10 Years After…but who’s counting!

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

The short answer is , Yes, I think so.

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

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



Fast Forward 10 Years Later.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some more older pics



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

Anyway enough trying-to-be-funny.

Never Give Up…Never Surrender.

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

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

 

P.S.

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

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

Thanks for stopping by!

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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!

A Stitch in Time – How to Scan a Painting for Print

Star Wars Super 8 Cover

Sooner or later almost every artist will want to copy their work. Often a good digital camera with a great lens will do the trick shooting in diffused lighting.

However, sometime it may be more convenient to use your digital scanner to scan in the image of the print. The plus side with scanning as opposed to camera shots is that you will get an even, flat and highly detailed image. The down side is that you have to keep an eye on your scanner’s settings (are you in professional mode, what’s your dpi, etc.) and you may get too much detail ( like markings on the back of your canvas showing through). Although this is usually not a huge problem.

Once again I must say that these are the methods I use and someone else may get better results with their own techniques.

So let’s say your painting or art work is just a bit too large for your scanner’s surface. This is where stitching comes in handy.

I use Corel Photopaint and it does the trick. Other software likely offers similar options.

First you want to scan in both halves of the painting. Doing one side at a time. I use the settings on my scanner software for Photo at 300dpi and high quality prints/posters. Preview and then scan the image. If given the option to use a mask (a selective, dashed -line frame box) when choosing the area to be scan then choose to scan a hair’s width away from the outer edges of the area to be scanned. Let me clarify. Do not bring the border of the selection box to the very outer edge of the painting preview. Some scanners experience a little drop-off in this zone and you may get a slightly darker sliver of the image that will affect the quality of your final print.  I’m speaking of what you see in the selected preview of the glass on the actual scanner. So you could accommodate for this drop-off by allowing a border area left blank outside of the painting.

Okay..a picture is worth a thousand words I guess 🙂

The yellow area with the green dashed line is the maximum scan area of the glass. I have the painting positioned just a bit inside of that area. The dark dashed inner line (red arrows) is the area in which the software sees to scan. Notice I have that area narrowed a bit cutting the wookie’s face in half and not going all the way to the edge. Okay..let’s move right along.

By now you should have two separate images of high quality which you can open up in Photopaint.

Next you’ll want to crop one of the images to a smaller selection so you’ll have less image to match up and blend (above image). Do leave a little area of overlap as you can see i did for Han Solo’s gun.

Above: The cropped image.

 

Above: Under Image select ‘Stitch’

Above: Now select ‘Add All’

A new screen appears and using the select pointer tool you can ‘grab’ one of the images and match and blend. I have the blend image setting at 5.

Above: A close-up view ( you can zoom in to get a better match up) shows where the two images blend. Now just hit enter and a new solid image will be created from which you can manipulate or save as different files and sizes.

That’s about it. Hope you find that helpful. Check out my design page for further designs. Thanks for stopping by!

Kevin

 

 

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!

Character Lines

My Hiking Boots-Kevin Cameron 1994

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let Me tell you a Story…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maud Lewis – Two Deer in Snow

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

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

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

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

Over the Moon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Encouraging Voice

theencouragingvoice

Caricatures I did of the cast of Casablanca

If you listen you can hear it (them).

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

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

thebrain

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

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

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

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

You get the picture.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

We chose to believe them.

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

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

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

Image from blog "What Shih Said"

Image from blog “What Shih Said”

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

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

Thanks for visiting. Drop a line if you like 🙂

 

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!