The Thing about Art (and Artists)

This scene is based on a view near Halls Harbour NS. It’s a beautiful scene of the old house house contrasted with brilliant musk mallow flowers. Available on my Etsy shop. Please click on image.

‘Just read someone’s heart-felt, out-pouring lament about the despair that sometimes seems to cloud over artists.

To be honest I identified with what this woman was saying. All her life she wanted only one thing and that was to be recognized for her art.

The problem seems to be less with ‘money’ as  she says, but a lack of recognition and understanding among family and peers as to her ‘being’ an artist.

Also she says she only started showing her art when she was 48 years old and soon she will be turning 50. She says her “time is running out.”

On her facebook post she gets lots of comments of sympathy and encouragement. So obviously it is an artist thing. Okay I’m kind of mad at myself for thinking in a similar way at times and I’d like a good honest attack on what the heck is really the problem with ‘us’ (artists)! I’ve heard everything from creativity uses up so many ‘happy’ chemicals in the brain ( therefore leaving us depressed) to we were all just raised with a silver brush in our hands and therefore don’t know just how good we have it i.e. ingratitude.

So what’s the problem and what’s the answer?

I’m going to give it my best shot.

I want to dissect her lament (without compromising her anonymity).

First let me work backward and deal with this age thing.  These will be profoundly redundant truths but truths, none-the-less.

  1. Age is meaningless really. Most likely she didn’t start being creative when she was 48. She likely has been creating her whole life in some way; at least ‘seeing’ like an artist. We are always growing!
  2. Chances are she will actually have more time to create now that she’s 50 than since she was 16 ! Maybe not. Maybe she will have to look after an elderly parent or ill ‘child’. But if you factor in the time just spent making a living and raising kids between , say, 25 and 45 it likely took up most of her time. So a year of solid creating or painting is more time than she would have had spending an hour a week for most of her life. ( You do the math..I’m an artist, lol)
  3. She says her time is “running out”. Well I can empathize however a lot of people don’t make it to 50 and a lot more ( in our western society) are making it to 85 ! So the simple fact is WE JUST DON’T KNOW! ha ha ( maniacal laugh). So why even bother to pretend to see the hour glass that belongs to an invisible Creator? We don’t know.

Next she confesses discouragement is part of this creative life. I get what she’s saying. I’ve known (and continue to know) that too. But is it really? Aren’t there hockey players that thought they were just that good and wanted to make it to the big league but now ‘just’ coach the minors on a volunteer basis? Punch! Slam! Pow!  That must have been one big Holy Batman Bag of Hurt!

Then there’s the returning veteran who struggles with scars of night terrors and perhaps horrors that have robbed him of the very limbs he or she needs to lift a paint brush.

So maybe we are just whining and sighing and sounding like a rusty saw.

She says she finds herself often waiting and waiting (the unrung phone, the empty inbox) for someone to ask her to paint something.

Why?!

She , like myself,is looking for Permission! Seriously. What else can it be? Who can ultimately give us permission? I think you know the answer. I think I know the answer. Sometimes she questions herself  as to why  she ever wanted “it” so badly. I take that to be the issue of recognition as an artist. So that’s a whole ‘nother thing. Let’s tackle it. ( Hey I’m expecting you to comment and flesh out whatever I’m missing here).

One last thing about the age thing. Art ( the pursuit thereof) is a lifetime thing…it NEVER stops. It takes years, even decades to become proficient in one’s skills.

Recognizing recognition.

Okay so further on in the comments on her post she mentions a spouse that is “very supportive” and is able to pay the bills. I don’t know about you but this is sounding pretty ideal. In fact I confess to a space of time where my wife was able to pay the bills and I was able to paint and pursue artistic venues full-time.

Recognition is going to come in this life in one or both of two ways.

  1. You will sell your work.
  2. People will tell you in some way that they like/love your work.

Selling Out

This artist, all artists, myself as an artist has to ask one question. How far do you want to go with selling your work? Is that what this is really about I wonder?  We want the phone to ring? ” Hello, I see you are a great artist and I want to buy your work”.  GONG!  It don’t work that way. If your goal is selling out ( of stock) then it means creating, finding, marketing your work and that itself is a freakin’ full time job! Nobody is going to save your a$$. Really.

The good news is, I believe, if you’re willing to put in the time and the good Lord gives it to ya then you can make some kind of living from your work. It means uncovering a market, it means finding your niche. It means study, study, study and work, work , work. Yeah like a mad dog. That’s what it takes. It means getting a thick skin and thinking of the veteran who just took a bullet for you and stop feeling sorry for yourself

The next great news is that with the invention of the internet you can paint while listening to free podcasts and Youtube vids on everything from marketing to creating work. Listen and listen. Replay the best ones until it gets stuck in your head how to do a thing and then practice it.

Falling in Love

After you’re dead and gone and if you could be ‘a fly on the wall’ you would hear a litany of praise on how great an artist you were. People will remember and think of how YOU made them feel better. Young nieces and nephews will say ” Gee Aunt so-an-so was an artist. It means I can be one too. maybe it runs in the family”

Every time your name passes over parting lips you will be remembered as someone who had a great gift, ” a natural God-given talent”. They’ll say stuff about you that will make you smile. They won’t say “she wasted her time”. They just won’t. The few that are saying it now have their own internal,emotional crises and it’s bitter water coming from a bitter well. Why drink from it?!

Fall back in love with your work and that part of yourself which is a special gift to others. It doesn’t have to be sold to be appreciated but it can be. Just remember that creating the art and the business of art are two different things that happen simultaneously. The artist is one who gives- not gets. This giving attitude , I believe, is what it takes to get.

To Be Continued…

 

 

A Tapestry of Colour

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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

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!

Where’s All The Paintings?!!

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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

 

 

Art for What it’s Worth.

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5×7 acrylic painting of Old Hall’s Harbour NS  can be purchased HERE

“Notions, Goods, Accessories!” yelled one of the cartoon characters in the ship’s crows nest as he plummeted past the stunned, angry pirate below.

The  goofy cartoon character I’m referring to is one of two known as Heckle and Jeckel.  Perhaps not so known today but really popular years ago.

So what if they had said, “Notions,Goods, Accessories plus Fine Art?”

Does Art and especially fine art fall into that category?

Why does art have this *funny* association with money?

 This is something I’ve given a great deal of thought to but the answer seems to be still very open ended.

Then there is the question of worth. For a lot of people a painting that costs 400 -1000 dollars is hardly affordable.  So most people aren’t going to buy your originals. That leaves only  certain people or collectors that will purchase originals.

Just a footnote as a friend of mine has pointed out.  The real worth of art is not it’s market price. (save that for the next post)

Art, in my opinion  primarily falls into two categories:

1. ‘Art made for art’s sake.’

2. Art produced for the market.

I think ‘Art for Art’s Sake’ is quite self explanatory.  One creates art for their own soul to be shared -or not- with others; possibly even sold.

Art produced for the market is art that was intentionally created for the purpose of selling.  Once you step into this arena , in my opinion, you must have as much desire to make money as to make art!  Then again can we call art made for the market really the same kind of art? It all reminds me of the typical sci-fi stories of AI’s or advanced androids having human characteristics but wondering if they have souls.

Many disagree and say one should create their passion and then focus on selling afterward. On the other hand just creating one’s passion may or may not guarantee a sale.

The question is: Is there a middle ground?  Does there have to be an either /or?

How do you feel about making art for the market?

Since art is sold I’d like to explore these questions further.

“I say ole’ chap”, if you’re an artist then what do you think?

*Heckle_and_jeckle_promo

The Cat named Art

hallsharbturncat

Round the Bend Halls Harbour, NS by K.Cameron

ART can’t be contained.

No matter how much an artist tries to stop being an artist it always comes back.

Like the cat that leaves but keeps on showing up on the doorstep ( an old Muppet skit comes to mind) the artist for whatever reason can’t ultimately stop being true to their nature.  Perhaps you’ve experienced this too.

For what reasons artists find to take a hiatus depends upon the artist however it’s often linked to a dissatisfaction with their results or even themselves.  Yes a kind of perfectionism that haunts us.

Life can get too busy with jobs, social expectations and a myriad of good things. At the end of the day , though, there is a hunger to do more.  The warm, caring nurture of time spent painting  beckons us back to the easel, the canvas or preferred medium of your choice.

The shelter from the howls of cold wind and life itself once again calls us home to safety.

In this way Art cannot be contained.  You may be a creative who thinks they can put off your inner call until retirement or until that list of home repairs needs to be finished but in the end you’ll find that spark of creativity is a hard thing to dowse .

The call to be creative leads you back over well trodden hills and forest paths to a home you keep hidden in your heart.

Isn’t it time you came in from the cold!

Have a creative day!  Thanks for visiting.

A Little Favour

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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!

A Picture of a Picture

Standby

My brother and I a few years ago with a painting I did for him

Have you ever wondered just how much of your life may have been wasted looking through a camera lens?  I have.

I love photography and admire photographers.  I don’t consider myself a photographer, amateur or otherwise.

Reading on Millennials I came across this quote:

Standing on a dock in Delaware this March, I was struck by how beautiful the sunset was with the lake mirroring it perfectly. The water was like glass and the sun orange. There was a stillness and beauty that caught my breath, and yet we were all so distracted taking pictures. (The rest of the article here)

This is really talking about the masses with cell phones who snap pictures of everything and not really about photographers pensively lining up a good shot or skillfully recording a visual message.

What I like about painting is it’s ability to slow us down.  It does force us somewhat to soak in the image and develop it in our brain.  The world’s first camera system did not come from Apple or Kodak for that matter.  It came as an organic creation inside our heads.

I don’t think it’s wrong to take photos.  Do you?

However you must think back to those precious moments sometimes and wonder if they would really have more meaning in felt memories?  The ones that don’t divide us from our surroundings using technology.  Maybe, just maybe, there are moments that would best be remembered if not mechanically recorded. Maybe the details of a weathered face would be forgotten but the memory of feeling on our finger a warm tear from a friend or lover  will mean more to us in the end.

Maybe technology in the hands of the masses has actually taken something away instead of giving us what we are trying to save.

What do you think?

Ship Ahoy!!

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Announcing the latest from my portHole’s collection. This original hand-painted acrylic measures 7 inches (18cm) and is ‘framed’ with a golden painted rope. It is complete with a convenient twine loop so you can hang it wherever you like.  Perhaps in your home or home away from home.

Whether you live by the sea or have fond memories of having done so this painting is a reminder of our close ties to the ocean and the importance of our continued appreciation of it and its place in our lives.

I grew up near the Atlantic Ocean on the South Shore of Nova Scotia and even painted some real life size boats (not schooners, lol) for employment.

Please check out my other items for sale at OceanSky Art (also found on my website) and revisit as I have some new offers and product for you. Thanks!