Tuesday, 2 December 2014


Unless you’re born into money, as was the Group of Seven’s Lawren Harris, or your spouse has a good job and can offer financial support, once out of school you have to quickly learn how to market your art. It's simply not enough to make paintings and expect that customers are going to seek you out, because it doesn’t work that way. And you have to create product. Hmmmm, “product” a bad word for someone who is fresh from art school, and has been more or less conditioned to frown upon prostituting one’s talent in order to make money. Truth is that even creative artists want to sell their work and make money. After all without income, it doesn’t matter how creative you are, you’re doomed to fail. So, like it or not, it’s important that one produces work that appeals to an existing market. Personal creativity can take a back seat until one has become rich and famous, or is old and cranky.

I was fortunate. I never really had to compromise my creativity. The naturalist in me knew exactly what I wanted to do, paint and make prints of wildlife, preferably birds of every sort. My problem was becoming proficient enough to find a market.

I began to research and draw, and draw some more, then I began to paint and make original prints. My early efforts were not great, but with time my work would improve. 
About a year, or so, following my setting up my studio and honing my drawing and printmaking skills I decided that it was time to become known as a professional artist. I had been exhibiting with members of the local art club, but to continue along this path, exhibiting with amateurs, would not help my standing as someone to be taken seriously. I prepared a portfolio and began the search to find a gallery to promote my work, as well as searching out different venues in which to exhibit. My life in the arts was to become serious...........

I've digitally scanned a few more slides of my very early paintings and intaglio prints, Common Loon is one of my earliest larger etchings, Winter Wren in Goldenrod is the first painting, a full sheet watercolour that I sold through a gallery, Manna Gallery I believe located at Kleinberg, Ontario. The gallery has since closed. I believe that I received $300.00 for the painting, less of course a 40 % commission and the framing costs. Mouse in the Corn Bin represents a painting exercise. In this painting I'm trying to learn how to do dry brush watercolour painting, as well as depict fur. The results were, well, not all that great, but I kept trying. Red-tailed Hawk, Kestrel on a Stump, and Goshawk were all exercises in dry brush watercolour painting. I never did attempt to sell these paintings. The pen and ink of the Screech Owl was made into a reproduction. Working at becoming a printmaker I was never happy with reproductions, but as at the time owl paintings were in vogue, and I needed something that would generate a bit of cash flow, I temporarily set aside these feelings in the interest of survival. Settling In (Mallards) a watercolour painting, was a bit of a breakthrough as it caught the eye of a gallery owner, and helped to put me in touch with various wildlife artists that helped to put me on the path to being considered a professional artist.

Common Loon  Etching with Aquatint

Winter Wren   Pencil and Watercolour Study

Winter Wren in the Goldenrod   Watercolour Painting

Mouse in the Corn Bin   Watercolour Painting

Kestrel   Hand-coloured Etching with Aquatint

Blue Jay   Watercolour Study

Kestrel on Stump   Watercolour Painting

Downy Woodpecker  Watercolour Painting

Goshawk    Watercolour Painting

Red-tailed Hawk    Watercolour Painting

Settling In (Mallards)   Watercolour Painting

Wood Ducks (Profile)   Watercolour Study

Screech Owl                              Pen & Ink Drawing

Horned Owl     Pen & Ink Drawing

Hawk with Dead Prey      Pencil Drawing

Boreal Owl    Hand-coloured Etching

I still have a few slides to digitally scan, and  a bit more to say about working as a professional artist, the setting up a studio, and the associated costs of producing art.  So, should you be interested in a bit more of my history beyond the imagery, check back in a few days after I've had a bit of a time out to complete a couple of small paintings and drawings. 

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