In keeping with my predilection for overly enthusiastic New Year's resolutions I thought I would kneel down and breath the kiss of life into this cadaverous blog. I think maybe a really slack commitment of one or two posts a month should do it.
Our son is now 22 months old and is a goddamn riot. We have him in daycare now, which means we've outsourced the job of teaching him to be a human to people who really know what they're doing. He even speaks a lot of human now, too, like "butthole," and "go away." It's good to learn those ones early, because he's going to need those his entire life.
Having a small person who needs you to do things for you is time intensive, though, and my precious Facebook time and yes, even my blog time have been sacrificed. I think the ideal person to have a child is someone who already wastes a lot of time on stupid stuff. That would be me. But even though I had quite a bit of chaff in my schedule to transform into baby care time, I've still been running at a deficit for the past twenty-two months. And it's okay. I don't answer emails in a timely manner. My commission turn around time is loooong. I have to sniff my clothes before wearing them because I can't remember if that hamper is clean or dirty. It's okay. Having a kid is freaking awesome.
Anyway, Dave and I just want anyone who is still lingering here to know that we are doing A-OK. Dave is tattooing a goddamn shitstorm of awesomeness at Black Label Tattoos here in Duncan, BC, while simultaneously rocking his painting career. He had some pieces hanging at Arcadia Contemporary this year. I seriously can't take this guy's awesomeness. He's also a completely egalitarian person to parent with. And he finally has an excuse to buy that mega playdough set he's always wanted.
I have been shit busy with commissions and workshops, although to be honest, I haven't really done THAT many commissions. Enough to keep me busy, but I'm slow. I've been picking away at portrait projects for the past couple of years, for which I have been incredibly grateful. I've been watching the gallery side of my career burble in spirals around the drain for the past couple of years and finally just smelt the last little belch of something rising up from the u-bend. I am gallery free now and after years of AWOL artwork, damaged frames, unpaid shipping fees, dishonored contracts, and not one, but TWO gallerists doing jail time for shady dealings, it feels like going braless in August. There were some good galleries, yes. They were lovely. It's thanks to their loveliness that a proper standard of measure was established to compare our lousy treatment to at the other places. But I'm done with sending someone half a year's worth of work and waiting a year to find out the hard way if they're honest people. In the meantime, while I wrap my head around this all, and revel in parenthood, I've been experimenting, learning, and scheming. I've been digging deep, painting fast, making direct sales, and thinking about what's next.
Oh, and here's a painting:
Yeah, so I painted this bugger over a long period of time. I started before I got pregnant in 2015 and finished it up at the beginning of 2017. But man, this was a beast to photograph. But the ARC salon is one of those handy deadlines that always wind up making me haul ass to photograph anything I was avoiding. Here it is in despeckled glory.
It's called "Insomnia." Because when artists can't sleep, they play with dolls and dead owls in the middle of the night. Leading up to pregnancy, and then during pregnancy, my anxiety took off and I couldn't sleep. At one point one of my maternity doctors who was trying to help me with it found out I was an artist and she lit up and said, "Oh, so does that mean you can, like, paint your feelings to help you work through this?" I dramatically rolled my eyes and explained condescendingly that I am a traditional realist oil painter and I don't paint my feelings thank you very much. Then I went home and got back to painting, and realized that I was painting a goddamned eyeless doll in a bed.
I rolled with it, and I added an owl, and a flying angel doll, and a bunch of fetal monsters under the bed, taken from our 3D ultrasound. I painted my feelings like no one has painted their feelings before. I'm sorry, maternity doctor.
I'd love to do a few posts chronicling the progress of this painting. We'll see how this goes. I have to go sniff some laundry before folding it.
I would like to discuss some safety issues in the studio. Studio Safety is no laughing matter, unless someone falls and gets hurt, then it's a little funny. Remember not to believe everything you hear or read. Do the research. I've been at plenty of art institutions whose students don't know the facts because they took the opinion of one person as the truth and never thought to question it.
1. "Acrylic paints are safer than oil paints." Wrong. I can't tell you how many arguments I have had with people about this. Many people assume if something is water soluble, then it must be safer. If you have a tube of acrylic cadmium red and a tube of oil cadmium red, what do they have in common? Cadmium. The pigments, denoted on every tube of paint, are the same, regardless of the binder. The only real difference is in fact the binder itself. The most common binder in oil paint is linseed/flaxseed oil. Remember, hippies put this stuff on their salads. The binder in acrylic paints is...acrylic. Would you eat acrylic? In addition, acrylic paints often use formaldehyde and ammonia as stabilizers. Solvents can be harsh however. That is why I wash my brushes with ivory soap and water. Think soap doesn't break up grease and oils, watch this.
Oil paint is essentially better in every way. Oil paint has a higher pigment load than acrylic paint. As linseed oil has a smaller molecule than acrylic, oil paint is able to absorb substantially more pigment. In addition, oil paint dries through oxidation, not evaporation, so it has a significantly longer working time. Oil paints present a better (less transparent) refractive index than acrylic dispersions, giving more variety to paint quality. Basically if you use acrylics, you eat baby puppies and are a monster.
2. "I don't want to wear gloves when I paint, waaaah" Wrong. Certain heavy metals, including Pantera, can be absorbed through the skin if there is a break in the skin. Gloves will prevent this. Keep in mind though that there is nothing you can do to stop Pantera from entering your system and poisoning you. I have heard the argument that gloves prevent a tactile touch when painting. Keep in mind that brain surgeons wear gloves, and what they do is just a touch more detail-oriented than what we do.
3. All pigments are dangerous. Wrong. There are a few stand out ones that need to be handled with more care than say earth tones. Vermillion is mercuric sulfide; like most mercury compounds it is toxic. Vermilion is now produced by reacting mercury with molten sulfur. Symptoms of mercury poisoning include sensory impairment (vision, hearing, speech), disturbed sensation and a lack of coordination. It is a neuro-toxin. Lead isn't much better. It has the same symptoms a post college graduate does after moving back home.
4. "It's natural, it must be ok for you." More hippie talk I see. Lead is natural. Mercury is natural. Venom is also natural but getting a giant Portuguese Man of War stuffed down your pants probably doesn't feel too good, (probably a giant Portuguese man wouldn't feel too good either.) My biggest annoyance is that natural citrus cleaner that people are told to buy to clean their brushes at art schools. It's cleaning agent is derived from citrus peels, and contains D- limonine. It's the same "natural" chemical found in pesticides. Limonene and its oxidation products are skin and respiratory irritants. No information is available on the health effects of inhalation exposure to D-limonene in humans, and no long-term inhalation studies have been conducted in laboratory animals.
4. "Using a 12 gauge shotgun as a maul-stick is a good idea." Hmm, I'm open to this one.
Since having my big headed baby things have slowed a bit with my updates. The recovery time has been slow and its amazing to see what a baby has done to my figure, but the whole experience has been worthwhile. It has been an interesting lifestyle change to say the least. Luckily for me, having a child is similar to having a dog so it hasn't been all that hard of a transition. Right now my kid's crate training is coming along nicely and I am happy to say he has been flea and tick free since we got him.
So, what have I been up to artistically you ask? Been running with my series of "shooting animals in the face" and have decided to retire my painted face series once and for all. Thought I would show some progress shots from a still life I did last year. One thing you may notice from this particular still life is that its done a bit more "on the fly." Get it?...cause it works on two levels...because ducks have the gift of flight and it also relates to the spontaneity of the introduced objects to the composition as the painting developed organically. Now before I go any further, I would like to make a disclaimer and say that no animals were harmed in the making of this piece, except a duck who was shot in the head then frozen, but that asshole owed me money so who cares. Now I know this post wasn't an all that glamorous comeback after not posting for over a year, but remember, I'm a parent now so I get to blame everything I don't do on that.
Day one, laying in that paint.
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