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 🙂

 

The Road to Greatness

Old Halls Harbour NS

Old Halls Harbour NS

The Road to Greatness. That’s what this post is not about.

‘Achievement’ is a word familiar to the realm of art and creativity. Achievement is painted to be the ultimate goal. Achievement really never answers the question “Why?”

Why do you paint? Why do you write? Why do you sing? Is it for achievement sake?

Strangely enough I came across three separate interviews today that were all linked thematically in an unusual way. One was about a young child actress who confessed to feeling so isolated and alone while others looked on her success with envy. The next one dealt with the stress and pressure we humans feel and have always felt relative to our culture  due to being overworked, strung out and burnt out to the point of melancholy and depression. These latter ill effects are often praised in our achievement driven societies. Finally I caught some radio discussion on the joy of being content with being average. Many called in to confirm their increase in satisfaction with life when they finally decided to let go of some unrealistic  targets they had aimed for in earlier years. I never heard any of these articles in their entirety but just enough to piece together an overall lesson for myself.

I think , as an artist and yes, also as a person, I have longed for a time when life becomes an easier coast to success. It seems that without clearly defining a goal one expects a certain life of ease and to be able to float in one’s own success. I mean success in a more financial sense here.

For instance this summer I sold  several prints of my work however I did not sell out. I think in the bottom of my heart or in the back of my brain there was this longing for the euphoric success that would mean all of my prints would have sold out. It didn’t happen, of course.

That does not mean that success was not achieved but it does mean that my vision and view of how life itself should have unraveled was different. I know for a fact that purchasers were delighted with my work and it will be impacting their lives  in a positive way for years to come. Art, by the way, has the power to do that.

What I’m trying to describe is that feeling we all have that someday if we try hard enough we will reach a peak or plateau for which we will find greatness and thereby happiness.  But the summit does not bestow upon us joy. For many it will only egg us on ( sometimes miserably) to yet another higher, loftier goal.

For most of us, in time, we realize that those achievements lie as ruins like some ancient Babylonian ziggurat; a tower of Babel that has eroded into the sand from whence it came.

The Road of Greatness, I think, is the one we want to be on. It is that road that at all points finds us comfortable with who we are and being authentically defined as just who we are at any year, month decade or day.

Do we give up striving for greatness? Yes. Perhaps the road of greatness is more of self improvement rather than being reliant on the praise and accolades of strangers. That road seems to leave us as strangers to our own selves.

At 52 and closing in on 53 years of age I still feel that I have learned so little of what life is really about. I know, though, that with each year material possessions for the most part weigh us down as we trek this road. Perhaps the  death of vain wishes brings about the beginning of a release toward true wisdom.

I know now that seeking true greatness is not something to be attained but rather, realized…right now in the moment.

A Tapestry of Colour

Oceanrocks2016fb

The beauty of Creation is in it’s variety. Diversity abounds. You only have to look at the world around you to see that difference is something we have to live with. Really! There is not just one kind of tree or flower.

It’s like that with people as well. There are different races, different ethnicities. The thing about people is that they disagree sometimes. This is just another form of variety. Difference of mind.

I’d be naive to believe that all difference brings about good.

But let’s not dwell on that side of things right now. That gets enough attention from news media.

A New Goal.

You can change your world.

You can be agreeable without having to agree.

One practical way to love others better is to imagine ourselves in their shoes. When we pause to think how we might like to be treated in a certain situation, we build empathy for those actually living in that situation. Do we like to be treated with love and respect? Then we should give that gift to others. (gotquestions.org)


The painting above is called Ocean Rocks which I just completed this summer. It doesn’t even have it’s protective finish yet. I hope you see a visual lesson in this tapestry of colour.

 sideoceansmall

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

 

 

It’s the Real Thing!

Kevin Cameron ArtIf at all possible…you may as well choose to be happy.

Are you having a rough day, maybe a week or even a year! Too cold in the winter? Too hot in the summer?

Really they’re all feelings aren’t they. In a way they are kind of an illusion. We all have our illusions, big time! They keep us going really.

I’m always surprised at how a lot of people feel that art is just an illusion, therefore not real and therefore non-important… a waste of time!

Really though. Imagine this. You’re driving the road on a nice sunny day ( winter or summer-your choice).  You are much happier today because things seem good. Your kids haven’t ticked you off. Your parents aren’t doing something stupid and life is good. LG.

BUT it’s all just an ILLUSION!  You’re bank account could be being drained from some offshore hacker bouncing signals off an uncaring and cold satellite.  You could be one turn away from a random fender bender. Yet we all dream lazily along some days as if the world was all right. That’s what I call ‘Not Real’.

Art, although dabbling in the illusory, is in fact just as real or more so than the stories we tell each other and ourselves to feel happy ( or sad , if we want).

I say choose to be happy or content and chose ‘art’. It’s the real thing.

Hmmmm now I just have to remember this post the next time I look at my income tax or worse yet the cat pukes on my freshly mopped floor.

Thanks for visiting!

New Journeys

  *Self Esteem Ebook for Children

Sometimes you can find a new journey on an old path.

A new year doesn’t have to mean that everything will be new  for you.  Something good from last year or other years might find it’s way into this one.

You know how we often list off all the crap that happened last year. Debts. Sickness. Accidents and we say good riddance!.

Let’s not throw out Father Time with the bath water…er, or something like that. Father Time has a few good things to give Baby New Year.

Yeah, I know, it’s a little late in the month to be writing about New Years maybe. Looking ahead may bring anxiety and looking back may get us down in the dumps..yeah, January does that to everybody. You’re not alone. Listen to that still, small voice inside of you that wants things to be better. Reach out to someone. It really doesn’t matter what others think. It’s your life and it’s worth looking back (and forward) to anything or anyone that made it good. Don’t focus on what you didn’t get or the way you thought things should have been.

That one good thing is worth living for.

An artist does the same with ideas , techniques and inspiration what we all do with our trash. Recycle it. Revisit it. Renew it. Make it come to life!

Hey , I’m even thinking of taking up oil painting again after having set aside the ole’ linseed oil for decades. There’s something good in the familiar, ya know.  Like the smell of linseed oil. Strong aromas bring back good things and memories sometimes. Don’t dwell on the past though. Think about today.

You may find healing in the winter of your life. I hope you do..I really do.

Thanks for visiting. I know it’s been a while but I guess I just needed the time…

*Detail of Show and Tell Michelle, written and Illustrated by me, Kevin M. Cameron.

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