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. :^)

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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…

 

 

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!

Hocus Focus

3amigossm

Hocus Focus!

Do you want to be successful in your art? The magic words are “hocus focus”.

It’s no trick really that being focused and busy does conjure up success. Whether we’re talking about ‘art business’ success’ or simply churning out work. Get busy on things that produce results.

Sure it’s important to wash the dishes and do the laundry or even keep down a night job.  Or always writing WordPress posts,ha.

The thing is, that body of work you want to get done will not just …poof!…appear out of thin air! Often the elixir for lack of focus is to just do the work.

If you’re waiting for someone to put a spell on you to get some art work done it’s not going to be happening. It has to come from your own spirit.  Sure do whatever it takes to create the right atmosphere  to prosper. Sweep away the old cobwebs in that studio and disturb some dust.  That’s a start.

Don’t let small tasks haunt you.

How many times have you been told to do all the so called important things first and the rest (your time to create) will follow.  Ever notice it doesn’t ever work that way? Those dark thoughts are from well-meaning souls that aren’t quickened to how important art is to you.  Treat them like bats in the belfry!  Do not disturb [them] and they won’t disturb you.

It doesn’t take a wizard to figure this out. Do the work and you get results. Leave and it will die. What’s the worst that will happen?  Will you be put on trial for doing what you love? Will you be burned at the stake for making art?

Well I must take my own advice and wisp away to my studio, grab that brush like a wand and see what magic I there create. I hope this little post will possess you to go get some work done. It’s a treat really!

Hey!  I didn’t even use the term ghost of a chance !  Oh.  Wait.  I just did.  drat!

Have creative day!  Thanks for visiting.

3amigosclosedghostsm

The Value of Art

Avonport Covered Bridge, Kevin Cameron , Acrylic

Avonport Covered Bridge, Kevin Cameron , Acrylic

Create your Unique Value Proposition!

That’s what they say.

Sometimes it’s called your unique selling proposition.

How does it relate to selling your art?

A UVP is a clear statement of how you or your art will benefit the customer and how your art will ”  solve your customer’s needs and … distinguishes you from the competition.”

One of my problems with owning business jargon in relation to art is that the art can become secondary. A redefinition of what art is arises from this process.

After all, the true value of art is something difficult to measure in terms of money.  Why do some paintings cost a million dollars while other, very good art, sell for only a few hundred bucks?

This is a hard question to answer and often has more to do with current culture, investment, history, branding and so forth. Picasso, for example, is a name (brand) so tied to the art world of high dollar investment that even student copies of his work can sell for thousands of dollars.

I admit.  I am no expert but I’m not naive either. Only when it comes to junk food.

Let me put it this way:  What would be more valuable to you? Discovering an old painting in your grandmother’s attic ,which she did of you years ago, or finding a Gustav Klimt  piece?

So, the true value of some art (paintings for example) can’t be measured in dollars because it’s personal, has history,tells your story and exposes a naked truth. Value Perception must be based on real value.

I think the days of manipulating perception ( the ‘bad car salesman’ cliche ) are coming to an end. Trying to trick people into buying your art is not going to work nor will it make you a better person. Tripping over folks just to get to the almighty dollar is one of the lowest things you can do.

However you can add value to works  by being honest, for one thing. Did the work really mean something to you or were you just copying a photo, so to speak?

 Once when I had my own small home gallery, an artist suggested I mark *sold* on a few pieces just to encourage the others to sell.  I thought that was awful.  I wouldn’t want it done to me so why do it to someone else?

Honesty is one of the best ingredients in producing value.  If it (the art) means nothing to you then how will it mean something to someone else?

Be honest in your art.  Tell your story/your truth not someone else’s.

Have a creative day and thanks for stopping by!

Art for What it’s Worth.

hallsold5x7new

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

You’re Gonna Be Rich Someday

Acrylic Painting for Book Cover by Kevin Cameron

Acrylic Painting for Book Cover by Kevin Cameron

“You’re gonna be rich someday,” my co-worker said after she saw a sample of my art!

 That wasn’t the reaction I expected!  “Someday you’re art is going to make you a lot of money,” he said as I emptied out the waste basket from his classroom.
Ugh.  How does an artist deal with or handle such comments.  You know they mean well.  You know that value is measured in material means with money; the sad truth of our civilization.
What’s tough about the whole thing, as a young artist especially, was that I didn’t know how to respond to such statements.  It was on the same level as your Grandmother praising you for your school project like no one else ever created such a gooey gluey, tilted, smelly thinga-ma-jig in grade 3 before. Thoughts that race through your brain when people see your work and say you’ll be rich are:
1. Are you a prophet?  Will this prediction really come true?
2. You’re blowing me off  aren’t you by trying to make me feel good.  You’re sort of pitying me aren’t you.
3.O crap!  That’s the last time I show anybody my stuff!  I’m done.
Or you may actually respond with, ” O gee Ernie, Mary…I dunno, duh wit the price of canvas deez days…no  artist can get rich…yuk, yuk…”.*sigh*  ( for all you Millenials, yuk was the LOL of bygone era of no-internet and horse- and -carriage)

This question of value all comes down to the nature of art, I think. It’s no ones fault really.  Well maybe.

I make it no secret that I’m a Sci-Fi buff (fan).   No matter  how cheesy or how heady, I like my Science Fiction. A recent episode of the 60’s Twilight Zone was called Eye of the Beholder.  I won’t ruin the story for you ( cuz I know you’re gonna go seek it out and watch it, yuk)  . The title is just that- beauty is really in the EYE of the beholder.  We all see worth based on who we are and how we have been socially conditioned to see it.  Anyways that’s deep and debatable, I know. However I have been thinking about this fact for quite some time now.  How does one really price their art?  If art is priceless then how can it be sold?  Should a painting be costed at square inches or how much time it takes to make or what the fair market value is, etc, etc ? ( Don’t ya hate when someone uses etc twice! yuk)
*Last night before bed I watched an episode of Ray Bradbury Theater.  It was a series made in the eighties based on stories of the famed sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury. My wife and my teenage daughter are especially fans…NOT! It’s one of those shows I watch alone for the most part.  Know what I’m sayin’?  The reason is because the stories often seem pointless or anticlimactic.  However last night’s story was called A Miracle of Rare Device. It really seemed to align somewhat with the question of artistic worth or intrinsic value.

PatandWayne

Two ne’er -do- wells, William and Robert ( played by Wayne Robson and Pat Harrington)  stumble across a beautiful mirage in the middle of nowhere.  One fellow is keen on making a few bucks from this freak of nature, which appears as a great city on the horizon. Eventually he has a change of heart and feels bad about fleecing people of their money for something he , himself, never created.

Raredevice

They have a sort of nemesis in the character of Ned Bantlin who drives about on an old motorcycle ( imagine a Mad Max character) and always seems to benefit from their discoveries.  In this case Ned buys the look off point, kicks off the two drifters but soon discovers that the selling of beauty for mere greed loses it’s effectiveness and the mirage, to him , disappears. Seeing no monetary gain, Ned leaves frustrated and angry tearing up the dusty road as he speeds away.

PatandWayne2

Sadly Robert and William watch the sunset on their dreams not being able to see the beautiful mirage. In a last moment before the daylight fades a family of four, ” born in wheat fields and who by God’s grace wandering the world..”, turn up asking to see the great miracle.  Discouraged , Robert and William, say the view is free and might come back tomorrow.  Who knows?  The family , however, do see the mirage of a great city -the miracle of rare device.  In their believing innocence and wonder not only does the family see it  but Robert and William see it again as well.
The moral, I guess, is that beauty and wonder belong to the beholder.  Art and beauty has it’s own worth indigenous to the beholder.  It makes some compare it to great riches exclaiming, “You’re going to be rich someday!”  It transports people to new realms  and supplies their dreams.
‘Guess all we artists need answer to their bursts of admiration is, “Thank You…that’ll be a 100 bucks please…yuk, yuk…”

 

*originally written August 1,2014…I think

 

 

 

 

 

 

The meaning of life

Well no, the ‘Meaning of Art’ perhaps.  The title was just to get your attention.

Recently I Googled “no really, what is the best way to sell art” or something like that.  The idea of someone owning my art fascinates me. At times I pursue the problem of selling art with the list approach much like one does when they prepare to go fishing.  Do you have bait? Yes.  Check.  Do you have the fishing line? Yes. Check .  And so on.

There are a myriad of suggestions and no shortage of advice from the experts that will help you sell your work.

For example, “stand up and don’t sit down” while selling your art. “Use the colour red in the painting.”  “Paint with oil paints instead of watercolour because they sell better.”  So the list goes on.  It’s a left brain world where mortgages and rent come every 30 days so I have to paint and sell my quota in order to survive ( or so the story goes)  and yet…yet, the real moment of romance comes when the person viewing your art simply likes it.  They like it because it excites them or moves them in some metaphysical way that goes beyond explanation.  It was most likely the painting in which you too felt no less ecstatic while creating it.  In some way beyond our understanding the soul that you breathed into your work now possesses that person enjoying your art.

Is it possible that people will buy your work even if you don’t like the subject?

The wonderful thing about the world we live in is that anything is possible.  It does happen.  The same way in which the ordinary, unskilled person may perform an emergency, life saving operation and yet not really proceed to acquire the title of Doctor.

I named my post dishonestly to get your attention.  However you likely sensed soon that I was joking or being light-hearted about it.  You forgave my dishonesty.  I don’t think we forgive dishonest artists who want to be taken seriously.

The one thing any artist needs above technique or posturing, etc is to ( drum roll) like what they do!  I for one am going to review not my selling skills but my Honesty. Honesty, Integrety and Truth. These three are one.

I think connecting with people via any art form is most effective when the art,the thing created, came from some deeper place inside you. It’s the very essense of art. Like they say (generally) a baby will be born when the baby decides!  Not when the nurse , doctor or some convenient hour of the day should decide.  Yes there is labour involved. Practise, practise, practise. Think, think ,think. When that painting arrives it will come almost unstoppable as if all the stars, galaxies and suns have clicked into place and time like a great cosmic, cogged machine.  It will possess you!  These , in my experience, are the works of art that seem to connect most with people.  It’s happened to me in a small way and to many other artists as well.

For me I’m going to throw away for now that bullwhipped idea of focus and rather concentrate more on discovery.  I want to know what I like the most.  To fall in love with it over and over again.

Here are some thoughts and questions I hope to consider in the pursuit of my true art.  If you have any suggestions or ideas then by all means feel free to post.

It is possible to like more than one subject or medium and that is okay.

Generally one form of artistic/creative medium will be predominate –  the thing you become most known for.

If you’re not happy/satisfied with something it could be your ‘gut’ (creative instincts) telling you something is wrong.  Listen to your subconscious and then consciously and objectively try to find out what that is. eg. I started getting bored of 2D and then decided to experiment with 3D/prop -like art.

The thing your best at may be what you like the most.

Any ideas on discovering the art or medium you love the most….?