Why artists starve

2014 08 10 - 23:39

If you want to know why artists starve, or give up, this is a good example.

This 16 oz pot of Golden heavy body acrylic Green Gold (one of my favourite colours of theirs) paint, is $53.95. Granted, that's a lot of paint, but if you're doing a series of large canvas that all use it, and you're doing layering, that 16 oz isn't going to last too long. (The 32 oz jar is $109.79.) Different colours cost different amounts of money. Some pigments (like crushed lapis used in ultramarine blue) are more costly than others. For example, in the 16 oz size, Pyrrole Orange and Red, and Cobalt Turquoise.and Blue, are $71.49.

Now, granted, there are cheaper paints. Golden is the good stuff. Their heavy body acrylics are like painting with pudding. It's very sexy. Here's the problem with cheaper paints, or student quality paint: They have a much lower pigment to binder ratio - less pigment (colour) means that the paints are less opaque; which is okay if that's what you want, but is not okay if it isn't. Less pigment means more paint used in order to compensate for the lack of pigment in the paint. Which is the problem with much of what passes for craft paint at dollar stores.

Do remember I'm citing Canadian prices here. And, no, there really isn't anywhere (that I know of currently) that I could acquire paint any more economically. Michael's is not an option. The way they inflate prices is criminal. I only go there for things I can't get elsewhere, and when paper or certain canvas is on sale. (Which it is right now, but I'm busted flat.) Above Ground Art Supplies is a good shop with excellent selection, but their prices aren't any better than Curry's (and most of the time are a little worse). They do offer things Curry's doesn't, though.

And then there's canvas.

This 48x48 gallery wrapped canvas is $92.95. The option to stretch my own is not really an option, because it's not an ability I ever managed to acquire. Yes I was taught how to do it, and yes I have done it, but my wrists are weak and I could never, no matter what I did, pull the canvas tight enough. So, unless and until I acquire the ability, it's off the rack for me. And no, I don't like painting on canvas panels. I just don't like the way it feels. They also carry another burden, which is that-unlike canvas-you have to frame them. Though they are, in most respects, much cheaper than stretched canvas (in some cases they aren't), the size availability is limited. The largest you can acquire is 24x36, and I've only seen one brand that goes that large. Most of the time you can only get 18x24 - which is great if you're trying to paint a portrait of your grandmother, but not so great if you're trying to be the next Salvador Dali.

If you're lucky enough to be an artist who sells a lot of big works, or one who has employment elsewhere, then maybe you'll be lucky enough to be all right; but if you're trying to make works to sell without any real income to set up your studio with, you're screwed. I can't make the work I want to make, because I can't acquire the materials I need to do that, which means I don't have the work to show to entice buyers with (or get a gallery show), which means I don't make money to buy materials. And so on, and so on.

, ,

Art is...

2002 10 08 - 20:57

Art is a thought, a feeling, an idea, made manifest. Artistic creations are avatars of those thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

An artist, to me, is one who creates. That creation can take the form of anything at all, even things that traditionally hang outside the realm of art. Anything you create from your heart and with your soul, is art. Stephen Hawking is an artist, so is Alan Greenspan. Their talents just lie in directions not necessarily meant to hang on gallery walls. Being an artist is creating, having a certain quality of soul, being open, willing, taking nothing and making something from it. Art is a constant act of being and becoming, of enjoying a process and not caring about the result, of crafting a desired result. An artist is a philosopher, a craftsperson, an anarchist, a spiritualist, one who can see God (whatever form or fashion your god is, even if you don't call it by some deified name), and a madman.

Art coming alive is when some piece, installation, creation, actually speaks to a person or at least conjures up some feeling or thought - and those feelings or thoughts don't need to be complex. If the feeling you get is the same joy you had when playing in the mud as a small child, then the art or artist has done their job. If all you do is look at something and fall in love with the colours in it, then the art has done its job. There may be more that the creator intended, but in some way, however small, it's done its job if it affects you in any way. Where there is nothing flowing between the artist / the art and the audience, there is no life. It is just a person staring at something static that does not, and perhaps cannot ever, speak to them.

Art coming alive is, sometimes, when that art involves a physical act of participation. When you create a piece of entertainment for as small a group as possible, using as many performers as possible. It's anarchy.

Art coming alive, for me, happened the day I snuck over to my friend's house while she was at work, and dyed the snow on her front lawn several different colours, or when a dear friend of mine put a greeting card beep tone music thingie into his passport so that when they opened it up it played "Don't Worry Be Happy".



2002 03 05 - 23:11

When people say to me that they aren't creative (etc.), I think it's more a case of mistaken perception. I bet, at least some of the time, it's the mistaken notion that they have to make something, or create a finished product. You don't. If you're just doing it for therapy or fun, all you need are materials, and to fiddle around. Squish the clay. Slop the paint around the canvas. Write out slews of words that have nothing to do with each other. Sometimes the benefit of the creative process, is in the process itself; not the finished object.

art, personal

I'm just a dreamer, who dreams of better days

2002 01 17 - 00:02

There's a young man laying on a beach sleeping. As he sleeps, he dreams. He dreams of a shining white steed, astride of which is a man of saintly demeanor. All around this saintly man are faces; soft and white and glowing. These faces are the souls of the departed, being led to their heavenly rest.

If I stand here long enough and look at that masterwork of beauty, I get lost in the blue that is the doming of sky surrounding the scene. It's the most gorgeous blue; crisp, bright, and so wet-looking you feel you cold almost lose your fingers dipping them in.

Walking backwards from it, it seems the horse comes off the canvas at you. He is rising upwards and outwards. He is riding to a place that most only see in their dreams, if they dream at all.

Perhaps that is why there is that solitary young man on the beach dreaming. Is he dreaming of what will one day be his, after his earthly work is finished? Is he just dreaming of a hope?

It's a great thing of surrealism, to bring the dreaming and waking states into one place; to marry the conscious with the subconscious; or perhaps simply to unbury the sleeping state that is there within us all since we suck in our first earthly breath.

I do not dream of heaven, because I do not dream of God. I dream of peace on earth, and hope for a future that I can make better myself.

Santiago El Grande

"Santiago El Grande" by Salvador Dali. No graphic does the blue of the painting any justice at all - there is a loss of richness than can never be reproduced.

art, personal