My old Blogger site is now gone. Unfortunately, Blogger just doesn’t have the resources to make it work in this current era of webbery; I was using Blogger after my site was hacked and taken down by my web hosting company and Blogger at least is very secure from hacking.
So here it is: WordPress again, with all its functionality. Which brings me to this: To celebrate the rebirth and to learn how to use the software required, I’m holding an auction of a small still life study. ‘A Jar of Sunshine’. Oils on canvas panel 5″x 7″. I’ve set the reserve very low; at €55 to help get it started. The auction ends in 10 days.
Lidl seem to be able to tap into my thoughts. A couple of weeks ago, after spending almost €50 at Woodworkers getting some MDF cut down into squares for painting supports for my students, [they charge €1.80 per cut] I decided to invest in one of these lads. The cheapest I could find in the specialist tool shops was around €199, with a possible €40 to buy a new, finer blade for cutting MDF.
Next thing is Lidl put this one on offer at €130. This isn’t the first time they’ve had just what I was looking for at the moment when I needed it. How do they do that? What other private thoughts are they reading? Am I that bloody predictable?
Just one thing, though: The only problem so far is the ‘eccentric lever’ which is supposed to lock the ‘fence’ [the moveable guide to which you knock up the wood to be cut]. After a couple of cuts, it loosened and now won’t stay in position; I have to keep it fixed with a G clamp . At 1700 watts, the blade cuts very well and the machine seems to be solid enough. And…AND…it came with two blades, one course and one fine.
I believe next week, Lidl are doing a range of prosthetic hands.
I’ve just read Marketing Magazine and saw the reference to Michael O’Doherty’s Sunday Times interview. I didn’t read the original article unfortunately. O’Doherty is quoted as saying that the one thing he’d change in Irish tax system is the artists’ exemption. “Seriously”, he’s quoted a saying, “why is it that someone who writes a crap book doesn’t have to pay tax, simply because they have a beard, whereas a team of well-groomed people who produce a brilliant magazine, do?”. I do suppose that the man was joking [although it does start with the word ‘seriously’] or else that quote would win the Double Take accolade for being, witless, peevish and ignorant all at once. I do understand that people who pay tax regularly may feel aggrieved that a whole section of the workforce seems to be treated favourably [including myself; I’m a registered artist under the exemption scheme although I do pay tax on some work]. O’Doherty’s glib comments aside, it’s worth examining the system as it stands. First, the scheme for the much greater part, covers people whose income would not rise to the level where it would be taxed, anyway. [There was talk of capping the scheme: Here’s a quote from Visual Artists Ireland’s report on how the scheme has been adjusted: “The scheme therefore does not represent a cap of €250,000 on the artists exemption scheme but rather a cap on the percentage of total income that can be exempted from tax which applies to those who earn over €250,000. High earning artists whose total income is comprised of up to 50% of creative earnings and 50% of non creative earnings (from performing or merchandising for example) will not be effected by the new proposals no matter how much they earn. This is a significant difference to the implementation of a straight cap that was initially reported.” The likes of U2 are always thrown into the ring as an example of how this system is unfair but anyone working at that level of income has the motivation and resources to move their taxable status anywhere around the world.] Art should be different from commerce; it shouldn’t follow the same rules -ie. produce at best cost -then sell for best price. Each artistic endeavour is only ready when it’s ready. Inordinate amounts of time and effort and research may go into a single production which couldn’t be charged for with at any reasonable hope that costs may be recouped. Paintings stay on easels for months or even years being re-worked, sculptures remain unfinished, plays undergo constant rewrites, all because it’s about a process which culminates in a finished unique work. It’s all about the endeavour and not about the pay-off which for the large part will never come. If the bearded artist’s book is crap, there’s a good chance it won’t sell; however, if the bearded artist’s book is brilliant, there’s still a good chance it won’t sell. In most cases, Beardy has to continue working in the day job -and pay tax. Artists, live in the hope that one day, the fruits of their creativity will be appreciated enough to provide an income, or even just appreciated. The Irish tax system allows artists some hope of remaining as artists. Now imagine Michael O’Doherty of VIP, producing magazines month after month for years on his own before his magazine is recognised for its brilliance, merely because he felt inspired, thought it was important and he needed to put it out? Then, after a period of modest success, it falls out of favour with the public who have moved onto something else, with no other reason than the public is fickle. Most artists produce work for long periods of their lives without ever earning a living from it. Further to all that, this visionary system attracts foreign talent that combines with our own, hopefully creating an environment that increases the cultural capital and therefore, the international profile of this country. We have to compete, culturally, with countries that plundered many of their treasures from defeated peoples during imperial wars. In comparison, I prefer the way we’re doing it. Under this system, Irish-born artists gain by having outside influences arriving at their doorstep, rather than having to leave these shores to seek them out. The fact that there are a few extraordinary and lucky characters that have risen to stratospheric levels of income is just the price we have to pay for this generally excellent scheme. And you may even find that they pay a certain amount of tax anyway. All this is true, provided that art means something to you, of course. If all you really appreciate is superficial splendour and the trappings of financial success, then I could see your point. Personally, I find that since the cabal of recent governments and business have made such a hames of the economy during the credit bubble, we need authenticity and creativity more and more. It’s through art that we can transcend the dreary repetition of day-to-day living and through creativity that we can control something in our lives. In other words, art is vital. Being shown the gracious interiors of celebrities’ cribs and the revelry of the well-heeled month after month was always a somewhat vapid proposition and now seems somehow matted with irony and just a little embarrassing. Finally; what’s wrong with beards anyway?
I’ve branched out somewhat and commenced painting classes in my studio. My inaugural class was last Tuesday morning when I had six students along and I started them off painting a single apple. My aim is to keep compositions simple, with perhaps a single object.
I’ve seen many students in art classes, who may not have much experience, try to take on large compositions and become overwhelmed by the task they’ve set themselves. The philosophy at Art Classes Ireland is to gradually build up knowledge and confidence. The second principle is to have fun while learning -the atmosphere is relaxed and convivial. You can see the Art Classes Ireland web site here
A few weeks ago, the Irish Times published their annual Christmas gifts supplement. They had contacted me previously about my web site, www.irishdailypaintings.com where I sell my small oils painting studies, with a suggestion to insert an article on it.
It demonstrated to me why print is still vital for advertising. There’s something reassuring to buyers about a write up in a newspaper. You can pour all the searchable tags you like into a web site to drive people to your online presence but at the end of it, many people don’t see material published on the web as verifiable and authentic. We all know from the movies that a newspaper office is full of caffeine-fuelled editors and journalists, with sleeves all rolled up, endlessly fighting to find the truth. So we know that all the material has been researched by the hacks and verified by a growling cigar-chomping ed, don’t we? And that’s a good thing. On the internet, it has been said, nobody knows you’re a dog; any mutt could claim anything and they frequently do. The trouble is, we all suspect that the claims may be nothing more than piss up a lamp-post -even after evaporation, there’s a bad smell and you don’t want to park your bike there.
Subsequent to publication, I received many more enquiries [and sales] over two weeks than I had had in the entire year before. Print is not dead. You can’t sit in a café and browse comfortably through an old copy of the internet and you can’t hide anonymously behind the puff and flummery of a web site and expect people to have faith in you.
Of course, you are reading this on a blog -but I’ve been verified and passed as authentic by Citizen Kane. So, thank you.
In my on-going quest to rediscover the pleasure of just painting, I blundered upon a large and growing internet-based art movement; Daily Painting. Apparently only going since 2006 as a informal, blog-based idea, it works on several levels. It’s an education to see other artists’ set-ups, thoughts and working practices -often along with step-by-step demonstrations and explanations of techniques.
For the artists, it’s an encouragement to practice every day. They can then sell originals by availing of several internet outlets, such as Etsy, eBay or just through the blog itself, with a link to PayPal. It’s a super way for the general public to buy reasonably priced original artworks, with no gallery fees. Most of the resulting artworks are small, since they’re only studies -often around 6″ x 8″.
My own favourite is Peter Yesis’ Daily Painting Practice. He loves to share knowledge and his good-humour and modesty comes across in his writing. Like all the daily painters, his output is prodigious. Another is Carole Marine’s . I find her style captivating -a great sense of colour with a beautifully spare technique that belies the amount of skill and work that goes into each piece. For the same reasons, I like the work of Qiang-Huang.
For my part, I have set up my own Daily Studies in Oils blog. I didn’t realise how difficult it would be to paint with no art director or client to comment or make changes -just me and a blank canvas. It’s also surprising how different the required skills are from illustration. It’s going to be a long haul but I’m going to enjoy every minute. Now, before the light goes…