Sunday, March 29, 2015

Arts on the Credit: 2015 Edition

A shot of me with my music paintings from
last year's show. I made the local paper twice
last year
I was one of the few newbies
this year there are a whole lot more.
Photo credit: Graeme Frisque, Mississauga News
Port Credit's annual art fair, Arts on the Credit, is a mere two weeks away. It is held in the ballroom of the lovely Waterside Inn, a beautiful, boutique hotel on the shores of Lake Ontario, across from the Port Credit Yacht Club. The show has expanded this year... almost double the size of previous years. I've been reading their blog faithfully to see what exciting new art awaits. Hopefully I will have a bit of time to wander around and take it all in, but if last year is any indication, it will happen either during set up or while everyone is packing up to go... visitors were waiting to get in as soon as the doors opened, and it was constantly busy for the entire two days.

Last year was my first time doing one of these big, indoor shows. I have done outdoor shows before, and I've had openings at the galleries I've shown in, but this kind of thing had a really different vibe. I learned a lot, and this year I'm much better prepared. I know how I'm going to set up my booth, and I have everything I need organized and already packed up. I have proper lights, and a power bar that works (I didn't test mine in advance last year, and when I got there, I realized I had bought a lemon. The batteries in my camera died in the first half hour. And oh my god, what the hell was I thinking wearing HEELS?!?!?!). One thing I really enjoyed was talking to people and getting to see their reaction to my work first-hand. This year I have a whole new abstract series to show, and this will be the first time it will be shown in public. It's exciting and scary at the same time.

Here are a few of the artists I'm excited to be exhibiting with... I haven't seen all their work in person yet, but the photos look fantastic.

Elysia Prokopetz

Elysia is part of my local art goup, and I've purchased some of her glass work to give as gifts. Lots of beautiful, unique and really interesting pieces. I would love to have a piece of my own, but I'm such a klutz I hesitate...

Check out more photos over on her website.

Nicole Kegan

Nicole does these wonderful abstracted landscapes that completely draw you in. Can't wait to see them in person. I'm sure these are the kind of pieces that look good in photos, but look a hundred times better in real life. Visit her website for more information.

Fernando Resendes

I think I like Fernando's work more every time I see it. He's very active in the Toronto area, showing all over the place. Not surprising, given the originality of his photography work. Many of his images are printed on unusual substrates, like wood and metal. It really adds something to the mystery of the images. According to the blog, he will be debuting a new series at this show. Can't wait. His website is here:

Peter and David Marcucci

One works in wood and the other in glass, and they combine to make these amazing one of a kind pieces. I was told by the organizers they were going to be right beside me. (!!!) I should have some time to get a close up look.

There are many more artists that are going to be showing. Arts on the Credit runs April 11-12, from 11am - 5pm. For more info, visit the website. In the meantime, if you happen to be wandering around in Port Credit, there will be work from exhibiting artists on display in many of the local business. By next week I'll have a couple things hanging in My Olive... coincidentally, one of my favourite shops in the area. I'll take pictures. Follow my Facebook page, twitter, instagram or G+ for updates!

Oh, and just in case you are planning to go, here is a complimentary ticket.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

FAQ: How to Care for an Original Acrylic or Mixed Media Painting

As small Acrylic painting on paper. This
one should be framed under glass, but I'm
selling it unframed in a plastic sleeve. It helps me
to keep the price more affordable. 
In my preparations for my upcoming art fair, Arts on the Credit (April 11-12), I've created a couple pages of information that I will pass out to people who purchase my work. I did this mainly to put their minds at ease... who better than the person who makes the piece to tell you the best way to care for it?

As both a painter and a purchaser of art, I've come across bits and pieces of information that can help out the average person who might not have knowledge of what can and cannot be used to clean an original work. Edges get dusty, animals shed, maybe something gets smudged on the surface of that fabulous piece you just saved 6 months to buy. Armed with a bit of information, it can be a non-event. Without it, it can be a disaster.

Acrylic Paintings

Most artists paint on canvas, wood panels or paper. It's a matter of preference. You can create effects on one surface that might not work well on others. Canvas is usually made of cotton or linen, and is stretched over a wooden frame (called stretchers), then coated with a primer called gesso. This soaks in and seals the fibres, giving the artist a non-absorbant surface to work on. Sometimes an artist will not prime the canvas first, and this gives a totally different effect. Often you can purchase a work on canvas that isn't stretched. This makes them easy to transport, and can be stretched at most framing shops for reasonable fee. (If you have a piece created on unstretched canvas, don't trim off any excess around the edges. Let your framer do that when it's finished... the canvas needs to wrap around the edges of the frame, and extra can be useful). Canvas is fabric and can be torn, so be careful when moving paintings around. Wood panels are sturdy and difficult to damage. Works on paper are more fragile and are usually framed under glass, although buying them unframed can make the work much more affordable and easier to ship.

Acrylic paint is made from a polymer base. It's essentially plastic. It is extremely durable and stable, and should last for generations. That being said, even though most artists will coat their work with a UV protectant, it's still not a good idea to hang a piece of original art in direct sunlight for any length of time. Eventually the colour will fade. A couple weeks in the window of a gallery won't hurt it, but a decade in a sunroom will.

Because Acrylic paint is flexible and durable, there really needs to be no external protection. Many artists will paint the sides of their pieces so they can be hung unframed. I do this myself. No frame, no glass, just a wire across the back to hang it from. When the painting gets dusty, I wipe it down with a soft, damp cloth. That's it. Nothing simpler. I've spilt coffee on a painting. Sounds difficult, but it wasn't... I tripped going up a flight of stairs, coffee in hand. The painting on the opposite wall got splattered. I wiped it off with a rag. Plain old water removed whatever hit it. Good as new.

One thing to NEVER do is to spray your lovely acrylic painting with a chemical cleaner. Put that stuff away folks, you will totally ruin your piece. I've experimented with lots of different things on paint. Anything with alcohol will make the paint sticky and gooey, anything containing bleach and your surface will be destroyed. Glass cleaner is just a bad idea. Pretty much anything you get on a painting can be removed with a damp cloth, and if it can't, your best bet would be to talk to an artist or a local framer about options.

This mixed media painting is on stretched canvas. The highly
textured areas are fabric that has been adhered to the surface,
then coated with acrylic medium and paint. The final work can be
wiped with a damp cloth, much like any other acrylic piece. 
As for a paper piece framed under glass, I will always spray my glass cleaner on a paper towel, then wipe the glass. I don't spray directly on the glass. I suppose I'm a bit paranoid about the cleaner running in-between the glass and the frame, and inadvertently seeping up the edge of the paper. I've never seen it happen, but still...

Mixed Media Paintings

Artists use all kinds of stuff when they are creating, not always with ease of care or permanence in mind. They are going for a visual, a message... whatever works gets attached to the canvas. Thoughts of protection usually come after. I've used fabric, newspaper, corrugated cardboard, found objects, drywall compound... and I know I've only just scratched the surface. On my pieces, I've applied a final coating of acrylic medium to protect whatever I've adhered. This means that yes, it can be wiped down with a damp cloth. I imagine most artists do the same thing. I know there are new products out there that I have yet to try (like cold wax or resins... seems to be all the rage in art supplies these days) that have different care requirements. If you have purchased a mixed media painting and have no idea how to care for it, I suggest you dash off a quick email to the artist. Most are more than happy to help out a collector and ensure their work remains undamaged.

Have I missed anything? Any other tips and tricks, please leave a comment. Acrylic is one of the most durable and versatile painting mediums out there, and finished acrylic paintings are simple to care for.  Other works of art, like oil paintings, watercolour or encaustic pieces have different requirements. Talk to the person you purchased the piece from to make sure it will last for years to come.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Secrets of a Prolific Painter

A little warm up painting. I have a few of these going
at any one time... gets me in the right head space
before I get to work.
Whenever I meet a new artist and we do the usual investigation into each other's work, I hear the same thing over and over....

"You're so PROLIFIC! How do you find time???" 

I have a 40 hour/week job. Sometimes (the last few months in particular) that will morph into a 50 hour/week job. I have a child... though he's not exactly a baby anymore (he's 17) and doesn't need me nearly as much as he did even a few years ago. I have a dog that needs care and a husband that I can't ignore and a house that needs cleaning.... yet I always have projects on the go. 

My big secret? I work at it. Every day. 

I read a study once where a group of art students were divided into two groups. One group was graded strictly on quantity. Didn't matter if what they turned in was awful, the only thing that mattered was how much of it got done. The second group only had to turn in one thing... they could spend the entire term working on one project, but it better be good, because it was worth 100%. In the end, the group that focused on quantity produced significantly better work.Turns out if you work at something consistently, you get better at it. Go figure.

Another small "warm-up". I painted
the card, added the text (an
image transfer), and the line drawing is ink.
I have a pile of these half done cards
and when I want to try out a new
technique, I do it on one of these. 
That study stuck with me. At the time, I was carving out maybe an hour or two a week to do my art. If I didn't have an hour I just didn't bother. Not enough time. It took me ages to actually complete a piece. Now, even if I only have 10 minutes I will go and do something. Doesn't really matter what. I have a tiny little book that I carry around with me. I doodle in it when I'm stuck in seriously boring meetings or have to wait in line. I have a book of mixed media paper that I draw random stuff in when I've only got 20 minutes. 20 minutes is long enough to get a decent drawing that is more or less finished, and the paper is heavy enough that I can paint on it, should I feel the urge. I've got many small paintings, in various stages of completion, that I can add to here and there when I've only got a half hour. I usually work on a couple at a time because paint needs to dry, and I don't want to waste my time. I have art journals for days when I'm pissed off or sad or feeling insecure and don't want that feeling to show in the painting I'm working on (and it always does). On those nights when I can't sleep, instead of sitting in front of the TV, I will write out the idea that keeps churning around in my brain, or do zentangle-type doodles until I feel sleepy. There is always time for something.

I've kept at it for a couple years now, and it's amazing how much I've accomplished. At the moment I have a solo show hanging at a music memorabilia shop, I've got a bunch of abstract pieces in a gallery, and I still have work on every wall in my home. And a few things stashed in the closets. Too much, perhaps... because really, what am I going to do with it all? If I can't find myself an avenue to actually sell this stuff, eventually space constraints will force me to stop making it. But that's another topic.....

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Connected - New painting on canvas

"Connected"  24x24" Acrylic and collage on Canvas.
This has been a crazy week. I'm still not feeling quite up to snuff, though I am definitely in better shape. My head is cleared and my cough has improved. Enough so that I have actually left my house for a purpose other than work. I'm relieved... it feels like this has been going on forever. It's nice to feel human again. Unfortunately, I think I've passed this on to a couple people....

I've been fussing with this painting for weeks now... I had the canvas hanging around with only a base colour and some texture paste on it. Figured I should try to translate this patterns/grid thing into something more substantial than a book. It will probably be the last thing I can complete before Arts on the Credit next month. I have my display to figure out, I've got a commission piece to put together, and I've got to get caught up at work. It's too bad... I feel like I'm in a kind of groove and I'd like to just keep working... But hey, if I don't sell some of this work I'm going to run out of places to put it. As it is, I have a load of my musician paintings hanging elsewhere, and I still have stuff on every available wall.... and stuff stashed in closets. I'm thinking of starting some kind of "foster home" program... maybe if I can keep a few pieces here and there at friends places it will save me having to rent some kind of storage. Or maybe I should be thinking about taking some of these pieces off the stretchers so they can be rolled and stored more easily? I really don't know... maybe I just need to do more shows so these pieces can find homes. Summer is generally a good time for that. I guess it's time to start filling out applications....

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Pattens and Grids: the complete book

Finally finished the last bit of this book... front and back cover, opened. The actual book is darker and the colour more intense. Couldn't seem to get my scan to match. 

Sometimes the cure is worse than the illness.

I've been sick for two weeks. Started with a cold, settled into my chest as a hacking cough, and just won't go away. I was off work last Friday, took the weekend to recuperate, and was back to work on Monday, feeling somewhat better. At least I could breathe. But the cough wouldn't let up.... it was driving my husband crazy, I wasn't sleeping, and I certainly wasn't getting anything accomplished.

Trip to the doctor. "You don't have pneumonia," he tells me. Well, that's a relief. Here's a prescription that will take care of the cough, and help you sleep. Awesome.

First day... well, that seems to work great. Cough under control, I have a productive day at work. That evening my head starts to spin. When I lie down the room spins... like when you're drunk. By 8 that evening I'm in the bathroom, crouched on the floor, leaning over the toilet, heaving. Even long after my stomach was empty. Lovely.

Even yesterday, though I could be upright without being nauseous, my head was still spinning. I still couldn't really eat. My own doctor never gives me Codeine.... But my own doctor has a 3 week wait to get an appointment. I wonder why the bottle of cough medicine didn't come with a sheet listing the possible side effects. If it had I may have been a bit more cautious in taking it. 

Oh who am I kidding? That cough was driving me crazy. I would have taken it. But I know for next time. Put up with the cough... the cure is worse.