one kind of tree or flower.

It’s like that with people as well. There are different races, different ethnicities. The thing about people is that they disagree sometimes. This is just another form of variety. Difference of mind.

I’d be naive to believe that all difference brings about good.

But let’s not dwell on that side of things right now. That gets enough attention from news media.

A New Goal.

You can change your world.

You can be agreeable without having to agree.

One practical way to love others better is to imagine ourselves in their shoes. When we pause to think how we might like to be treated in a certain situation, we build empathy for those actually living in that situation. Do we like to be treated with love and respect? Then we should give that gift to others. (gotquestions.org)


The painting above is called Ocean Rocks which I just completed this summer. It doesn’t even have it’s protective finish yet. I hope you see a visual lesson in this tapestry of colour.

 sideoceansmall

Those Three Beautiful Words ( or 4 )

I opened up my email this morning to those  three , or rather four, beautiful words.

With a head full of sleep and eyes not quite focused it took me a waking moment to realize that someone was saying they bought 3 of my prints at a local gift shop.  They said they were “very pleased”. Wow, I thought. Am I still dreaming? Then came the four beautiful words:

“We love your work”.

To an artist that is almost as good as the three words, “I love you”.  Almost. Hey let’s not get carried away right?

In all sincerity it made my day! No not in a Clint Eastwood kinda way. More like when Martin Landau received an Oscar for a role in ‘Ed Wood’ after having worked so hard in acting to be appreciated. Well he was a little long winded in that so I won’t duplicate an error.

It’s a sweet thing to have some one like your work no matter what it is you do. It’s even sweeter if they say so.

Sure it’s always nice to get some money back but I think someone taking the time to write a note and send it along makes it all so much more special.

All I can say is Thanks and I am Grateful…

…cue the exit music, ha!

 

…thanks for visiting!