Saturday, January 8, 2011

Step by step...materials...a painting...

  Note to self: I am not here to provide you with lower price options...I am not here to accommodate the fact that you spent all of your money on your university education, on renting a retail space, on your car, your tv set, your stereo, your computer, your suit...I am a full time artist & this is all I do to make a living...I paint paintings...beautiful paintings...Do you really think I want to be in the business of selling to you multiple prints at cheap prices? Do you think it will satisfy my soul to photograph my originals to make prints so that you can buy an image of my work at a fraction of the cost of the original? How many prints do you think I am going to have to sell to make ends meet? In order to make 6 thousand dollars back (the cost of an original right now), I have to sell maybe 60 prints at 100 dollars apiece- but that is if I keep all the profit & have no overhead...More like, 60 prints at 200 dollars apiece cost to you, I get to keep half that...Maybe...But you have to see them in a gallery don't you? So I give the gallery a 1/3 commission...So now I need to sell 60 prints at $300 dollars apiece, gallery get $100, printer gets $100, I get $100...But you'd like to see some framed...You'd also prefer if maybe they were at least matted...Wrapped in plastic...& you want a typed piece of paper attached, with my name & biography & maybe a picture of me & a story & something about the painting...Plus a price tag of course...Maybe a card on the wall telling the materials used, are they archival, acid free, sustainable wood paper...? Of course, I have to get into that gallery which means I have to make friends, send jpeg's of my work, get interviewed, maybe sign a contract...Your print is now $400.00...(the extra $100 is just going to pay for all of that stuff...) The government in Ontario adds 13%...So, let's see, your bill is $452.00 now...You will have to pay for parking, maybe a babysitter, coffee or a snack on the way, time...It's really going to be a $500.00 purchase for you, including the fact that you still have to hang the print, maybe buy a leveller, a nail or hanging device, a hammer...Kind of alot of money for a print...Ooops, is it signed by me? Make sure you get it signed...because that is an investment right? That one of 60 prints, is actually maybe one of 600 prints, since maybe the artist needed to do a bigger print run to cover printing setup overhead...Wow! Your print is number 392/600 ! That should be worth, hmmm, maybe $500 dollars someday! Yes, that's about it...
Here's how I really see it...Art is like a Mercedes Benz...It is special...It is expensive...I want one...I don't want anyone else to have one...Just me...It makes me feel special...It is unique...It is a symbol that I have attained wealth, a signifier...A goal of sorts...Not everybody can have a Mercedes Benz...But when you do get one, it makes you feel good...Like you are a part of a club...
This is just a metaphor...It is also a story really written for me to remind myself why I am not doing prints...Why I am selling my originals & that is all...I keep forgetting why...This is a reminder to self...Keep telling me this, I keep slipping...




Thought: Interview the gallery owner (3 points)...1)Look for a long memory...Ask the gallery owner memory questions...Vaguely reference old movies or tv shows & say " do you remember who played the guy on Three's Company?"(John Ritter) or some other slightly vague old question...See where their brain is at...Do they read? "What was that Milan Kundera book they made into a movie?" (The unbearable lightness of being)...Ask art history questions...If the gallery owner has memory problems, it will affect their work...Selling art is a memory game...Old potheads will have problems, which will hurt you as an artist if you choose to work with them...(Also people who regularly pop sleeping pills or painkillers or even just aspirins)... 2)Is the owner a good communicator? Or do they clam up? Talking is pretty essential to sales...A gallery owner who doesn't like to talk might not want to be in sales as a career...(This is not the same as knowing when to be silent) Also, check their hearing by speaking softly- not talking much can be a sign of hearing troubles, not a good trait in someone who needs to be a good listener too...3) What is turn around time from an email question? Does it take the gallery owner a couple of hours or a couple of days to answer your email? This will be the same with clients...

What does an artist wear? Well, my clothes are from Sweet-Additions...(The yellow paint in the middle of my top is oil paint, not part of the design...btw)...The belt is just the nicest belt in the world...My long sleeve tops are all designed by Katydid (available at Sweet-Additions)...The back of the tops are even more ornate than the fronts...I find that sparkly clothing catches people's eyes more & then we talk & I sell them something...Even if I have to hand wash in the bathtub because of the rhinestones...It also seems to keep Joseph's eye from wandering...Well, mostly, it helps him to find me in a crowded room...
http://www.sweet-additions.com/


Um, like, omigosh!!! How MANY people are out there taking photographs of things & then painting from photographs & calling themselves artists????Then selling this work...? Ugh...Gross... I mean, just blog post after blog post of perfectly rendered traced paintings...Like...I mean...C'mon...Take some time, like 4 years or so & learn how to draw...Practice...Like really...It doesn't come all at once...Even the best were shitty for a long time...Just work at it...But for Gosh sakes don't compromise by tracing from photos...Ok, rant over...Carry on...

p.s. Are you an Ebay snob? This is regarding us having one of our paintings listed on ebay.ca... Honestly, whenever I have had a listing on ebay, my name pops up at the top right of every search engine...I used to have to pay Google Adwords to have that position, which I stopped when Google Adwords got too expensive...Something like a dollar a hit...So now, I use ebay...I have one listing ( which costs one time less than 5 dollars, but I don't have to pay every time you click on the ad), which I keep indefinitely up, at a Buy Now price, & whenever someone looks for my name they can find me easily...I also am aware of all the really great unique things I was able to buy myself using ebay.ca ...If it is good enough for me to buy from, it is good enough for me to sell from...(I do also use a variety of other selling points, this is only one basket among many...but not to be degraded...)




So, the stretcher bars are 2-1/4 inches deep...I got 2 x 36 inch bars & 2 x 48 inch bars, in poplar, from RexArt in Florida, plus one 36 inch cross brace...My hammer I use as a wood mallet, by putting on rubber cane tips which I got from Canadian Tire...The black steel carpet tacks are also from Canadian Tire...(used to hold the linen down at back)...The B.C. Gold tree nails I use to temporarily hold the linen down, then re-stretch it after a few days more permanently...Note: Though I stretched the linen with my bare hands this time, I have bought canvas pliers, & the next time I will use them to pull the linen tighter...(Cotton & linen are different in terms of hygroscopability- meaning linen changes alot more than cotton in humid weather...)

The linen is usually too big, so I will cut down the back edges so it is not so floppy...Kitchen scissors from Canadian Tire...

We have been feeding swans for over six months now, so I know my subject...I sketched from memory into a sketch pad one night, & then I took 4 of those sketches & enlarged them & put them together onto the sized linen...I sized the linen with several coats of Liquitex Clear gesso which is very nice...The sketch here was laid down with Sennelier oil pastels...(from aswexpress.com)

My swans overlap, so I have done a Venn diagram type of resolve...Because this is intricate, I am colouring in my lines using Kama Pigments walnut oil sticks from Montreal...(you have to ask for them specially)...There is a clear gel sticky layer on top of the oil pastel drawing- that is M. Graham walnut alkyd medium, which is used to make walnut oil paints dry faster- instead of mixing it one by one with each walnut oil colour, I laid a thin coat over the whole painting as a base...Let it dry & you can paint over...review: as a review of the walnut alkyd medium I would say this: yes, the walnut oil paint did dry faster, But, I did not like the plasticky look of the paint film when dry...Walnut oil, because it dries slow, leaves a really thick gorgeous loose paint film- when you speed up drying time you tighten the film which makes it look plasticky...The faster the drying time of a paint, the tighter the film, the more plasticky something looks...I wouldn't recommend this for the next time...

Filling in the colours along the lines in Kama Pigments oil sticks...This takes a while...I am not used to intricate detail work so this is tiring for me mentally...

Sigh...Yes, I am getting somewhere with this...But where am I? This painting is different from my normal style...I think it is all the extra iron I have added to my diet...

It is getting so mathematical...Is this me? (feels like Escher or some other mathematical person, but not me...)

Added some navy rain in kama pigments walnut oil paint...Still confused...At this point I got some copper tacks (Charvin) from Jerry's Artarama & hammered them into the side edges to add support...they look nice...Laid kama pigments.com walnut oil paint on top of the kama oil stick...Alternated between using a knife & my gloved fingers, since I don't use animal hair brushes or turpentines in my method

Ok...Hmmm...What happened here was I got 4 different bottles of schmincke  bronze powders  for oil paints,  dropped some eco-house dammar varnish onto the swans, then dribbled the bronze pigments on each swan, spread a bit with gloves...(these were biodegradable gloves-which was a really stupid idea on my part- anyways...)
Those wooden things sticking out from the back of my sailboat (canvas) are stuck into holes in the stretcher bars , which makes the linen tighter...Those silver metal thingies are Best Corner keys which actually have screws in the middle which you can turn to make the thing expand thus also tightening your linen...Spraying the back with a little water will tighten your linen too...Possibly not trying to do everything yourself might make for a tighter canvas- but of course, you won't feel as proud of yourself...I'd restretch the whole thing, but that might be an exercise in futility so I am restraining myself...Truth is it is humid here right now & when it dries out a bit things will be better...
Ugh...Sorry the lighting is sooo yellow ...When this is ready I will cart it outside for a proper photo shoot...I am still short one more layer of gold with dammar, plus the edges need to be done in that too...I am now 9 days past my deadline officially, & it looks like a while before I am done...(I gave myself 6 months for this work...)
Ok, what you are looking at is the back corner of my stretched linen canvas...The metal thingy is called a BEST corner key, & it has two bolts in the middle that can turn...To tighten your canvas, you screw the bolts, one in one direction, the other in the other direction, which makes them move, & open up...By pushing this little piece apart, it pushes on the stretcher bar to expand it...This expansion helps to tighten up your linen canvas...Note: I use two tools to do this, a micro-expandable wrench & a mini-lineman's pliers, one to hold one bolt still, the other to turn the other bolt...I found with just one tool, the two bolts kept moving together, which wasn't expanding anything...So you have to isolate one bolt while turning the other...The wrench & pliers cost me $6.99 & $9.99 respectively, so it didn't hurt much...
The corner wood piece jutting out fits into a hole in the back of the stretcher bar...This one has not been hammered in yet...I have hammered this wood piece in today & am now the proud owner of a tightly stretched piece of linen...(squirting water at the back helped too)...
I have to say, stretching linen is a big job...But I am so proud of myself, that I highly recommend people trying to do this themselves- just for the self-happiness ...
So here I am with Tempesta on January 12, 2011...I took dry gold pigment from kama pigment & put that into a clear squeeze ketchup bottle, added some eco-house dammar varnish, shook it up, & squirted that on the edges of Tempesta so the painting has a gold edge so you can hang it unframed...The edges are 2-1/4 inch thick so you really don't want to put a frame...I also dribbled a bit of the golden mixture in the very foreground to make it look like there is a sandy golden beach right in front of the swans...This also helps to blend the edge colour in to the painting...Letting this dry for a week, then one last total coat of eco-dammar & I might be done...Whew!
Ok here we are on January 14, 2011, I added a final coat of eco-house dammar varnish with gloves on my hands to spread the eco-dammar & squirted it on with a clear squeezy ketchup bottle to control the flow...Now it just has to dry...Whew! This was the most difficult painting I have ever done...At the moment, I am quitting painting, forever...Joseph agrees...Even he is tired from this one...

Squirted straight from the tube a yellow walnut oil paint from Kama Pigments.com on the back to indicate title, size, date, & my name...

Today, I went to Currys & got a package of Best Corner Keys, which are metallic corner brackets that have screws in the middle so you can expand or contract your stretcher bars...Screwed them in with my big muscles & am thrilled...Sprayed the back of the linen with some water to try to tighten it up a bit...
Got some gold metallic dry pigment from Kama Pigments.com Montreal & am going to mix some up in ketchup bottles I got from ebay.ca (Texas) with some more eco-house dammar varnish from Wyndham art supplies to do the edges in gold shiny...
Sari Grove
p.s. am planning to use some of the gold metallic with dammar at the bottom front to add some sand at the foreground...
It's been over six months now...sigh...I'm tired...I'm going to take a break after this painting...
Oh, & I stuck a FineArt Registry.com security tag on the back & registered the work early in case it got stolen from the studio or something stupid happened...(I keep tags on hand...)



Today is January 11th, 2011: received some more eco-house dammar varnish from Wyndham Art Supplies in Guelph (Thanks Helen for expediting the shipment)! So, I put on my dust mask from Curry's, put on my Oakly clear dartboard style sunglasses, put on my non-latex gloves, added some dry gold pigment with a knife into a clear squeezy ketchup bottle, added some eco-dammar to the mix, shook it up well, & squirted & with my gloves, painted all the edges of "Tempesta"...When done, I laid the painting flat & squirted in the same gold-dammar mix, a thin sandy beach in the foreground of the painting, & a few contrast lines in swan on the left...This all should dry for about a week then I can put a final clear coat of eco-dammar...Then I am done...This is taking me closer to 7 months rather than 6...Hmmm... I wonder if I should add a whole thousand dollars to the final selling price to justify the extra time & materials? I usually go at a thousand dollars per month of work on a painting- which is low enough so I am not completely crazy just working non-stop...Hmmm. let's see how it looks when done...