As I sip my morning coffee, I've found myself gazing at this piece. It's hanging in my living room right beside my big, grey, adjustable, massaging, reclining, super duper comfy easy chair. Until this piece finds it's forever home, that's where she'll remain. I completed it a couple weeks ago and although I knew even then the inspiration behind it and my feelings about it, I waited to write about it. Why? Well, because sometimes inspiration is like a pink elephant, you know it when you see it, but it's not exactly something you can describe, at least not right away.
That being said, I'm ready to have a go at it today. I called the painting Moments in Time, which is the first clue as to my inspiration. Time goes by quickly, especially as we get older. As kids, time drags, everything seems so slow coming. How many times did we all, as children, whine about wishing things would move faster, the school year into summer, summer into the school year, birthdays, Santa's visit. And of course, older people would tell us, "don't wish your life away." We didn't understand it then, in fact, we didn't think we were wishing our life away, per se, we just wanted to get to the good stuff, mainly fun and presents, at that age.
Then you wake up one morning staring down the barrel at 50 and holy crap, does time ever fly. What, little Johnny is 28 already? What do you mean it's been 30 years since high school? How can winter be almost over? But between the youthful desire to rush through life and now, and beyond, there are moments, special moments and special people we share them with, that we enjoy. Some people stay in our lives, some move on, or grow up, and sadly, even some drift away, for some reason or another becoming mere strangers. Many of those moments can't really be recaptured, like that day at the beach with your daughter, or sister, when she was 7 and the air was just perfect, and for some reason you had a red balloon and you walked and giggled and released the balloon, with a note inside, knowing for sure someone across the sea would find it and write to you and you've have a new friend from a distant land. Those moments are so special and wonderful, and we can't get them back, except through pictures and our memories.
The above title may seem oxymoronic, or maybe just regular,plain old moronic, but just follow me here. It's been, and still is one hell of a winter. Snow, more snow,even more snow. When it's not snowing, it's freezing rain. And when something isn't falling from the sky, it's bone chillingly cold and windy. And I'm not exaggerating here, I mean COLD, they've cancelled the mail a few times over the past couple of weeks. THE MAIL, people, you know, that stuff that never stops, through snow, sleep, and all that. Well, that old adage has apparently found it's natural limit and that limit is this winter. Going outside has become an adventure in death defying. The parking lots, sidewalks and streets are little more than bumpy, dirty skating rinks. And just for fun, we're getting a big old snow storm tomorrow, because you know, the four or 5 feet I have of the stuff out back clearly isn't enough!
Yet, even with all that, I feel spring in my heart. There's something in the sun. Don't get me wrong, the air is cold as cold, but there's a new strength in the sun, and as it comes in through my huge windows (and I mean huge, like 5 feet high),it warms me and it heats the house up to the point that I'm whining about the heat. It prompts Misty to open the windows to "air the place out" and to get her "spring clean on". Spring is coming,I swear, it is.
Hence, this piece. I call it Soft Love. It's about the spring in my heart, I feel like flowers somehow, and aren't flowers just the quintessential emblem of spring? It also represents love, because when you're cooped up inside for days on end due to the weather, isn't best to be cooped up with someone you love?
The crows have decided to come back into my work lately, as you can see. This is my latest piece, Welcome Visitors; I completed it yesterday and I'm quite pleased with it. Looking at it, it makes me think about the story of my coming into this world. Apparently when I was born, there was a bird hanging around on the windowsill of the delivery room. It just kinda perched itself there. Hmmmm, makes ya think doesn't it? I wonder if it was a crow, wouldn't that explain a whole lot! :)
It's been almost 2 weeks since I've been able to find a second to write, things have been so busy! It's been freezing cold and snowing to beat the band for what seems like the entire month and we're waiting for a new storm to start tonight. Given the weather, I've been staying inside and painting. That being said, I wanted to take a second to share this picture with you. It's one of the pictures I received today of my piece, Rustic Place, hanging in the Parliamentary Dining Room. Seeing it hanging there, in such beautiful surroundings, alongside the work of other talented artists, makes me smile. And now, back to work, I have paintings to box up for shipping.
As an artist, I'm often asked my advice on choosing a painting for a space. I'm asked all sorts of related questions, most often, the question is, "my room is blue and beige, do you have anything that matches that?" My answer to this type of question is two-fold, one, yes, everything I have matches your room; and 2, you're asking the wrong question. Let me explain:
You've taken the leap, you've set your budget and now you're on the hunt for a beautiful piece of original art for your space, something that will be a focal point, something you'll enjoy looking at for years to come. Then you ask what will match your curtains and throw pillows. It's the wrong question. You're spending a lot of money on this piece, you want it to stand out, not blend in. You want your guests to say "wow, that's amazing," not "hmmm, I never noticed that before, has it been there a while, it sure does match the drapes." Plus a good piece of art matches any décor, it just does. It's like the person who can play piano, it's welcome everywhere.
With that said, there is only ONE question you need to ask yourself at this point - do I love it? Or said a different way, does it speak to me? or does it mean something to me? You're going to be sharing your space with it for a long time, you're going to want to enjoy it. Stop over complicating things for yourself, it really is that simple. Not convinced? Check out the slideshow below of my art in people's homes and offices and how beautifully it pops, without matching the curtains or sofa.
I've been a busy beaver, painting, writing, thinking. Might as well work, what with the wind, the cold and the snow squalls, I can't really go out. And by "can't" I mean "won't". This is my latest piece, I call it Up All Night. I'm quite pleased with it. I haven't painted my signature crows for a while, so it was nice they decided to come back to me.
This painting makes me think of Misty and I. It's been almost 5 years to the day that we both made the decision that a love like ours deserved a third chance. Good thing we did, huh? As it turns out, we're pretty much exactly the same as we were as teenagers. Two peas in a pod. And our favourite thing is still staying up really late and chatting and drinking coffee (or wine, or beer) and just enjoying the wee hours of the morning. Turns out Baby likes it too, he tends to wake up around 11:30 pm every night and absolutely loves when we stay up with him. He knows it likely means more food, and it definitely means more play time!
As I look at this piece, it makes me realize how lucky I am, to have that one person in the world that I can be with all day and still want to be up all night with. It's a rare and wonderful thing.
I received an interesting question via email last night, and all in good timing too as I was wondering what I'd write about today. Erin wrote, "Carl, I am an aspiring artist and I was wondering, has anyone ever said or done something incredibly rude to you in relation to your art that just left you confused and stunned? And if so, how did you deal with it?"
Well, thank you for the question, Erin. I've been very fortunate in my career thus far. Most people I encounter have been nothing but positive and respectful. That being said, there are always the exceptions to the rule. I've of course had people here and there say things like, "what's your real job?" or "how come this or that doesn't look exactly like "whatever"," but those types of comments roll off my back pretty easily because they come from a lack of knowledge rather than disrespect. That being said, there is one person who stands out and even now, 2 years later, I'm left scratching my head, but much wiser for the experience. There was a woman that found me via social media, we'll call her "A", she seemed nice enough, loved my work and we became fast friends, she even added my better half as a friend (red flag number 1). She bought a piece or two, paid promptly and paid my asking price, and soon she was sending me messages to chat every day, several times a day, like 12 or 13 times a day, before work, at work, on the way to and from work (red flag number 2). It all seemed harmless enough, she was married, and I was happily paired as well. She asked me to do a commission, and as a friend, I neglected to ask for a deposit, did the piece and ... nothing (red flag number 3). Okay, so, there hangs the commissioned piece, on my wall, but she continues chatting with me constantly and I figure, well, maybe the piece wasn't quite what she had in mind. Fast forward about a month, she asks about 3 pieces I had displayed. I worked out a deal for her, knocking a considerable amount off because she was getting 3. She asked if she could pay me in 2 weeks, when she got paid. No problem, right? She was good for it and at the time, I didn't want to jinx a good sale, especially because I needed the money, painting is how I eat. The 2 weeks pass as normal, chatting, etc. Payday comes, nothing. All of a sudden she's just gone, no messages, nothing (red flag number 4). I wait a couple days, then send a message following up, reminding her of our agreement. I wasn't rude, in fact, I know I wasn't because my better half reviewed my message prior to me sending it. Still nothing. A few more days pass, I poke her a bit, not even mentioning the paintings, just saying hi. Nothing. Then out of the blue, about 3 weeks later, I get a long and rather nasty message from her accusing me of all sorts of crap like pressuring her and I can't even remember what else. The kicker, she blocked me so I couldn't respond.
So what's rude about this, you might wonder? Well, the rude part is ordering something and then backing out without any word whatsoever. Artists, just like anyone else are people, hard working people who rely on sales to eat. But as people, we also understand that circumstances change and we're reasonable. If something happens and you have to back out of a deal, step up, say so, I'm well aware that life happens, but to just ghost me, then attack me, that's not only rude, it's childish.
The lessons I learned from this were many. First, when my wife says she thinks someone is off, listen to her, she's right. Secondly, beware of those who are what I call friendship tornadoes, you know what I mean, you hardly know them, but they're all of a sudden swarming you with compliments and messages and fawning all over you, there's a reason it feels too good to be true. Third, always get a deposit, whether it's a commission or an existing piece, if someone can't pay outright, get a deposit and set out and agree upon the terms of payment up front and in writing. Finally, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT mix business and friendship! I have always maintained, and have yet to be challenged in my assertion that art is a tough business in which to make a living. To that end, friends are friends and business is business. If a friend wants to buy your work, hold them to the same terms as you would anyone off the street, after all, if they actually are your friend, they wouldn't want to rip you off, now would they?
I finished this piece, I call it Soul Rain and I'm very pleased with it. As you can see, it depicts a woman, kinda just leaning, quietly thinking in the rain, the only things distracting her from her soul's voice are the sound and the rain. That peace and quiet is so wonderful, and I think now, more important than ever. Have you ever noticed that we, as people, rarely take time to think anymore. Every second of every day is filed with noise, the t.v., the radio, cell phones, constant social media. There's never a moment where we can just reflect. No wonder so many people seem to feel lost, to not know who they are or what they should do; they never sit in silence long enough to allow their true essence to reveal itself, rather they allow social media, how many likes they get, or t.v. tell them who they should be. Lately, I've been making a conscious effort to just be still, to turn off everything and just listen to my inner voice and maybe have a little quiet chat with him. It's a wonderful feeling and absolutely essential.
Well, if this isn't the story of my life painted on canvas, I'm not sure what is! I guess I'm still in the "New Year" introspective mode. I call it The Knowing and as I said, it really does describe my life. I'll explain:
Have you ever known something, about you, what's best for you or just what was right or true in a more general sense, yet everyone else insisted you were dead wrong? I mean everyone! You say left, they insist on right, you say black, they say white? Even the wind is against you, blowing in your face as you walk in one direction, only for you to turn around and get that same wind in the face. You're alone, different and seemingly in the middle of a strange city without a soul.
I've been there several times, and it's not a great feeling. When I decided to walk away from the 9-5 grind in favour of painting full time is just one small example. Everyone, and I mean everyone, had a problem with it. Get a job, Carl. Keep a job, Carl. You can't just paint and nothing else, Carl. What will people say, Carl? And on and on. The pressure can be overwhelming because you know you can't please both yourself and these other voices.
I suppose the best teacher is life itself, because here's what I learned. If you know the truth and you know deep down what's right, and the choice is between pleasing yourself and those voices, choose yourself each and every time! You can tell those others to get lost, they may mean well, and it may be hard, but either they can get on board and support you or they can go. The only person you're ever truly stuck with is yourself, and no one wants to be stuck with a miserable S.O.B. 24 hours a day! In fact, it turns out that strange city, population 1, with the wind blowing in your face, is an awesome place to be. So awesome in fact that a funny thing happens, those same nay-sayers, once they see how happy you are there, they begin to move to town too. ;)
I was looking at this piece this morning. I've walked past it countless times and it really struck me today that the painting is "so me". It's called Full Moon Fever, for obvious reasons. But as I considered the piece, I realized, or remembered that I really like the night. I'm what you'd call a night owl. I suppose that's not uncommon for us artistic types, but for me, especially as a person who can be prone to anxiety, the night, that dark velvety backdrop, is calming somehow. The hustle and bustle of the day, phones ringing, people scurrying to and fro, all under the bright glare of daylight, they're all gone, replaced by soothing, gentle moonlight, twinkling stars, and quiet. You know that nobody's going to show up unannounced at your door or assault your ears with a call at an "ungodly hour" just to chat. I like that.
I do my best work at night, when the house is silent, when everyone else is sleeping, when it's just me, my thoughts and my paint. Yeah, the night time really is the right time for me. :)