All content copyright 2011, 2012, and 2013 by Keith Russell.

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27 September 2012

A word (or two) about donations...

I considered not writing this, but I think it needs to be said.

Artists are often solicited to donate their art to fundraisers by various organizations, and although there is a reward in the simple act of giving alone, there may be reasons why it's not always a good idea.

I heard a presentation by an organization recently, and decided to donate to their annual charity art auction. I chose to donate a "good" piece; a spider painting that had been featured on the postcard advertising one of my recent shows. I figured that folks who saw the piece at the auction, if they later ran across my work at a future show, would recognize the work as mine, even if they didn't remember my name.

I've donated to a few art auctions over the years, and I've usually found them to be a positive experience. First, my work is "out there" in front of the folks attending the auction (who might be a completely different audience than the folks who come to one of my shows); the auction determines what someone is willing to pay for the work, helping me to establish (as much as possible) it's "true value"); and I get another name for my mailing list--someone who already owns one of my paintings!

This particular auction, though, chose not to provide donating artists with the contact information for the folks who bought our work. Although I received the donation form, for tax purposes, showing that I donated a painting, having a way to contact another person who liked my work well enough to pay for it, is really important to me.

One local organization actually provides each donating artist a complete contact list for everyone who makes a purchase at their annual art auction. The name(s) of those who bought work from the artist receiving the specific list, is circled.

Although I don't regret the decision to donate work to this particular auction, I think that--given the fact that there are always more organizations looking for donations than I have work available to donate, I will not be donating to this particular auction, again.

26 September 2012

Vacation, and Perspective...

We arrived home around 2330 Sunday, after nine days on the raod. We had driven to Detroit to visit Liora's family for a few days, then to Loraine, Ohio to spend some time with friends, and to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in Cleveland.

Detroit was fun, and mostly relaxing. We spent Tuesday at the Henry Ford Museum, seeing (and "riding" in) the bus on which Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat, and the chair Abraham Lincoln was occopying, when he was assasinated. (Who knew the Henry Ford could be so dark? And that's not all! We also saw JFK's Presidential Limousine. Yes, the one he was riding in when he was shot.)

We ate dinner at our favourite Indian restaurant, and Linda's favourite BBQ restaurant (my second favourite; my number one BBQ place is in KC.) We did a bit of shopping, and had ice cream at a streetside bakery.

Cleveland was fun, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was awesome. I saw several of Jerry Garcia's custom guitars (including the one he played the only time I saw the Dead, in Kansas City, front row, in '85).

We stayed in a beautiful Bed & Breakfast in Loraine Thursday and Friday nights, enjoying a delicious dinner outdoors on the terrace (also lakeside) Thursday night. Friday afternoon was spent walking along one of Lake Erie's gorgeous beaches. (See photo.)

We had dinner with friends in Akron Saturday evening, before a bit more shopping, then back to our hotel.

It was a wonderful trip, very relaxing and refreshing.

Back home, the woodworking project continues. I delivered the first display shelf the Monday before we headed out of town. I'm nearly finished with the second one, but I was told last night that the client is not pleased about some of the details with the first piece.

I worked out a schedule to address the problems, and fix them, but today I was told to "hold off" on working to finish the second unit. (Yeah, never a good sign, right?)

I've spent a great deal of time on these pieces, working from a basic schematic that the client changed after I'd already started buying the materials, and doing some basic construction. Because the project was for a store where a friend of mine works, I didn't insist on an up-front downpayment, so all the materials that have been paid for with my own money.

Considering all the time I've spent woodworking over the past month, I haven't had as much time to paint as I wanted. I'm not going to have the painting done in time to submit it to the Gamblin contest, by the deadline.

I feel like I should be more discouraged than I am; honestly, I'm feeling all right. The painting is looking good, and I'm focused on getting it done, right. (It's more important to have a good painting, than crank out a mediocre piece on time.) I'm also working on a couple ideas for a other new paintings, and I feel good about them, too. I think they're going to be really exciting.

If the client decides not to buy the displays from me, I'm going to use the wood to build some bookcases I've needed for several years, and perhaps a sewing table for Liora's studio, as well.

And, I will have learned a valuable lesson--again; don't make unfair compromises--not even for friends.

04 September 2012

Airbrushing in the "Digital Age"...

I know several illustrators who used airbrushes for the majority of their illustration work two decades ago (or more), who now use only digital tools. Many "former airbrush artists" see little reason for anyone to bother with clunky ol' airbrushes that require constant cleaning, maintenance, and replacement parts.

But, there are reasons--good ones!

Just last week, I was asked to repair an arcylic (mostly airbrushed, with some "traditional" brushwork) painting for a fellow artist. She had a 40 x 40 inch painting that had a small tear in the canvas, and she needed it fixed, so the painting could be exhibited.

My first step was to "patch" the tear. I cut a small piece of unprimed canvas (from a scrap piece I keep on-hand for exactly that purpose) and attached the patch to the back of the tear using acrylic matte gel.

Once the patch was dry, I applied gesso into the "tear" from the front, sanding it smooth once it, too, was dry.

Then, using the airbrush, I touched up the "fixed" area, matching colours to the rest of the painting.

Lastly, a bit of "traditional" brushwork, and the repair work was done, and the painting looked like there had never been any damage to it at all.

When you have a project that can't be easily fed through a printer, or when you want to retain an original photograph, document, or painting (rather than ending up with a PhotoShop corrected copy), airbrushing is one good way to go about "fixing" original pieces.

I'm going to be using airbrushes quite a bit in my next several paintings, probably with both acrylics and oils. I need to figure out a good formula for an airbrush oil-paint medium. (I have a few ideas...)