Ink Drawings

2017 03 05 - 23:37

Although many of the pieces created in this manner started as coloured pencil drawings years ago, I wanted to recreate them using materials that would better stand the test of time, as the pencils originally used were not lightfast and the paper was less than stellar. I am using technical vellum or a partly translucent bond paper to draw on, using India and other archival inks to create the images. Using various objects to draw against and around, and freehand lines, and without a specific plan, I begin to put lines on the paper, doing so until it feels right to stop. And the image is there. Sometimes it takes a while to see what is there, but sometimes what's there emerges instantly.

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On display

2016 12 01 - 14:52

I was not nervous on Saturday, in regards to performing the waza satisfactorily. I knew I would; or, rather, I wasn’t nervous that I wouldn’t. What did bother me was the idea of public performance. It is deeply uncomfortable for me. I do not like to be stared at; and that test is six and a half minutes of being stared at by six people whose sole purpose in life is to judge your every move.

Dislike of public performance is why I don’t sing in public, despite the fact that I know damned well that I’m beyond capable of singing well enough to do so. I don’t like being the centre of attention in that way. I did do an open mic one time a couple of years back, but I blew it I was so shaken.

I think, perhaps, that this is why I have no problem with people staring at, and judging, my art – which is pretty much the opposite of what most artists seem to feel. Look at my art, and hate it if you want, because at least you aren’t looking at me. I can detach myself from how people feel about my art; for that reason, and also because I know that out of six or seven billion opinions, negative ones are going to happen, and it’s all right if they do. It’s not possible for everyone to like everything, and you either get on board with that idea from the get-go, or get off the train.

art, iaido
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Art Show Music

2016 11 14 - 21:36

Music is a powerful mood changer - it can make or break any situation. I used to work in a store that, oddly, played no music at all - which made the place feel cavernous and cold. If you want people to buy things, you need to play music that puts them in a good mood; or, at least a comfortable one. It's why I pick the sort of music I do for events, for example.

I had a minor difference of opinion about the music used for my last art show. I chose friendly, warm music that kindled the idea of a casual party. I chose that music because that's precisely the mood I was after - it was not just my first solo show, it was also my birthday. Just because it was an art event, did not mean I wanted gallery-styled installation-art discordant white noise, or something jarring, or something self-indulgent, and so forth. That sort of thing doesn't make people comfortable, and it doesn't make people want to buy things.

What's the focus of the event - buying the art, or experiencing the art. If it's experiencing it, you can go for something less chummy. The people coming, the mood you're trying to kindle, the focus of the event, and even the space the event is at, need to be considered when choosing the music for the event you're hosting - unless there's some very specific reason why you need Art Show Music, I would avoid it utterly at every turn.

But, I have another event coming up for which I am creating a playlist of generic background jazz - not because I have a crushing need to listen to hours of coffee shop cocktail jazz, but because I need music that fills space, makes people comfortable, but doesn't distract them, or give me a migraine.

As an aside:

Silence used to be golden in the Henry Moore sculpture room at the AGO, which has been destroyed utterly by opening the other wall up to the cafe. I don't love Henry Moore's work, but that work, in that dead silent room, was an exceptional thing. Now, gone. But, so is the Jackson Pollock painting that used to be in the hallway leading to that room, for which I feel only a massive sense of relief. I hate Pollock.


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 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 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.