In Defense of Snowflakes

 

You wanna know the worst cuss word , name calling descriptive you can use on someone you hate? Get ready. The word is Snowflake. It’s not a four letter word . It’s a four letter word plus a five letter word.

This is really odd when you stop and think about it. How did such an innocent unassuming word get to be so vile?

Well. I don’t know.

What once stood for strength and beauty is now the thing of useless dregs of society.

Want to bring someone real low? Call them a snowflake.

Pendulums swing as pendulums do.

Let’s face is it. This is just a pendulum swing, a knee jerk reaction to a generation raised to think of themselves as precious and beautiful.

There was a time in this fair land that to be associated with a snowflake was a good thing. Now valedictorians claim the idea is Victorian. You are not special we are told. Nobody is special and you don’t deserve anything.

This from a generation (mine and my parents’) who pretty much consumed everything. So there is not as much to go around. This is why they want you to buy the only thing left: the lie that you are not special..in any way.

 

 

Young people…don’t believe it!! You can be special and not entitled. You do deserve a kind of bestowed dignity by being part of the human race without earning it. But you can lose it by being an idiot or criminal or both.

Now presidents mock you if you think you have basic human rights and call you a snowflake.  Snowflakes have no rights, they say. “They think they deserve everything.” Not true.

Every human being despite their skin colour, gender, etc deserves love, shelter, acceptance and basic rights.  Once you buy into the lie that a snowflake is something that melts in the face of confrontational heat you then open yourself up to bullies, tyrants, rapists (people who chose to not be a snowflake but a stagnant puddle).

A snowflake, like a spider’s web, is a strong structure and does what its particular design calls it to do. It is beautiful and unique. Combined, that is unified, with millions of other snowflakes it is a powerful , almost unstoppable, force.

I think it’s time to defend snowflakes. I think it’s time for the pendulum to swing back toward the middle just a little bit.

Those are my thoughts anyway. Thanks for visiting and please check out my ebook, especially if you like snowflakes. :^)

 

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Choosing your Artistic Medium

In a recent discussion on my facebook page the subject of ‘choosing one’s’ medium came up. That is to say how do we know which artistic medium (oil,acrylic, watercolour, etc) we would like to use? Well this is where I’d like to throw in my 2 cents worth.

After giving it some thought I realized that we often approach this sort of problem by looking at the symptom rather than the cause so-to-speak.

We likely ask ourselves – “well which medium would I enjoy using most?”  Although the question of enjoyment does come in to it this could be a bit mis-leading. It’s sort of like the question “What is my passion?”. In fact a passion is not really an actionable word but an emotion that can be brought to any task.

So if it’s not about the fit of the suit, so much, then it’s about the look!

That may sound counter-intuitive to what we already know about wearing clothes. It has to fit and feel good-look is almost secondary. However in the case of art it is about the look. It’s the look that elicits  a response. Follow me on this. I do know that creating art starts with an emotion but if you’re choosing a medium you want to deal with how you show that emotion. What is it about the art that draws you in and inspires you? How is that effect (or affect) achieved?

To say it another way:

If you want to know your favourite medium , even though *experimentation is good, then you want to take a good look at the art that already inspires you. What art do you like?

This is the fun part. Expose your experience to viewing and seeing other’s work. What do you see that you like? What medium is the artist using to express those feelings and emotions you identify with?

Won’t that make my art less original; less personal?

No. There is nothing new under the sun. There is only a different combination of using what already exits. Ever thought of painting realism over an abstract background?  What about the other way around?  Even this has been done but you can combine various media and styles, colours to  create something that is uniquely yours.

By seeing what you like it will get you to investigate the means ( the media) used to create that effect.

Then fall in love with the one you are with.

 

If it takes a brush to create that art then learn the brush!  If it takes photography then learn the camera techniques. If oil is what you like then explore oils!

Maybe less concern about what medium or artistic tool you want to fall in love with and more about the art you love will actually help you discover your medium.

Is there a magic medium out there just for you? Ponder more the art you love then fall in love with the tools to get the job done. Do we really build homes just because we like the feel of a hammer or saw?  It’s the dream, the concept and the idea realized that inspires us to passion!

Hope this helps…that’s my two cents, now what’s yours?

*Experimentation is a great thing. It stores in our minds and physiology a feel for what we like and what we can do. Yes I do think the same emotion can be expressed in many ways and with various media. Then just look at art. what art do you like..not so much what medium. :^)

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!

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.

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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!

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!

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.

For instance this summer (2016) 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 achieve 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.

Those Three Beautiful Words ( or 4 )

I opened up my email this morning to those  three , or rather four, beautiful words.

With a head full of sleep and eyes not quite focused it took me a waking moment to realize that someone was saying they bought 3 of my prints at a local gift shop.  They said they were “very pleased”. Wow, I thought. Am I still dreaming? Then came the four beautiful words:

“We love your work”.

To an artist that is almost as good as the three words, “I love you”.  Almost. Hey let’s not get carried away right?

In all sincerity it made my day! No not in a Clint Eastwood kinda way. More like when Martin Landau received an Oscar for a role in ‘Ed Wood’ after having worked so hard in acting to be appreciated. Well he was a little long winded in that so I won’t duplicate an error.

It’s a sweet thing to have some one like your work no matter what it is you do. It’s even sweeter if they say so.

Sure it’s always nice to get some money back but I think someone taking the time to write a note and send it along makes it all so much more special.

All I can say is Thanks and I am Grateful…

…cue the exit music, ha!

 

…thanks for visiting!

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!

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