Seeing Success Through One Lens

16 x 20 Acrylic wash on canvas. K. Cameron

Seeing Success Through One lens

Last  night for an undisclosed reason I woke up 2:30 am. I went back to bed at 5:30 am only to remain in a REM-less sleep. You know the sleep that is not sleep. The one where for all intents and purposes you are awake. In fact I’m still in that state as I write this post. The lyrical description “Day Sleeper” aptly applies.

To pass the time between 2:30 and  5:30 I decided to spend it with my old friend Jack Daniels,er no  ..my old friend Google, who would help me search out and find other accounts of misery. Misery loves company.

The room was quiet and a bit cold. Outside it was -8 degrees Celscius (0 is freezing btw). A small electric heater clicking on and off in a creaky old house with the occasional sound of snow moving on the roof was all that was to be heard.

I felt alone.

I read blogs and stories about people who were going through a tough time in their lives. Most of them could have been bettered by just a small windfall of monies to give them hope. For example, one guy had been unemployed for over 8 years.

They all had one thing in common,these personal stories.  Success is and was defined as one’s failure to overcome a problem in their lives. Money was really at the crux of most of those problems. Job loss lead to divorce, loss of dignity, etc. One lady wrote as if this would be the note they found after her demise.  Sad. She mentioned how much she loved her 7 year old son’s smile but since everything in her life was chaos there wasn’t much point in going on. I can only hope her comment was more of a melodramatic plea but one never knows.

I think this all comes about because, especially in the West, we see life through one lens. We have created a so-called civilization that gauges all of our success/well-being on what we possess or our possess-potential. Once this substructure of thought is wrenched from our psyche we consider the most awful, despicable actions to ourselves or our neighbors.

We suppose we have nothing left to stand on.

We even consider leaving those that we love because in our minds we create their minds lens for success. We don’t even know for sure what the they think of us or that the they even give us any thought at all.

True, sometimes we do know what they think. Usually a dear relative will inform us of our delinquencies and failures as if the very proclamation of them would some how create an answer! Usually their soapbox sermons include a damning list of past and vast failures. This gives us another angle on the saying, ” Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” In another words, your enemies may be less hard on your mental health than your friends/family.

What to do?

Snap out of it. My idea is tell myself whatever I need to in order to change my thought. If you know me you would know I never swear. In this case though a firm audible/ inaudible “ta hell with it!” might really help. Seriously but move on from there.

Find the ‘7 year old son’  reason to live another day.

I think the smile of a seven year old boy ( or girl) is worth something. It was for Leonardo Davinci! He’s gone but the Mona Lisa’s smile lives on.

Sure, sure…Maybe it doesn’t give you the money to buy him/her an ice cream or a trip to Disney Whirl but who cares!  In a way it’s not all your fault. Society plays a part. If we could lift ourselves even temporarily away from social expectations and see that people lived on this planet for centuries without this thing or that we might see the great crime committed when we even consider doing ourselves in.

I know. Depression is not so simple all the time. It’s a mental illness. However living our lives as if dancing on the edge of failure all the time is indeed to invite depression-disaster.

I think this is where art comes in.

This is my problem when we think about art and money as the same thing i.e. in the same category.

An artist can indeed, be successful without making a dime from their art. The point of art is to get us to see things differently or for how they really are. Being a financially successful artist is no gauge of how successful our art is.

So I say keep trying to sell your art. Sure thing. Although it’s not a measure of how successful you are as an artist or a person. No way!

So with these thoughts I leave you as the guitar strums me out.

All talk of circadian rhythm
I see today with a newsprint fray
My night is colored headache gray
Daysleeper…

My bed is pulling me.
Gravity

R.E.M.

 

 

Advertisements

Why a lot of Men Don’t Become Artists

Perhaps this should be entitled, “Why I think a Lot of Men don’t become Artists”

Yesterday just happened to be International Women’s Day. It’s just a coincidence that this one was in the queue and I mean no disrespect to women in any sense by posting this now. Women in my opinion are the most deserving and yet under-appreciated people on the planet!

If you’re someone who grew up in the sixties and seventies you might find this applies to you. If not it still may be of some help to you, especially if you are male.

Art from where I have seen it is assumed to be either a woman’s thing or for men who are more effeminate. In some way if a man is artistic he is showing his feminine side.

Strange isn’t.

Perhaps I have some unique experience here. Perhaps for you it seems to be the exact opposite or that as many men pursue art as do women.

I worked with a young fellow once who came from the background of the construction industry. In fact he was born into a family who owned a construction business. Once when we were working together on a back shift clean-up-job he shared with me his incredible drawing skills. We often had time at the midnight lunch break to take it easy, joke around and exchange stories. We traded favourite movie scenes; he from James Bond and me from Star Trek. He showed me some fantastic drawings and sketches he did on paper.

I asked him if he would pursue some art or design career. ” Nah, no money in it”, he said. So over the years I periodically met him by chance to  discover he had, indeed kept up in the construction field.

He was not the only male artist that I knew that had had similar experiences. In fact if men can create art sometimes it seems more acceptable for them to paint wildlife,trucks, fishing scenes or other subjects that might lean more toward manliness. I’m certainly not saying there is anything wrong with whatever subject one chooses to paint.

The perception in society is that ‘art’ is not a money maker. It also goes hand-in-hand with the idea that the man is the sole or main bread -winner. As much as I am in sympathy with women and women’s right I think we may tend to forget that out there in the world, still hiding in places is this expectation that men face. Young men want to please their fathers and follow in their foot steps.  I wonder how many men with considerably advanced skills in art or design have followed the perceived path of money to pursue their ancestral, patriarchal dreams?

How many males either don’t see art as a ‘manly’ vocation nor one that will provide the bucks necessary to build a home and family? Besides it’s no insult after all to be compared to female qualities. It’s a good thing!

This would indeed make a good study.  What’s your take on it?

 

On Earth Peace…Toward Humankind

Winter Chicadee. Acrylic on Canvas. K.Cameron

At the risk of sounding irreverent or offensive I must say that I enjoy the post Christmas peace as much or more so as it’s predecessor.

There’s just something about that stillness in the air. Silent days , silent nights. What a way to clear an artist’s palette. I mean  their mental state. Where I live there’s usually a frosting of light , clean snow lying about. Right now we are experiencing minus 16 Celsius not including the windchill factor. Finger-less gloves are in order and a blazing wood fire , although forever grateful I am, seems to provide more flirtatious light than intimate heat.

But in this stillness, this peace on earth , there is the chance for the creative mind to experience a fallow moment that seems to naturally seed the imagination. Metaphorically the white landscape seems to resemble that of a fresh , tight canvas.

From this point there are no limits. None. Anything the mind can conceive it can achieve.

Now I don’t mean this in the sense that we are all gods of our own destiny. The world and the universe is too complex for that. Whether you believe in a knowable God or not there are bigger things that can take over flight control and change our trajectory. We are a small part. A very small spec in an endless cosmos of cosmos. Yet we still have this peace deep within us. Imagine the huge turning of a  far off galaxy.  If your microwave plate makes such a noise as it turns in your oven then try conjuring up the noise a giant stellar disc makes as it spins.  Yet when we look up at night and see such distant lights there is no audible noise.  Although our eyes are full our ears are empty.

It’s that winter silence I so appreciate. Sure the long overcast days of winter will eventually breed discontent and longing for the warmth of the summer sun. All in good time.

Right now it’s a blank canvas- an unexposed film, chords that haven’t yet been struck.

Enjoy it. Relish it. Love it.

Seize the day not in the busyness of having to get something done but in the dreaming of what could be. From there, artist/crafter/muscian/etc go forth and create!

Have a great year!!

KC

 

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. :^)

Multicultural Art Fair 2017

Every artist made a sale and connections with the public I was told. The painting you see above is one of ‘mine’ and it sold as well! There’s a small story to that. It was displayed on my table which was being manned  or rather, womanned by my wife and daughter.  here’s a view:

Where was I? I was just off to the right drawing caricatures , or cartoonitures, as I call them. More on them here from that day. Here’s one pic of me drawing:

Alrighty then,…back to the sale story. Brief …I promise.

I was kind of late signing up for the event and decided to do a series of paintings that were sort of mid-century modern..y’know those stylized, cartoon-ish paintings you see in the old late fifties and early 60’s movies. I think the style was partly due to the popularizing of acrylic by that time (and pop art in general).

Beth and I strolled the town a week or so earlier, camera in hand and took some angles and shots of popular buildings (Kentville,NS). I was able to get 3 paintings finished and the sands in the top of the hour glass were losing to the ones in the bottom. About 2 days before I decided to skip a street and do King’s Arms Pub. It was a good call.

Friends of the owner flew like birds on the wind and made him aware of the painting. He soon showed up with cash in hand that exchanged in to mine in a manner of speaking.  Although I was drawing at the time I managed to turret my head in his direction and shout a “Thank You sir!”

He aims to hang it in the Pub.

Photo from Henny Penny’s facebook page

Here’s the other paintings:

Several of my other stuff was sold as well that day. Great to get out. Great to help support diversity!

Thanks for visiting! More on the toons in the next post!

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.

 

We Can Rebuild Him or something like that. :)

 “Better,Stronger, faster…” I’m not sure about better and stronger but this was definitely one of the fastest design and paint jobs I’ve done for commission !

About 3 days before a visit from brother ( who lives in the States ) he asked me if I had any paintings ( for sale). Well yes I did in a way but I wanted to give him something that would have more meaning between the two of us…you know, something special.

So I thought of this old show called The Six Million Dollar Man starring Lee Majors. My bro used to have the action figure and a lot of the accoutrements . There was hardly even the time for a thumbnail sketch and the final design was basically done in my head and on the fly. I knew I wanted the ‘Bionic Man’ closeup in the center with the rocket to the right and the space X-plane in the upper left. In there somewhere was to be his old corvette and the cardiogram-like analog pattern.

So we were to meet Saturday at my Mom and Dad’s place which is about a 2 and a half hour drive from where I live. By about Friday morning I thought I was never going to get it finished. Just too much work and too little time. I got pretty down about it and felt defeat looming over my shoulder.

I managed to push myself and not give up (which I was really tempted to do).  At 10 pm Friday evening I had one coat of matte finish applied to the whole thing. I did a second coat really early Saturday morning and let the painting finish drying in the back seat of the car.

My brother was very pleased and surprised having not expected the nostalgic memento. I must admit that about half-way through, whether it was a kind of exhaustion setting in or pure adrenaline I, myself got emotional during the process. As one ages, I guess, tears become an oft expression of deep joy rather than sorrow sometimes. I am thankful for the family I have now and the one I had then, so to speak.

Just like the Bionic Man the painting was made from available components so here’s a photo of most of what it took to paint “We Can Rebuild Him”.

Thanks for visiting and we’ll see you around sometime!

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’.