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 gauging 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!

A Little Favour


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 Artists Thrive

Some time ago I was in the local pet store buying hay for my rabbit.  A woman approached me who I barely recognized and asked if I was still doing art.  I said “yep, still with the art”.  My mind scrambled to do some facial recognition so I could place a name to the woman I was talking to.  Unfortunately my brain doesn’t have the latest google or facebook app for facial recognition.
Anyways she began talking about my Bluejay painting ( the one you see above) which I had painted some 10 years previous.  I was amazed at how she recalled vividly the texture in the foreground tree bark, red leaves, “the lovely blue shades of the jay “, etc.  It blew me away since she hadn’t recently seen my paintings online and she didn’t even remember my full name ( imagine that, ha!).
The thing with being an artist is not knowing if your art is really making an impact.  We live in a world of terrorists , suicide bombers and these people , regrettably always get front page as opposed to the philanthropists, artists and musicians.  Most artists are modest….very modest people. They have no desire to be vainly praised but they do want ever so much to be appreciated and know their art is making a difference in someone else’s life.
One of my wife’s grandmothers was an avid baker.  She did the best pastry rolls and some pickled mustard relish, et al.  I will not name her for reasons of privacy.  However one of the things I always noticed is that she wanted feedback.  She wanted to know how good that pastry was or if the mustard pickles were the best you ever tasted.  I wondered if she was needing an ego fix.  But, No…I get it now.  She wanted to share in the joy of giving pleasure to others.  It was less a vanity thing and more of need to know just how happy her work made others.
I remember once seeing a photo of a Christmas gift basket being awarded to someone locally and they purposely chose to  have the event photographed in front of a part of a Christmas mural I had painted.  I only knew when I looked at saw the photo in a local newsprint.  It made me smile.
(continued below) 

Artists thrive on feedback.  They are inspired by your enjoyment of their work.  For a lot of artists it’s a lonely world inside their heads.  To the artists out there- Keep on doing your thing.  You don’t know just how much of an impact you are making. Usually way more than you think.  As an example just watch the Doctor Who episode ( Vincent and the Doctor) of a Tribute to Vincent van Gogh at the museum. Never give up on your work and never give up on yourself.


Challenge Accepted

An oil painting I did a few years back.

An oil painting I did a few years back.

Life can really be summed up as a challenge or series of challenges  can’t it (?)  Each day each one of faces a new challenge. For some of us it’s a physical challenge like learning to walk for the first time, or hang gliding or maybe it’s learning how to get around with that new walking cane. Most of us face mental challenges.  Some more than others ( that really wasn’t meant to be funny but we do all need a good laugh once in a while.)
This is not to say the word challenge has to bring negative feelings .  A challenge can be a good thing. People have asked me what inspires me to make art.  Sometimes I search for an appropriate answer that would be way up there with trying to fund-raise for a cancer cure or tell the world of God’s love. All well and good motivations, I’m sure.  Really though, to be honest, I don’t  have such a sole,  noble  purpose for my art.  Mostly what drives me is the challenge to see if I can do it.
Art scares me.  It excites me.  It is infinite in a sense.  Since it is infinite, meaning the possibilities are endless, then the challenge is unending.  Sure I can use art for fundraising and many good purposes but it’s no use for me to lie to you just to give you warm fuzzies.  I like art because I’m a shy guy. I don’t sing ( I do play bongos and Tom toms… I know, laugh and get over it, ha).  I can hide behind my paintings, murals and logos and if any of them ever turn out half good I can do my own little happy dance, in my own little private place…TMI?  O, I can’t dance either.
So really it’s the challenge , I think , that is my biggest draw- pardon the pun.  Art is great for shy introverts ( yeah, extroverts, too). We each have to find something in our lives, some natural talent or gift that challenges us ;makes us move away from our comfort zones but to a place even more comfortable with our selves.
Mistakes?  They’re just part of it all. Without the risk of making a ‘happy accident’ there would be no adrenaline rush. This only brings on a new challenge.  How will I fix the mistake or how can it be incorporated into the final work?  It takes both Fear and Love to create something special.
Have a challenging day!  Thanks for reading!

Feels Like Wednesday (and That Moment continued)

Acrylic 18 x 36 on canvas

Acrylic 18 x 36 on canvas

We just had a holiday Monday ( Victoria Day) and I feel like I’m missing a week- day somewhere. I used to think a short work week was great but since I’m a little older now ( ahem) I’ve stopped wishing time away.  I was watching an old SciFi a week or so ago; maybe it was two… ( time flies, hmm) and two of the players were facing imminent death. One guy says to the other ( as they gasp for air on a sunken futuristic sub), “The older you get , the more precious life becomes. You become aware of what life is.”  For a campy show it did a have a few shining moments, ha!
Some time ago I posted a sneak preview of a new painting in the post ‘That Moment’ and said I’d follow up with the completed painting.  well this is it!  Originally the moon had concentric rings or circles and I didn’t like them.  So I saw a reply to a post on Pinterest that I commented on weeks before.
The photo was of a nebula and voila! that was exactly what I was looking for.  So that’s my exciting story.  It doesn’t take much to amuse me,ha!  Anyways I hope you enjoy it.  It is going in with my Dandy Lines series for future show and sale.
Thanks for poppin’ in!



Redux or re-robin.  ( get it?  ducks/robins…groan).  This was a fixer-upper.  For the longest time I liked the robin but hated the background (bottom picture).
Originally I  made it too dark and then tried to brighten it up with shafts of light.  Still didn’t like it.  After being tired of it for a couple years I made the bold step to change the background.  Maybe I shouldn’t have or maybe I should’ve.  I guess it’s an artists prerogative.  I think it’s better.  Do you ?


Of Sound Mind…so far


Here are some shots of my work-in-progress which I plan and hope will be the beginning of a new series of paintings.  These past few weeks have been rough as I have endured some intense facial pain of which no one is really certain of the cause.  A revisit to the dentist shows no infection and yet a salivary duct in my cheek remains slightly swollen.  However I am, for now, pain free and have a return appointment with a specialist next month.  So far so good.  Okay enough of my personal life to bore you. I remain excited about the potential for this new series.
Before finishing the background I traced the drawing of the plant-life in case some of it got lost during the painting process.  I used a 2B soft pencil for the trace.  This means I don’t have to worry about losing the original drawing as I slap on some paint.
ChalkTraceAfter The background was painted I placed the drawing back on the painting.  The drawing has a chalk pastel ( in this case yellow) outline on the underside as you can see.  Retracing over the drawing will, of course, leave a trace of the drawing onto the painting. (Just as a point of interest I am not using Americana paint for this project.  I’m using Windsor and Newton Galeria fine art acrylics in tubes)
Okay Thanks for visiting and I hope to post the finished painting next time.  Bye!

Raise My Glass…hold the ice please

Boatsandypt2014Here in Nova Scotia we’ve been pummeled with one snow storm after another.  It shouldn’t be such a surprise I suppose since it’s been this way before the first settlers, be they  Native American/First Nations or European.  The Maritimes are known for predictably unpredictable weather.
One can view the snow  like the first Europeans here viewed the trees and forests: something to be plowed away to make room for fertile , usable ground. On the other hand some winter enthusiasts see the snow as a means to sport and fun.  Actually both views are correct.  It depends on your situation. unless you have no need to go outside and get to a job or obtain flour ,dried beans, coffee, sugar and other basic provisions then you’re fine but when the cupboards get bare and the medicine cabinet wants then snow isn’t so much fun…at least in my opinion.
Then there’s the cold..C.O.L.D.  as in temperature. The temperature can literally be 9 to 10 above 0 celsius  (50 F) and then drop to  10 – 15 below C (about -14 F) within 24 hours!  This is often accompanied by atrocious wind that makes it feel ( wind chill factor) twice as cold.  All this being said ( grumbled) the snow is beautiful when it lays still on the ground and flocks heavily laden trees.  To come in to a warm room on such a day makes one truly thankful.
To commemorate Summer, though, I have included a painting of a boat I did a few years back. It was purchased from me by Mom -in-Law who has always been a great supporter of my work and family , of course.
They say that colours are more brilliant shortly after a rain.  In the same way Spring and Summer are dearly appreciated here in Nova Scotia succeeding Winter.  The painting is based on a small fishing boat beside a wharf in Jordan Bay ( Sandy Point, Shelburne County NS).  A trip around Sandy Pt. Rd reveals much natural beauty ( painting of Sandy Point Lighthouse).  If you’re willing and able to go off the beaten path a little you can enjoy breath-taking maritime coastlines.
So, here’s to Summer…no hard feelings Winter…

Get What You Deserve


                                                                                                                                                                           Halls Harbour, NS

There’s a question that has plagued me for years:  Do we get what we deserve or do we get what we want in life? Better yet, do we get either? Do you dream of being a famous artist or would you, like most, be happy to make a living at it?

As we get older, life experiences tend to pile up behind us and we reflect on whether or not we got what we wanted or got what we deserved or  if the two even came close. Of course I can really only speak from my own experience and from observation.  One can learn a lot from observation.  Basically we can learn from the lives of other artists, other people in general.

They say if life gives you lemons then make lemonade.  It’s also true that if life’s slot machine gives you three lemons then there’s no lemonade for you. Mixed metaphors, perhaps but it is true that life is unpredictable.  Yet if we don’t chart a course then , chances are, we miss our destination altogether.

Do we ever get what we deserve?  I don’t think so.  Here’s why. Sometimes the criminal gets away.  Sometimes the innocent child gets caught in the crossfire.

Sometimes our hard work pays off and sometimes it doesn’t. Whether we get what we deserve or not is sometimes largely out of our hands.  However the good news is that sometimes and maybe even often…we get what we want!

Really it’s not a bad twist on a Stones classic. Sometimes we do get what we want.

The next time you’re sitting and pouting in front of that ruined canvas or crashed laptop or whatever because you felt you just didn’t get what you deserved then start listing the things you did get that you wanted!

Recounting from my experience, as well, that a long time ago I wanted an SLR 35mm camera but at the time did not have the means.  Eventually the years passed and we had our first child (some thing I wanted) and my wife and I invested in a good camera to save memorable moments.  Later on I was able to buy second hand but good quality lenses ( fish eye and telescopic).  I did get something I wanted. Even more importantly, over 11 years ago, my wife got ovarian cancer and I wanted her.  I wanted her to be with me longer and experience together the raising of our children.  Sure that can all be taken away in an atomic second.  But sometimes we do get what we want! She’s still here lighting up my life with her smile.

As an artist have you asked yourself not what do I deserve but what do I want ? You should.

If it’s a good and worthwhile goal then go for it!  Set goals, assess, adapt, persevere and enjoy it as best you can.

You may just get what you want.