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.

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!

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.

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

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!

Where’s All The Paintings?!!

PrintsAtHennigars

Hall’s Harbour Series Prints-Mine are on the left and right of center.

“Where’s all the paintings she said?

Recently I met and was talking to a nice woman who works in a local art supply store. She seemed interested in learning about my art so I shared a business card with her and asked her to look at my website.  A few days later I was back in again buying paint and we had a brief conversation.

She expressed liking my art but at the same time seemed disappointed that there wasn’t more to see. Describing her experience perusing my website, etc she spoke in third person and said under her breath …”but where are all the paintings ?”

Since I’m older now and life has naturally subscribed to me some maturity ( without my earning it, lol) I did not take any offense to this. In fact any criticism ( not a bad word) is a tool that anyone , especially artists, can use.

Twenty years ago I may have went home and paced around in a tornado-like  circle until I had worn the earth down to a pillar like Superman. All the while I would be muttering …”doesn’t she know how long it takes for me to paint one picture..doesn’t she know how much work it is, etc.?”

She has a point. I fully agree and if she’s reading this I can honestly say that my reaction is that every artist has a duty and a pleasure to create beauty to the best of their ability for God, Queen and Country , Themselves and not the least importantly , their fans.

If you’re anything at all like me , you’ll have a tendency to find any excuse not to do the work. The famous Texan artist James White spoke about this.  He once said something like, “Artists’s will use the size of their studio, their ability, they don’t have enough money, what’s the point, whatever..” to find a reason not to do the work. This was one of the main reasons for their lack of overall success, in any sense of the word, according to him.

Perhaps our North American culture, having thrown out the baby with the bath water when it comes to Puritanism threw out the Puritan Work Ethic. Problem is we haven’t even adopted the child of certain other cultures to simply get to work and stop whining about it.

Maybe when we can accept being and working as synonymous will make more progress.

So the sun is up as I write this morning. In the words of singer Bruce Cockburn:

Sun’s up, uh huh, looks okay
The world survives into another day
And I’m thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on

In other words, the world did not end over night..time to get on with it.  We may just have another day to get on with it so…Get to work.

Dwarfartist2