Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thursday Confessional #8 - A Little Vacation of Sorts


Today's confession: I'm indulging another creative outlet these days - canning. This past week I've had a windfall of rhubarb, raspberries and Saskatoon berries. I have a small freezer so this all needs to be transformed into jams, sauces and chutney. Today has been jam day. Simple Raspberry Jam and Vanilla Rhubarb with Earl Grey from a birthday present book, "Food in Jars" - I highly recommend it!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thursday Confessional #7 - 5 Embarrassing Stats About My Blog


One thing that I've always struggled with in my online presence is finding my sweet spot with my "voice". There is such a temptation to do two things as an artist. First is to present the "my life chasing my muse is so much better than anything Pinterest can throw at you" side where everything is positive and filled with success. The other side is to not communicate at all beyond a crisp website filled with education, a complicated artist statement and somewhat autonomous paintings. 

I am neither of these. I tend to fluctuate wildly from over extended hubris to complete unworthiness, usually in the span of one conversation. I'm drawn to people online who are okay with their reality enough that they can dig under the veneer a little to share where they are really at. I'm actually not always okay with myself that much but I am okay with pushing myself to try things. 

So in another effort in transparency, I give you this week's confessional. 5 Embarrassing stats about my blog:

1) When I look at my stats, currently I am rocking referrals from a dating website, a Halloween website and a website about diabetes. Why are people (or more likely, "person") visiting? Who knows. I've gotten linked to some weird stuff over the years and I learned long ago not to click on strange sites that are sending me lots of visitors. 

2) When I say "lots of visitors" I mean "not very many visitors". My prime audience is from Facebook so that means that mainly my friends visit my blog. I do not command a huge audience. Like average page views on a day where I don't post can be anything from 0 - 30. Days where I post can go up over a hundred but it has to be particularly gripping. In the world of blogging "up over a hundred" is kind of like saying "almost zero".

3) The number one painting that has ever been viewed on my blog is actually a study. It didn't take very long either. It's just a popular subject for google searches: crows. http://mw-artco.blogspot.ca/2009/11/painting-studies-3-crows.html I think it gets pinned on Pinterest and that is where the hits are coming from. 

4) Speaking of crow paintings, people have found my site almost twice as many times searching the term "crow painting" than they have from searching my name. People don't really google me much I guess. *humbling*

5) My all time, number one post ever is about Masonite. Like knock the ball out of the park popular compared to other posts. I think it is because not many people had written about the artistic use of it at the time so I was considered an internet expert. My claim to fame, I guess. http://mw-artco.blogspot.ca/2009/03/tools-of-trade-masonite-boards.html

Saturday, July 19, 2014

I'm Miss February!



I am so excited that for a second year in a row, my art will be featured on an Airdrie Bus Pass. Last year, it was my beloved Esther. This year I very excited that one of my linocuts featuring a chi-rho image was picked. 

It will be featured on a local pass in February, 2015. Thank you, Airdrie, for all the ways you encourage and support the arts!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hello, New Brighton!



There has been a lot of good news coming to my studio in the past few weeks! I recently learned that I was chosen to work with the Calgary community of New Brighton to beautify some utility boxes. Excited to see how they turn out in the coming weeks!

Part of the process is to meet with the community so I'll be popping into the New Brighton Community Association's pancake breakfast today. Hope to meet lots of locals and get some input on what makes their community great (pancake breakfasts aside!)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thursday Confessional #5 - Top 3 Things I've Gotten Rejection Letters From


Isn't this neat? It's a banner image made from my painting, "Bottle". This was put together with 32 other local artists' images by the City of Airdrie, Airdrie Regional Arts Society and Creative Airdie to make an "Artist's Alley" on 1st Avenue. It just got installed and I think it looks fabulous. 

The above is an example of when applying to calls for submissions goes right. It results in acceptance. There is a dark side to this that most artists are familiar with, called rejection. I know for me, I tend to not want to talk about it. Then I realized that most people don't. Or we like to make vague references to rejection in the past but without embarrassing examples. 

I tend to be a high flyer in my applications and rejections. Sometimes I like to apply for things I'm probably not ready for. This usually crushes me a bit afterwards... I'm learning that things that crush me seem to make for good reading so, here goes!

1) Artropolis - some may remember this a HUGE arts event in Vancouver in the 1990's. Very cool, big names, lots of careers started. I being all of 16 or 17 figured it was about time I became famous, so I sent in my portfolio (Remember when you had to send slides! The death of me!) I was completely surprised that they did not find me to be God's gift to the Canadian art world. However, a shout out to the curator.... The handwritten note of encouragement on the bottom of the rejection slip to "keep it up" was a bright light for me.

2) An AFA Grant - the Alberta Foundation of the Arts funds many small and large scale projects throughout the province. I decided a few years ago that I would be a shoe in for an AFA Grant despite the fact that I hadn't settled on pursuing a specific body of work. I had no idea how to apply for this thing (I see that they have since added templates to their site, probably because of people like me asking too many dumb questions). The endorsements I had were impressive, the idea was kinda meh and I think I just overall naively bumbled the application. Maybe another year. 

3) The Kingston Prize - Canada's big prize for portrait work. Again, despite the fact that the big galleries submit masterful examples of their artist's work, I figured I had a shot. Well, no, let's be honest - I figured it couldn't hurt to submit. Never, ever once did I think I would win, my goal was to be a finalist. I actually still have that goal. I will probably keep submitting till either I've reached my peak as a portrait painter or they start feeling sorry for me. I'm good with either! (Coincidentally I submitted the painting featured on that banner above).

In other news, I've actually had some great news of some upcoming work I've gotten by submitting my portfolio. I'll be talking more about it as I get more information. Secrets are almost as fun as confessions!

Monday, July 07, 2014

Wycliffe Snapshot 4


Oh man. This painting was by FAR the most cross eye inducing with its sheer level of pattern. There are 4 more people out of this frame all of which had at least 2 patterns on them! The finished result is pretty cool though - looking forward to showing them to you. 

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Thursday Confessional #4 - 5 Things I Will Probably Stop Doing for the Next While


Well, as the Wycliffe project wraps up I've been forced to have those "what do I want to be when I grow up" conversations. One thing I've noticed is that I have a tendency to say "yes" to pretty much everything that lands on my plate, whether I'm inspired by it or not. I was reading this on the Red Lemon Club site and it lead me to today's confessional.

I've had to send a few emails this week about upcoming project ideas to let people know where I am at right now and while it was tough, I also felt a huge sense of relief. This list isn't about regretting things I've already done. It's just more what I've learned about what I like/don't like in my experiences and seeing that it can be very easy to let others fill your calendar up with projects they are interested in. Plus we are a one regular income house right now with three kids who keep growing out of their clothes.

So, in no particular order....

1. Doing things that are solely "good for exposure". Passive exposure alone has actually rarely has built my business and I think sometimes when my work is hung in a non-selling-art-environment it tells people it isn't for sale. Plus often putting my work up in places results in grimy spots and damaged corners etc. I'm good with networking stuff, things that are valuable for my C.V. but not everything that comes my way does these things.

2. Volunteering my time/talents to create new things. Volunteering for an event is different than doing creative work in the sense that creative work can deplete you creatively as well as use your time. Right now I'm finding I'm tapped for creativity for my own stuff let alone others. When I'm contributing to someone else's project, I find I don't do anything of my own because I can't focus well on two different things at once.

3. Special pricing (for myself and for others). I've decided to try moving to a pretty bland pricing system based on price/sq inch. Most of my prices have actually fallen into that over the years but if I've been attached to a piece I've tended to over inflate its value. Also, while I will still discount friends and family, I'm just going to be sticking to a generic reduced price/sq inch for y'all because that causes me too much agony to decide how low I should go for you.

4. Donating stuff to charitable causes. I love helping people, often to my detriment. However, I'll confess (this is a confessional afterall) that when I donate a painting to an auction, it often goes far below market value. Like embarrassingly under market value. Given that I have had to give my time to paint the item, spend money on materials and sometimes even paid for shipping... I lose inventory and it isn't good for my collectors to see the discounted paintings others are buying and its personally painful. If I support your charity, it will be by selling some of my work and cutting you a cheque. We both win.

5. Being a hermit, afraid to sell stuff or stuck in a rut. If you only knew how many times I've changed the topic when people have asked about buying stuff for the past few years, you'd realize how much I hate talking numbers and thinking about that sort of thing. Very awkward. Same goes for making new friends, getting out there and trying new things. Now that I have more time to paint, I'm looking ahead and kind of at a loss of where to go with it next.

In summary, I've decided for now that in order to move ahead (and be able to afford to do new projects) I have to treat my time more seriously. I read recently that the moment you stop giving away your art for free is the moment that people start paying for it.

What that looks like in the coming months, where I"ll sell, what I'll paint etc I haven't totally decided yet.

Thursday Confessional #6 - 5 Behind the Scenes Realities When I Make Art


Keeping the confessional light this week. My brain is fried from the heat and the eventual realization of "Whoa, I just finished a massive project and man is my house mired in chaos." Had a fun time this week catching up with an artist friend, just talking shop and a few of these came up. I'll start by confessing that I giggle a little when I say "my studio" because it is not glamourous as people would probably imagine in their heads. 

1. I paint in my kitchen. The light is best here and I feel like I am still part of the family during a long stretch. My house is not overly huge, we do not have a decent space to dedicate to an actual fancy studio. Maybe when my kids move out, but I'm in no hurry for that phase of life. 

2. I cannot paint unless my kitchen is clean. Partly for practical reasons, bowls and brushes don't mix (I have a hard enough time not dipping my brush into my coffee) partly because I just can't. I have a weird emotional block that requires more than tidy. I need sprayed down counters, swept floors and all clutter put in it's place. Best time to visit me is after I'm done a day of painting. 

3. I find doing real painting very, very hard when people are around. I can do basic layout painting or I can paint for show (where I've rehearsed the real painting in private) when people are around but there is a certain part of me I can't release until I'm by myself. I also know people like to see artists working, so if you've been around while I'm doing that, I must really like you. 

4. I like to sing when I paint. This ties in nicely with number 3. I think my kids are starting to be okay with me doing the majority of my painting away from them for this reason. Weird. 

5. Kinda sad but true, 95% of my art supplies that I use on a regular basis fit in the above pictured rolling trolly cart. My paints, mediums, brushes and Lino stuff all fit neatly in this bad boy. Of course I have a pathetic stash in my basement of totally random, barely used stuff, but no one is perfect!