Archive for the ‘Artists’ Category

On Being an Artist

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

I was recently asked by a friend how it is that I survive as a visual artist. I spent months thinking about his question. I wanted to provide him with “a silver bullet” – the perfect singular answer. It was not possible. Instead I provided a collection of tiny nuggets of experience that may, or may not be of use. Here they are…

•    I work at it every day.
•    I have fun doing what I do.
•    I have deadlines. I create them. I meet them. I create more deadlines.
•    I have a business card that says I am an artist.
•    I am ok not making a ton of money and understanding that my income may fluctuate.
•    I diversify my work.
•    I make mistakes and I learn from them.
•    I assess what works and what doesn’t.
•    I make hard decisions.
•    My family is VERY supportive.
•    I stay true to who I am.
•    I continue to dream.

If I had to stress one nugget it’s the “work at it every day” nugget. It’s the point at which an artist crosses over to a place of no longer being a hobby artist.

I know that all sounds rather simple and doable. There are days when it feels like you are climbing a mountain with your teeth and there are days when you feel like you have swallowed the magic potion of greatness and can do no wrong. But only by doing do you experience both of those feelings.

Teaching Art

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Today I begin teaching at LucSculpture School & Studios. I will be teaching Art Portfolio and Cartooning, Comic Art and Sequential Storytelling.

Art Portfolio is a “one on one” class aimed at improving a student’s body of artwork for school submissions. Artistic portfolios should display “observational art” such as: landscapes, still-lifes, cityscapes, self-portrait and human form. It should also include work that speaks to your personal experiences and culture, and reflects your thoughts and concepts.

Cartooning, Comic Art and Sequential Storytelling is a seven week class series that focuses on the basic framework and components of cartoon and comic art. These will be put into play by learning how to tell and draw a story sequentially without the use of words.

I once taught a similar cartooning class at the Kansas City Art Institute. I am so looking forward to teaching it again!

Artists Where You Least Expect Them

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

By accident I picked up this month’s Harvard Business Review (HBR) (October 2010). It’s not a typical magazine that I read – but a front cover article title caught my eye.

I flipped to the contents section and was immediately caught off guard by a photograph depicting a colourful block assemblage of everyday items. It was indeed an art piece.

In the left side panel, I read “About the Spotlight Artist…Michael Johansson was born in Trollhättan, Sweden.” The description said, “Johansson is intrigued by irregularities and coincidences in daily life and is drawn to combining familiar objects with new or unknown objects. By changing scale and context, ordinary objects become extraordinary.”

Hmm…I paused for a moment, ever the curious and then continued flipping page by page en route to the article I was looking for. Then I stumbled upon another piece of his art work and realized that Mr. Johansson´s work was intended to aid the spotlight article on the Supply Chain – an article I had no interest in reading – that is until I realized the connection with the artist.

His artwork worked really well in tandem with the supply chain article. It was smart, colourful, interesting, and it had an original point of view. I immediately attached all of these elements to the article on the supply chain before I even read it. Nice job HBR.

Wooden Cutting Boards

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

A few months ago I met a man at an art show who was selling wooden cutting boards. He asked me what I was doing at the show and so I told him I was showing my paintings. He then told me that he too was a painter. I asked him why he wasn’t selling his paintings. He responded by telling me that it was easier to sell wooden cutting boards than it was to sell artwork.

He then pulled out an old magazine that featured his artwork. The magazine displayed the most meticulously painted watercolours I have ever seen. They were collages of items that he had found along the way – ticket stubs, napkins, matchbooks – all painted in high realism. I was really impressed. I asked him if he was still painting. He told me “no.” Then with a shrug, he added “besides I already have a stack of paintings I can’t sell.”

Perhaps I was a bit naive to think that all artists care for their artwork as I do. I think it is important to be flexible with your work and to anticipate and integrate change. I guess if an artist’s focus is purely sales, then moving towards another art form would be favourable. But for me, I like what I do, so I try keep my work evolving and to be on the lookout for something that would work better while always remaining true to my work.

Riverdale Art Walk

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

The Riverdale Art Walk was a great event. For starters it didn’t rain on the event but rained around the event. So there were puddles present but no runny gouache paintings for which I was relieved.

I had many friends and family members attend the event to show their support. Even my great Aunt Betty at the age of 85 showed up to cheer me on. That you can’t beat. I was delighted to see everyone and I thank them for being so wonderfully supportive. They even visited other artists and spread their joy around.

I met many fantastic people. They were very engaged with my work and offered much commentary. For example I heard “sweet, but edgy” “whimsical” and “very unique”. I was also asked quite a bit if I was working on a children’s book because my work suited that format. Indeed I am – a sweet but edgy children’s book.

Art Conventions

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Today I attended both the Toronto Art Expo and the Toronto Comic Convention. It’s really handy when they are both located in the same massive building. They were wildly different but equally enjoyable.

There were many fine works at the Art Expo. I was particularly drawn to two artists’ works. One of which is Marcel Guldemond. He paints oil on plyboard. He is a former comic book artist whose love of the outdoors shines through his work. The other is Robert P. Roy who is also a landscape artist, but works in acrylic. I was drawn to his work because of his exceptional use of colour. He is able to simplify elements in a landscape yet still provide the viewer with a dynamic scene.

The Toronto Comic Convention also displayed many fine works from comic artists. One of which was Dave Ross who is an exceptional penciller for comics. His attention to detail is remarkable. He frequently teaches at Max The Mutt Animation School in Toronto.