Choosing your Artistic Medium

In a recent discussion on my facebook page the subject of ‘choosing one’s’ medium came up. That is to say how do we know which artistic medium (oil,acrylic, watercolour, etc) we would like to use? Well this is where I’d like to throw in my 2 cents worth.

After giving it some thought I realized that we often approach this sort of problem by looking at the symptom rather than the cause so-to-speak.

We likely ask ourselves – “well which medium would I enjoy using most?”  Although the question of enjoyment does come in to it this could be a bit mis-leading. It’s sort of like the question “What is my passion?”. In fact a passion is not really an actionable word but an emotion that can be brought to any task.

So if it’s not about the fit of the suit, so much, then it’s about the look!

That may sound counter-intuitive to what we already know about wearing clothes. It has to fit and feel good-look is almost secondary. However in the case of art it is about the look. It’s the look that elicits  a response. Follow me on this. I do know that creating art starts with an emotion but if you’re choosing a medium you want to deal with how you show that emotion. What is it about the art that draws you in and inspires you? How is that effect (or affect) achieved?

To say it another way:

If you want to know your favourite medium , even though *experimentation is good, then you want to take a good look at the art that already inspires you. What art do you like?

This is the fun part. Expose your experience to viewing and seeing other’s work. What do you see that you like? What medium is the artist using to express those feelings and emotions you identify with?

Won’t that make my art less original; less personal?

No. There is nothing new under the sun. There is only a different combination of using what already exits. Ever thought of painting realism over an abstract background?  What about the other way around?  Even this has been done but you can combine various media and styles, colours to  create something that is uniquely yours.

By seeing what you like it will get you to investigate the means ( the media) used to create that effect.

Then fall in love with the one you are with.

 

If it takes a brush to create that art then learn the brush!  If it takes photography then learn the camera techniques. If oil is what you like then explore oils!

Maybe less concern about what medium or artistic tool you want to fall in love with and more about the art you love will actually help you discover your medium.

Is there a magic medium out there just for you? Ponder more the art you love then fall in love with the tools to get the job done. Do we really build homes just because we like the feel of a hammer or saw?  It’s the dream, the concept and the idea realized that inspires us to passion!

Hope this helps…that’s my two cents, now what’s yours?

*Experimentation is a great thing. It stores in our minds and physiology a feel for what we like and what we can do. Yes I do think the same emotion can be expressed in many ways and with various media. Then just look at art. what art do you like..not so much what medium. :^)

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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…

 

 

Hocus Focus

3amigossm

Hocus Focus!

Do you want to be successful in your art? The magic words are “hocus focus”.

It’s no trick really that being focused and busy does conjure up success. Whether we’re talking about ‘art business’ success’ or simply churning out work. Get busy on things that produce results.

Sure it’s important to wash the dishes and do the laundry or even keep down a night job.  Or always writing WordPress posts,ha.

The thing is, that body of work you want to get done will not just …poof!…appear out of thin air! Often the elixir for lack of focus is to just do the work.

If you’re waiting for someone to put a spell on you to get some art work done it’s not going to be happening. It has to come from your own spirit.  Sure do whatever it takes to create the right atmosphere  to prosper. Sweep away the old cobwebs in that studio and disturb some dust.  That’s a start.

Don’t let small tasks haunt you.

How many times have you been told to do all the so called important things first and the rest (your time to create) will follow.  Ever notice it doesn’t ever work that way? Those dark thoughts are from well-meaning souls that aren’t quickened to how important art is to you.  Treat them like bats in the belfry!  Do not disturb [them] and they won’t disturb you.

It doesn’t take a wizard to figure this out. Do the work and you get results. Leave and it will die. What’s the worst that will happen?  Will you be put on trial for doing what you love? Will you be burned at the stake for making art?

Well I must take my own advice and wisp away to my studio, grab that brush like a wand and see what magic I there create. I hope this little post will possess you to go get some work done. It’s a treat really!

Hey!  I didn’t even use the term ghost of a chance !  Oh.  Wait.  I just did.  drat!

Have creative day!  Thanks for visiting.

3amigosclosedghostsm

The Value of Art

Avonport Covered Bridge, Kevin Cameron , Acrylic

Avonport Covered Bridge, Kevin Cameron , Acrylic

Create your Unique Value Proposition!

That’s what they say.

Sometimes it’s called your unique selling proposition.

How does it relate to selling your art?

A UVP is a clear statement of how you or your art will benefit the customer and how your art will ”  solve your customer’s needs and … distinguishes you from the competition.”

One of my problems with owning business jargon in relation to art is that the art can become secondary. A redefinition of what art is arises from this process.

After all, the true value of art is something difficult to measure in terms of money.  Why do some paintings cost a million dollars while other, very good art, sell for only a few hundred bucks?

This is a hard question to answer and often has more to do with current culture, investment, history, branding and so forth. Picasso, for example, is a name (brand) so tied to the art world of high dollar investment that even student copies of his work can sell for thousands of dollars.

I admit.  I am no expert but I’m not naive either. Only when it comes to junk food.

Let me put it this way:  What would be more valuable to you? Discovering an old painting in your grandmother’s attic ,which she did of you years ago, or finding a Gustav Klimt  piece?

So, the true value of some art (paintings for example) can’t be measured in dollars because it’s personal, has history,tells your story and exposes a naked truth. Value Perception must be based on real value.

I think the days of manipulating perception ( the ‘bad car salesman’ cliche ) are coming to an end. Trying to trick people into buying your art is not going to work nor will it make you a better person. Tripping over folks just to get to the almighty dollar is one of the lowest things you can do.

However you can add value to works  by being honest, for one thing. Did the work really mean something to you or were you just copying a photo, so to speak?

 Once when I had my own small home gallery, an artist suggested I mark *sold* on a few pieces just to encourage the others to sell.  I thought that was awful.  I wouldn’t want it done to me so why do it to someone else?

Honesty is one of the best ingredients in producing value.  If it (the art) means nothing to you then how will it mean something to someone else?

Be honest in your art.  Tell your story/your truth not someone else’s.

Have a creative day and thanks for stopping by!

Art for What it’s Worth.

hallsold5x7new

5×7 acrylic painting of Old Hall’s Harbour NS  can be purchased HERE

“Notions, Goods, Accessories!” yelled one of the cartoon characters in the ship’s crows nest as he plummeted past the stunned, angry pirate below.

The  goofy cartoon character I’m referring to is one of two known as Heckle and Jeckel.  Perhaps not so known today but really popular years ago.

So what if they had said, “Notions,Goods, Accessories plus Fine Art?”

Does Art and especially fine art fall into that category?

Why does art have this *funny* association with money?

 This is something I’ve given a great deal of thought to but the answer seems to be still very open ended.

Then there is the question of worth. For a lot of people a painting that costs 400 -1000 dollars is hardly affordable.  So most people aren’t going to buy your originals. That leaves only  certain people or collectors that will purchase originals.

Just a footnote as a friend of mine has pointed out.  The real worth of art is not it’s market price. (save that for the next post)

Art, in my opinion  primarily falls into two categories:

1. ‘Art made for art’s sake.’

2. Art produced for the market.

I think ‘Art for Art’s Sake’ is quite self explanatory.  One creates art for their own soul to be shared -or not- with others; possibly even sold.

Art produced for the market is art that was intentionally created for the purpose of selling.  Once you step into this arena , in my opinion, you must have as much desire to make money as to make art!  Then again can we call art made for the market really the same kind of art? It all reminds me of the typical sci-fi stories of AI’s or advanced androids having human characteristics but wondering if they have souls.

Many disagree and say one should create their passion and then focus on selling afterward. On the other hand just creating one’s passion may or may not guarantee a sale.

The question is: Is there a middle ground?  Does there have to be an either /or?

How do you feel about making art for the market?

Since art is sold I’d like to explore these questions further.

“I say ole’ chap”, if you’re an artist then what do you think?

*Heckle_and_jeckle_promo

Vaya Con…Bios :)

Detail of Fence post painted by K. Cameron

Detail of Fence post painted by K. Cameron

I guess “Vaya Con Dios” means “go with God”.

This post could be called “Go With Bios” ( groan) since it about bios for artists.

As Neil Diamond once said “That’s all the Spanish I know…” ( long story)

Recently I was reading in a book on art marketing by Susan Abbott (Fine Art Publicity) about interview questions for artists.  I’ve been reading this book for a few years now.  Not that it’s not good or extremely long it’s just that I can take a long time to do things, ha.

One of the questions to be considered is :

“When did you ( the artist) first know you were going to be an artist?”

I thought this is a great question to be answered in an artists bio.  Okay.  If you’re checking my About/bio right now I most likely don’t have it updated…remember, ” I take a long time to do things”.

The challenge here is to try to remember all the way back to any epiphonic moments (epiphonic …is that a word?)

I would assume that a quiet, tranquil spot with your favourite drink and a trusted notepad might be beneficial. Maybe even during a sunset just to make it all dramatic.

Once, in an interview of Robert Ulrich he was asked a similar question. “What made you become an actor…an artist?  How did you know?”  I believe it was asked by  Brian Linehan on a program called City Streets long before social media.  The pre-millenial epoch.

Robert Ulrich’s answer involved him casting his gaze downward to the studio floor and saying something like “It was the way the light sometimes shone around the corner of his bedroom door early in the morning…”

So even though this story may be missing some details the fact remains that even after 30 some years I still remember Robert’s answer and in a way I remember it’s meaning even though it was based on a visual image in my mind.

The take away?

Tell the truth but make your bio remarkable…memorable when it comes to answering “What inspired you to become an artist…?” I’m sure there was more to his answer.  The point was he saw things differently from his young colleagues and wanted to pursue acting without a doubt.

I can say for sure that the way Robert Ulrich answered that question in a way became an answer for me.  His pensive, deep searching moment that was interrupted with glowing smile , like light bending around a corner door, became an epiphonic moment for me.  I knew I loved art and creativity then for sure.

More later on art bios under Marketing and Branding but for now..

Vaya Con Dios!! Thanks for visiting :^)

 

 

 

 

May the Best Brand Win

Window Mural painted by Kevin cameron

So you’re an artist and you’re trying to brand yourself.

Good luck with that, :^)

Just kidding.

By definition a brand is the perception of your company and the emotional reaction to it by your client or prospective customers, patrons or collectors.

Branding is a funny thing.  You control it but you don’t. Someone may respond differently to your brand than the next person.  In fact two different people … two people are always different, aren’t they… can react or respond to your brand in different ways and yet still like your brand.

An example might be Tim Hortons ( coffee and donut restaurant).   Although the logo is not technically the brand the logo does contribute to or  help *express ( pardon the pun ) the brand.

tim-hortons-ellipse-logo

If you’re familiar with the cafe then seeing this logo will conjure up ideas and emotions from visiting a Tim Hortons restaurant. You might think of time spent with  a dear friend or meeting your favourite people early in the morning before work.  As the case is often here in Nova Scotia, during the winter months, Tim Hortons is a warm welcome for snowplow drivers. These guys and gals work double, double ( ahem) shifts keeping the roads clear of snow and ice.

For me, a good memory is painting Christmas/Holiday window murals on a local Tim’s window.  My daughter usually skipped school for one day each year to supervise. :^)

As the Autumn/Winter evenings approach earlier I remember  the bright paint of the mural in the well lit cafe contrasted  with the dark rainy days of early December outside. Dark figures shimmering through rain glazed windows, approaching closer with promise of warm, dry shelter and a wet, hot cup of coffee.

KevinandFriends

Well, enough nostalgia…but…that’s the point.  A good brand can help create nostalgia.

If you think of your art business as being branded…if you really want to go that way…then it will involve these points and more:

  1. Subject/Theme that you wish to paint ( for buyers)
  2. Style of your art ( which can include both your personality and media)
  3. Your personality as expressed through your art.
  4. Your unique value.
  5. Your promise and integrity to be who you are-always.
  6. Your story. How did you get where you are?
  7. All of the artifacts associated the message of your art ( Brand associations)

All of these factors come into play if you wish to commercialize your art, which can be more or less subtle , I suppose.

This blog ‘My Adventures in Art’ is for my more eclectic side.  As you read you will discover a variety of topics that I find interesting ( and hope you do too).  For this reason it’s not just about one style of painting.  It’s kind of like the old TV variety shows- a mix of everything.

Let’s continue this discussion category more later under ‘Marketing and Branding’.  I’d also like to explore different views on Art for Money ( or not!).

Okay, thanks again for stopping by.

*like ‘express’ coffee