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.

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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 🙂

 

720’s, 360’s and 1080’s

Swirl Cat Vortex

From a new series of acrylic paintings of mine which I haven’t named yet. :^)

Does anyone remember VHS ?  Hello. Helloo (echo).

VHS was a format used for taping and viewing movies. We still have  a trunk full of ’em kicking around here somewhere. (A copy of Babe and some John Wayne movies popped up here recently during a cleaning spell.) They were small tombstone sized cassettes with literal *magnetic* tape wound around two spools. Sounds pretty ancient, hunh? Cool stuff for so-called Millenial’s to rediscover.

The thing about VHS tapes is that they were definitely low res. That’s techno-speak for blurry and out of focus. Back then my eyes were good; and real sharp. You might say they were high def . That’s techno-speak for sharp and focused; like knobs and buttons that used to be included on electronic equipment.

vhsappreciate

As a visual artist I really do appreciate technology. Now as my eyes need to be dressed with varying thicknesses of glass in order to focus on the work at hand I can be very grateful for the sharpness of DVD and Blu-ray. As my eyes get weaker the picture has gotten stronger. The monitors boasting of 1080 p resolution are also a bonus. I think if I were to watch a VHS movie today without glasses it would seem more like a watercolour impressionist painting that was left out in the rain.

This is where art comes in, say, as in painting ( or sculpture, music, etc). I’m not sure technology has really improved upon the experience of viewing art. Some art-works take weeks or even some,years to complete; all to be consumed instantly on social media and passed over faster than the index finger can respond from eye-to -nerve-to-brain and back again…or something like that.

nothingcompares

*Nothing compares to seeing real art in real light! Paintings that are designed to be viewed bathed in natural light are shared on back-lit unnatural canvases  (called monitors).

For many years I followed the stars and night skies on National Geographic pages and Astronomy books. The pictures and artist’s renditions captivated my imagination. But one day , late in my teens, I acquired my first reflector telescope.  The nights were bitter cold, unlike the reading chair by the fire but the view..my gosh..the view sent a different kind of chills up my back.!  To know that the light I was seeing from distant Saturn was, although non-instant,  directly coming to me!  There was no electronic mediator between me and God.  I now had a much more direct connection with that far off planet in space.

If we rely only on our screens for the experience of art we do ourselves and our progeny a great disservice. I love technology. It has brought the world closer together and helped in so many ways. However when it comes to seeing art we need to do a 360 and see it in natural light with our natural eyes. The experience is so different and so compelling that it is the reason why many have travelled great distances, say to the Louvre, to see for themselves what great things were done.

Perhaps you and I can’t do that. We can go across the street to the local cafe and connect with the artist there. We can look at our child’s art-work…I mean really look at it in reverential silence before hurriedly posting it online among a million stars that twinkle and fade in the wink of an eye.

Thank you for visiting. Please leave a comment or drop a line.

*More about real light: ” …but Kevin, ALL light is real light and even gallery light(s) are artificial!” I know. Though if you think about it you’ll agree that most non-pixelled art is created with light descending on it rather than from behind. Recreating that original condition is what I mean by ‘real’.

Creating a Children’s Ebook

Childrens book

In this post I’m going to give you some idea of how I approached creating an ebook from artwork I had created about 20 years ago!

The above picture is an actual page from the book with my added copyright. The book was painted on 11 x 17 in. sheets for double spread pages and 8.5 x 11 for normal full pages.

This post will not deal with the uploading of images to Kindle book creator. This is fairly easy once you’ve determined the correct size for the pages you upload. Perhaps that will be for another post.

The first step , of course, is to write out your story. Once you have your concept you can start to write while keeping in mind possible images that might correlate. You may need to edit words and dialogue when it comes to placing it on your image due to space restrictions. In other words as you draw each page it is important to keep in mind that you will need space for text.

Children's Ebbook Drawing

Since it was 20 years ago that I created this book I do not have original photos of the process. What I have done is set up pics to give you some idea of how to go about it.

You can of course use all computer generated images.  These, however , are the actual pages I drew for the book on both 8.5 x 11 and 11 x 17 paper. This was before private access to the internet and it is exciting to know that the book can be preserved in a way and it’s message made available

Acrylic wash on cold pressed 140 lb paper was used for the final painting.  Tubes of acrlic paint were used and the paint was applied in washes much like that of watercolour. The benefit of acrylic paint is that it can be added in layers without disturbing the original coat of paint ( unlike watercolour ).

Begin by cutting your watercolor paper to the required size. Some folks like to pre dampen and stretch the paper to keep it from buckling as it drys. To do this ( I have no pics) you tack  or tape your paper to a wooden piece of plywood or better yet a board ( which will have no stains or glues ). You can pour or use a large wash brush to apply generous amounts of water to your paper and let dry. Turn it over if you wish and do the same for the other side. Let the paper dry.

childrens ebook page

Take the original drawings like as above and flip them over. These are the drawings you drew with 2h and HB pencils. Flip them over like this:

ebookbridgeback

Holding them up to the light by taping them to a well back lit window OR using a light box begin shading in all areas on the reverse side with a 2B ( soft) pencil. You only have to shade areas where there is drawing or lines. You are making a negative transfer as you would use carbon paper ( this dates me I know, ha).

Now place the drawing directly over your watercolor paper. Use some blue low-tack tape to make 2 hinges at the top so you can flip the the drawing page up and down if you need to to see if the transfer is working. But don’t do this often as it could mess up and misalign the drawing. It works like this. Take a dull ( not blunt) F pencil to trace over all your lines. Press down firmly as you trace but not so hard you tear through your paper , of course. When you are done you will have a light transfer of your drawing onto the watercolour paper.  You can now begin painting in your colors using your brushes loaded with thin washes.

Using acrylic paint washes to create a Children's Book

Using acrylic paint washes to create a Children’s Book

You may find that a bottle of frisket mask may come in handy if you want to keep highlight areas white; as in snow flakes , for example.  The frisket is a liquid rubber that can be painted on or applied to areas you don’t want your paint to color. Wait for it to dry first. Next paint over it. Later with a clean thumb or erasure you can rub it off exposing the paper substrate. You’ll find a convenient tool but not to be overused.

ebookmainpage

Sometimes, as in the painting above, you may find as I did, that you were not pleased with your first result. If so then prepare another sheet of paper and begin again. You may want to shade over your original transfer drawing  a little since some of the 2B pencil may be less impressionable after the first use. Savvy?

In the drawings above the first attempt (top painting) seemed to come out with harsher gradations. I was more pleased with the bottom result.

The last step is to acquire a good quality flatbed scanner and and with your photo software scan the paintings into your computer. For the large paintings you can scan as two parts and use your software ( such as Photoshop or PhotoPaint ) to stitch them together. If this part is beyond your level of expertise then find someone who can do it for you.

scannerebook

As I said , technology can be rather exciting!  A 20 year old Children’s Book has been given new life in the cyber-world.

If you’re interested the book is about self worth and it is available from Amazon. The Kindle format is free to download and makes your work look quite beautiful.

Again, thanks for stopping by and visit often or drop me a line.  Have a great day!

Day Late but Always Remembering

For Remembrance

For Remembrance

I meant to have this ready for Remembrance Day however I discovered that this cartoon which I drew years ago was never scanned in.  Originally it was just line art in Black and White and I thought adding some colour using Corel Paintshop would be a nice touch. So that took some time with masking and painting.

The cartoon is intended to be funny yet a  respectful reminder to think of the great cost that war always brings past , present or future.

Billville was a cartoon strip I drew mostly back in the 80’s and 90’s and was based on 3 cats we had when growing up as a teen. Two are shown here. Bill and Boots.

Thanks again for  stopping by!

The Old and The New

cadredhue

Having seen a review regarding Winsor and Newton Galeria acrylics that claimed that the paint is inferior I set out to see whether I should consider switching to the American Grumbacher Academy series. Galeria by W&N is now being assembled in China instead of France as it once was. My last blog post will bring you up to speed, so to speak.

Since I had some old Galeria paint and mostly new I did my own brief little comparison test. The thing to keep i mind is that my old paints are quite old and I suspect they may have ‘dried out’ some in the tube. I belive that could be  a possibility.

Overall I found the old Galeria slightly ‘heavier’ and less opaque but in my opinion , not by much. Of course some of the hues are semi-opaque and not transparent. So that could make a big difference even.

These are just my initial findings.

The actual hue displayed on the old tubes are really quite different from one another.  That makes me wonder why the change in the color on the tube labels.

winsorviolettest

With each of the few colours I tried the new ones seemed to be a bit ‘thinner’

When comparing Grumbacher  Lemon Yellow with Winsor and Newton Lemon yellow there was a noticeable difference in the weight of the paint. The Grumbacher was in my opinion heavier.

The up side to Winsor and Newton Galeria is that the new paint seemed to have a very nice even flow and would be great for acrylic washes such as I used to make my first children’s book years ago. A little shameless plug there :).

The tops or caps on the W&N Galeria have improved quite a bit. The larger mouthed caps on the new tubes seem easier to screw on and off.

lemonyellowtest

My first conclusions with the limited hues I had to try or test is that the new Galeria may be a bit inferior but it may be better for use with wash paintings ( like watercolor style). Grumbacher does seem a bit thicker. I think I will do a few paintings with Grumbacher brand, especially for the more professional endeavors. Winsor and Newton moving their product to China still just doesn’t sit well with me because from everything from tools to toys China still proves, imo, to put out low quality in favour of high out-put.

That’s it for now. Feel free to comment here even if you show up  a year later, ha. I’m sure this will be an ongoing discussion.

winsorviolettestonbrd

PS. I did try a thin wash over a penciled drawing (sun symbol) just to see if the new Galeria was less opaque. As you can see from the picture it does seem to be so!

Diluted Dilemma

Galeria paints

I’ve always been a huge fan of the vibrant colors available in Winsor and Newton’s Galeria acrylic paint. I’ve used them for years..maybe decades.

HELP! Recently I was having trouble acquiring some of the Galeria colors and  although Grumbacher Academy acrylics may be a a better paint I really like to stick to just one brand and not mix brands if I can help it. Most of all I read a review on Amazon by one artist who claims that since Galeria is now made in China rather than France it’s not as good. He claims that after using the paint from France for several years every day for five days a week he noticed a marked difference in the opacity of the paint since it was out sourced to China. Winsor and Newton claims the same formula is being used and there is no difference in quality but even I’m not so sure.

galeriavspaint2

You can see from the photo above that an old tube of Galeria was from France and the new ones are from China.

So I’m asking “what do you think?”  Is it worth the switch over totally to the Acedemy colors from Grumbacher?  Have any of you experienced a difference in quality with Winsor and Newton paints?  Again, I always liked their vibrancy but they don’t seem to cover as well as they used to.  Any advice?

Grumbacher, by the way, claims to be still made in the U.S.A.

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.

For instance this summer (2016) 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 achieve 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

A Creative Solution

MyOldPaints2b

Someone has said, ” if it ain’t useful , of high sentimental value or a work of art then toss it out!”

Well that’s easier said than done when you have my sentimental over-attachment personality that rivals that of some giant,  tentacled creature from mythical lore. Okay…that was a little over the top, I know. Childhood images of the Seven Voyages of Sinbad came to mind. Apologies.

squid

The Big Clean hit theatres this summer. Ahem, I mean my studio.  One result was the discovery of a ziplock bag of old watercolour tubes I used to use. ‘Haven’t used watercolors for quite some time and some of the tubes were as hard as rocks. Sure I probably could have performed some grade-8-like biology surgery where frogs have seen better days  to gut open the tubes.  This would then have exposed cylinder blocks of color that could be revived with a splash of water…maybe.


Some of the watercolors still had their original price stickers on them showing their true age.

What was I going to do?  It was down to that last pile…y’know, the one you’re always left with after a big clean up: paper clips, used popcicle sticks, Q-tips and maybe even some ketchup pack-ettes! At this point you’re feeling like an exhausted god determining the life or hapless fate of your kingdom. Should it stay or should it go now?

After some time a creative solution  was found!  However- whoever holds the time-lapse video on our lives would have had a great chuckle to replay the scene of me picking up the bag of watercolours and then placing them back down, rubbing my chin with indecision and then picking them back up AGAIN!! ha ha

So here’s what happened. Like something from Arthur Koestler’s  The Act of Creation an idea struck me!  If it were (a.)no longer useful and (b.) not quite of sentimental value then (c.) it must be a work of art!! And so it became.


MyOldPaints3b

To do this you’ll want a cheap 8 x 10 canvas, glue gun, matte varnish (waterbased), a couple ( or more) acrylic craft paints and newspaper clippings. You may want to use a small sharp exacto knife to move and place the newsprint cutouts ( unless you have little tiny fingers ). I placed a glittery star in the open space just to balance things out and make some contrast or for some unknown reason. I also dropped a few drops of rubbing alcohol on the fresh paint just to create some subtle rings/texture to the canvas before it dried. I used the matte varnish to glue everything  down including the star ( and except the tubes, of course). I don’t recommend rubber cement for the plastic star as I suspect it would cause it to curl. Not sure.

Also added was a few drops of acrylic red paint at the mouth of one tube missing a cap. Just a little something you know ;^)

Also don’t forget to place a hanging wire at the back.

Hmmmm? Now I have to hang it somewhere..Uh oh ..the walls are already full of art! Crap! yah dee yah dee ya