Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why be an artist? Now I remember.

There are days when I wonder why I wanted to pursue being an artist.
Then there were days like yesterday which made me remember.

Other artists can relate I'm sure, to those days that you sit there staring at your own work (whatever the medium), wondering at what point you lost the love for it. You know that pivotal moment, when you've come too far and invested too much effort to scrap it, but you don't know if you can save it.

Well, the old me would have just scrapped it. I hate to admit it, but I have a history of being a quitter. I have a closet full of unfinished projects that I enthusiastically started on, only to have the perfectionist in me not like the way things were turning out, and abandon it. Don't get me wrong, there are a number of projects that I did finish, but I think that was because I was ultimately happy with the way they turned out.

Enter "new and improved" me. I have learned to listen to criticism (even my own), interpret it into my work and become a better painter.  The satisfaction that is gained when someone sees your work and you witness the emotional response it invokes in them, is worth all the criticism in the world.

So on to yesterday.

As some of you know, I'm preparing to paint a portrait of Bozley, a Bouvier des Flandres, who holds a special place in the heart of my biggest fan (MBF). Bozley passed away of old age about 5 years ago, but when he talks about Boz, there is still a twinkle in his eye.  Boz is the dog that all other dogs in the world are measured by.

I have been doing my photo research gathering images of Bozley and other bouvs so that I can start sketching out my next painting. Yesterday, MBF had a bad day. A really bad day.  He had to go out for the evening, so I spent the time while he was out finding pictures of Boz and printing out enlargements and I left them right where he would find them when he got home.

He found them right away, and after a few moments of silence, he came around the corner with a smile on his face. Probably the first smile of his day.

That is the very reason that I want to be an artist. If my work makes just one person conjure up memories that makes them smile, then it was worth every minute of effort that went into it.

Thanks especially to MBF, for helping me become "the new me".

Monday, November 9, 2009

Finally Finished - Yellow Lab

I'm happy to report that I was able to finish my painting over the weekend. This painting progressed a little slower than I'd hoped, but it's finished nonetheless! Finding time to paint was the biggest challenge I faced this time around. Quite often when I do find the time, it's already 10 pm, and by then my mind is just too tired to be creative.

On the flip side, I learned a few things from this work, lessons that will prove useful with my next subject.
(It's all a learning experience, isn't it?)

I am truly inspired by some really talented watercolour artists that have been sharing their work on the wetcanvas watercolor forum. There is always someone who will lend some advice when a painting isn't turning out how you hoped, before it's too late to save it.

Thanks to everyone there who lent their advice for this one: Bryan, Tom, Laura, and Syliva. (And of course Rod, where would I be without you?)

The inspiration for this painting is my Aunt's lab Dakota. Who is getting up in years, but she is still a great old girl and a fine subject for a painting.

Here she is:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This Week's Work in Progress: Yellow Lab

Despite all of the turmoil around the RWF art show, I have still been managing to make headway on my Yellow Lab painting.

I found this one challenging because I was working with a number of reference photos and I've had to correct a lot of things along the way, but I like the direction that it's going now.  I'm hoping to finish this one by the end of the week.  **crosses fingers**.

That's all for now, soon the finished piece!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Udder Disorganization. Really.

I was elated, as you know from my last post, when I was notified that I was to be a top ten artist in the Royal Winter Fair's art showcase.

Due to (in my opinion) some gross incompetence by the art showcase organizers, things have changed significantly from my last post.

Here's what happened:  (Forgive me if I sound bitter, but my blood boils every time I think about it.)

It started Monday when I emailed the RWF art show coordinator to find out which cow painting I submitted had been chosen for the top ten.  I received an email later that day that it was Curious Cow.  Wonderful! My favourite painting. So happily I write my blog to share the great news with my friends and fellow artists.

Things started to unfold when on Wednesday night I got an email from the show's coordinator. By reading between the lines, I determined that there was some kind of mix up and somehow both paintings that I submitted got accepted to the show, and therefore Curious Cow was not chosen, but my other submission, Closeup Cow, was. They will only hang one framed piece per artist. Don't bring Curious Cow she says, it will not be accepted.

Fine, mistakes happen. Both pieces were already at the framer anyway.

I was kind of happy that I was accepted twice, it was their oversight that they didn't notice this earlier.  I emailed the lady back to ensure my other painting was still part of top ten.

So this is when the bomb hit.  I got an email back saying that my painting "had slipped below the threshold of top ten" because of an addition error on the Jury sheets.  I was one point out of top ten. COME AGAIN?? Apparently math isn't their strong suit.

I was furious, seeing red, and embarassed that I had self-promoted as top ten and now had to retract my statement. I called the Marketing Coordinator of the Fair, (to her horror) ranted about how grossly unprofessional it is to notify an artist they have received this honour, and then say "oops" our mistake, and take it away. She promises to get to the bottom of it and get back to me, because her sheet says I'm in the top ten.

The art show's coordinator (different lady) called me back full of apologies and explanations and tried to convince me that one point out of top ten was "pretty good" and I should be happy.  Really? NOT.

As some kind of peace offering she offered me the opportunity to be a "demonstration artist" on the Monday afternoon of the show.  For two hours I would be painting on the demonstration stage and answering questions by show visitors. Since like most people, I have a job, this was never an option. I tell her I'll think about it and I'll get back to her.

By this time I am furious and I vow not to attend the show at all. The whole thing be damned. A personal vendetta. I cried and wondered how things could be this disorganized. I consider withdrawing from the show on principle. (There were other miscommunications to the artists that I won't go into detail about because they didn't involve me, but only reinforce my feelings of udder incompetence.)

Fast forward to today...

The love of my life left with my painting this morning to deliver it to the Royal's offices.

Having had the weekend to reflect on the week's events, I have decided to attend the show despite the way things were handled. I notified them that I would not be a demonstration artist and thanked them for extending me the opportunity. (I have to be the bigger person here, right?)

I will go to the art show presentations on Friday the 13th (how appropriate) after all, because I still want to see the other artists work, and represent myself as one of the chosen entries.

In the beginning, my only goal was to be accepted into the show, and I should be thrilled that that was what happened. So I am.

Who knows, maybe Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles will comment on my painting as they tour the Royal this Friday... so Close Up cow, you will be graced by the presence of Royalty. Hang proud.

Here is the painting that will be actually hanging at the show. (Sorry Curious Cow, you're outta here!)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Holy Cow! I Made the Top Ten!

Friday was a big day for me as an artist.

Back in September, I dutifully filled out entry forms, wrote an Artist's CV, burned CDs and submitted two of my watercolour paintings to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair's artist showcase. Since that day I have been anxiously waiting the results (to say the least), to which I hoped would come in the form of an acceptance of one of 40 paintings featured in the art showcase. I must admit I was prepared for rejection, as this is show is open to all Ontario residents, and it was only my second time entering an art show.

Well, Friday morning it came. The news couldn't have been better.

There it was in my email's inbox staring me in the face.

The subject line read: RAWF Showcase Acceptance. I swear my hands were shaking as I clicked the link to open the email. I was so excited I could hardly believe my eyes.  I called everyone I could think of.

I think I was on the phone with my Dad when I started reading him the email, when I realized in my exuberance, that I had skimmed over the most important message in the whole thing: Since you are on this mailing you have been accepted to the top ten in the 2009 RAWF Fine Art Showcase. I could hardly get the words out to my Dad on the phone. I was like a giddy little school girl...

In retrospect, it kind of played out like this:  
" have been accepted to the top ten..."


Top Ten?!
**Blinks eyes**

I did it!!
**Heart Rate Skyrockets**
**Permasmile :)**  

For those who are not familiar with the Royal, it is the world’s largest indoor agricultural and international equestrian competition, and draws more than 300,000 visitors to Toronto annually to see thousands of unique entries from elite Canadian and International breeders, growers and exhibitors, over 4,500 large and small animals, shows and activities.

For an emerging artist like myself, that kind of publicity and exposure is hard to achieve.

Granted not all visitors will stop by the art show, but a good percentage are bound to, and my painting will be there featured among the top ten! The show is getting higher exposure and better floor space this year, thanks to a grant from the Canadian Government.

I can't wait to go to the Awards ceremony, not because I want to win a prize, but because I want to be in the company of some really outstanding visual artists, to appreciate their work and maybe learn a thing or two from them.

If you happen to be attending the Royal this year, be sure to stop by the Direct Energy Centre, Hall C, Exhibition Place, Toronto. The show runs from November 6 through 15, 2009.

To readers of my earlier blog post about finding inspiration, rest assured:  I found it. Truly the beginning of good great things to come.

This is the painting that was accepted, titled "Curious Cow".

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Isn't she lovely? - She's the Purr-fect Puss!

I'm happy to say that I've finally completed the painting I started after Thanksgiving, and I couldn't be happier with the results.  Just as I'd hoped, painting one of my favourite things has revived the creativity that was buried under the layers of emotional pain I was feeling after the loss of my Mom.

Although I intended to post some "Work in Progess" shots, I never managed to, because this painting just seemed to come together so quickly.  I think I posted one on my Facebook page, but short of that my intentions were good, really.  Next time, I promise!!

Just as I hoped, working on this painting has inspired me to paint again, I've decided to focus on animal portraits for the time being. My love for animals paired with my love for painting should hopefully combine for positive results.

I would also like to express my gratitude to Katie, the talented photographer and owner of the beautiful kitty in my painting, for allowing me to use "Pickles" as the subject matter. Katie, I can't tell you how much your beautiful kitty helped inspire my creativity!

I am hoping to start my next painting before the weekend, I've started gathering some pictures of Yellow Labs for reference as I sketch out my next subject.  This time around I will post some work in progess shots.

Until next time, here is Pickles for you to enjoy!

"Purr-fectly Content"
Watercolour on Arches 140lb Cold Press
11" x 15"

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hope to Find Some Inspiration

So today marks the beginning of the first Holiday weekend since my Mom passed away.

I won't lie, this week has been very emotional for me, and I'm sure this is only the beginning. I have been uninspired to do anything creative since I got back from the art show. I haven't even unpacked my painting supplies.

Last night I started sketching out my new painting, a close up of beautiful fluffy cat, which I hope will be the start of good things to come. Cats are one of my favourite animals and always make me feel better, so perhaps a wise choice of subject this time around, given the circumstances. 

I'm intending on posting some 'work in progess' shots along the way, to show how I'm making out with it.

Until then, happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends and family, and especially to Mom, we will miss you.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My First Art Show

Well, this weekend I participated in my first ever art show.

By my own standards (which are usually pretty high) the show went pretty well. The two-day show was part of the annual Applefest weekend, which brings thousands of visitors to the little town of Brighton for the festival. The art show had a steady stream of patrons, who shared their stories and comments when they stopped by my booth.

I sold one painting, which was my goal for the weekend, so I can't complain there.

Even more important than selling the painting, was the knowledge I gained from talking with veteran artists who show their work all the time... watching how they interact with the visitors to their booths and generally just how their displays were set up, helped me a great deal.

Next show I will come armed with a full arsenal: business cards, some ingenious way display more paintings on the wall even if they're not framed, matted limited edition prints of my work that have already sold. (In this economy, it seemed people were looking for lower-priced options. The other artists seem to sell more prints than originals.)

Thanks to my S.O. Rod who stayed all day Sunday with me, who now has lots of ideas to make my next show even more of a success!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Welcome to my Blog!

Well better late than never, I suppose...

So with some kind encouragement from my friends, I have officially entered the digital age and decided to bring my art online so I can share it with the world.

So this, being my inaugeral entry, will be short and sweet, but with the promise of greater things to come. Here I hope to post pictures of what I'm working on, with a little insight into each piece.

Until then,