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Archive for June, 2006

Today I have been working on the third painting in the current “Dreamer Series”, and, as is often the case when I’m painting, the world just goes along without me until I am suddenly wrenched back to consciousness by the need for food, liquid refreshment, a ringing telephone or any of the day’s other little interferences.

During one of these “back in the world” moments my thoughts turned to something that really upset me a while back, and still upsets me every time I am reminded of it.

I was taking a breather while paint was drying and came across an article in a blog, not really the kind of blog that would interest me normally, but it highlighted an old story from the Cayman Net News regarding the Mail Mountain At Grand Cayman’s Post Office. This was the catalyst that brought back all the frustration and feelings of annoyance over the above mentioned recollections.

Since moving to England, I have been somewhat far removed from the Cayman art scene which has brought with it some problems in marketing my work. My partner has worked very hard to get me wider exposure and, I am pleased to say, has had a fair amount of success. We decided that it would be beneficial to give a gallery on Cayman the sole rights to sell my work on the islands and entered into a business arrangement with The Morgan Gallery. So far so good, both parties were pleased with the arrangement, and an initial consignment of four pieces was agreed upon.

I decided that for cost reasons I would use the Royal Mail (first mistake) to deliver the paintings to Grand Cayman. I packaged them very carefully and handed them over at my local post office, along with a rather large amount of money. (Most people in England will doubtless already be shaking their heads and making worrisome noises at this point). Being an expat I foolishly believed that the Royal Mail upheld standards by which all others should be judged (second mistake). The end of the story is already plainly obvious so I won’t drag it out…..two of the paintings failed to materialize at the framers back home, but, strangely, the two smaller (and less valuable) pieces got there just fine.

Both paintings remain missing. Is this due to the mail mountain in the Cayman Post Office? Is it due to dishonesty on someone’s part? I don’t think I will ever know but (third and biggest mistake) I didn’t purchase insurance and although the Post Office looked into the loss after much form filling on my part, the end result was that “they could do nothing” and my paintings remain lost.

It pains me to say that the only way anyone can get to see The Embrace and Black Ball is with these digital pictures. It saddens me because I personally think they were two of the best paintings I had produced since arriving in the UK.

It’s a cautionary tale and a hard lesson learned. Nowadays I will only use private courier companies with parcel tracking facilities. I have found both DHL and UPS to be very good. Online tracking keeps both myself and my customers informed, and is worth its weight in gold. If you are sending artworks anywhere, don’t be naive as I was, and don’t penny pinch – it could end up costing you a lot of money and a large slice of goodwill.

Ok, I’ve ranted, now I’m going back to my painting……

Nickola
The Arteccentrix Gallery

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I’ve just come back from an emergency dental appointment, minus one tooth but thankfully also minus the awful pain that started yesterday and dogged me for 24 hours no matter how many or what kind of pain killers I swallowed.

So, now, with my numb face and spitting blood, I thought I’d sit down and scribble a few lines. I’ve decided to try and mention a new site each time I post – hopefully something relevant to you, dear readers, either blogging related or art related but maybe just something I stumble on out in the amazing realms of the world wide web.

Even if you are just paying a flying visit, please take part in the poll at the top right of the page. Your feedback is always appreciated and I feel too lousy to paint right now so I’m hoping to see some voters out there!

I’m a relative newcomer to blogging so the fun of discovering new sites, new blogs and places to promote my own blog is still something to get a kick out of. I don’t know if a lot of these sites are all that beneficial but some of them are fun so what the heck! I’ve been playing around on BlogExplosion which, although it’s just a way of getting numbers rather than quality visits it has a few nice little add ons that make it a little different to most of the “surf for credits” places.

There are various little twists on the old “click for visitors” game at Blog Explosion – you can play various games to win credits, gamble them on various things (for those who love to bet!), and you can also bookmark any blogs that are of particular interest, block those that offend your sensibilities etc etc. There are also a number of useful little tools to make your blogging life that much easier/more frustrating/time consuming etc etc.

As to whether anyone will actually read your blog, who knows? Hopefully you will find someone out there who wants to hear what you have to say 🙂

Nickola
The Arteccentrix Gallery

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I’ve talked on here before about online galleries, particularly the places that let you list a portfolio free of charge. I myself have had a resonable amount of traffic from some of these sites and the two that produce the best sales results to date have been Artmajeur.com and Boundless Gallery.

Boundless Gallery take a commission from each of your sales – 25%, whereas Artmajeur do not take a penny. I know who I would rather sell through but I find the exposure from both sites worth the trade off, each produce fairly good results for me in the major search engines.

There is however, another great place to show your paintings, photography, sculpture or whatever mediums you work with. That place is Flickr. If you have never heard of it before, please read on, because I think you will find participating in the program hugely beneficial.

First off, it is FREE to sign up with Flickr. Good enough incentive for you starving, poverty stricken art types? It should be, because Flickr is one of those places where the more you put in, the more you will get out of it. It is first and foremost an online photo album, and I discovered it more by accident than anything else. It has grown from being just a place where people store their digital pictures however.

There are hundreds of groups within Flickr, catering to a variety of subjects including art. Many of these art groups deal specifically with painting and drawing, and, as a member you can post messages and pictures of your work. This may not sound like much but, if you take an active part in the groups, posting your images and discussion threads, you will be able to network with other artists in similar fields to your own. It is a great place for critiques of your own work, a place to gain valuable insight into the art of others, and to make contacts which could be very beneficial. It is not unreasonable to expect that art buyers and collectors will also browse the group archives, so, if your work is out there, you may find new audiences and potential customers.

Another useful spin off is, that when you post messages on Flickr, they will be indexed by the search engine spiders. Your photos can be tagged with as many keywords as you choose too, so it is another place for those busy little robots to find you.

I have discovered some very good paintings on the site, it’s one of those places where you start browsing and a few hours later, realize that you only went to have a “quick look” – it can be a very absorbing place. In short, what a great gallery for artists, and all free, gratis and for nothing!

Here is just one example of some of the really nice work I’ve discovered on Flickr recently, from Vancouver based artist Paul Sydney. Great paintings, thought provoking and original – thanks for sharing Paul!

Setting up a Flickr account is as simple as ABC. You don’t need any specialist knowledge at all. Sign up, upload your photos, browse around the groups, and see what goes on in this huge community. You can mark any photo on the site as a “favourite”, you can add other members as contacts, you can even subscribe to a feed (or many feeds as you choose) and be notified if the pictures in that person’s collection are updated. It is all part of the legend that is Yahoo, so go on, go and check it out for yourself.

Nickola

The Arteccentrix Online Gallery

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This is just a quick post – I’m excited to say that I have now completed two paintings in the new “Dreamer” series. The second is entitled “The Descent” Both are now available for sale at the website. I’m really excited about this series, it’s all come together suddenly and it’s very different for me. So far feedback has been very encouraging, although I was unsure about the pictures while I was working on them.

I shall be back later to talk more in the blog, so until then…..please enjoy the new work and let me know what you think.

Nickola

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I often wondered at the word muse.

As someone involved in the arts it was not uncommon to hear it thrown around in conversations at openings and exhibitions, or at dinners and cocktail parties. I have known people who claim to have had a muse and I also have to confess to biting my tongue on some occasions whilst swallowing a large dollop of cynicism.

I never felt that I needed or wanted a muse. My art was a way of expressing myself, I couldn’t understand how an outside influence, particularly another individual, could have an important bearing on my artwork. After all, my art was about me, my dreams, my hopes, fears, and my voice – the one I wanted the world to hear.

In September of 2004, Hurricane Ivan struck my home, the Cayman Islands, and devastated the lives of all of its inhabitants. It was an awesomely terrifying experience, but more than that, it was a life changing event in so many ways. I look back on the events of that September and everything that followed, and cannot believe how much my own life has changed.

The hurricane destroyed many pieces of my work. Some of those that survived were stolen in the aftermath of the storm. Pieces that were extremely personal to me were lost forever. Some of the work from my formative period as a painter will never be seen again. It was a loss that led to the loss of something even more important though, I lost the will to paint, to create. Nothing really seemed worth the effort anymore.

To cut a very long story short, it was in this slow rebuilding process that I found my muse. Nothing could have surprised me more, and nothing could have been stranger than the stranger who became my muse across thousands of miles. The person who inspired what became acclaimed as my best work, a series that started out as five paintings and grew into over forty! The Black Hat Series became the story of two lost souls who brought each other from despair into light. It perhaps sounds melodramatic, some cynics might even scoff at such a concept I know, but it has become one of my life’s truths. I found a vibrancy and joy in my painting, and a new phase began in my choice of subject and style.

I am pleased to say that my story has a happy ending – my muse is soon to be my husband, and he continues to inspire and encourage my artistic endeavours.

If you have a muse, I would love to hear your stories. Maybe we can publish them here on the blog?


Cowboy Love! The Black Hat Series 2005
Nickola
Arteccentrix – The Gallery

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Where do ideas come from? Are there ever times when you have the idea for a painting and yet no idea whatsoever about how to start it?

I experience this all the time. Probably millions of ideas just “marinating” in the soup I call my brain. Every once in a while, one particular thought seems to separate itself from the whole. This is how the “Dreamer Series” began. I titled the series long before I had one stroke of paint on the canvas, mainly because I would be wandering around in my daily routine and these images would be floating just out of reach behind my eyelids. The picture would never be complete, just pieces of a puzzle, waiting to be found under the sofa, in an overheard phrase from a song, or in a sunny summer’s walk.

The first piece is entitled Tick Tock And The Red Pillow” and from the time I actually put brush to canvas to the finished painting was only around two weeks. The concept is so much older…for all I know it has been on my mind since birth. I do believe that we are all impregnated with ideas, so as a working project, two weeks is really only a split second in relation to the incubation of the Dreamer series. It was still an incredible struggle, because I tried so many different things….at one point the image contained a tree for example. It didn’t belong and all the ideas I wanted to put in the painting just didn’t fit. I knew it was finished when I let the painting tell me it was so.

I think the style is my attempt to blend classicism with surrealism but in a much more simplistic way that gives it my own personal signature. I don’t know if it works, but I am pleased with the painting. At least today! This is a departure (once again) from what I seem to be recognized for, and it has been a challenge which I thoroughly enjoyed.

As for the rest of the series, watch this space!

Nickola
The Arteccentrix Gallery

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Does This Feel Like You?

I had to sit and make this quick entry today, before sitting down for my newest Blog entry which follows very shortly.

I frequently have the feeling that I am totally different to everybody else out there! Sometimes in a good way and, well, sometimes not.

Every now and then I talk to my partner about the things that are spinning around in my ever busy head and he often (not always) gives me that kind of “I’m living with a crazy person” look. If you are an artist, or a person with an artistic bent, you probably know what I mean. My man is very practical and tends to always see things as black and white……my greys usually freak him out. He strives for order, bless him…and he has me to provide more than enough chaos.

Anyway, I came across an article in the blog of Mary Baker and the whole thing made for some great reading. I think my partner even got it…especially as I kept blurting out “Hey, that’s just like me!” and “Oooh, that is so true” etc etc.

Have a read and let me have your comments….are all of us artists really weird or are there only two of us?

Nickola
Arteccentrix – The Gallery

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