Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Greeting Cards

I'm just loving painting these cute little scenes for Christmas greeting cards which are now available through my Etsy Shop. I now have 3 designs done and I am starting the next set tonight.  The first 3 were all birds but tonight I have a few very cute ideas involving bears. See the first 3 designs below...

I will have more to share on this topic very soon. 

Money Won't Bring Happiness But Art Will

Well today I am going to bring my 10 pieces to Artcite for the exhibition.  I have been working for almost a month now on these pieces and there is no guarantee that even 1 of them will sell.  I of course will stay positive and hope for the best but it got me thinking about this whole art thing as a career and money and happiness, you know all that usuall deep stuff. What I've decided is this...

Art may never make me rich but it does make me happy, it makes me incredibly happy, so whats more important, being happy or money? Well, I am going to go with happy and hopefully along the way I make enough money to survive and as long as that happens, the way I see it is I would be the richest person in the world. 

You see, I actually feel sorry for all those professional types that are making all of the money, such as the colon doctor, I mean, that can't really be what brings that guy/girl enjoyment and happiness in life, I mean come on? Having to talk about everybodies poop all day while giving them a colonic, that can't really be true happiness but I am sure their paycheck at the end of the day puts a smile on their face.  I certainly don't want that, so in turn, I feel sorry for them because day in and day out dispite the money or no money I still get to be happy doing what I love to do EVERYDAY!  So, I am off to take my art to Artcite and when I get pack I think I'll paint a picture. Peace out!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Photographing Art

When I first started photographing my art,  I had a real hard time trying to get my pics to turn out nice.  Eventually I learned a few simple rules and suddenly things began to get alot easier and pics started looking alot nicer.  I am still always learning as I go, the way I see it we should all always be learning because the day we stop is the day we get stupid and that applies to everything in life.  Anyhoo, my life philosophies are besides the point here.  I decided to share what I have learned so far with who ever might need to still learn it.  I know how frustrating it was not knowing what I was doing wrong or what I wasn't doing right.  Getting a good photo of your work can quite often mean the difference between selling and not selling your work.  The tips and techniques that I am going to share with you apply using a digital camera...

Preparation - Having everything prepared before you start will save alot of headaches and alot of time.
  1. The camera you plan to use with a charged battery or fresh batteries and extra on hand as well as memory space either on the camera or an extra memory card on hand.
  2. You have a program ready on the computer you intend on using to manipulate the photos after you have taken them i.e. photoshop or GIMP (free photo editing software)
  3. You have the cable you will need to connect the camera to the computer
  4. Have all the artwork you plan on shooting gathered together and cleaned of all dust
Once you have checked all of the above off of the list you are ready to go.  I do want to mention what I learned when it comes to choosing your camera.  The higher the megapixels the better quality of pictures you are going to get.  I am not saying you need to run out and buy the top of the line camera but I am saying that if you are using something that is say only 2 megapixels your pics are not even going to be half as nice as they would be if you took the same picture with an 8 megapixel camera.  The difference is huge so if you have the opportunity to even borrow a camera that has higher megapixels you are going to be alot better off.  Use the highest megapixel camera you have available to you at the time!

Turn off the flash! - I can't stress this enough, all you will get with a flash is a distracting glare in the middle of the painting and nobody wants that.  The very best lighting for photographing art believe it or not is on an overcast day or in the shade.  Thats right, the direct sunlight is as bad as the flash.  So if it's not overcast outside make sure you are in the shade or indirect sunlight.  Turn the automatic flash off on the camera and if you are not sure how make sure you dig out your manual, this is very important!  If you feel that the picture needs a little extra light try to resist the urge to turn on the flash, you will be able to play with lighting quite easily later on on the computer.

Placement & Background - You are going to want to find a good place outside to take the photos, somewhere that you can lean the painting up against a wall.  A white background works best and if you don't have one available to you it is really easy to make.  At most dollar stores you can buy white foam boards, I think thats what they are called, they are alot thicker then bristle board but about the same size and they are stiff.  Get yourself a couple of those, depending on how big the paintings are that you are photographing will depend on how many of these you need.  No matter what size of painting you are shooting you will definately need a minimum of 2, one for behind the painting and one for underneath, this way when you go to crop the image on the computer you will have a nice clean white border all the way around all 4 sides.

Keeping Everything Straight - This can prove to be one of the most challenging parts of the whole thing.  If leaning one way or the other will cause the painting to skew within the frame which means you won't have a clean straight edge to crop, you don't want to crop off any of your painting trying to get things straight after the fact.  A few tricks I learned are.....using the guide in the middle of screen on the camera when you are lining up the shot to keep the painting completely parallel within the frame, keeping the camera steady by using a tripod or by steadying your arm on your body, or using a table of some sort to rest your arm on.  If you are not steady you will end up with a blurry shot.

Playing With the White Balance -  If you aren't use to the camera you are using or if you are and just aren't use to photographing your artwork, it may take you a little practice to get this setting just right.  Adjusting the white balance setting on your camera can make your job editing on the computer so much easier.  The white balance setting on your camera will help correct issues such as your white background looking yellowish or bluish in color.  This is important because if your white background looks any other color then white then the colors in your artwork aren't going to look they are suppose to either.  You may have to snap a few pics at different white balance settings and then take them to the computer to really get a better idea of how they look.

Go To The Computer - Once you have taken all of the necassary shots, take alot of each painting.  You will find it easier to take 25 shots of one painting then to take 5 and think you got a good one in there and you haven't.  Don't fool yourself if you think that can't happen because it can and it will.  It is easier to delete unnecassary photos after you have found a winner then to have to go back and set it all up again.  Ok, so assuming you have all of your pics you are going to want to retrieve them from the camera and onto the computer and open up what ever program you are intending on using for editing.  Even the simplist of programs will give you what you need to create a nice image.  Basically all you want to is......
  1. Crop the photo, it is better to leave a thin white border around the image then to crop off the edge of your painting.
  2. Correct the brightness and contrast, you are going to want to play around with the brightness, contrast and midtones until you get the image to resemble as close to the original painting as possible.  Unfortunately with the process of taking the digital photo it can cause a sharp oil painting to have a washed out watercolor look.  For that reason you might want to play around with the sharpness as well.  Don't be afraid to play around with these options, that is what they are there for.  Just make sure you save the original and you keep a good original to go back to if you have to.  Keep the original painting next to you when doing this so you have something to compare the image on the computer to.
  3. Once you have the image cropped and you have adjusted it to look like itself you will need to resize it so that it can be easily uploaded to your web page or online portfolio.  I have found that around 640 px works best for on the web.  You may need to go even smaller if you need to include your pics in any emails.  Keeping the image a small size for the web will help protect you against having your pics stolen, as well for even more protection you might want to create a watermark to go across your artwork of your name and/or website.  This way if someone does share your artwork around the net without your permission you are still getting credit for the artwork even if the person sharing it doesn't put your name with it, your name is already on the artwork so its all good! :)
Now that you have figured out how to take beautiful photos of your artwork you may be thinking about creating art prints that you can sell.  I discuss this topic in a whole other blog post How To Create Art Prints.

Well, I think that should be enough to help a person get started.  I know that if I had found all of this info in one spot all up front it would have saved me quite a few headaches, which is what lead me to write this post. So I hope you find it useful and good luck with your photos! :)

Exhibition Time

Exhibition coming up, the 29th Annual DTL at Artcite 109 University Ave W. Windsor The opening reception will be Dec.3 7:00pm however the exhibition will run til Dec.23 2010

I just completed my 10 pieces for the show and I am very pleased with the results. All that hard work has really paid off, however I don't feel that these pics really do them all the justice I feel they deserve.  To really capture the beauty of this collection try to make it down to the opening reception of the exhibition Friday night...........

 "Bird In A Tree"
12" x 36" x .5"
Acrylic on stretched canvas
This started out as an attempt at an abstract piece however after I finished it I don't really feel like it's very abstract at all, not really what I started out going for but I am very pleased with the end result.
 "Silhouette In Amazement"
24" x 36" x .5"
Acrylic on stretched canvas
This piece suffered a horrible tragedy but has made out alive! When working on the next painting "Blue Birds" my easel decided it wanted to just fall apart and go crashing down and into/right through "Silhouette In Amazement" ripping a hole through the painting right underneath of the bird! It was horrible, and I was devastated but the good news is I was able to repair the painting to "as good as new" there is absolutely no visible scar from the front and on the back there is a 3" x 3" patch the same colour as the canvas.  The material I used to repair the painting is all archival safe so it will have no affect on how the painting will age.
 "Blue Birds"
18" x 24" x .5"
Acrylic on stretched canvas
Again I attempted to do an abstract bird painting and I ended up with this beautiful surreal bird painting, again I am very pleased with the end result. I think the problem I keep running into when trying to attempt an abstract piece is when I try to incorporate the bird into it, for some reason it causes me to make the painting more real, I really don't know what my problem is but I will keep attempting it and if nothing else I end up with some super non abstract pieces along the way. Thats ok too.
12" x 36" x .5"
Acrylic on stretched canvas
Well you are probably wondering why I would name a peacock painting "Wonderland" well it would be a good question.  The answer is.... when my neighbour was over and looking at them she said this one reminded her of something from "Alice in Wonderland" and all though there wasn't a peacock in the story she thought that if there had been it would look like this one. So in turn you get the name "Wonderland."  It's not what I was thinking when I painted it though, actually,  I really wasn't thinking when I painted it; because if I was, I would have remembered how long and tedious it was the last time I did it and probably wouldn't have done it again.  So I guess in retrospect it's a good thing my memory stinks because I am glad I took the time and had the patients to complete this gorgeous piece.
12" x 36" x .5"
Acrylic on stretched canvas
This piece started out as many things, it was actually suppose to be a big ugly bird with lots of beautiful colours flowing out from behind/underneath it.  Well thats obviously not what it is.  Its not because I had a hard time painting an ugly bird, if that makes any sense? I would paint it exactly how I wanted it and it would look ugly so I would do it over but I wanted it to be ugly, that was the concept.  See? Doesn't make sense so I did a white owl from my imagination instead, I know it makes no sense! It always seems to end up good in the end thougth, so again it's ok! :)
 "The Plunge"
11" x 14" x .5"
Acrylic on stretched canvas
Yay! I did it! An abstract bird painting and it is really an abstract piece, finally! It was suppose to be an abstract bird painting and it is an abstract bird painting, well it kind of looks like a trippy blue rubber ducky but it's abstract so what difference does it make! I called it "The Plunge" because it reminds me of a rubber ducky swirling around the water going down the drain.
 "Birds On A Wire"
12" x 36" x .5"
Acrylic on stretched canvas
I know it's probably been done a million times in a million ways, so whats one more.  I just really wanted to do this type of piece since I brought all these panaramic style canvas' home.  So here is my interpretation of "Birds On A Wire". I think it has kind of a 'grunge' look/feel about it.

 "A Love Story"
24" x 36" x .5"
Acrylic on stretched canvas
I absolutely LOVE this piece!!! It is probably my all time favourite painting that I have ever done.  I just wish this picture did it the justice that it deserves. In real life it is rather large (note the measurements) and it really is breathtaking, I think!  I actually wont be to disappointed if this one didn't sell at the exhibition, ya right! The exhibition has a price cap of $99.99 so I have to let this one go for a steal.  This one definately wouldn't have been priced cheaper then $300 in my shop.
 "Night of the White Owl"
18" x 24" x .5"
Acrylic on stretched canvas
I love to paint the world in animal print, if you know me then you also know of my animal print obsession.  There is nothing unusual about zebra print trees in my world. 
"Tis The Season"
8" x 10" x .5"
Acrylic on stretched canvas
Again, the picture does not do it justice.  This piece has 3D snow in real life and the birds look like they are about to hop off of the canvas.  The 3D snow was actually very spontanious, when in the middle of this painting I went up town for something else and came across this Craft Deco 3D Snow  and thought that it might look cool if I did the snow in this painting with that instead of just white paint and I was right, it turned out awsome! And perfect time for this very festive piece.