There is something intrinsically interesting about seeing a canvas on an easel in the middle of creatively cluttered studio, as compared to just seeing the canvas. The numbers play this out every single time. You see, Facebook gives those of us who manage pages the opportunity to see how many people have been exposed to a particular post. Photos posted of a piece of art in progress and in context are viewed exponentially more times than just the art itself. I see the same thing on Instagram.
Lots of people are intrigued and enchanted with the process of creation. There is a reason that Bob Ross had a successful pan-global painting program that reached millions. Most people may not know his name, but mention "painter guy with afro" and they're likely to know exactly who you mean. He made it seem so easy, painting those beautiful landscapes with "playful, happy clouds", but it absolutely isn't.
I'm in the middle of a piece right now that is proving to be rather elusive. Sometimes, the person pops out of the painting early in the process. Other times, it is when that final strand of hair gets added hat the human being pops off the canvas. Trust the process, trust the process, trust the process repeats itself in my head on projects like this one. I always do and it always seems to work out, but it takes a healthy heaping of perseverance, trust and skill acquired over many hours spent in the studio.
I was testing out a piece of technology at the office the other day, a large touchscreen computer, when I started sketching out Prince from KTS Solutions, our data cabling contractor. He struck a pose and I started drawing. It was just a 30-second Picasso-esque rendering, but he was delighted watching it.
Live painting is something I have done a couple of times and will be doing again very soon, at the art-themed Urban Market coming up on July 11th. People are drawn to art in progress. I've seen it hundreds of times in our travels, from artists doing spray painted creations at the resort in Mexico to plein air painters in Italy: a crowd naturally gathers when an artist is working in a public space.
Social media allows artists to engage in a public way while still remaining rather private. It has been an invaluable space for me and continues to generate commission enquiries almost every single day. It's gotten to the point that I've had to call in some support. Heather has graciously agreed to help with the administration of the requests. God bless her.
"I look forward to what you're going to post next," said a former work colleague when I was visiting Keyano College the other day. People are drawn to art, all kinds of people. The bulk of the requests to do paintings are from complete strangers. In fact, I often don't get to meet them until they come to pick up the finished work.
Sharing this creative journey, which I've starting calling the second act of my life, has been an absolute pleasure. I'm grateful for all the interest, encouraging comments and requests. An exciting summer of painting lies ahead, and hopefully - as long as I keep trusting the process - many more happy customers getting their pictures snapped with the finished portraits.