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.

 

Advertisements

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!

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!

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

 

 

Cape Blomidon NS

Nova Scotia Art

Practically encapsulating the view from my living room window (in the summer) this is a painting of Cape Blomidon Nova Scotia. It’s painted on a primed wooden disc which is adhered to a wooden laser cut decorative backing.  You can get more info here.

Things have been rather quiet here punctuated with the odd snow storm and blizzard. I’m afraid I’ve had a grip on the shovel more than the paint brush…but I’m getting there :^) Actually have another one on the easel now…maybe give you a sneak peek next time.

Thanks for visiting…see ya soon!

Did You Lose Something?

SecondCup

Under painting by Kevin Cameron (Second Cup)

You’ve started your painting and things are going “in the flow”.  You’re just at the initial stages- maybe the under-painting. Perhaps you’re focusing on value and composition or maybe it’s colour and/or sort of abstract.

Everything seems to be going great. Sometimes, however, there is  that period of staring at a blank canvas that feels longer than a Hobbit’s journey. But let’s assume you’re past that and you are fully in the moment and the painting (both noun and verb) is coming along nicely.

Then you have to stop.  For whatever reason. Maybe it’s to get a snack, maybe just some sleep. You return and something’s gone. It’s not your easel, brush or laptop . It’s that other important intangible thing-inspiration. Uh Oh! The muse has left!

It was like meeting someone for the first time serendipitously at a nearby cafe. The conversation has a promising glow. You turn to get your coffee and they are gone. You hardly had time to memorize their smile.

The Inspired Painting that Isn’t

At this point …you have before you… an expression of your passion but part of your mind is saying, “This isn’t complete. I can’t hang this. I can’t sell this and probably couldn’t give it away.  This is when our motives become challenged.  Do you push ahead and lay down coats of paint that seem to be only burying the life you had underneath?

This is a tough question. How do you resolve it? ( I’m not being rhetorical).  How do you resolve it?

Perhaps we could look at our options and motives. What do you want to capture this time?  Stay where you are and you’ve captured some primitive, emotive expression. Continue and it changes like a baby to a child and like a child to an adult.

I guess every stage is good. After all , who’s to say, if you proceed the creative work might actually get better. It’s all a matter of opinion since art is about emotion and communicating it to others. You can put down that canvas ( or musical composition, poetry ,whatever) and stop where you are.  Sometimes this is what must happen.  Other times you will paint right over it and something new is born once again!

You turn for your coffee.  A new friend is there and this time…they stay. :^)

Underpaintings2

Artistic Skill Vs. Inspiration

DadTractor

I took this photo of my Dad , Brother and friend many years ago. Kevin

At first glance, all art appears the same.

What do I mean by that?

I mean the realm of art is vast. There’s not much new “under the sun”.  Usually subjects and styles are just a rehash of something old. This realm includes not only creative innovation but also, sometimes, technical skill.

I believe technical skill can be taught but creative innovation or rather inspiration is not so easily taught.

Sometimes you can ‘prime the pump’ (like the old water pumps).

When I was much younger my GranDad had an old Ford tractor that could be started by turning the engine over by hand.  We’re all so accustomed now to electric starters  that we forget that at one time engines could be rolled over by using a hand crank, in this case inserted at the front of the tractor.

By going into our studio or simply opening our sketch books on the living room sofa and beginning to draw some lines we can ‘prime the pump’…get the juices flowing as some would say.  Like when Dr. Frankenstein uses a jolt of electricity to get the Monster’s heart pumping.

Artistic skill is the ability to train the brain to see and think like an artist and then produce those results on paper or canvas. Technique, value, perspective can all be taught and practiced. Inspiration is a different story.

Yes, I think you can be taught inspiration   in a way but it’s more about personal discovery, in my opinion.

Inspiration draws from the  wells of experience and desire that are deep down inside of you.  It uses the technical skills you have developed to express your truth.  Inspiration is the reason why someone can deliver an unprofessional speech, sing their heart out or paint loosely and yet still wow the audience and move the recipient (S).

Artistic Skill can be practiced and improved on with time. Inspiration has to come from within and often takes time. That’s my experience anyway.

There are ways to induce or tickle out inspiration ( another post).

Once you hone your skills and get that jolt of inspiration, you and others will be able to look at your art and proudly exclaim..

It’s alive!

Thanks for visiting.

A Little Favour

4Paintingswp

I’m doing a kind of survey to see which paintings of mine would be best to have made into prints. If there is a painting that you prefer more then please just reply with the A, B, C, or D. This is *not* an order form or a sale- just a survey. The prints will be around 8 x 10 on photo quality and professionally printed. Also I will post this and others on my fb biz page as well which some of you already follow. Just trying to get various input…Thanks in advance!

How can you Mend a Broken Art ?

Blind Girl by Kevin Cameron

The above painting called “Blind Girl” ( there’s a story behind that name) has been posted before but this time with a different purpose.

Recently it was on display at a local gallery and when it’s display time was up I had to go fetch it.  When I got home I then noticed the DAMAGE!

Gallery’s have waivers that all artists sign which is a contractual agreement between the artist and the gallery regarding insurance, damages, etc.  In this case the gallery having done all in it’s power is not responsible for any work that incurs damage during it’s stay.

Was I Upset?

Yes and No.

I signed the waiver so I took the chance. However obviously I was a little disturbed about it.  I was thankful that it wasn’t one of my more expensive pieces that had been on display….this time.  Here’s how it looked after i got home.

Blinddeafgirl

Blinddeafgirl2

The green arrows point, of course, to the resulting damage.  I won’t say which gallery it was hung at but I will say, that to me, it looks like the impact of a runaway gurney.  The paintings to be hung are on the floor and leaned against the walls during their changeover, etc.

You can see that the canvas on her cheek is wrinkled and there is about a half inch indentation near the frame and almost a tear right next to it.

How can you mend a broken art?

Disclaimer: A professional painting restorer I am not.  Although I do have years of experience with numerous kinds of paint.

Step 1.  It seemed the best thing to do was start with a stretched or tightened canvas.  This was an inexpensive gallery wrapped frame ( and my low price for the painting was reflective of that).  First the painting is flipped over revealing the back side. here you can see at the corners of the frame that two wedge shaped or more like  rhomboid pieces of wood (canvas wedges) are tapped in to spread the corner of the painting apart slightly and resulting in a tighter canvas.

CanvaswedgeBG2

These are unusually large wedges that I had to make because the slots in the back were unusually large.

Blindgirlspray

 The second thing that was done to tighten the canvas was with the use of fine water mist sprayed on to the back of the canvas in the general area of the damage. Soaking the canvas is NOT a good idea.  I didn’t want the surface coat of paint to become so saturated with water that it might peel off.

A Hair dryer was then used to dry the back of the canvas quickly. With the really cheap non-cotton or vinyl canvas this trick will not work.

Step 2.

Blindgirlbrushup

A small round brush was used to paint over tear mark.

Step 3

When the touch up paint was dry I gave it a final coat of satin finish.  You can see the results below.

Blindgirlfinalfinish

To be honest, at a certain angle, you can see some discolouration but for the most part the indentation is gone and things didn’t turn out too badly.  Hope this info helps.  Any questions or comments, just leave below.  O one more, thing.  In this case the canvas wedges were quite heavy and I may need to attach a little weight to the other side so the painting hangs more balanced on the wall.

Thanks for reading.  If you’d like to purchase this painting or a hand painted duplicate then private message me. Here’s the final:

Blindgirlfinalshot

Add New

If you’re anything like me you do believe in being positive but you recognize the need to be realistic as well. The beginning of the New Year is a time to set goals but it’s also a depressing time for many because they haven’t seen previous goals met.

Let’s be a little realistic.  Isn’t it better to know you can possibly take a long trip to a neighboring country but realistically if you “shoot for the moon” literally…chances are you won’t get there. There is something to be said for baby steps first.  Why not set a realistic goal that is just a bit beyond your reach and see it happen than go over the top and fail.  For example if you want to lose a hundred pounds then why not aim for ten first!

Hyper-Positive people and their hyper positive doctrine seem to be always winning but most of the ones I met are actually living in some Disney World Fantasy that only exists in their head.  It doesn’t make any tactile contact with the world of the living and dying around them.  News Flash:  You can’t make yourself levitate without some external force in your favour just because you think you can ( excepting of course of some few , ancient Tibetan Monks who didn’t share their secret so well, ha!)

What you can do!

goals

However you CAN lose ten pounds, you can learn to paint a portrait and you can learn to drive a car, etc so long as you have ordinary circumstances.  Ordinary circumstances for example such as you are legal driving age etc.


Once I was working on an artistic project with another person.  We had put in a hard shift of work.  I mused ” Well, we are getting there..”  I was firmly told by a third party that there is no ” getting there, it’s all about the journey”.  In other words sound positive. I get that. I really do….but…as an artist, a crafts person and all round handyman I do know there is a beginning , a middle and an end as well as points in between.  There is a certain linearity to life.  We are born, get old and die as well as points in between.  We set goals. We enjoy the journey AND we complete the journey only to set a new goal. I think it’s okay to say “We’re getting there”.

That’s the way I see it anyway.  You don’t have to agree with me. To me, hyper positive people are borderline disillusioned.  It’s a free country as they say and we can all live in our own mind-world so long as we don’t hurt anyone.  I choose to be Positive and Hopeful with just a little Realism thrown in there to make me content in my choices.

What are your goals for the New Year? Do you think you have to be Hyper-Positive ( a relative term, I guess) just to meet a realistic goal?