Friday, November 28, 2008
Now, while we're at it, the English language crank within me would like to pursue the common usage of the preposition "of" in that expression, "bored of". It only turned up around 20 years ago. Prior to that, it was unthinkable to use anything other than "bored with". It irritates me to hear it, especially when somebody on the BBC used it recently. I wonder what poor old Fowler would think, were he here. Language is constantly changing, rearranging itself, otherwise we would still be speaking Ye Olde Middle English, but I just can't accept that usage. Does anyone share my crankiness? Am I turning into a curmudgeon? (Look it up!)
So I've just slipped a few "fool the eye" pictures in to show you. I like this kind of art, and - except for that amazing Twisted Tree at Etsy (link on the left) - you don't see much of it around. In the olden days you had to be rich to have a mural in your house. English country houses (and the White House) have murals that continue around the room. Today, you will still need some serious cash, because it stands to reason that the artist is going to take a long time making your living room look as though it's facing out over an ocean. But there are simpler views, easier options.
The following pair of pantry size doors are 6 feet tall, each about 20 inches wide. I did them for a very modern and minimalist kitchen. The client wanted something to cover the old fuse box on one wall, but he still needed to get to it, so doors were the thing. One door opened, and you'll see what I painted inside, and the other door was fixed, with no reason to open it. I found it refreshing that the man who commissioned them, although he loved his modern room, wanted something to soften it. I was happy to oblige.
I'll show you some more tomorrow.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I won't ask you again, but if you're interested just a tiny bit, the link to the new blog is in the left column.
Just to fill up the space, I'm putting in a painting of mine that you haven't seen before.
Talk to you tomorrow.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I've decided to put some of Squeakie's paintings in here today. He's well-represented at galleries down south, but I haven't been to one of those to see his pictures. Anyway, I stole these from one of his websites. The absolute nerve of me! I just wanted you to see the old-time, real folk art that he produces. (This is for those of you who did not bother clicking the link I had carefully put up for him.) I call my work folk art, for want of a better description, but our styles aren't even similar. You can see immediately where he's coming from. It's real countryside, real working folk, real animals that are there to earn their keep, not to decorate a tea tray. For a man who only took this painting-business up fairly recently, he's doing very well. See what you think.
Did a tiny bit of restoration work today, on a little Victorian painting on wood, a very chubby baby boy cuddling a puppy. I gently removed the grime, and touched up a couple of half-inch stripes that had occurred when something had been spilt on the painting, and suddenly the whole thing came alive. It's still old, but hugely cleaned-up.
That's it for today. The cats are becoming very nervous. Must be feeding time.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I've been doing a little art restoration work lately, and I do enjoy it. It's an odd experience, tapping into another artist's style, and doing the best you can to emulate it. It's very rewarding to take a damaged, usually old, painting, and bring it back to its former glory. I do clean a little, if necessary, but not to the point of renewal, because that would negate its history. I probably wouldn't want to do this sort of thing all the time, but it's a charming occasional detour from my own images.
In wandering through my old artwork, I came across one that was so popular, Private Cellar, that I had two further commissions for it, customized a bit. They are not identical, of course, just variations on the theme.
Esther McIsaac does lovely artwork (her link is under Great Sites To Visit) and I have included "Tying Up Her Hair" as a delicious treat for you. Also below is my latest art "purchase" from her, although I have to admit it was a trade, as we both have stores at Etsy. The knitting lady (I've forgotten the title!) that's soon to wing its way to me is not one of her favorites, yet I think it's such an interesting painting - mixed media, a little piece of real knitting and tiny needles are incorporated. I think Esther is more serious about her subjects as a rule, and sees this piece as an untypical bit of whimsy. Well, you know me and whimsy. Gotta have it! Enjoy.
Cold and miserably grey here today, with occasional rain to make it even worse. Home is such a lovely place to be on days like this. I never forget for a moment what it was like getting ready to charge out the door and join the masses on the subway. My daughter does it every day in Toronto, and I think about her most mornings, particularly in the winter. We so wish we could shield our children from some of the things that most bothered us, but we can't, of course. Perhaps it will at least remind her of my old philosophy that we must stop Working for the Man as soon as it's reasonably practical. Calling our own shots makes such a difference to the way we face each day. Living on less is a positive luxury, compared with making lots of money and never feeling you have time for yourself. Perhaps this new economy will teach more people how to truly simplify their lives, once and for all.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I found another great site at Etsy. Twisted Tree Studio (see link on the left) produces an array of interesting things, but I was fascinated by the fact that she does huge Trompe L'oeil wall murals. We're talking about 9ft high! I've dabbled with murals myself, and they are hard work. No nice canvas to work on, or a comfortable art table, it's just a perpendicular slab of space in front of you, possible a giant canvas on the floor. A 9 foot mural would mean a lot of climbing up and down, not just to replenish paints or clean brushes, but to assess the picture. You can't do that when your nose is right up against it. I admire the fact that this kind of thing is being produced. It's a favorite art form of mine, the idea of fooling the eyes into thinking you are looking through a door, or an archway, a window, out onto a wonderful vista. 'Have Brushes, Will travel' is Twisted Tree's slogan. She'll go anywhere for a good mural.
Oh, and back to that other thing about our shortening days...my cats, Baby and Jeeves, don't know that. They just think it's six-ish, which is when they get their evening meal. I tell them it's only 3:30, but they look at me with such hurt, as if I am the cruelest mommy in the world. Guess I will have to feed them now, as they are playing a rather aggressive game at the moment. It must be brought on by the hunger-hunt-kill instinct. As I am a vegetarian, this is distasteful to me, to say the least. To think that my sweet cats, soft and loving as can be, could devour another living creature is hard to take. It's bad enough having to open the smelly cans, or getting any of the stuff on me, but at least it's vaguely unrecognizable. Why can't cats be like dogs? Dogs are perfectly able to go vegetarian. Apparently cats just don't have, literally, the stomach for it.
Tomorrow could be more interesting that this.
Friday, November 21, 2008
The whole point of being seen on the internet is to encourage people to buy my art. Really. That's the point. I'm not here as a social site, not just doing it for the fun of it. I do it because I want to sell my paintings. By being part of all the groups I've joined, I figure my name would eventually pop up in front of someone who was really looking, wanting to buy that one special painting. So sitting here this morning, neck and back stiffening with every key stroke, I realized I should just let it go. I'm out there. Folks ARE looking, and I can't do much more, really.
As an aside, composing this blog, I discovered I could pursue my thoughts on writing, and that's good, although I still intend to get that other blog I mentioned yesterday. I would like to keep the two passions separate. Anyway, the blog is very enjoyable. It has the added advantage of keeping me in touch with people who aren't the slightest bit interested in my latest painting. If I don't hear from my friend in Oz (who shall remain nameless) for a day or two, I have the comfort of knowing she's probably seen my blog that morning, and that's a comfort. Not all my friends like to email. Lazy lot, most of them. Not everyone enjoys typing away to the extent that I do. I understand, I think.
So tomorrow, when I sit down to check all those little internet places, I will do it in a relaxed and complacent manner. Stress is for the WORK place. I have no WORK place. I have a DO-WHAT-I-WANT-WHEN-I-FEEL-LIKE-IT place. (Except when there is a commission.) At Home. In my pjs.
Hillary is to be Secretary of State. How cool is that? I have wanted it for her ever since she lost the nomination. In a way, it's better for her. All presidents age rapidly in office, did you notice? The Secretary of State seems to fare better; Madeleine didn't change at all. Hillary will only have the security of the nation on her shoulders; Barack will have the security, the health, the wealth, and the on-going happiness-pursuit of the nation on his.
I had nothing much to offer in the way of paintings - I haven't yet heard back from my client in California, so no work-in-progress today. I've taken the rather odd tack of including some paintings by a young Australian, named Dusan. I've been following him for some years. As far as I know, he sells mainly on eBay Australia (www.ebay.com.au) listed under self-representing artists. He is just so talented. Relatively unknown here in North America, his prices are affordable. I would like to start my own collection before he becomes famous. It may seem odd, this being MY art site, that I would want to do this. But when talent as good as this comes along, I feel it's my duty to pass it on. I may well think that my little offerings are very collectible, unique, and all that. His art will become much sought after, as they say in the galleries. Anyway, I'd like to help him with more international buyers. Comments please.
On the Coast, oil on canvas
Red Boat, oil on canvas
Perfect Wave, oil on canvas
City Street, oil on canvas
You can imagine how great his paintings are in large format!
That's it for me today. Saturday tomorrow, and the NHL. I am a crazy Maple Leafs fan
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Well, here is the second draft of my commissioned painting. It is a little surrealistic now, because my customer wanted the scooter and rider to be larger, and well in the foreground. Hope she doesn't appear to be flying OVER Montrose. We'll see what the client thinks.
I think my computer is sick. Hard drive is starting to make grinding sounds every so often, and I'm dreading the moment it gives up suddenly. I intended to get a new one, anyway (can I say the word 'Mac' here?) as I am frustrated by the inconsistency of PCs. But it's a big step. It means I won't have an operating computer while all my data is transferred to the new one, and there will be inevitable glitches, I should think. I would be (as all of you would) so LOST without access to my computer. I don't have a car (I'm dreadfully, wonderfully Green), don't really use my cellphone (but had to have one), don't use my landline phone much, only watch CNN, BBC, and a few other things on TV, so wouldn't crash without that (well, maybe CNN) and yet I would be DEVASTATED to not have my computer. Oh my, what a thoroughly modern Granny I am.
Thank you, dear FAM girls at Etsy, for visiting. I look forward to more of that.
That's it for today, as I have to check more stuff on the computer.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I am so energized these days, so much feedback to digest. Anyway, for all of you who wondered why I was spending so much time on my writing problems, worry no more. I've decided to get a separate blog page, just as soon as I have several hours to spare setting it up. Heather Wardell has been so helpful with links to agents and writing-related blogs, and I can't wait to get it up and running.
My Painting (untitled) Scooter Girl, Montrose, California, has more or less been approved as on the right track. I've taken the brave step of showing it to you in its very raw state. Thought you might like to see my process. I'll be getting it more into shape today, and will put up the next stage tomorrow.
As an aside, because US politics is so fascinating, I am interested in your thoughts about Madeleine Albright as Treasury Secretary. Here is an outstandingly brilliant woman, an excellent Secretary of State with the Clinton administration, not too old (same age as me, I think, so watch your comments) and totally comfortable with international heads of state. This economy is such a global issue that we need that kind of knowledge. She's presently with Jim Leach at the G20 conference, and I'm sure she's doing just fine. Thoughts?
Oh, that snow finally arrived yesterday, gone today, but it has left a fine scattering on the lawns and in the gutters. Very cold. It is a beautiful, sunny day, however. Most things are bearable with the sun out.
I really must get back to the Montrose painting.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
My dear friend, Squeakie, whom I have yet to meet face-to-face - we met online and have long phone conversations - sells his paintings from his front yard. He also has work in galleries, where they charge the usual high prices. Direct from his own home, he charges what he believes is "fair". He charges what he needs, not want he thinks he's worth, or what he thinks the customer can pay - and some of them could probably pay a lot! He is a refreshingly honorable man. His subjects are pure southern Americana, cotton-pickers, farm and coastal scenes. He often paints on wood, with a second painting on the back! Just delicious classical stuff. He is thankful that he has regular collectors, along with new customers who stop off at his place on the way to Myrtle Beach. His work sits outside, leaning against the fence, or an old car, and they sell! He is one of the few people I know who actually makes his living at art. I wish I could say the same thing. In fact, I wish I had a yard on the way to Myrtle Beach. Check out his link in the left column.
Will amost finish my new order today, the Vespa Gal in Montrose, California. I'll put a picture up tomorrow as work-in-progress. I have an idea for my next picture, which is probably a bit hokey, but I just want to do it. I'm not saying what until it's done, because it might not emerge as I imagine it.
Came across an interesting site this morning. I so like to see people at their "work" - in quotes, because you know it's not work. Michael and Marlene, of Bluebell Folk Art in Vermont, produce vintage-looking colorful wooden folk art pieces. If you've ever checked out similar antique pieces in a museum, or looked them up at 1stdibs.com - you'll know how unique they are. They are re-recreating the art of the past, and the pieces are absolutely charmng. They make other things, too, but the wooden items are what most excite me. See their link in Great Sites To Visit on the left.
That "glitch" at Etsy yesterday - the sale I couldn't identify - turned out to be one of my custom orders. It's all so new to me there that, half the time, I don't know where to look for things. Knowing where your orders are is imperative.
From my window just now, here in Brighton, I saw the first snowflakes of the season. Not much, just a tiny wafting of dandruff-like flakes, just for a minute or two, and then they were gone. How sweet. How lovely. Just wait until a few months from now; my adjectives will not be so positive.
Monday, November 17, 2008
So it's up, it's mine forever, and I can't stop tweaking it!
Look, you old hands out there, I see you smiling with some superiority. This whole web process thing has been happening JUST for one week. I am totally new to it. It's no small achievement.
I had my first sale on Etsy last night, since I rejoined them. Odd, but the details of the sale appears nowhere. Waiting for techsupport to get back to me, but nothing yet.
I have to do household things now. There are little tufts of Jeevesie's fur everywhere. I think he pulls bits out when I've been ignoring him. Baby just curls up and goes to sleep.
Jeeves was a stray from the garden last year. Took a while to convince him I was a friend, and, in the end, just before the first blizzard last year, I got him into the house. I had made a little bed outside for him - lawn chair, blankets, and a chair vinyl cover, split up the middle as an entrance. I used to peer out at him every night, worrying about how cold he was getting. Finally, I just grabbed him and brought him in. Pictures of Jeeves, the Magnificent, attached. Also Baby, who would feel left out.
It's been a year now, and Jeeves is still terrified of strangers. It's a good hour before he creeps out for people who are here regularly! His favorite sleeping spot (which is also a good hiding spot, he thinks, like an ostrich) is under the blanket on the bed in the spare room. Picture of his lump attached.
So, today's cat page appears to have nothing to do with art. However, it has everything to do with what makes me tick, from whence the art springs forth.
I couldn't write about art today. I am feeling just too guilty for not getting down to it.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
I've thought about this many times, painting away, knowing full well that there is a completed 400 page novel sitting in my computer waiting for its final re-write.
We call it avoidance, most writers. We do the laundry, have to wash up, must get the groceries,vacuum, dust, check one more email, color our hair, phone sister, clean the cat litter tray - all those absolutely essential things that keep us from our desks - excuses, excuses. I am not a cleanliness freak. I vacuum a couple of times a week (cat fur, mostly), dust here and there. I keep my living room tidy, make my bed every morning, wash up after most meals. All of that doesn't take long, so the writing looms. That's when I get the urge to paint.
If you think about it, painting is story-telling. For me, it's an immediate way to show what I'm thinking, where my head is. You don't have to wait for it to come out in paperback, could take years. Most of my narrative about a picture is longish. I'm telling a short, short, very short story. You remember "Mary-Alice sat on a pin. Mary-Alice stood." Well, I think that was her name. Short, very short story.
I guess I am saying, finally saying, is that I really should get back to my writing. My characters are alive and well in my head, asking "What is this woman doing? Why doesn't she just get us to an acceptable conclusion once and for all? Why aren't we OUT THERE?"
Well, I certainly don't need an analyst to tell me what's wrong. Once the book is out there, it's no longer mine. It's theirs. Yours. Not mine. Like your children going to college, leaving home. It is so hard to deal with. I survived the children's leaving, so I can survive my novel going as well. But not yet. Not quite yet.
I always have copies of my paintings.
I'll think about it some more and get back to you. I have to go back to my painting.
This week was crazy. I did some painting, but not as much as I should have done. Started a little picture Virginia or Bust - depicts Gran leaving Montana for Virginia with her 2 Shelties riding on her rolling suitcase. Lots of nice mountains to paint, and Gran in a cowgirl outfit. Fun.
But I kept messing around with the layout of this blog page. I so admire all those terribly swish pages out there, but figure they must be designers to do such an amazing job. But I am definitely leaving mine alone for a while. Will finish the Gran picture (I'll show you tomorrow) and then continue with the bigger one I'm doing - set in Montrose, California, which is a very pretty town. Perhaps put the next stage of that up, just for your interest.
Again,I just want to say what a wonderful bunch of people sell at Etsy. I am blown away by their generosity, patience, and sense of fun. We all need to sell, need to worry about our own sales, yet they take serious time to help one another. If only the business community as a whole - and the non-business community - would be as kind.
Jeeves and Baby, my cats, have been looking a bit sourly at me this week. I've been so busy and spent little time with them. It's not as if I play with them all day long, or that they're usually on my lap. It seems they just like to have me sit with them, without working. Shared sitting time. I remember that feeling when my kids were still living at home. Understand perfectly.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Anyway, I will try to make this my last Blog Design Day, because I've spent far too much time on it.
We got a bit excited on Etsy last night. Shops were getting hundred of views in minutes. We thought our Etsy Ship had arrived. Now everyone is resigned to the probability that it was some mischievous and obviously bored viewer who just kept hitting on the same shops - hundreds of times each, no less. Of course, it could have been a little glitch. But I don't think so. I had over 200 hits for the one painting which had seemed least popular in my shop. It felt good for a while.
Well, back to the Blog Design. Can't give up on it quite yet.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I'm sure that the more serious, "fine" artists - pondering their next great work - contemplating how many months to completion - do not permit themselves such bare-faced enthusiasm. After all, we paint because we must. We paint because we seek truth in beauty (perhaps it's the other way round). We need to gain stature with our art schools, win prizes, have lots of showings, hone our craft and find our muse - not necessarily in that order.
Well, I enjoy selling. It's not the money, really, although that's extremely nice. But I like to get that little piece I'm so pleased with into the hands of someone who loves it too. In fact, I give paintings away. Very bad business woman.
When I hear that someone "has" to have one of my paintings, I am delighted. Heart all flip-flopping with excitement, a little breathless, again, like a kid at Christmas.
I find some (a lot, really) artists a bit too serious, as if they are not really enjoying the process at all. As if what comes from that amazing daemon, that process that takes us over briefly (or for much longer, months at a time?) is somehow a bit of a nuisance, a sort of wart we can't have removed. To be honest, some artists are a bit grumpy.
Well, I got a couple of orders, and it feels very, very good. It is the equivalent of writing yet another book, and finding an agent who loves it, or a publisher who says to send more chapters. Not selling pictures is the equivalent of throwing the manuscript in the drawer and trying to forget it.
Your work needs to be out there.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
So this is it.
I know my customers fairly well, some more than others, and I receive charming emails from would-be buyers and other (always generous) artists, but I have always wondered, over the past couple of years since I started selling online, who are you? You, the Anonymous Viewer. I see the numbers who Google me (and Etsy-me, and Stumbleupon-me, and goodness-knows-what-search-engine-me) and you're definitely out there. It's just so hard to imagine you all, what you think, why my particular paintings interest you. I gather you are fun-loving, not too serious, nor self-preoccupied, a bit child-like, perhaps even silly sometimes, because why else would you go to the trouble of looking at my art?
I just wanted to say, on this crisp Sunday morning in Ontario, five days after those amazing election results, that I think about you all. You give me a lot of satisfaction, just by checking me out.
It must be said that you are not the reason I paint. I’m not sure why I paint. It certainly isn't to acquire huge wealth. Or even small wealth. Or even enough to pay the utility bills. But there, it's my passion. I can't stop.
Painting can be a lonely occupation, like the writing process, and we need to come up for air every so often to see if there's anybody out there who is remotely interested in what we produce. So I go online and look up my "hits". I am grateful to report that there are lots of you. I'll probably never know who, but I wish you all well, and thank you.
Fran, November 9, 2008