Boat People - A Painting by Nobody


I was extended an invitation to donate some art for an auction benefiting the survivors of the recent earthquake in Haiti. Of course I was more than happy to contribute my talents, so I didn't hesitate to accept.

The painting I've created especially for the fundraiser is entitled Boat People. I wanted to create an image that could perhaps provoke a discussion about perceptions regarding the so-called less fortunate, inhabitants of small third world countries. The pain and agony of Haiti's suffering now pull at our heart. But it wasn't long ago that many saw them as "boat people," illegal immigrants ferrying to America for a better life in makeshift boats.
Boat People, mine is a portrait of humanity. Boat People, because regardless of the tragedy du jour, we're all in the same Boat, People.

Perhaps this painting will serve as a small reminder after the ruble has been cleared, and normalcy of life resumed, of our human commonality. Perhaps the money raised will make someone sleep more comfortably and contribute to rebuilding needed housing. Perhaps our combined efforts of community will, inspire others to know that each of us in our own way can make a difference.


What will be your Artistic Legacy? by Wilson Bickford


Have you ever wondered how your art will survive the ages? I don't mean just the actual pieces of art you've created, but also your "reputation" as a bona-fide artist. I know it crosses my mind from time to time.

Hey, we'd all like to be remembered after we're gone, wouldn't we? Artists have a unique opportunity to leave their "stamp" on the world. Have you ever seen the paintings of the dogs playing poker? Sure you have. Although there are other people "borrowing" that theme today, the originator of that idea was Cassius Marcellus Coolidge. He was born in 1844 in Antwerp, NY, a mere 15 miles from my home where I've lived all my life. The fact is that I had never known that until a couple of years ago when I saw an article in a local newspaper. His work became very popular in the early 1900s.

Although I have seen his "dogs" on calendars, posters and even wall tapestries, I had no clue that he was a northern New York native.
Though most of us have never heard of, or would recognize his name, there's no doubt that we're familiar with his work and he left behind a legacy which will endure for a much longer time to come.

His work is still popular in the print market. Some would say that's a small accomplishment, but is it, really? To leave something behind that endures and takes it's place in history and popular culture is no small feat.

I admit, it doesn't carry the clout of Da Vinci and his Mona Lisa or Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel, but Mr. Coolidges' work will carry on, none the less. Will you and I be fortunate enough to reside in posterity's memory?
Maybe we should consider our future impact when we sit down at our easel, chisel that sculpture or write that poem. We certainly don't know where the chips will fall, but I think it's important to do the best work we possibly can because it will be the ultimate record of our existence.
I have an idea,............... how about pigs playing hockey?

He's Going to be an Artist Since he got Laid Off by Valerie (Valry) Drake


A while back I was in Jerry's just looking to see if there was anything new that I couldn't live without and there was this guy looking at acrylic mediums and he looked kind of lost. So I sort of made friendly sounds and we started talking. Later I found out that he had been agonizing over his purchases for a couple of hours and the staff was sort of losing patience with him, which I understood after about a half hour of conversation.

He started by asking how to get rid of the bumps on the canvas. Bumps? Yeah, bumps, the roughness of the fabric weave. So I explained to him that we called that "tooth" and that you sort of didn't always want to “get rid” of it but that you could use a gel medium or any other textural medium. I also told him that he could consider a different support instead of canvas.

Then he asked about varnish so I told him about that.

Meanwhile, throughout all this, he was alluding to this fantastic painting he was going to paint and how he had this really great idea but he wasn't going to tell me his idea. I guess from the way he acted that he was afraid I would steal his idea and sell the painting for some outrageous fortune. I don't need his idea. I have more ideas than I have time to paint. Besides, one thing I've learned in all these years is that most ideas come to more than one person and even then different people have different ways of executing the idea. He ended up telling me his idea and I was not overwhelmed. Anyway, on with the story.

Then he asked about brushes and while we were talking about brushes he started acting nervous about how much money he was spending and asked what was the least he could buy and do his painting. About now I was beginning to be a little less patient but I'm still game so I told him that all he really needed was paint and a surface to paint on, he could apply paint with his fingers or a rag or a stick or almost anything and the surface could be an old cereal carton or a piece of old barn wood or a broken shovel or a million other surfaces – just clean it and prep it with Gesso and apply paint.

Finally we got to the part of the conversation that this blog entry is really about - the man confided to me that he had never painted before (I had kind of guessed this) but that he had been laid off and had this idea for a painting and had decided to do the painting and sell it and that way he might not even have to look for a new job. I did manage to keep a straight face. I did manage to keep my mouth from dropping open. However, this is also about the time I said a very polite and pleasant "good luck" and walked away.

So what's the point of this story? Well, if you read my previous blog you know that I strongly believe in respecting anyone who refers to themselves as an artist. Sometimes I have to work hard in order to do that but I try. But there is much to be said for "paying your dues." You know, the shows on TV make it look so easy: you just buy a canvas and copy the style of some major artist and, poof! you have a masterpiece. Yeah. Right. And how many times does someone look at the price of a painting and then acts like we are engaged in highway robbery? So the point of this story is that those of us who have invested years into learning how to produce art are entitled to receive value for that investment. I wish we also received the respect of society at large but I'm not sure that's the way the world turns right now. Anyway, enough of the soapbox for now. I'll keep painting and I hope you do also.

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