Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Self discovery through art

As I was putting together this latest video about my 100 cloud paintings project, I realized that there seems to be a right brain left brain game going on while I create the paintings. Despite the fact that my intent while creating the paintings is always to make them look different, perhaps because I paint them in pairs, the pairs have a lot of similar traits, just like non identical twins. 

This didn't occurred to me until I saw them side by side in the video. I wonder if it's because of my setup painting them side by side or because I used the same colour palette. Maybe both? Even the first two, sold painting to two different collectors, were from the same painting session. What does it mean? Who knows. 

Another interesting insight from this discovery is that, is it also reveals another part of my personality: a particular affinity for balance and symmetry. The more I paint the more I discover about myself. How you do anything is how you do everything. I think this says a lot about how art can support people in figuring things out about themselves if they are open to it. For me it's a great way to find clues to many existential questions such as : Who am I?   

If you're looking in finding things out about yourself, I would definitely recommend using a form of art as a tool to bring out some clues from your subconscious mind into light. It may even help you find your true purpose in life. 

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Failing Forward - 5 benefits from my "unsuccessful" Kickstarter project



You win or you learn. Despite not reaching my goal for my Kickstarter project, I survived the imagined humiliation of having an unsuccessful crowdfunding project online. Who knew it wasn't as big of a deal as I thought it would be! Don't get me wrong, it was quite the roller coaster of oscillating between confidence and self doubt, constantly switching between my desire to keep going vs my desire to give up. What kept me going is that I really want to make these paintings and I kept learning new things along the way. Besides, all of the people I admire for achieving great things, failed many times before. What's one failed project? The thing is, if you're not failing you're not trying hard enough. If you're not trying hard enough, you'll stay where you are. So I kept going and came out the other side with a handful of insights and skills that will surely serve me in my current and future endeavors.

My benefits came in the form of five upgrades in the following area : 
  1. Quality
  2. Productivity
  3. Creativity
  4. Social media
  5. Online business

1. Quality : I improved my art  

Practice makes perfect. Although  I haven't reached the famous 10,000 hours of painting clouds yet, I'm closer today then I was a month ago. Repeating the same process using various colours and shapes gave me insights on how to best use and mix the colours to be able to get more depth into the paintings. With practice I came to better understand how to mix the light and the dark colors to create more depth and I also allowed myself to experiment with colours I may not have tried to combined together otherwise. Some were surprisingly complementary.  I can already see the difference from the first painting to the 30th, and can only imagine how much better the will look by painting number 100. 

2.  Productivity : I made more art 

This is what 30 cloud paintings look like
One of the things I kept in mind while learning about the life of Picasso is that he was very productive. He has thousands of paintings to his name. In order to become better and more successful I know I have to produce more work: pay the 10,000 hours entry fee to the Notable Artist Party. Challenges like this was a great excuse to get to it. No amount of theorizing, reading or watching instructional videos will ever come close to the effect of taking action. This project was my main focus for the month of February. Being focused on one goal made me more productive and I probably created more paintings in that month then I ever did. 30 paintings, that's a little more then a painting a day. The Make 100 Kickstarter challenge made me accountable and as a result I became more productive and I have 32 finished artworks to show for. It doesn't stop here. I'm only a little over 30% done and despite not being funded, I'm continuing the process so that I get to 100 painted clouds by the end of March,  as planned. 



3.  Creativity : I got many new ideas

Doing something for the first time forced me to think outside the box and what I'm used to. For me, thinking of new ways to bring my artwork in front of people required more creativity. It also let me to create different videos (like the one below) based on suggestions from peers and ideas that emerge from various conversations about this project. It also gave me a chance to come up with new ways to present the artwork on social media, different ways to photograph my work, and different ways to describe my work.


This focused challenge also made me see my subject from a new angle and I'm realizing that I'm not only painting clouds, but I'm painting thoughts or a reflection of them. The more I'm diving into the "why" behind my inspiration to create these paintings, the more I'm discovering opportunities to express my own thoughts and insights through my art and also it enable others who see it to discover more about their own thoughts through them as well. I'm realizing that clouds are thoughts and we give them meaning depending on our own stories and experiences of life. I get a feeling that the clouds are just the first step in this creative journey, which makes me more eager to complete my challenge this month so I can dive into its second stage.

4. Social Media : I have a better understanding of its impact

First : Gary Vaynerchuk is right : Facebook trumps all social media platform at the moment. I documented all the actions I took over the course of the month (where I posted, what I posted, how many times I posted, etc) and got the results from Google Analytics regarding where the clicks came from. By far, Facebook was the most effective, followed by Instagram. I also saw the difference videos make compared to pictures. Video created spikes of interest compared to any other posts. Working on this project also made me realize that I'm not yet fully benefiting from the capacity of social media platforms to reach the right people. I've barely skimmed the surface. 

I also learned that while it's great to get views they don't equate purchases. I was fortunate enough to have my project partially funded so I also got a bit of insights regarding where they came from and as I suspected, it's far easier for someone in the Kickstarter community who has backed projects before to back your project then to get someone new in the system. Nevertheless my click to sale ratio, based on the available data was 1%, which is good for a beginner. This means that had I been able to get the page viewed by 5000 people, I likely would have reached my goal. 

As it turned out, both backers had backed projects before and I suspect that had there been a way to reach out to art backers via Kickstarter's mailing list, this project would have gotten a better chance at being fully funded. The main issue for me was not enough views. Perhaps a 60 day campaign would have given me a more time to get a better hold of the online marketing aspect of the project. I would say marketing is probably one of the most important aspect of a Kickstarter project like this. 

I've always kept google analytics at bay because there seems to be so much data to look through, but at the same time, its valuable information tells you how your presentation and products are received by the public. It's definitely something that I need to use more often.Throughout my campaign, I've learned about the benefits of using tools like Google Analytics to get an idea of what's working and what's not, what gets attention and what doesn't. Starting this project with the goal of making it successful prompt me to look for avenues to spread my message and reach the right backers looking for such a project. This meant that I had to be more active online and post on a consistent basis. Using Google Analytics, I was able to see the impact of my posts.


5. Online Business : I have new tools to create a better online store 

Participating to this project made things a little more real in terms of the process of creating a piece of artwork, selling it and shipping it to it's collector. I realized that I had a few steps in the process that needed tweaking and refinement. For example, once the Kickstarted was over I realized that my artstore on Square, only accepts purchases from Canada after a client from the United States tried to purchase one of the paintings. I had no idea this was even an issue. Why they would create the system that way, is beyond my comprehension, but that little bit of information got me working on alternative ways to enable clients from other countries to purchase my artwork. It's still in the works, but I'm currently using Paypal, which makes it easier. If there's anything I learned from listening to people like Gary Vaynerchuk and Tai Lopez is that when it comes to selling items online, make it as easy as possible for any interested party to get your product.

Conclusion

All in all, this experience turned out to be very valuable for me. It was worth it, and dare I say, I would do it again. I guess, going through it made me grow a little more and I have a better appreciation and understanding of what it takes to succeed : repeated failures leading the way to success. So, no matter what difficulty or obstacles lies ahead of your dreams, don't give up. The guys in the video below didn't and look where that attitude took them. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Thoughts on Valentine's Day




Valentine’s Day is a day for many to celebrate love. Although the origins of this holiday is a little murky, it’s one of the most popular and lucrative holidays in North America. Unfortunately not everyone feels the love on Valentines day. That’s partly because mass media’s depiction of love is lacking. Mass media love is a bit like fast food. It’s usually represented as “an intense emotionality combining physical attraction, possessiveness, control, addiction, eroticism and novelty.”  It feels great, looks great, tastes great but it often lacks nutrition or substance. The “organic whole food” kind of Love is a state of being that all of us have the capacity of becoming but that many of us forgot. Although it’s nice to receive and give cards, flowers, chocolate, special dates on Valentine’s day, it's not necessary. So if you didn’t get something, don’t despair, you are still loved. 


In his book Power vs. Force, Dr. David Hawkins describes Love as “a way of relating to the world that is forgiving, nurturing, and supportive. Love is not intellectual and does not proceed from the mind. Love emanates from the heart. It has the capacity to lift others and accomplish great feats because of its purity of motive. [...] Love focuses on the goodness of life in all its expressions and augment that which is positive. It dissolves negativity by recontextualizing it rather than attacking it. 


This is what Love is all about: It’s unconditional, it’s infinite, it’s self sustaining and it’s everywhere. We just need to pay attention to see it. That version of Love is worth celebrating not only on Valentine’s Day but every day. It’s something that I’m learning to reintegrate in my life in a more active way rather then in a passive way. Love is simple. It just is. It’s always there and it comes from within you and me, if we allow it to take over us. Everything else will fall into place when we do things with and out of Love. Love is not something that’s outside of you to find. Love is who you are at your core. It’s the most vulnerable and at the same time the strongest part of ourselves and it's capable of changing the world around us once we set it free.  


Today is a great day to remember to look into ourselves and our actions : Are we withholding the Love that is within us or are we setting it free to emanate from our core and from our own actions? Today can be a New Valentine’s Day, a reminder not just to give items as a representation of Love but to constantly behave in a loving way with every action we take. I challenge you (and myself) to use Valentine’s Day as a reminder to let that Love inside of you radiate out of everything you do and affect everyone around you in a way that is unconditional, forgiving, nurturing, supportive and uplifting : to act with an open heart because the world need a lot more Love right now. 


Happy New Valentines Day


Monday, February 06, 2017

Lessons from 5 strategies used on my first Kickstarter project


I've always avoided the idea of running my own Kickstarter project. Even if 
many visual artists ran very successful campaigns, many also failed. And the idea of running a project that fails is terrifying. But for some reason, the Make 100 challenge from Kickstarter felt different. Perhaps it's the fact that it was initiated by Kickstarter and that the idea of challenging myself to create a series of 100 art pieces, warmed me up to the idea of joining. After seeing some similar project succeed under the Make 100 umbrella, I decided to take the plunge despite the fear of failure and the illogical shame that comes with it. Now that's I'm 1/3rd of the way to the deadline, I've learned a couple things so far from the strategies I used as a beginner, to try to make it a successful one. And I would like to share them with you. It might give you some insight if you're thinking of creating your own campaign in the future.


1. Ignore Kickstarter Spam Messages

One thing I did not expect to get is spam messages within the Kickstarter mailing system. As soon as I hit the launch button, I received a lot of unsolicited messages from anonymous Kickstarter accounts selling their services to promote my campaign. You can imagine my disappointment receiving 10 messages selling me crowdfunding campaigns for hundreds and thousands of dollars and not one word of encouragement. Most of the accounts I received messages from had no activities on their profile. I'm not even sure they are real accounts, they could be bots. If they weren't they would waste their time soliciting on a $500 campaign. At least I don't think so. So be aware that this is something that's going to happen. Maybe they are valuable to people running larger campaigns, but the fact that they don't even check to see if what they're offering fit, they wouldn't be my first choice. 




2.  Seek Advice from fellow Kickstarters

The silver lining in receiving so many spam messages on Kickstarter was that it made me realize that I could also reach out to fellow participants and ask for advice. So I did.  I reached out to a couple successful artists who also took part in the Make 100 challenge project and surpassed their initial goal. I asked them if they had some advice for newbies. Some of them were kind enough to reply (interestingly all first timers as well) and they recommended to post daily on all social media platforms and email previous clients. For a lot of them, the bulk of their backers were people they knew. The ones who seem to have more experience or a longer career in the field, seemed to be the ones who did better. One early participant was lucky to be featured on the Kickstarter newsletter and that helped boost her reach. Reach is probably one of the most important thing to focus on during a campaign. If you're lucky enough to be featured on a high traffic site, you'll be able to reach more people. Unfortunately I haven't seen a lot of promotions by Kickstarter about the #Make100 project other then a post about how many creators joined and maybe a handful of posts promoting some projects under this umbrella. I would have thought that for initiating the project, they would tweet about it a lot more often.



3. Reach out to more people on podcasts

I got a message from a former Kickstarter creator to beware of unsolicited messages selling campaign promotions at a high price. She suggested I take a look at Fiverr instead as there were more affordable options there. It's not something that had crossed my mind but so I decided to take a look and found a well rated online radio DJ who sold ads on his show for $12USD. I figured that would not be an expensive lesson to pay if it didn't work out, so I gave it a try. Three days later, I received the link to the show featuring my radio ad,  a download of the audio version that I could use as often as I like, a posts on his Facebook account (3400+ likes), a post on his Twitter feed (44,700+ followers) and a custom Google link to track traffic coming from his posts. 

It's hard to say how much this has helped other than having a couple extra clicks from that specific url on my page. I only got 27 clicks from it so far and I don't suspect I'll get much more then that, unless I repost it myself. Since I already created my own custom link, it would defeat the purpose. The bulk of the leads coming from this ad would be by listerners searching for "100 cloud paintings" on Kickstarter, as it was the only way for his listeners to get to my page, and it's difficult to track. Still you can listen to the ad below, it's kind of fun to have a stranger create an add based on your content. It's a genius idea on his part to fund his show through Fiverr, but I think if I was to do this again, I would choose a radio show targeting a niche market interested in arts. Another lesson is that one tweet on a social media account of 44,7K followers doesn't make that big of a difference especially if there followers are not very engaged. Hindsight 20/20.





4. Track my own social media marketing efforts


Right at the beginning of my campaign, I decided to use a shortened Google URL across all platform to see what kind of traffic I'm getting from my effort. I could have used different URL for different social media platform to get a better idea of which is more effective, but I kept it simple with just one. This link is used on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and in my email signatures. Basically, any opportunity to insert that link and get people to at least go see the page that I could think of was used. What I've learned so far is that it's important to reach as many people as possible. One of the reasons why project may fail is that they are not seen enough. To date I generated only 53 clicks (+27 from the Fiverr service), which tells me that I need to work on that aspect of my campaign. It's not being seen by enough people online and I will have to think of other strategies to get it in front of the right people.


5. Track and update my Kickstarter page

I've only realized today that there's a way to track traffic on my Kickstarter page using Google Analytics! What gets measured get accomplished. In the remaining 19 days of the campaign, I'll be able to learn where traffic is coming from, what works and what doesn't work.  It will be a great way to get a better understanding of it.  I also keep updating my page with better photos, more videos and better description as I'm producing the artwork. I'll keep you posted on the progress and results from this experiment. 

If you have any questions, comments or advice, feel free to post them below. 


CLICK THE IMAGE TO GO TO THE PAGE

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

How working with artists and designers can boost your marketing efforts


Last weekend I went to see the Interior Design Show in Toronto.  I used to regularly travel to Toronto from Montreal to see the show a couple of years ago. It used to be an inspiring pilgrimage for me to see what new amazing products and design ideas were emerging. It has changed since the last time I was there. There were a couple interesting installations and booths, but one thing that caught my attention was how the exhibitors who collaborated with a creative person or team were a lot more visible on social media. The most obvious examples of this was between three paint companies present at the show: Beauti-Tone by Home Hardware, Premier paint by Canadian Tire and Benjamin Moore

All three seemed to have similar sized booths, but each took a different approach to essentially connect with current and potential clients. In an age where everything happens online, it seems like the first two had a better grasp on what to do to get people interested and talk about their products outside of the show. This led me to better understand the impact a creative person or team can have on a business and how collaborating with creatives can positively boost marketing efforts for businesses and products so they can stand effectively out from the crowd. Based on what I saw at the show and online, the winner was Beauti-Tone, closely followed by Premier. Unfortunately for Benjamin Moore, they seem to be lagging behind. Here's why: 


Beauti-Tone grabbed people's attention by collaborating with a fashion designer

Beauti-Tone partnered with fashion designer Simon Chang and they came up with a unique and creative way to present their colour palette for 2017 : a wall of painted shoes using each of the trendy colours. By creating such a beautiful wall, they were able to reach more viewers online through social media. I actually saw a photo of it on Instagram before even seeing it at the show. I realized after clicking on the photo that it was part of the interior design show. It's such a original wall that many people (including myself) felt compelled  to take a picture and post it online, which resulted in free advertising for their product and brand. 

They didn't stop there. Their booth was beautifully appointed for an interior design show. They had a space showcasing their paint in a dining room. They also took the time to create a shelving wall featuring various items painted in their feature colour for 2017. The lady at the booth was very welcoming, she made sure the we took one of the paint samples and a nail polish of the same colour before we left. Not only did they appear on many social media accounts, they also created a lasting effect in people's mind because that nail polish is basically mobile advertising for them whenever they use it. Genius! 




They left a great impression in my mind and I'm definitely going to use their paint and nail polish. What makes them the winner for me is that they extended the attention on their brand by giving each visitor something to go home with and showcase online.  

A couple days after the show, doing a search for #beautitone, I found these pictures of  women showing off their colour trend nail polish, essentially continuing to advertise for Beauti-Tone. 


It took someone from the fashion industry to come up with a unique way for the paint company to increase attention towards their brand




Premier got people using their product by partnering with a design firm

Premier paint had a great booth for people to spend time in and interact with the paint. They collaborated with  Citizens and Collaborators, a design firm, to create an interactive mural enabling visitor to paint on the wall and essentially get a feel for their paint while having fun. They also had a really beautiful rainbow ceiling and a juice bar featuring some of their colours through juices. Again, their booth was advertised quite a bit through social media from people taking pictures of the ceiling and the evolving wall, as more people came to add more colour to the wall. It was a very inviting space and the people at the entrance of the booth made sure to ask people carrying magazine if they needed a bag to hold them. Their also won an award for best booth design. They came in second for me because they didn't have something like Beauti-tone to keep their brand on people's feed after the show ended. 





It took a design firm to come up with a fun and effective way to get potential clients to try their products. 


Benjamin Moore didn't get much attention online 

I was a little disappointed by the booth from Benjamin Moore. Their paint is so much better then how it was presented at the show. As you can see below, there were a couple painted squares on a white wall to showcase their colour palette, a giant poster featuring the colour the year and a sitting area that reminded me more of an office and a box for people to pick up a bag on the outskirt of their booth with the word Shadow on it. Womp. Womp.

The booth was kind of boring. Everything looked very "corporate" and there was nothing special enough to grab people's attention or entice visitors to take multiple pictures and post them online for extra reach. I only found 3 photos of visitors standing next to the colour trend wall : giant paint swatches. They weren't even mention on the official Instagram of the show (at least I didn't find them), which to me says a lot. They would benefit a lot from partnering with creatives to come up with unique and inspiring ways to showcase their products and make their booth more exciting, because we creatives are great at thinking outside of the box. 













Here's what I thought about when I saw their booth :

1. Why didn't they make better use of the their featured colour? 
Shadow is such a dramatic colour. Instead of embracing the drama by using the colour in larger quantity, the only had it on a small narrow wall with their logo on it. Also, flanking the poster with white paint on each end takes away from the drama. Perhaps having more wall or even recreating one of the scene from their brochure using their colour of the year, so that visitor can really feel what it's like to be in a room with that colour would have given them a more memorable experience, and something to share online. It feels like they missed the opportunity to impress the visitors.

2. Why didn't they collaborate with other exhibitors? 
Another way to stay in people's mind is to be in as many places as possible. One thing they could have done with their feature colour is to offer exhibitor to paint their wall in exchange for a shoutout. A product such as Gweilo light by Partisans would have been an ideal partnership. It's a great product featuring a sculptural light that is best seen against a dark background. They didn't have one so their product didn't show as well as it could have. Benjamin Moore could have provided them with a simple painted partition wall and floor with a discrete sign identifying themselves and the name of the paint. The light fixture would have stand out more. Beside,  how cool is the analogy of having Shadow paint to feature a lighting product!

They also missed an opportunity to collaborate with  DEKKO Concrete (right behind their booth) who could also have benefited from a dark floor to enhanced their light concrete wall and their beautiful fire pit.

There was also a sculptor on the other side of the exhibition room called CEK who had these amazing concrete sculptures, some with light, which would have looked amazing against a dark wall, and again it would have been an opportunity for Benjamin Moore to show how their featured paint colour can enhance light coloured furniture and artworks. 

3. Why didn't they do something a little more creative with their colour palette? 
The large coloured square on the wall is so uninspiring. I would think most people would pass by it and keep walking. It's not much different then seeing it on the catalogue. One simple way they could have make it more interesting would have been to used 3-D shadow boxes instead of flat squares and put fun objects inside the boxes, painted the same colour to give a bit more interest, texture and interest in the colour. Imagine if they would have taken random items painted the same colour as the boxes and create a story within the boxes that somehow connects to the name of the colour. I think that would have been shared on social media. 

By not collaborating with creatives, they missed a lot of opportunities to increase their reach and consequently increase their sales. 

Overall it was a great experience for me to visit the show as I'm getting a better understanding of how art plays an important role in businesses and how the return on investment when it comes to creativity can be quantified. Don't underestimate the power of creativity and how it can positively impact your business's bottom line! 

Friday, January 20, 2017

What my paintings revealed about me

Progress shot of the 4th iteration of the painting
I'm slowly realizing that everything we do, every single decisions we make, says something about us. As much as we try, we can't really hide anything. We may think we can, just because most people are too busy worrying about what others think about them and most people are not present enough to really notice their surroundings. But if anyone takes the time to take a good look at someone, including themselves, they will soon see all the clues that make up their personality : the clothes we wear, the shape of our body, the food we eat, the music we listen to, the things we talk about, the things we like, the things we dislike, they all say something about us. With that said, I realized that what I choose to paint, also says a lot of things about me. The crazy thing is that it's subconscious. I didn't really see it until I took a step back and started to analyze my paintings and consequently, myself. Here's what I found out: 

1. The featured colour revealed my intent

A deep purple called Shadow. As soon as I saw the colour and the name, I was drawn to it. I was inspired. It was instant. "I love this colour!" That was my first thought. I had to have this colour. What does that say about me? Well, doing a little research on the meaning of colours, I found this rather interesting quote on color-meanings.com
The color purple or violet assists those seeking the meaning of life and spiritual fulfillment. They expand our horizon and connects us to a higher level of consciousness. For the same reason, philosophers around the world are often attracted to these colors. In color psychology, purple and violet represents the future, imagination and dreams. They inspire and improve our psychic abilities and spiritual awareness as well as ensure that we stay grounded and down to earth.
How fitting! I've been on a path of self development for the past couple years, going to workshops, reading lots of books and pondering on various philosophical topics. And this year I decided to start an art project called Dare to Dream. And here's another interesting discovery : I was also drawn to the name "Shadow" for this colour. If it had been called Eggplant or Blueberry, which can also fit the colour, I most likely would not have been as intrigued by it as much. But I do like the mystery of the word shadow and I'm all about uncovering and discovering things. 

2. The main subject reveals part of my personality

Why clouds? Why not landscapes, animals, oceans, places or people I don't know. I was just drawn to them. I realized that I was spending more time painting them and that they started to creep in more and more in my work to the point where I decided to make them the main feature of my paintings. Then I realized that it's very telling of my personality. I'm an idealist : Head in the clouds and feet on the ground kind of idealist. I'm always in my head, thinking, contemplating, analyzing, observing. I'm a dreamer by nature. I've been that way since I was a little kid. There are so many connections that are revealing themselves between my creative personality and clouds, it's a little freaky. Also, I recently found out that my astrological sign is an air sign. Coincidence? 

3. The topic of the first piece reveals my message 

Cloud Cover Casting Shadow No 4 (Acrylic on Canvas) 18"x 24" 
So what inspired the painting? Why did I choose to arrange the clouds that way? I don't know. It was just a feeling. I felt like arranging them that way. But the more I spent time on the topic, using the same colours, the deeper I thought about it. I tend to create first out of intuition and analyze after. Now that I've done four painting on the same topic, a deeper understanding of what I created now seems to surface. 

Why did I chose the title Cloud Cover Casting Shadow for this particular piece? Why did I decide to keep the name Shadow in the title of the painting? I could have used anything, but for some reason I was also drawn to the word shadow. In my mind, shadow goes hand in hand with light. You can't have one without the other. This whole idea of balance through contrast is definitely something I relate to.  


If you look at the various iterations of the paintings, there are clouds all around forming some sort of container and there is light on the right in the back. That light enables the viewer to see that within the clouds is a little cloud, almost like it's protecting or hiding it. Why did I felt compelled to create it that way? Why is the little cloud in the shape of a heart in two of them and what is that shape in the other two paintings?

For me, taking a step back after creating it I see that as starting to reveal a part of myself that I've kept hidden and protected. Things that I hold dear in my heart : my art, my ideals, my aspirations in life, etc. Starting this journey of creating as much as I can no matter what is a difficult one because it's very revealing and when we reveal things we're often afraid of being judged. But at the same time, there's all this energy that's bottled in and need to come out and do what it needs to do in the light. It comes back to that first book I read a couple years ago, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. What he said in the book stayed with me and in it's own way, the words from the book have been gradually coaching me to share my work, especially this quote :



"Creative work is not a selfish act
or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. 
It's a gift to the world and every being in it. 
Don't cheat us of your contribution. 
Give us what you've got."

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art



I remember having an a-ha moment when I heard a character of a TV show say that the role of an artist is to help people see better. That also stayed with me. Perhaps there's a connection there as well and way more for others to find out as they contemplate these particular paintings. Different people will find different meanings and see different things out of the same painting and that's really fascinating. If by creating these pieces I get to contribute to someone else seeing something better, then I've done my job.  

Check out the speed painting videos of the latest two iterations of Cloud Cover Casting Shadow to see the paintings in the makings. Maybe you'll get something special out of it too.

Mini version featuring a heart cloud.




Largest version featuring a blob cloud. Maybe it will make more sense to me in the future.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Cloudy Mind

One of the brains I saw last summer (Brain Magic by Janet Lage)
If you've been in the city this past summer, you may have notice quite of few sculptures of decorated brains around Toronto. These sculptures were part of the Brain Project, a city-wide art installation featuring 100 decorated brains in 50 locations bringing awareness to the importance of brain health and support Baycrest. Baycrest is a research and education hospital for the elderly and home of the new Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation. The brain project invited artists and sponsors to decorate a brain sculpture to be displayed in the city and auctioned off to fund Baycrest. You can see all the designed on their page (brainproject.ca/artists).  
 My favourite brain sculpture from the 2016 selected artists : (1) by Community (2) by Rainer Lagemann (3) by Vinicio Momoli (4) by Ekow Nimako (5) by Lisa Santana & Kevin Goddard for Unit Five (6) by Parvez Taj





















Of the 100 brains created last year, the 6 above are my favourites. I'm particularly fond of the one made out of mirrors. It's the kind of sculpture I would display in my home and probably the type of idea I would come up with as well. As it turned out, the Brain Project will be doing this again this summer and sent out a call for artist a little while ago for more designs and I decided to apply. It would be great to participate and share my thoughts on the importance of mindfulness for the health of our brains. Mindfulness in its many forms enable us to reduce stress which is a great thing because sustained chronic stress has been linked to depression. 

Since I'm all about clouds this year, it didn't take too much time for me to come up with an idea : Cloudy Mind. The idea behind my concept is to create a brain may out of polyfill to look like a cloud in the shape of a brain and run LED lights underneath so that it could look like lightning inside the cloud, suggesting activity brewing in the mind. 




My proposal for the 2017 Brain Project

The parallels between the mind and clouds for me are very striking. Just like clouds, our minds are immaterial. They can be beautiful and inspiring, light and airy, evoking imagination and dreams. On the other hand they can be dangerous and scary, heavy and gloomy, evoking depression and nightmares. Being aware of our state of mind, able to take a step back and not hold on to the kinds of thoughts that lead to an increased level of stress is an idea I would like to contribute to the project. I'm looking forward to see who gets selected. Hopefully I get picked but if I don't, I'll keep this idea for a future exhibition opportunity around that topic. Wish me luck :)  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Cloud Cover Casting Shadow No 2

What do you think about when you're on an airplane looking at the clouds from above? I think about a lot of things. My mind wanders. I remember once while observing big fluffy clouds from my window seat. They were so thick that I couldn't see the city under them. And I thought how interesting it was for me to leave the gloomy day before taking the plane and realize that it was only gloomy under the clouds. Above the clouds, everything was nice and sunny. It sounds silly but it came as an epiphany : the sun is always shining above the clouds. Just repositioning myself from under to above, it shifted my mood and that thought stayed with me back under the clouds with a renewed perspective.  Perhaps I took it as an analogy for life : whenever things seems to be going wrong, remember that's it's just a perspective and it's temporary. There's always sunshine above the clouds. 

Perhaps subconsciously this was the thought that inspired this painting : Cloud Cover Casting Shadow No 2 : A visual representation of the idea that often we let temporary things get in the way of our happiness and forget that just because we don't see that thing that makes us happy, doesn't mean it's not there. Sometime me may just need to change position in order to see it. Like the painting, this one was created using Benjamin Moore's paints called Shadow 2117-30 and Cloud Cover OC-25 as part of my Benjamin Moore Colour Trend Art Challenge

Prints of this artwork are now available on Society 6

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Cloud Cover Casting Shadow No 1

Journal Painting for January
It has begun! New year, new art challenge. Before putting paint on a larger canvas I figured I would start in my journal and get a bit of a feel for the paint. I like how it turned out and I really like the colour combination. For this piece I used the colour Shadow 2117-30 and Cloud Cover OC-25. They blend well and like any acrylic paint you have to be fast before the paint dries. I can see some places where I can improve but overall I think it turned out great. Next will be to test this out on a small canvas.