Halloween Carve-up

After days of pestering from my nine year old daughter, I finally got around to the annual task of fashioning the pumpkinhead. This year's theme was; drool. We wanted to represent the sticky moistness of yer average monster by leaving some of the 'meat' in the mouth.

As usual, a job that's supposed to be a father/daughter bonding experience started to turn into a serious carving session, with daughter standing by wondering how she could be involved...

Scary.

Look Mum: No Hands!

Lidl seem to be able to tap into my thoughts. A couple of weeks ago, after spending almost €50 at Woodworkers getting some MDF cut down into squares for painting supports for my students, [they charge €1.80 per cut] I decided to invest in one of these lads. The cheapest I could find in the specialist tool shops was around €199, with a possible €40 to buy a new, finer blade for cutting MDF.

Next thing is Lidl put this one on offer at €130. This isn't the first time they've had just what I was looking for at the moment when I needed it. How do they do that? What other private thoughts are they reading? Am I that bloody predictable?

Just one thing, though: The only problem so far is the 'eccentric lever' which is supposed to lock the 'fence' [the moveable guide to which you knock up the wood to be cut]. After a couple of cuts, it loosened and now won't stay in position; I have to keep it fixed with a G clamp . At 1700 watts, the blade cuts very well and the machine seems to be solid enough. And...AND...it came with two blades, one course and one fine.

I believe next week, Lidl are doing a range of prosthetic hands.

Not Quite All Washed-up Yet...

I received a communiqué [well -a comment] from somebody who asked why I'd stopped posting to this blog recently. 'Tis true -I have only posted seven times in the whole of this year.

To Anonymous.
The reasons for my lethargy were that I thought no-one was reading this stuff, for a start; so that's one reason! It's truly gratifying when I discover that someone is listening to my outpourings -especially when the comments are as cheering as yours. Thank you.

More importantly though, I've been through some challenging times, shall we say, along with many. First, a sudden and dramatic fall-off in editorial illustration work forced me to rethink how I should be directing my efforts; and really about how I should be living my life. What's true is that I had become increasingly dissatisfied with life as a jobbing illustrator and there are several strands to this: The constant but fruitless promotional efforts [I had a database of well over a thousand two hundred names that sat in my computer ever accusing me of not contacting them].

The work that I really enjoyed ; illustrating for the Irish Times Business on Friday section was cut and I was left with one last editor who had the authority and desire to buy in my illustrations. However, the editorial approach was too heavy-handed for me and I gave it up. The only 'work' I enjoyed doing was sketching and posting them up on Creative Ireland!

The reality is; the problem has been mostly me. I don't like being told what to draw or paint. Sure, most people who dislike their jobs just turn up at their workplaces and do their daily duties but the whole point of striving to be an artist is that you mustn't compromise your soul and that's what I was doing. I've been involved in too many projects where some cardboard-brained pillock has taken over and ruined a good idea. Furthermore, I'm brutal at negotiations and almost always short-change myself. The one piece of advice that I can offer to those wishing to make a profession of their art is: Don't make your hobby into your job as I did. A good artist is an amateur in the real sense of the word. If money comes in as a result of my artistic endeavours, that's great -it'll allow me more latitude for art.

The upshot of all this navel-gazing is that I started teaching painting in my studio. That's my day job. I turn up to work four times a week on two days and earn my wages. You can take a gander at my Art Classes Ireland site, if you like. In fact, teaching ticks many of the boxes for me:

  • Time. I work 12 hours a week -the rest of the week is mine, to do as I please. That includes the following: Painting my own compositions; taking on an illustration project from decent and respectful clients; staring out the window of a favourite café; playing the fiddle; doing raised-leg farts; organising paintings for exhibitions; thinking; farting while jumping up in the air and clicking my heels; catching up on my neglected blog[s]; meeting colleagues in cafés -and jointly staring out of the windows.
  • I meet great people -my students come to me because they like my work, so they want to be here.
  • I now know where I'll be and what I'll be doing on two days of the week -that hasn't happened for the last fifteen years. I'm the last person who should be left to organise my own week!
  • Choice. At long last I feel that it's an easier prospect to reject offers of work by clients who I know won't suit me.
To finish; currently I feel about as happy as I could be. I'm painting for myself. I'm not so pressured that I snap at my family. Sure, I don't have much money but I have abundant other riches. I'm awash in a sea of love rather than swamped in the corrosive bilge-water of commerce.
Thanks for asking. How are you?