October 26, 2011

Integrity and artwork pricing

or Show some respect!  My uphill battle selling art.

I premiered my latest creation "The Wheel of Deluded Existence" at Derek Bisbing and Jim Laing's House Gallery show titled Horror 2. I feel it was a tremendous success, so much so that two drunken attendees insisted they love my painting, and had to have it even if it was unfinished. I was highly flattered.  Then one of the ladies became really belligerent referring to herself as a  "bitch" <---(her words not mine).  I was stone cold sober, so I can say with great confidence that it was mostly over the price tag.

Fact: There was no price. I simply stated how many hours had been put into the piece so far. 50 hrs. to be exact.  I explained that the work was not complete an that the final price would reflect the additional hours I hope to put in in order to make the work exceptional. She went as far as telling me, the artist, that I would ruin the work if I kept working on it more.  Expect at least 30 hrs. more on this one!

 Above: The Wheel of Deluded Existence @ 50 hrs.
Photo by Derek Bisbing

They said they wanted it anyway, as is. I couldn't let it go unfinished especially at the price they were willing to offer. Now at this point is when I realized that some people are going to be cheap and really low ball you and disrespect you to get what they want. These are not the type of people I want to deal with, and especially not the type I want owning a Brian Batista original. I asked how much my 50 hrs. were worth to her? No reply. So, I asked what 50 hrs. of her time would be worth. Hell, she could even trade something....No answer. I said if she wasn't willing to offer anything remotely close to $1000 for my 50 hrs. (that is equal to $20 per hr. -art materials) She should not bother talking to me about it.

That's why I don't just put a price. People scoff and judge the work differently if the price is too high or not high enough. Its a real art killer. There was no resolution, just dancing around the issue of me not listing a price. "Make me an offer."  What resulted was pussyfooting. However, they were so emotionally attached to the fact that I put my hours of labor over a definitive numeric value that they just couldn't let it go. It did not help them avoid embarrassment with the small change they were willing to trade.  They insisted that since the painting wasn't finished it should be cheaper. Seriously?!

I learned a valuable lesson here after a friend turned to me and said "did I just see you NOT sell your painting to them". I nodded. I was not valued by this person, and underneath it all....... neither was my work.  Sure she loved it, but not as much as it is worth.  I'm not making stuff for a pitiful $10/hr. plus materials. At the end of the night,  she still asked me for my card. I told her to visit Market Collective where I was selling prints, where she could pick up something she could afford. BAM!

 The result of this event is helping shape my artistic business practice: 

I'm the type of artist to work on something in great detail. I do not  make short pithy ideas or contemporary "one liners" that can be sold at an inflated price. My work takes DEDICATION, SKILL, CONCENTRATION and EFFORT to produce. For this piece I tallied up the hours on the top of the painting as I went! It can take a surprising amount of TIME to paint something. So far..... 50 hrs.

I think this is the way I will label my work  from now on. This is my profession and people are constantly under valuing my skills and efforts.  On the other end are the artists who give the rest of us a bad name, selling lazy crap for millions of ddollars. I'm willing to trade my 50 hrs. for 50 hrs. in their craft and take $ out of the equation all together. It may be a luxury but it's my integrity:

I decide who gets my work. I decide if the deal is fair and I decide if the painting is done!

If you like my work and what I have to say, I just created a facebook "fan" page, click here to 'like'!


October 22, 2011

Where she stops nobody knows…..

..........Well the answer is to block in Yama's skin with bright red to bring him back forward a bit but since the ones I’ll be using are pure they are somewhat transparent in order to allow the colors from the drips to shine through.  Then I added all my reflective iridescent paints, which don’t photograph well, so you’ll just have to see it in person.

 This is how its done! I whip out the big guns and go straight for the gold! To do this I lay the painting flat on the ground on my painters pyramids to raise it off the floor. I’m using Testor model paints and Tamiya spray paint applied with a brush on this piece because they reflect so well! I revisit some of the whites with a more transparent Zinc white straight from the tube. Then I crisped up the  blacks with watered down black Gesso.  This helps to pop the Yama figure forward again without loosing too much of the beautiful texture the drips created.  I stop here for the night and allow myself some rest and to step back at arms length and get a fresh look in the morning. 

Some touches of detail, here and there, make the piece punchier and more resolved. I went into details of jewelery, some fire elements, some black outlines etc. You get the idea. Dropped off the work, come out an see it!


October 21, 2011

....round and round, round and round......

Class ends, I hang with Dizzy D for a bit afterward and check out his latest Artical clothing video on You Tube. SEE IT HERE. This After Effects Class is paying off for at least 1 student! 

My first step is laying the painting down on my painters pyramids and going over the entire surface with clear primer. This will help protect the surface if I make any mistake or don't like how the drips I'm taking a chance on, look. Plus it protects and punches up the colors already put down. I dripped Indian red over the entire surface to further set back the details. Then I sit back and eagerly wait to see...... WTF!? Have I done???

After sitting back for a moment, I decided to just go for! I added on more drip layer from the bottom to the top with  Transparent Yellow Oxide, which is fairly close to the yellow ochre I used previously.  Either I've got balls or I've made a mistake. And I'm right near the finish line and now have a lot more work repainting this thing, just maybe? I can't decide which one, oh wait, I'm going to have to answer with and astounding.......I've got balls! (Shit eating grin ensues.) Then I flipped it over and did one more round of burnt umber mixed with some iridescent copper dripping, why not?) dripping from the top - Holy Sh*t he's gone crazy!!! Maybe just a little bit =;P

I spritz the whole thing down as I go. Even though it's acrylic, I still have to wait a bit for paint to dry. Now, with only  a few moments left, I need some resolution to this piece, enough to confidently hang it tomorrow.....

October 20, 2011

The wheels on the bus go round and round.......

Still cracking, on the Wheel of Deluded Existence.  Had a big day and some more visitors to the studio. Had a quick break while working to do an interview with Hannah Kost from the Calgary Journal. She asked about my recent an upcoming Canvas Building Workshop for Aboriginal Youth program put on by USAY, he Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth. Here is a photo I just love of two of the participants from my last session.

It was a big day, I spent most of it reworking my course notes for After Effects to better suit the animators in the class.  It was kinda fun=, for a total review and jump into the past;) My class is about Text and Sound in regards to animation of visual information conveyed in words and how to sync sounds to the visual.  Afterward I headed straight to the studio. I knew it was going to be a long one, and the sooner I could get finished, the sooner I could run over to the Scrillex show at the Hi Fi club.

I worked my way through most of the remaining colors. Added some Green and blue variations, some quinacridone red, demon flesh tones, a little bit of brown, dark charcoal for the hells cavern, revisiting some tones in places I missed yesterday. It's a good thing I managed to save a bit in a little plastic sealable container from Vietnamese the other day. I pulled out my red sharpie to quickly block in roof tiles on the temples. See if you can see all the work one below ;)

It was about 1am when I noticed all the time had been used up;( I got out my burnt umber and quickly added in little hairs on the tiger pelt to make it look far more soft and hairy, like a kitty pelt would be. 

At this point I've realized I'm only about half way to where I'd like to be at about 40 hrs. It is looking far to simplistic and "cartoony" now. There are many little details and shading that need to be added to please my artistic temperment. Alas, I'm just going to have to deal with getting it to a place where I am happy to exhibit it on Saturday evening after my class from about 10 - 2am tomorrow evening. Sigh. We will see what kind of artistic magic I can conjure tomorrow night;)

October 19, 2011

Big wheel keep on turning...

Proud Mary keep on burning
rolling, rolling, rolling on the river.

Thanks John Fogerty. Click this --> CCR link to see and hear some inspiration. Otherwise, do as I do and hum it in your head.

Woke up feeling like THE COLD that "everybody seems to have" has moved down into my lungs. No matter, I'm gonna keep on burning and keep on working, got to get rolling, rolling, rolling on this painting.  I got out of bed and called the Canada Council about a grant I'm applying for and answered an incoming call agreeing to do an interview about some of my upcoming youth work for the Calgary Journal. I also spent many hours working on my SACRED IMAGES book design on Blurb. It's coming along quite nicely, but the proof is due Sunday or I loose my Groupon credit of 2 for one. Fingers crossed. 

In the afternoon, I dropped off my 28" wooden artist model Giraffe to Karilynn down at the Quickdraw Animation Society to use for their festival. While down there, I picked up an Imac to create my next After Effects class lesson. I'm running an older version and my computer just isn't fast enough anymore to do what I need it to do. I eagerly dreaming of the day I can afford to get a new Mac with LION on it myself.  I have enough on my plate at the moment, I don't need to be fantasizing.....

Meanwhile, Kids in the Hall - Season 1 played in the background and my hair is tied up with a twist tie because I couldn't find a hair tie. I decided to put off painting in  RED for a bit. I anticipate adding lots of blood later on., it's horrific after all !=;) I moved straight into flesh tones made with a deep Naples yellow and a permanent Alizarine. This way, I'll have all the characters placed, even the monkeys ;) I blocked in a light and dark neutral greys for the rocks and buildings.

I put on  Martin Scorsese's Kundun in the background to keep me company and remind me the history of the 14th Dalai Lama's exile from Tibet. His struggle set to the audio compositions of Philip Glass. During the 2+ hrs, I blocked in the whites of eyes and Buddha's lotuses.  My hand became severely cramped, but I was determined to block in the clothing before going home, even if it was already past midnight. I am coughing harder now, it irritates me. I need to get this far to feel that I accomplished enough.

October 18, 2011

Inner Wheel, process continues......

I did another 5hr. + session in the studio after happily removing 5 bags of unused history from my life. That is freeing. I also signed an agreement today to give a lecture on November 16th about the history of animation at the Glenbow museum. This will be an exclusive event for their PIVOT group, which are young professionals. I will also talk a little about my painting because it has inspiration and links to their Asian exhibition space. Cool.

Below is the palette I found discarded in the trash. Yes, it's a rubbermaid container lid, white and plastic, perfect for my needs.... and completely FREE!!!

I worked in a golden yellow for the Buddha's skin tone. Followed by orange for his robes. I figured I would keep on working with the larger characters and used a pure Pthalo Blue right out of the jar for the glow behind him and a mix of Cereluen blue and lime green for the halos. I also use these colors elsewhere in small details like the rooftops, some jewels and in the water portion.

As you can see there is much more to do....... but it is coming along nicely. I love how the contrast of the blues an orange look at the moment. Which is probably why I feel so reluctant to drip the paint over all my hard work all of a sudden.

Stay tuned for more developments. A reminder that this piece will be displayed this Saturday as part of the HORROR show. Check earlier blog entries for more information =;) Blog time is over, it's bed time which means How Stuff Works podcasts to put into the ream state....yay!

October 16, 2011

The cycle of deluded Existenece, inner wheels....

I spent two sessions with a sharpie marker getting down to the nitty gritty, placing the characters in their respective sections of the wheel. Getting to it..... is harder than you think.

It's one of those points in art making where you can grind to a halt. It can feel like Oedipus must have just before reaching the top. At the most difficult moment, and the rock tumbles back down over you. My inner voices make it ever so harder to get things done, to show up and do what it takes to get to the finish line.  My inner voice reasons with me saying things like "C'mon, go out, have fun, it's the week-end, you can do this another time", or "Don't worry about it, you can do it later, there is plenty of time" etc.  I battle it with... "Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today". Still, it subconsciously wants me to be distracted. It wants me to quit. It wants me to fail. Asshole!

That is why it is so important to set a goal and just keep going until you get there. Strange enough, when I do and am only responsible for the showing up part....., I get complete much quicker than anticipated. This is where the artistic play comes in, with the free time. Hmmmmm. I may be onto something here.

After drawing in the various scenes, I clear coated the entire painting so that I could resume work and have a way of wiping away mistakes if necessary.  Also, I was worried the sharpie would bleed through the next layer of paint. This layer should seal it in so that I don't run into that problem. Tonight, I'm gonna sleep on it and I look forward to the next part of the process: blocking in the drawings, followed by some more dripping (but this time I may do  it from the bottom up).

We will see =;)

October 13, 2011

The wheel keeps on turning (Deluded Existence Continued...)

Another night in the studio. Tonight I had three separate studio visits and one early in the day after picking up a large canvas from my favorite local art supply store.  It was a fun night but I got a slow start. Surprisingly, I still got exactly what I thought I would accomplished done. So here is is in its present state. I am really starting to get excited about how it is proceeding (steep learning curve with acrylic paints as my medium for this piece aside).

I began with some repair work on YAMA's nose before it started to drive me crazy =;P  Surprisingly the container I put some of the paint in, that was leftover yesterday, actually worked in keeping it from drying out. I need more of these little guys or empty baby food jars.  I blocked in the green landscape element below and some of the water to the left. I painted in the tiger pelt with two water colour like acrylic glazes in two different tones of orange as well as added some zinc white highlights along the edge of the fur. I surrounded the piece in a blue band and finalized my evening with dripping yellow ochre over the canvas. One last look and a quick snapshot with my iphone before leaving the studio.

The hard part is coming........... committing to the inner wheels and tackling that and then adding more elements and textures to the whole. I am a bit intimidated because of the level of detail that is required for this next section. I find that I work much better with larger brushes and more gestural strokes. As the brush size is reduced for more detailed work the time it takes me to paint increases dramatically. The clock is ticking.

October 12, 2011

Another day, another cycle... (The Wheel of Deluded Existence)

I spent another evening painting away at my piece for the upcoming horror show. I thought with all the hours I've been putting in..... I would have gotten the entire Yama figure painted in by now. Sometimes the going gets tough and the paints flows slowly. Like watching paint dry. Slow. Anyhow I am super happy with how it is coming along.

On a technical level, I am struggling with how quickly Acrylic dries and how flat it ends up coming out looking. I am using retarder and keeping things wet but sometimes the paint is sticky and a bit muddy. I'm tainted and spoiled by too many years with high quality oil paints. Unfortunately, oil just won't dry quickly enough to have the piece done for this Friday.

I repainted all of Yama's red skin to set back some of the drips and add depth. I added highlights to his palms, feet and nose. I retouched the crown skulls some more, as well as the hair band and the flowing brocade behind the figure. Tonight, I will keep going and get the tiger pelt and ground in so that I can transition to the contents of the wheel of deluded existence.

October 11, 2011

Wheel of Deluded Existence continues

So I've been lucky enough to get to keep painting in the studio this thanksgiving week-en and into the week. This piece is due Friday but there might be a little wiggle room come the week-end. Regardless, I am full steam ahead to get it finished in time.

 I began work on the landscape of the inner wheels, painted in some stripes on the tiger pelt, the skulls on the crown, and the head brocade.  Originally, there weren't enough sections in the outer wheel, to my surprise I calculated wrong. Rather than just let it slide and continue painting as it, because you can't get away with that when you have integrity and put this much time into something.  So, I had to go back and fix it which means I spent much time back with the Gesso. Black and white. I also began logging my hours with a simple tally on the upper edge of the painting.
Here is the point before leaving the studio. I dripped dark brown paint along the face. I always like doing this as it gives the appearance of age between the layers. It also gives me something exciting to work with.

Thanksgiving dinner

As all of you know, I post to this blog for artistic creation. But the next most important thing in my life is eating well. My addiction to buying an using art supplies and a true love of it is well documented, following that and books (which are less often bought cause they take longer to read than an apple takes to eat) but the next best thing I create and every day is FOOD!  I think eating well is super duper important indeed! One of the great things my mom passed down onto me. Just try to cook as good as she does, just try! One of my closest friends KT also spent the whole long week-end working. So I thought I'd fix us up a delicious dinner tonight for Thanksgiving dinner.

DISCLAIMER:  The photos here may  DO NOT do justice to how good this food tastes!!!!

 This is a picture after cutting into the apple, smoke bacon and Italian sausage stuffed pork chops (far right) To the left is Sweet Potato poutine.

 Since it is Thanksgiving I had to make pumpkin pie, but instead of a pie I did up these little home made muffin tin sized pies so I could share them easily. The filling was light soft custard and all the herbs and spices were hand ground in my mortar and pestle.

 My theme was "P"...... Pork and poutine ;) This is the plate from above with Parsley garnish. I polished mine off but it was so much food, KT needed tupperware for her left overs.

 After searing each stuffed chop on each side I poured the remaining filling and covered to braise in some apple juices. It looks brown and mushy but it tasted heavenly!

 Yam fries being deep fried. I think this oil is spent. I soaked the hand cut yam chips for about an hour in ice cold water before spinning them dry in my salad spinner.

 Here is the start of the stuffing project, in the cast iron pan are onions, bacon, Italian sausage, thyme and my secret ingredient (not so secret anymore........... candied fennel seeds, to bring out the fennel flavor of the Italian sausage an ad to the sweetness of the apples). To the right are the apples to be added later and some shallots that I had to chop up for my special poutine gravy. I made a roux with whole wheat flour and butter and added the shallots and spices to chicken stock I made last week. I reduced it by half and it was packed with flavor. The cheese curds came from the cheese lady att eh Crossroads market. Sweet potato poutine = Yum!

October 10, 2011

The tree of imagination

I walked out of the studio today, proud of how far I've gotten so far on my concept for a Children's book cover. There is still more to do, but first I need more input from the author, Clorinda.

What are your thoughts Clorinda? 

click on the image to see it larger

Ideas: I might put in the characters in a variety of ways, there is this little dragon guy named flint that could sit atop the stone or put the evil character 'Count Palavar' could be perched on it.  The little girl, Eleanor,  can be climbing the hill to the right toward the tree or actually up in the tree. I can also put a glow on the stone, I'm visioning purple or magenta to enhance the mystical spell that is cast upon it. I also want to add some large mushrooms to the foreground.  The more I think about it the more great ideas that come to mind ;)


The first step was priming the birch panel with clear acrylic primer, 2 coats with sanding of 150- 220 grit sandpaper between each layer. I left some texture to grab onto the paint.  Then I used charcoal to sketch out the main structure of the tree. The drawing was sprayed with workable fixative before applying paint.

The next step was to block in the main areas of color, starting with the background sky. I wanted the piece to have some life and flow like the wind was blowing, and that kind of whimsical energy seen in a Van Gogh painting.  My intention is to have leaves blowing off the tree like they do in fall.

The sky is in and I've roughly blocked int he darks of the soil. I usually start with the darks and shadows because the opacity of these tones is less that the brighter colors mixed with white that will sit on top. I left the tree and some leaf areas bare, you can still see the birch panel.

I know it's a big jump, from the previous image to this one, but I worked for many hours in the studio on this day. I didn't take a photo of the stage between the start of the day and the end. But you can see, I have painted in the high lights an texture of the trunk, the many details of the ground from grasses and moss to fallen leaves and a magical s Stone of Amajara, in which the character in the story must find on her journey. I had to take a step back at this point and let my eyes and hands rest. I tried to paint the owl character twice but couldn't get it right, it was 2:30 am and I needed to hit the sheets.

Upon waking, I saw how the next part could come together. I was so excited, I woke up early and raced to the studio to get back to work.  My concept is developing and as you can see I have blocked in the owl.  He is going to have a bright yellow beak, brown body, a downy white head and a peculiar feather sticking straight up out of his head. My idea is to have the tree slowly dying from the top and the leaves turning brown and falling.  This will make it feel much more dark and ominous. There will be a visual transition from night above to day below as there will be from winter and death of the tree to fall colors and spring below. It is a metaphor for the journey the main character must as she encounters the conflicts on her adventure to save the 'Maginaries' world. I plan to work on the moon a bit more and add the lighting effects and shadows. I have left plenty of room above and below the tree for the title to be placed digitally.

October 9, 2011

Lambchops play along

I spent all day in the kitchen, so I didn't make it to the studio.  I know, bad, So I'm going to blog about what I did, creating something delicious, a Moroccan inspired dinner for my friend Dunjia's B-day. I have never cooked lamb before, it was an expensive cut of meat, so when I was told to judge it on instinct, I was a bit worried....... Luckily my instincts are good,  in my opinion, it turned out perfectly... blushed and juicy! Below are some quick pics of the spread.

This photo is a bit blurrier than the others but the composition is much nicer and shows the majority of selection.

Starting at the top is dessert:  Lemon Madeleines  in a lime syrup served with fresh blue berries.

To the right in the jug: Perrier water with fresh squeezed lime and pomegranate serve with sprigs of Mint I scavenged from my best friend Ben's back yard.

At the top of this picture: Couscous (fluffy I might add), with parsley, mint, thinly sliced green onions and  red pepper.

In the blue serving dish: Is my special home made hummus drizzled with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon served below with hot steamy flat bread dressed with oregano and spices.

Below that in the red and yellow serving dishes: 
a variety of 7 olives warmed up in the oven before serving and a yogurt and sweet chili sauce with Parsley to serve with the couscous and flat bread.
Here is the prize...... the seared and roasted lamb shanks. Man, they were good.

I haven't had much lamb before. I think I have to try it a few other ways to get a taste for it. Dunjia is from the Mediterranean and she said it reminds her of growing up and that it's her favorite meat. Pat on my back for selecting it.  She brought two wines to pair with the food a Zinfidel from California which was sweet and fruity and went amazingly well with the meal and a Reisling which I had fun comparing to the feast. There was a lot of food, but hardly any leftovers. fact: I'm having some of the hummus as I write.

Bugs Bunny at the Symphony

The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra presented a selection of Warner Bros. cartoons and orchestra pieces this week-end.  I volunteered with friends on behalf of the Quickraw Animation Society to show what we do at the center. Though the Dragon program was being finicky, by show time it was working. I did some live stop motion animation under the camera. We had flip books and animation toys and got a lot of interest from kids and parents.  Here are some pics taken on my iphone at the sold out event.

 Team super fun =;)

October 7, 2011

Wheel of Deluded Existence continued...

I had a really busy day running around teaching. First I taught a flipbook class to teens as part of an after school program at the Forest Lawn Library. Immediately following that class I had to rush over to instruct by After Effects evening class at Quickdraw Animation Society. However, after all that, I still had some creative juice to flow. I spent about 3+ hours in the studio blocking in more color masses on my painting.  By blocking in this portion with acrylic, it helps to speed up my process. Basically, it is dry by the time I'm done and ready to be worked on. Unfortunately it's well past midnight and I needed to go home and get some sleep.

I painted around the edges for this piece as well since I know it will be hanging without a frame at the Horror show in less than two weeks.

October 6, 2011

Wheel of Deluded Existence - starting the painting

I started this thangka for the upcoming horror show. Also referred to as a wheel of life, it is based on classical Tibetan Buddhist imagery. It depicts the realm of existence associated with unenlightened beings.  It may not be the ultimate in the 'horror gore show of hell', but it is the one that the majority of us call 'reality' and that in itself is very scary, indeed.

I started with a 30' X 40" wide profile stretched canvas. I use the width of the profile and the straight edge to create a border around the image since I found my past works crept too near the edge of the canvas.

I need to find the center point and a vertical and horizontal axis. I do this without a ruler, just a straight edge and compass or string with pencil tie to it. I go from corner to corner at first drawn with a red pencil. Once I have a center I draw circles intersecting the lines an creating points of origin for my vertical and horizontal axis which I then draw in with the straight edge.  I also draw circles from the center point for the inset images to be create later on.

The next step is to draw in MARA, the demonic deity that holds the wheel of existence. I do this with graphite (a mechanical HB pencil.) Graphite does not readily stick to the surface well, it is workable but needs to be adhered with fixative, I also coat the drawing with a clear acrylic primer.  I also use various other colored pencils to help me organize additional elements on or around the central figure.

Once the majority of the painting is sketched into place (which takes many hours), I can start to work with paint.  I block in solid areas of color starting with my large brushes loosely working from the largest darkest shapes and  moving toward the lighter colors. There is alot of preplanning here in my head because I already know that the majority of these dark colors will get covered with lighter ones later on to create a bold popping effect. I move inward to the more detailed areas, which tend to be from the outer edge in toward the center, this pulls the eyes focus to the center of the artwork. After the outer MARA figure and background are blocked in I will begin work on the wheels of existence which require finer tools, and concentration.

Stay tuned for more updates to follow this and other current works =;)

October 5, 2011

Cleanse the Palette

I just got a call from a good friend of mine to tell me that today is the day that one must cleans and purify ones tools. I just so happen to be on my way to the studio and will now do such a thing before beginning a new work for the upcoming horror show.  Poster below:

I am planning on making a Tibetan inspired calendar with a strong Haida influence on the under painting/line work. Who knows what will come of it. Fingers crossed that it works out, we will see;)

The all seeing hand. It can perceive and do!

Also: I am beginning work on a commission for a children's book cover. I quickly sketched out this fall tree before having the author show me what sorts of things she had in mind.  She definitely wants  to go way darker, I think I can handle that.