Why do/don't you buy art?

2016 11 13 - 21:34

What stops me is money; what I think stops others is also money, but from the perspective that non-artists see the end result of a process, not all the work that goes into it, so they do not understand why something would cost as much money as it might - so it's money, but also value.

There is not a lot of value placed on the work of an artist - neither in the sense of the product produced or the process used to produce it. Also, this culture has a streak of pragmatism running through it at times, and it stops folks from purchasing something pricey that has no - to them - practical value.


Doodling is the jazz of the art world

2016 10 15 - 21:04

There are different kinds of artists in the world.

I am a manipulator.

I'm adept at taking one thing and turning it into something else, seeing something for the other things it can be. I'm good at expanding, extrapolating, and molding. I am not a drawer. It's not a gift I have. Representational work is just not my forte either. I like pattern and colour though, so I do doodle. That's as close to pure drawing as you're likely to get from me.

A wise man once said that doodling is the jazz of the art world.



2016 10 08 - 21:00

I'm very picky about two things when it comes to acquiring certain art supplies: lightfastness in all things, and pigment-based (rather than dye-based) products for inks and markers.

Most markers are an alcohol-based product, which means they are also dye-based. I don't buy alcohol-based anything, nor dye-based anything. They are not archival nor lightfast. For a detailed explanation as to why that is, this article explains it well, without being complicated.

If you're just screwing around for fun, buying products for children, or crafting things that don't need to last for the next 200 years, dye-based products are just fine - they do have their upsides, but they aren't appropriate for fine art pieces, unless you mean the piece to be ephemeral. Pigment-based products do cost more, but you're paying for their lightfast, archival nature.


Where (and Why There) I Buy Art Supplies

2016 10 02 - 20:26

In case you're wondering why I scour amazon.ca for art supplies, instead of going to an art supply store, the answer is simple: price. I do shop at art supply stores, but before I buy some things, I look on Amazon first, because many times I can find something shockingly cheaper there than anywhere else.

Curry's, for example, is the lowest price alternative for art supplies in the Hamilton area. There was an item they were selling for $269 and change, that I got off amazon.ca for $119.19.

And no, I don't shop at Michael's unless I need big packs of black paper or craft supplies no one else sells, because it is the most horrendously overpriced place I've ever encountered. It's criminal they get away with it. If I'm in there in the art supply section killing time, and see people perusing the goods, I point them to Curry's. I only go to Mixed Media for my watercolour paper (because Curry's doesn't sell the brand and weight I like) and Faber-Castell products (which Curry's also doesn't sell). Otherwise I don't shop there because they're too pricey. I have occasionally bought offline at Above Ground Art Supplies in Toronto, because they carry a couple of things Curry's also doesn't have.

I laugh whenever people complain that Curry's is too expensive. In a sense, it is, but everywhere else is worse - except Amazon.


And no, I don't buy things at the dollar store, because that is low quality stuff, and I'm trying to make art that won't fall apart, and that I can (with a good conscience) sell to someone.


Abstract expressionism

2016 09 24 - 20:30

I understand why it has a place, and why folks like Jackson Pollock are significant, but I've never cared for abstract expressionist paintings.

I've never liked Pollock (who's paintings I've often referred to as bird shit), that's for sure, nor Mark Rothko or de Kooning - though I don't mind Kline. I think only because his black and white works are so simple, they aren't masses of jarring colour that leave no rest to the eye or mind. I've always found the genre to be messy, ugly, without anything that could speak to a person unless you count migraine-fuelled chaos, without evidence of skill, and devoid of a message. I am not of the sort that believes art needs to have some sort of message in order to be good art. It doesn't. Good art (by which I mean abstract art in this case) is well-made, illustrative of some kind of skill, and/or appealing to a person in some way (not necessarily pretty, just appealing; and sometimes the ugly appeals). You can get something out of good art. You can get your own message, regardless of what the creator may or may not have chosen to illustrate.

Pollock did open a door: He opened a door and freed yet another path for creators to follow. That is why he is important.

I still think his paintings look like bird shit though.


Artist Grade Coloured Pencils

2016 09 04 - 20:37

I just had a brilliant product idea that I emailed Liquitex about (because that company loves the experimentin')...

An artist grade line of coloured pencils (hopefully at a lower price  point than Faber-Castell and Caran D'ache), that conforms to the same  colours, colour names, and lightfastness that a paint manufacturer uses,  made of a material that will marry with acrylic paint somewhat better  than wax-based and oil-based coloured pencils do. It would make some  aspects of art-making easier - fine lines that conform to the colours in  the work, augmentation of work such as I do, colouring in prints  produced on a press, etcetera.

Such a thing does not exist, you see. Let us hope Liquitex creates such an animal.


Lawren Harris

2016 08 19 - 20:35

There is an enormous amount of art that is utterly lost on me because of my eyesight. I cannot appreciate the detail.

Enter Lawren Harris, who removed detail, who distills a thing down ti its essence, and loses nothing of the significance. Because he takes all the overt complication awsy, he made it easy for me to connect, to appreciate the work.

While I'm hoping to get to Toronto to see the Harris show at the AGO, I am more than pleased at the room half full of him at the Art Gallery of Hamilton that I just saw. I rarely get to go to the AGH because of my schedule, so today was a treat.



2016 07 10 - 20:34

Part of why I don't do more large-format creative work than I do, aside from the obvious problem of the price of pre-stretched canvas, is storage. I live in a small apartment, and there isn't enough space to store big canvas. I'm thinking, though, of at least working on larger sheets of watercolour paper than I've been doing my printmaking with - it's far easier to store, though sizes are limited. The biggest pre-cut sheets I can get, are 22" x 30". It's something, but I really itch to work on huge canvas - 4' x 4', 5' x 8', and larger. Canson (through Curry's) has a 52" x 10 yrd roll, which would be stunningly wonderful if it weren't only 105 lb paper. In order for the paper to be of any use to me with acrylic, it has to be 200 lb or better. I can do the printmaking with 140 lb paper, which I have been doing, and let me tell you this - Fabriano 140 lb works so much better than the Canson does. Even at that weight, light washes and wet media, Canson paper still peels apart, where the Fabriano doesn't.

The issues with working on paper though, are sellability and framing. Some folks are more likely to buy abstract/surrealist acrylic work if it's on canvas than they are if it's on paper - but you can get around that by using even a tiny bit of some other media and calling it 'mixed media', and framing costs a fortune. Paper, unlike canvas, can't be hung without a frame - unless I do the work on paper then glue it to cradled panels before it's to be shown or sold, so that I can still store it easily. Panel sizes come in the same variety of sizes that pre-stretched canvas does, but it's more sellable that way than just work on paper, and with it glued to the panel I can varnish it the same way I'd do a canvas.

I need to live somewhere larger, with storage space.

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Eyes and Balls

2016 02 06 - 20:39

A friend and I, talking about our respective sports loves - she's football and I'm baseball, ascribed it to the fact that you love what you grow up being used to seeing. That's true, in a lot of ways. She grew up watching football with her father, going to Tiger Cats games and the like; and I grew up watching baseball with my grandfather, and classic Dodgers/Yankees grudge match world series. I don't watch baseball much anymore - I don't have cable (nor even a TV), watching the games online can be flakey at best, and the strikes kind of did a number on me years ago that I never quite got past. I've only ever been to one major league game, where the Red Sox beat the pants off the Blue Jays 14 - 1. I swear, as a visually impaired woman I'm sure I could have played outfield better that day than the guy who was doing it.

Here's the thing... I can still watch games if I want, but unless I watch them on TV it goes right by me. That's the one beauty, though, of watching baseball on TV - they always make it very clear where the ball is at any given time. With hockey, football, and basketball, to my eyes it's merely bunches of men going back and forth across various colours of surface. I can't see the detail. It's all lost on me. It just sort of hit me yesterday, when I thought maybe I should watch some of the online Coal Bowl games (it's a basketball tournament in Cape Breton that, as it happens, some of my cousin's children are playing in), even though I've never had a love of basketball, just to see what's going on - to keep in touch with what my family is doing and all that. But, there we are, all the detail of what's going on would be lost on me, so it's more groups of men running back and forth across a surface.

I used to think all the time about what I was missing in life, but not really in a participatory way. It was more of a can't-drive-a-car, can't-be-a-doctor, can't-operate-machinery sort of thinking. Today, though, I think about all the things I've missed because I can't see the detail. No animals-in-the-forest-watching, no people-watching, no shared sports experiences, no eye contact games with men. People have accused me of being rude because I don't look around when I hear someone who shouts after me without using my name, nor do I look at honking cars. No point. I can't see the people in the car, and unless you're within a couple of feet of me, I won't see you standing across the road shouting at me. Rather, I might see you, I just won't know it's you.

So, I spent a lot of my life not bothering with certain things, because there was no point in learning them - there was no point in learning the details of a sport I could never actually enjoy - either as a participant or a spectator. I never learned the details of most sports for that reason. I never bothered flirting with people for the same reason. At times, not being able to participate has been incredibly frustrating. It hasn't stopped me from having adventures and enjoying my life - but a lot of my pursuits are solitary, individual, and late-blooming.

Oddly, one of the things I enjoy most - making art - is only augmented by bad vision, rather than being hampered by it. Do I live the life of a photo-realist? Hell no; but I wouldn't want to. I'm a surrealist, an abstractionist, I like art made from accidents, and bad vision only helps. I prefer abstract art to representational art. I never much got into landscapes, unless it looked like a Dali-esque nightmare. I don't care for portraits either. I get more feeling out of abstract works - from colours, shapes, patterns - maybe because that's sometimes all I see of the world. It was great when I was taking a lot of photographs, because I did what I called abstract photography sometimes. It was never about taking pictures of Things, it was about taking pictures of their shapes and the way they fitted in to what was around them.

My life is a piece of melon on a buffet fruit tray. One time I took a couple of cubes off a tray because I thought they were cheese, because from my eye-level looking down at a buffet table is just a sea of colours. My friend Diane spent a week in Cuba walking behind me at the resort's buffet line whispering in my ear about what was on the dishes in front of me. It's why I like buffets that label the food trays - at eye level. Makes life a little less gastronomically surprising.

I've missed out on a lot, which I suppose was my point - and it was sad, and sometimes still is; but I haven't missed out on everything, and that's good.

Incidentally, I hate melons - but I ate the cubes just the same, because I was too embarrassed not to.

art, iaido, personal
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2016 01 10 - 20:45

I remember the first time I sold a piece of art - it was auctioned as part of a fund-raiser for the Dundas Valley School of Art some twenty years ago. The quality of the piece was immaterial. I was happy, proud - I'd sold a piece of art.

And, at a time when my family life with my grandfather had seemingly devolved to nothing but negation, insults, devaluing, verbal and emotional abuse, it was the first time - maybe the only time - I can remember him being in any way proud of me. He wanted to give me the value of the sale out of his own pocket, and frame the cheque the DVSA had sent me.

The creative has value, even in so simple a way as this. It would be a lovely thing if more of the world gave it more credence than they currently do.

Is a career in fine arts the most practical thing? No, but its siblings - the packaging, car, clothing, film/ TV, bus ad, and menu makers of the world - are. We see and use these things every day. The pragmatic is also not the be-all and end-all. The creative mind can think in ways that can benefit professions outside of the arts, because a creative mind is adaptable, elastic, fluid, extemporaneous - at least, it should be. But, if your child is creative, why would you want to devalue it at all? This is the conversation you could have with your child: "Okay, you want to be an artist. It's a hard life, so while you're making art, get a certificate in bookkeeping so you can make a living while you paint."

As an aside, I still have no idea who bought the piece, nor where it ended up.