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

 

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When you feel spent…

Crescent Beach, Lockeport NS

There are times (like right now) that I do feel spent. I’m sure you’ve been there too. The words of Peter Parker’s (Spider-Man) Aunt May come to mind, “Peter, you do too much!”

Sometimes it’s not so much that I feel like I actually did a lot but that I have so many ideas of stuff to do and create, paint, etc that it just floors me. It feels like putting in 110% but getting 3% (ROTI) return on time invested.

How does one handle these things? What happens when you just feel like taking a nap or a hiatus away from art and creating?

Sometimes it’s the business side of art that feels like I’m just walking into the wind and the only result I’m getting is  bad hair. This is happening recently to me as I feel I should or could be putting more effort into selling my art. After all we just passed Black Friday and are heading into Cyber Monday ( hmmm,I wonder of it’s Cyberman Monday for Doc. Who). There’s so much pressure to sell this time of year.

Sell, sell, sell!  Let’s go people! Move ’em out!

Yeah it’s strange being a capitalist and being an artist. The focus should really be on becoming a capital artist, that is, just better at what you do creatively.

Maybe I’m just in a belly aching mood We’ve all been there and we all go there.

The thing with not capitulating to capitalism is that we all get, or at least I do, swept up in the surrounding deluge that it’s all about money especially at Christmas.  Somehow the cart always gets before the horse or in modern terms iPhone 8 comes out before iPhone 6.

Logos For Small Business

The first task of the artist is self-awareness and mission. Why do I create? What am I trying to do with my art and life? Money and sales are fuel; a means to keep the artist and his cohorts alive and well. Money is important but if what we do brings no value to others lives then how will we gain even financially from it.

Having some concept of why we create I suppose, is a place to return to when we feel overwhelmed and underappreciated.

That being said, sometimes a nap is just a nap…go ahead and take one! Everyone needs a rest or some sort of vacation now and then. Siesta!

Taken from ideedalcyberspazio.wordpress.com

My Art is not as Good as…

Wolfville Chimney Swift

Robie Tufts Nature Centre Wolfville NS. Acrylic on canvas board by K.Cameron

“My art is not as good as someone else’s.” True or false?

This is a feeling that comes over every artist sooner or later.

The fact that your Mom posts your art on her fridge or more likely her facebook- wall is no real assurance either.

I mean it’s great if she does post to social media (especially if she knows a crap load of art collectors) but she is ,after all, doing what a Mother would do. She’ll likely love your art no matter what.

This is where I’m supposed to come in and console you  by saying it’s the nature of art that there is no such thing as good art. Did that sentence make sense?  In other words it doesn’t matter if you color over or outside of the lines.

Yes it does. If it’s not an abstract piece and it’s supposed to be an architectural rendering then it does matter if you colour outside of the lines.

Or, on the other hand, you might be expecting “You’re art is brilliant!” and you’ve achieved your highest level of skill. In this case you’re only lying to yourself. One day you may wake up and be embarrassed to find out that you’re really not the best painter,singer, writer, etc.

So how do you know if you’re art is any good?

Basically by comparing it to someone else’s in the same genre.

Two things to remember are that :

Art is subjective (poor art can be liked by someone).

It doesn’t have to be the best art in order to sell.

In other words you can still be proud of what you have accomplished and at the same time strive to increase your skill level with the medium you use. Your art does not have to be technically perfect but it has to express, to some degree, the emotions and message you intended it to say (not so much in words).

How to get better at art.

Nonetheless, your art can always get better as your skills increase.

The only way to increase your skill(s) is to increase time spent on said skill(s).

The question of whether your art is good enough to sell is really a  no-brainer since a lot of bad art sells. If you want to get better art then you want to get better at art!

Your art has to please you, to some extent. Otherwise you will have no fun at it at all.

Being good at art means being genuine and honest with yourself and your work.

Being better at your skills means comparing your skill level to someone, like a mentor, who has put in the time to bring out (more) flavour in their art. You will be amazed at what you do if you strive to get better, taking a peek and learning from those more skilled but also having joy and thankfulness for the stage you are at now. Don’t become obsessed with someone else’s level of work; they too had to follow the same path you’re on and are following their own path.

Success as an artist can be measured in many ways but the outcome of such guaging will always lead the true artist to humility, respect and awe for others and the world around them.

Thanks for visiting! join the discussion over at my facebook page if you like!

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!

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.