Saturday, March 31, 2007

cat fish bird

I decided to try chocolate-coloured Canson Mi-Teintes drawing paper for this idea and like the subtler results and the way the texture of the paper is enhanced. It's over at Etsy.

Friday, March 30, 2007


my sweet lord

Is it art, religion or dessert?

More on Cavallaro's controversial chocolate Jesus here.

Nutrition facts here.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

mask part 3

Finally -- the third instalment in the great work-in-progress. OK, disciplined I'm not. Parts one and two were over two weeks ago. I find myself doing the strangest activities at the strangest hours because I don't have to punch a time clock -- and I love that I have that kind of freedom -- but it's amazing how trivial activities can supercede more important ones, and just how quickly the higher-priority ones can get away from you. I still find myself racing to meet deadlines, in spite of the supposed control I have over my own time. I think there's an adrenaline addiction 'issue' with those of us who are chronic procrastinators.

This painting will be entitled Mask and there are three different types of masks illustrated here. I remember hating and fearing Hallowe'en masks as a kid, but I find myself drawn to them as an adult. The cafe where I get my morning coffee has some wonderfully colourful papier mache masks on the walls. I enjoy them every single day. Those of you who want to tell me to stop here -- I know, I know! I face this with every painting -- but there's one more major step to take that will completely transform the way it looks. It's a total bummer when this step is better than the final one, but it's all a crap shoot in this biz anyway.

The dog, cat and I have been stuck at home with a 12 year old and his raging virus this week. The gods smote him after I bragged to a friend last week that none of us had had even a sniffle in over a year. Something about the sins of the father (or mother) being visited on the child I guess. This is what Zulu thinks of it all:

Monday, March 26, 2007

you spoke

...and I listened.

This painting for Easter (significance explained here) is now available in a limited edition of only 10 prints over here. It is a good size (14" x 11") on the best quality archival paper using top quality inks. Depending on how this one does, I will also be doing a run of Here Is The Ancient Floor.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

thinking (and funny) bloggers

Considering I've had my nose to the grindstone for weeks now and haven't had time/headspace for any reflective thoughts -- and therefore posts -- I was quite surprised to check out one of my own favourite places for insight and perspective, Bibi's Beat, and discover she'd given me a Thinking Blogger's Award. My immediate reaction was that there had been some mistake, followed by the normal run of suspicion, blame, and, ultimately, acceptance. (Just kidding, Vicki ~ and who paid you..?) Since I'd pretty much run out of gas over here anyway, I was just thrilled to have something to write about. Thanks for that, too, Vicki.
But which five of my regular blog reads would I choose? In my current narrowly-focused way I've mostly only been reading art blogs for the past couple of months, and though they're endlessly fascinating for me, don't really fit the criteria. So after scrolling through my blogroll I decided to change the rules a bit and choose blogs (a) that I've been reading for awhile (staying power!) and (b) are where I go for a bit of a laugh. It's been written that a good sense of humour is a by-product of intelligence. I'm not saying that all intelligent people have a sense of humour (if only...); I am saying that all funny people are intelligent, and there is usually more than a thread of something deeper underlying their humorous reflections on the world.
Of course funny people can also be very complex (read: self-centred bastards) so sometimes they quit reading my blog. You know who you are. But I forgive you anyway. I give you:

1. Kyknoord of The Other Side Of The Mountain ~ One of the first blogs I ever read, I have been a loyal admirer of the razor-sharp wit of Kyknoord for almost two years. He writes about his personal life in a way in which Shakespeare would approve: tragedy and comedy seamlessly intertwined. He also keeps his picture of himself to himself. I'm guessing that this guy, from his Flickr site, is him. (And this is how I get you back for getting a digital SLR before me, you cad.)

2. Cherrypie of Dipping My Toes Back In the Water ~ Take a single mum who is a practitioner of the noble legal profession, add a major dose of self-deprecation and hilarious commentary on pop culture, and you get the most readable blog north of London. (Not only that, her legs have an uncanny resemblance to those of Sienna Miller.)

3. Belinda at Ninja Poodles ~ Belinda has that rare ability to combine mask-off honesty and lack of pretentiousness with an intelligence and wit that deserves a little crowing about now and then -- but she never does. It's completely charming. Not only that, she's a Southern Baptist who votes Democrat, appreciates real art and drinks her tea hot. I love that.

4. Chitty at Riding the Slipstream ~ What is it about Africa anyway? And why do many of my favourite blogs come from South African men? (You, too, Nomad.) (My secret obsession with Africa started when I was 10 years old and bedridden with a severely-broken leg, reading Born Free books -- but I digress.) Like Kyknoord, I have been reading Chitty's blog for a long time now. I love his hilariously no-holds-barred accounts of the life of the single(ish) guy on the urban corporate ladder: no punches pulled, no weak spots unprobed.

5. Finally, an actual art blog. I must admit that I've been irregular about reading Bad Art I Am Compelled to Share lately because, in spite of his blog's title, The Unknown is lousy at sharing -- and since I'm a self-centred so-and-so then I'm no good unless I'm getting direct stimulation myself -- but I always enjoy my visits to his blog. He cuts to the heart of the matter faster than a speeding bullet, and when not commenting on the state of American and world politics, there's a gentle humour about his art and writing that is impossible to resist.
The Thinking Blogger Award Rules
If you were named above and choose to carry this meme forward, remember to tag only those bloggers who stimulate your cortex … or something like that. Please make sure you pass the rules to the blogs you are tagging.
If, and only if, you have been tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
Link to the original post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
Optional: Proudly display your 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

Thursday, March 22, 2007

website revamp

I think I've given myself carpal tunnel syndrome. I've spent two long days rebuilding my website and I'm pretty pleased with it, but haven't checked everything out so if you take a look, please click on a few links and let me know if you find any broken or weird ones. I really like the clean, uncluttered look of black on white (it doesn't compete with the artwork and God knows I hate competition! :), which is why I went with the original Blogger template (and have kept it) and why I went with this new look on my website. The only problem was that my favourite fonts weren't available by my web hosting company so I had to dig around a bit to work my current favourite 'Adler' into the mix.

avatar by Hellcat

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


To honour my 400th blog post (I know, I know -- I can't believe I had so much garbage that I'd want to share either) I give you something serious:

"Canada has a vibrant contemporary arts scene, but the country needs to take more pride in its artists' achievements," says art critic David Silcox, honoured Tuesday with a 2007 Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts. More on the story here.

Something to stimulate the grey matter:

These two pictures represent the eye motions of two viewers as they scan a work of art with the goal of remembering it later. One of them is a trained artist, and the other is a trained psychologist. Can you tell which is which? Read this article. (I knew immediately which was which.)

Something humorous (you knew it was coming and there's more where this one came from):

And finally, it wouldn't be right to not include a recent piece of artwork. Think I can manage 400 more posts before either this blog or I die a natural death?

(And a quick thanks to my sometime 'supplier', Rudy.)


Monday, March 19, 2007

art cards

A couple of days ago I discovered a widget on a blog sidebar for this new made-to-order greeting card company. I was immediately intrigued and had to try setting up shop for myself using some of my digital photography and monochrome-on-black drawings. The length x width ratio is part of the reason for this; anything outside a 21-15 ratio becomes distorted as the cards are one size/full bleed. I'm not really impressed with the widget so haven't added it yet ... still thinking on that one. Do drop by and take a look.

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gaelic football

For the second time in seven years the Vancouver Cougars Australian football club have beaten the Vancouver Harps Gaelic football club at their own game. Each year they compete in a St Patrick's Day fun match in downtown Vancouver. What a great game to watch -- fast and furious. Here are some of my better photos. Number one son (14 year old Carl), who plays Aussie Rules with the newly-formed junior national team, was given a shot at playing for part of a half and can be seen growing out of the goalkeeper's left shoulder in the last shot. More photos here.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

bad cat

being catty

A year or so ago I had some fun coming up with a feline character with cattitude and made one small painting using this self-possessed fellow as the model. I never followed up until now (my life is a series of one distracting shiny object after another) when I decided to try my hand at using him in one of my negative-spaced mixed-media drawings. Helene, in her undying loyalty (and always-superb taste in art :), snapped him up. Before I knew it I was on a roll and produced Illustration Friday's piece and the two below. Appropriately, they are called BAD CAT and are over at Etsy.

I spent a good chunk of yesterday researching digital fine art and photo papers after driving into the valley to see a demo at Opus. Interestingly, after looking at prices, results, archival data and other technical info I decided that my favourite is Hahnemuhle 308 Photo Rag. After sorting through all the literature I brought home I was surprised and pleased to discover that Ontario expert John Jones agrees. Now all I need to do is find the elusive perfect print house, but that's more difficult than I ever imagined, so I'm leaning seriously towards investing in my own inkjet printer. I'm on a really strict budget and can't even consider it until after we (hopefully) get a tax return, but meantime, I'm looking at good quality but reasonably-priced pigment ink printers. Feedback on printers and shopping chez Andrea heavily encouraged.

I'm not sure into what psychological slot you can put my inertness (the 'lazy' category would be my guess), but I have totally stalled on my final Primal Landscape painting. Now that I have a few BAD CATs out of my system, though, I promise part three ... soon.

something smells fishy a little birdie told me

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

happy st patrick's day

Thanks, Tara and Dinah.

Tomorrow I'll be seeing my first Gaelic Football match as our Cougars (Australian Football) take on the Irish Vancouver Harps at their own sport:

Gaelic Football originates in Ireland and is often described as a combination of soccer and rugby but predates both sports. In what has become a tradition, a team of the Irish Vancouver Harps will take on the Cougars, the local Vancouver Aussie rules club, in a keenly contested game of Gaelic rules football.

Friday, March 16, 2007

illustration friday: total

the water's fine

This guy is in total control of the situation. He's available at my Etsy shop.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

update from the trenches

I've been in Serious Thinking mode when I should be painting. As you know, the whole Etsy phenonenon takes up way too much of my thinking time. Lately, shop sales have flattened, and it's keeping me awake at night! But it's also helping me figure out the right direction to take as I observe the successful sellers vs. the not-so. As a result, I'm switching direction a bit and need to clear out some of my more traditional original art (SALE! Was that subliminal enough?). Etsy really is the place for prints. It's pretty amazing to me to see an artist who sells small original paintings for, say, $100, sell the same thing in a print for $28 and sell dozens per day! I still don't get that way of thinking, but I need to start getting with the program if I want sales to pick up. So please check out the ol' shopfront and if you don't like the sale price on any of the older stuff, contact me.

Meantime, Etsy is having a bumper sticker contest. Here's my entry (Fimo fellow conceptualized, designed and constructed by #2 son):

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

painting #12 part 2

As you can see, I haven't gotten very far with #12. Yesterday I did some of the preliminary work to painting: lightly sketching the images that will be handpainted, in white conte, on the coloured ground. I started using conte for this purpose quite by accident and it was one of those brilliant discoveries that I continue to use consistently.
I also cut the stencils (acetate and x-acto knife) and laid down the painted stencil areas (stylized masks, arrowheads and a scarab) which are fewer in this painting than in most of the others in this series. I just attach the stencil to the canvas with a piece of masking tape and use a flat-ended brush (I prefer brights for most of my work) to brush in the image. Easy as dirt ~ and the inconsistencies add character (or so I tell myself).
Next: Painting the sketched-in images.
QUESTION: Are any of you familiar with PRINT GOCCO? If so, how do you like it: costs, flexibility, quality, etc?

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

taxes, marketing, creativity

I believe creativity happens everywhere, not just in the arts. Marketing is definitely a prominent hook on which to hang the Creative Thinking hat (thanks for the metaphor, Brian), so to creatively market a creative product like, say, a painting results in a veritable explosion of creative juices (euw). Case in point: paintings by numbers. There's even a blog. If that's not brilliant, then I'll eat my bank card. Never mind, there's nothing there to eat anyway because I wasn't clever enough to think of this! And to prove it, I have my first ever appointment with a tax accountant on Friday. As if to make me feel better about this (not), I got the latest Washington Post's Mensa Invitational in my inbox a couple of days ago. To wit:

3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

And, with any luck, the number-cruncher guy won't be an:

2. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

My fondest wish is that he's as creative at his job as the marketers of the number paintings are at theirs.

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Monday, March 12, 2007


First things first: THANK YOU to those who responded to my request for feedback. It was enlightening and valuable and even a little surprising. It gave me a really good idea of what direction to go in so I'm indebted to you. The clear winner in the little contest was Here Is The Ancient Floor, a painting that has actually won an award. I was just about to start the ball rolling by ordering some prints when I realized that my only image is a crappy one, and the painting itself is hanging in a downtown gallery (as of today). I will be heading into town Wednesday so will beg Rosalind to let me take it outside and re-photograph it.

Now -- the exhibition. There are three of my paintings hanging at the Federation Gallery on Granville Island (1241 Cartwright Street) for the next two weeks for the Success! exhibition. You may now kiss my feet. I decided to bite the bullet this year and apply for signature status with the Federation of Canadian Artists (I never had the nerve before now to apply) and found out yesterday that I had been accepted. You may now call me Didrooglie AFCA. Besides Ancient Floor, the paintings Tide (below) and Rootbound are also up. Oh yeah -- and the work of the other successful applicants.

I finally started the last painting in the never-ending series. It's been a struggle because I'm already thinking (and even starting) other projects, but I'm just so close that I thought I'd post its progress here as an additional kick-in-the-butt to get me over this last hurdle. I present to you, um ... something:

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

pick me pick me

I need some feedback. I have been swapping emails with Alan of Digital Art Reproductions in Victoria as it came to my attention after writing this post that anything over $20 coming into Canada from the USA is subject to hefty duties. As you can tell, I'm not a big online shopper myself so have yet to be honoured by Canada Customs in this loving way. So far, everything I've heard from Alan leads me to believe I will have a wider choice and pay lower fees by using his service, and I've heard through the grapevine (from a friend who works at another Victoria printing house) that he's pretty obsessive about quality.

Now -- what do I start with? I made a discovery this week -- one of those glaringly obvious principles that seem to pass by my notice on a regular basis. I discovered that what people say they like and what they actually buy are two vastly different things. For example, a friend gave me excellent feedback on a mini drawing I did and, since I priced it at only $18 and framing is a snap I thought he might take the next step, but was wrong. I seem to be wrong a lot these days which is what makes sorting this out such fun/a challenge/annoying/mind-blowingly frustrating. So here's my question to you:

Of the following paintings, which is the one you'd be most likely to buy if offered as a limited edition art print? (Don't worry -- this is an academic question so I promise not to send my thugs over with the thumbscrews if I never hear from you again.) Think in terms of appropriateness for needs, longevity, etc., etc. And thanks in advance -- without this forum I'd be up that proverbial creek, paddle free. (And I promise to pay the ransom and get the real Andrea back soon.)
click image to enlarge

Friday, March 09, 2007

alex colville

This morning I was lucky enough to catch a radio interview Shelagh Rogers had with the 86 year old Canadian painter Alex Colville in Halifax. He is arguably the most famous living painter in Canada today, one of the great Maritime magic realists, and still a lively and fascinating interviewee.

Any Canadian with an interest in art is well acquainted with this painting, 1954's Horse and Train. It is an incredibly haunting image, unforgettable and with deeply existential overtones. But did you know how tiny it actually is? Its value per square inch must be astronomical, especially after his less celebrated Soldier and Girl At Station sold for $663,750 at auction last year. Horse and Train was inspired by a poem published in 1949 by the South African writer Roy Campbell. The poem includes the lines: "Against a regiment I oppose a brain / And a dark horse against an armoured train."

Seven years ago, at the age of 80, Colville painted a nude self-portrait called Studio that created a bit of a stir. It took me awhile to track down the image online but finally found it here (page 4). I was delighted to see that, as an octegenarian, he's still got it. It also reminded me of my favourite studio art instructor at UVic. Glenn Howarth always challenged us in our life drawing classes, regularly bringing in nude models as disparate as his nine-months pregnant girlfriend, an almost emaciated young man, two lazy Golden Retrievers and, best of all, a woman in her sixties or seventies who he sat in an old dentist's chair. I even still have have the drawing I did that day. Howarth was a fantastic teacher, the best I had at university (and, interestingly, the one with the fewest academic qualifications). If I still lived in Victoria I would so be taking drawing classes with him.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

spring cleaning

I'm not a big fan of shopping but there are certain places that I always have a hard time leaving without adding just one more thing. One of those is Staples. I love stationery stores! Today, while getting letter stencils, I bought a hanging folder file and a couple of gelpens and ... which generated a re-org of my little office corner.

While I was gone, Etsy added a great little widget feature for sidebars called the Etsy Mini, which caused me to reorganise that, too and remove a few superfluous links.

And speaking of space organisation, check out - the folding chair and the origami car.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

the dance of art

Dance 24" x 24"
All work and no play makes Andrea a dull girl, and her blog reflects this.
I don't know who said that, but they were very wise. Meantime, I am one painting away from completing a series I started nearly 10 months ago, so work is all that's on my mind right now (ergo more tedium), and when painting #12 is done it's time for the real hard work: gallery submissions. I decided to do this series first before thinking about marketing, so I wouldn't be pressured by a deadline to produce, unlike my first solo show 18 months ago or the four-artist landscape show this time last year. Of course now that I have the oeuvre, what happens if I can't find the venue?+ My first line of fire is Granville Rise, the place for gallery hopping in Vancouver. Because of its high-rent reputation, the galleries on Granville Street have to field hundreds of artist submissions a month, so I'd better start thinking seriously about Plan B. As I've mentioned before, my work defies a clear-cut niche, but there are a couple of galleries that might work. The trick is to convince them. I'd rather stick needles in my eye.
Avoidance -- that's why I get obsessed with the small art/print thing -- so if denial is the order of the day, then let's get down to it, shall we? Jana responded to my last post with questions, so we'll start there:
Yes! I think they are very marketable. My only suggestion on the prints is that I think you could charge more for them and for the shipping--it seems inexpensive for what one receives. Did you have to order a large number of prints to be able to sell them for so little and still make a profit?
Ay! There's the rub! These are merely two test prints that I deliberately priced low ($18) figuring I'd get more feedback that way and therefore more idea of how to proceed in the future. I will make no actual profit on them. It was $10 just for the printing of a single one (and worth every penny) but there have been no nibbles. This is where the marketing part gets really frustrating. The critical response is great, the work is cheap and accessible, but none of that matters if there are no sales. So I guess my answer to you, Jana, is that yes, I will definitely have to price them a lot higher because I need to recoup something as they are clearly a specialty item that appeals to only a very narrow market.
Through the link you provided I also found your website portfolio and wonderful artist statement for the first time too. I don't know how I'd missed it all this time. I love all of your work and noticed that it's all in a square format, which is great. I'm curious how that came to be?
First of all, I can thank Carla for the artist statement. I am total crap at writing artist's statements but, with not much information, Carla wrote a bio/review more perfect than anything I could ever have come up with myself. As for the square format thing, my response is much like my artist statements: "I dunno" (or sometimes: "D'oh!"). I started painting square format paintings occasionally and then more frequently until I decided to make this whole series square. Does it get any more articulate than that?
I'm considering re-doing and moving my website--did you design yours yourself or use a template and where is yours hosted? Sorry for all the questions instead of just answering yours.
Are you kidding? I got a whole blog post out of them! :)
I use Homestead to host my website, and built it using their software, though I must admit that I have a real hankering to redesign the whole thing as this system really limits my ability to impose my will on my web presence. It was an easy and inexpensive way to get up and running, I can update it in seconds, and I have been able to change and expand as needed, but am finally at the point where I'll have to learn HTML properly if I want to make any major changes.

And finally, here is today's completed painting on our brand-new grown-up table and chairs. It took two decades, but we finally got tired of the chipped, peeling melamine and stained plastic to enter the world of adult furniture - just. I hug it every day.
+Re. venues: I'm only looking at commercial galleries. I love to see what's going on in public spaces as that's where the experimentation is, but (a) I'm a lousy joiner of groups and arts councils (I've been told I'm a disgrace to my gender) and (b) out of necessity, I'm an enthusiastic student of The Bottom Line.

Friday, March 02, 2007

I got this huge parcel in the mail today. I was baffled because the two measly prints I ordered were on 10" x 12" paper, so why the big package? Then I saw how amazingly they had protected, wrapped and boxed the prints. Unveiling them was even better; the quality of the prints is the best I've ever seen. They weren't cheap but the results were well worth the investment.

Now the commercial: The prints came from a New York state printer called recommended to me by Angela. I was totally blown away by the quality of the whole transaction and highly recommend them to anyone needing top-notch printing work done.


Now I need your input. I have added both these prints to my Etsy shop. I need feedback re. the marketability/saleability of (a) small, top quality art prints and (b) these particular images. Are my Primal Landscapes best left as large original paintings, or do you think they're mainstream enough to appeal to the small print buyer's market?


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