Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Dating your art: How important is it?

I received a comment on one of my works the other day, saying how ‘brave’ I am to ‘deface’ my work with my name and date details I put on it. I was a bit taken aback, as it’s a habit I’ve been practising for years, way back to my child-hood, and probably stemming from my habit of journaling. My reply was tongue-in-cheek that I didn’t think ANY piece of art was so important that it couldn’t be ‘defaced’ by some writing, there’s nothing that’s been done that can’t be done again!

Then a couple of weeks ago I came upon this article at ArtBizBlog and I’ve never thought of it as such, but dating your work actually does make sense…

“Dating your artwork is critical if you’re interested in high-end galleries and museums. Curators are trained as art HISTORIANS. Strangely enough, historians like dates! They’re obsessive about dates!
Curators delve into the minutiae of an artist’s career. They build time-lines and think about where a specific work came in the artist’s oeuvre and what that means.

If you’d like to see a retrospective of your art some day, you’ll date your work (with the year of completion) and keep track of it in an inventory. In other words, don’t just date the physical object, but keep a record of it as well. If you inventory your artwork as it’s created, you’ll also have a record of the months and days. The latter isn’t as important, but it could end up being a bit of interesting data if you’re quite prolific. And if you feel like putting the exact date (February 11, 2009 or 2/11/09) on the work, that’s fine as well.

The date might not seem that important to you right now, but why risk it?  Plan for the future and the big dreams.

Picasso said, “I never do a painting like a work of art. It is always a search. I am always seeking and there is a logical connection throughout that search. This is why I number them. I number and date them. May be one day someone will thank me for it.”

What’s your view on this?


Friday, 23 October 2015

How to Revive Dried Out Markers

Since joining RedBubble in 2010, it has been an exhilarating experience being part of the RB community. Not only have I made some virtual and very REAL friends over the years, but it has also given me the opportunity of showcasing my art to a wide audience. Much wider than I could ever achieve by participating in local art shows or hosting art shows myself. People living next door that never knew I was an artist, now know! How cool is that! And any artist will understand what it takes to try and establish yourself as an artist, I won't even go into all that. Suffice it to say, being on RedBubble the past five years has done more for my art career than the previous 35 years of participating in art exhibitions, trying to sell at flea markets and hawking my art all over town to municipal offices, hospitals, doctors' rooms, libraries and the like.

So, if you're a "struggling" artist, why not give RedBubble a try? It's fun and rewarding and also a great learning centre, offering tips and tutorials on many subjects.

But I digress. The purpose of this post is how to revive dried-out marking pens. Another tip I picked up in The RedBubble Blog, posted by Beth Caird.

If you’ve been doodling since before you could form full sentences, chances are you have a range of markers and felt tips lying around your home. Somehow these drawing companions breed in my studio space, and I seem to have a small army of Copics, Sharpies, Touch markers and Pilot FineLiners constantly within arm’s reach. These markers tend to dry out before they fully die out, and it can be frustrating and expensive to keep replacing struggling tools.

This tutorial covers two different techniques for reviving water-based markers as well as non-water soluble or paint markers. The first method uses submersion in water to try and invigorate dried out ink that is sitting where the marker felt (or fibre) meets the inner tube ink cartridge. The second method uses vinegar to try and dab at the markers’ ink to break through built up and dried out marker debris inside the top of the tip.

You can usually tell if your marker is water-based by reading the label, otherwise often non-water based markers have an overwhelming sharp chemical smell that gives them away.

For this tutorial you will need: 

  • Water-based markers that are drying out
  • One small bowl, glass, or cup
  • One small dish or jar lid
  • A sheet of paper
  • White household vinegar
  • Water just below boiling point

Start by sorting through your markers and checking their status. If any markers are clearly beyond repair and are totally dried out, chuck them in the bin. When the tip of a marker has totally dried out, or feels like it’s fossilised when touching paper, it’s probably beyond the point of repair. This exercise is to save your markers before they get to that point.

When you’re done ensure all the caps and lids are fitted snugly back on your markers.

The water submersion method:

  1. Heat water to just below boiling and pour it into a small bowl, glass or cup. Leave your hot water for about two minutes to let it cool slightly, to prevent the water being too hot and melting any plastic parts of your markers.
  2. Once you’ve got your bowl of hot water, submerge the whole tip of your water-based marker for five minutes. Make sure you have submerged the part of your marker where the felt tip meets the casing of the marker.
  3. After about a minute you should notice ink from your marker beginning to bleed into your water. This is a good sign, and indicates that the warmth of the water has got your marker running freely again. You can see in my photos below the black ink is moving through my glass of water, and it looks similar to the way a drop of food dye spreads in water.
  4. Shake off any excess water and replace your marker lid. Leave your marker to dry off in a cool dry place for 24 hours before testing it again.

The vinegar method:

  1. Pour ordinary white household vinegar into a small dish or jar lid .
  2. Very carefully, dip the tip lightly and quickly into the vinegar. You don’t want to submerge the tip as it can be too corrosive for some markers and ruin them.
  3. Dab the marker tip swiftly in and out of the vinegar 5-10 times, in the hopes that the vinegar will penetrate the pen tip and cut through any granulated chunks of ink. By using this method, you’re essentially lightly cleaning the marker felt.
  4. Once you’ve dabbed your marker with vinegar, replace the cap and leave it to dry off in a cool place for 24 hours before testing it again.

You can see in the photo below how little of the marker tip needs to be in contact with vinegar to be effective. Work slowly and gently to make sure you don’t accidentally drown your marker in vinegar.

Another method I ended up using was flicking some drops of vinegar directly onto a chopping board (or any other work surface) and rolling the tips of my green marker in the vinegar. This eliminated any accidental submersion and gave me more control over how much vinegar I let onto my marker.

Lastly, come back the next day and see the results of your work. This is my water-based marker the day after the water submersion method and it’s bought it back to life.

Tips for preserving the life of your markers:

  • Always store your markers in a cool, dry place, like you would tubes of acrylic paint.
  • If you can, store your markers upside down with the lid downwards, so the ink runs towards the tip.
  • If you live in an extremely hot climate, consider refrigerating your markers.
  • Ensure you always replace the lid of your markers and double check they are on securely. This is the single most important tip for improving the lifespan of markers.
The holiday season is almost upon us and Christmas is looming faster than we imagined! So head along to my "Christmas cards" on offer and get your shopping done early this year. There are also many gifts to choose from for the home, yourself and family and friends.

Thank you for stopping by and have an awesome day!


Saturday, 17 October 2015

20 Beautiful Scarf designs

Beautiful versatile scarves you can use in many ways - they also make beautiful sarongs and wall hangings.
  • Large 55” square
  • Full print is visible on the front and reverse
  • Microfiber polyester with a slightly transparent effect
  • Hand wash only. Do not dry clean or tumble dry.

I have bought these scarves myself, so be assured that they are of the highest quality, beautifully soft and a grand addition to any wardrobe!

Please feel free to visit my profile, where you will find a full range of products.

Thank you for your visit!


Saturday, 10 October 2015

Blue gum fantasy

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm in small hand-made sketch-book

Doing small sketches (approx. 5" x 7") can be very satisfying provided it's done on a good quality watercolour paper like Bockingford or Arches 300gsm. I cut A4 sheets of Bockingford or other good quality paper into four quarters and then bind them into a hand-made sketch-book.

Serving multiple purposes, the small paintings can be sold as affordable art when selling the originals, and they are easy to scan to use for selling prints and other items as offered by RedBubble and various other shopping sites. It also keeps me in practice, with no pressure to deliver "the perfect painting" and the small size is ideal for testing out and experimenting with new colours, new ideas, new subjects.

Available for sale as prints and other products on RedBubble

Framed print

Super-soft Scarf

Throw pillow, printed on both sides

Pencil skirt

Tote bag

Laptop sleeve

Coffee mug


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Why does photography matter?

I have never regarded myself as a “photographer” – I mean, I would never put “Maree Clarkson, Artist, Naturalist and ‘Photographer’” in my resumé and I’ve never visited a photographic exhibition like I would visit an art exhibition. Sure, I love taking photographs, but it’s more a ‘record-keeping’ thing for me; which plant is flowering, what new bird is visiting my garden, when did one of my chickens lay her first egg. I would photograph something just because it’s beautiful and just use the default settings for the camera, not actually having a clue what’s going to appear.

And I’ve always wondered about people that have an absolute passion for photography, who choose it as a profession and who get to know their camera, how it works, which setting is for what and experimenting with their settings like I experiment with my watercolour paints.

So I decided to investigate this ‘phenomena’ and found this website that gives six reasons why photography matters.

1. Our photographs tell us what is important to us

When you ask people what possessions they would rescue from their burning house, one of the most frequent answers is the photograph album or a computer with their digital images. When in panic mode it’s interesting that we would probably grab photos rather than valuable jewelry. This impulse to save our recorded memories is a powerful force which tells us much about the role of photography in our lives and our constant desire to distil our most precious moments into images.

2. Photographs are part of our legacy

Photographs matter because they freeze moments of our lives which pass unremarkably and which seem to have little importance to us at the time. The significance, however, may be for others who search for the person we once were or the places we once knew. They can be small pieces of a jigsaw that complete the larger picture of our lives.

3. Photographs allow us to share and to communicate.

Images are much more than a simple record. Photography speaks to the best and most generous part of our human nature – the desire to share what we find beautiful and interesting with others. You only have to look at Flickr and a multitude of photo sharing sites to see this impulse at work. Millions of people sharing their personal, passionate and sometimes quirky take on the world around them. Our images can involve a world of strangers in our life. How powerful is that?

4. Photography makes us artists

Photography allows us to express ourselves through an art form. We notice a beautiful landscape or flower or an old man’s lined face and we want to capture it. Each of us will have a different reason to do so but, essentially, we want to create something. However humdrum our nine-to-five lives may be, the creation of an image makes us an artist. It feels good.

5. Photography is a complex language

Our images can express joy and sorrow, wonder and sympathy. Every human emotion can find a place in photography. For many years I never valued my photographs of overcast landscape because I believed that there was no beauty in a land with muted colours and a leaden sky. I wanted the land to be alive with colour and vibrancy. However, lack of colour in a landscape makes you search for other things that often go un-remarked in bright sunlight. It could be a symmetry of hills or a tree standing out from a forest of thousands.

6. Photography has the power to move us

Photographs can grab our attention and speak directly to our emotions. Nick Ut’s photograph of a crying Vietnamese girl whose clothes have been burnt away by napalm embodies the power of a single image. At a more subtle level, we can learn lessons about a whole range of emotions. Grief has the power to wash away the luminance and chrominance of our lives. There is no magic way to restore them at will. We have to be patient. But while waiting we can search for the shapes and patterns that are still there in the greyness. They will lead us back to colour eventually. At moments of great sorrow in my life I have used images to express that hope of returning colour.

Photography should make you happy. Never let someone impede on your personal happiness. You love HDRs and someone else doesn’t – who cares? You are enamored with landscapes but your friends think they’re droll – don’t let it bother you. You’re a fashion nut but no one gets your style – just keep being you. Enjoy your photography for what it is – your own. Know that not everyone will appreciate it, but if it personally fulfills you, that’s all that truly matters. Be true to yourself and you’ll never regret a day of your life.

Read my Saturday Chat on RedBubble and view some more excellent photography! 


Friday, 2 October 2015

Looking back at your art

Looking back at my art since the late 80's when I started painting seriously, I've come to the pleasing conclusion that my art has improved, I have grown and I seem to have developed a "style". Style comes about by our preferences - preferences of the colours we use, preferences of subjects and preferences of how we look at things. I think every artist's fear is stagnating and getting nowhere, doing the same thing year in and year out.

My subjects have stayed the same - landscapes, birds, wildlife - the things in nature that I love. I did branch out into portraits, and there was a slight improvement, but I found that portraits were not really my forté at all, so I don't do many of those. I also now and then try acrylics and oils, but unless I spend a LOT more time practising in those mediums, it's not going to get very far!

Early paintings up to 2010

Recent paintings 2011 - 2015  

So what do you find when you look back at your art? I hardly ever throw anything away. Even though I cringe at some of the older paintings, it's a reminder of where I was. I love scratching through some old pieces, finding something that might have some potential and adding to it. Often something of value appears, if not, it's then destined for the dustbin. It's amazing what a feeling of freedom arises from the fact that it doesn't matter whether you botch it or not, it gives you a free hand to really go for it! ...

I'm a great believer in the four P's - practice, practice, practice and perseverence! Don't get discouraged about your art, lots of practice, trying new ideas and techniques and not being scared of the outcome really pays off.