In the words of Charlie Brown....GOOD FRIGGIN' GRIEF!
It has been MONTHS since I blogged about something.
Is it because I have nothing to blog about?
NO. I have several things I have wanted to share!
Is it because I am a lazy mole-man** ?
**Mole-man behaviour occurs when I don't leave my basement for weeks at a time - sometimes painting in my actual pjamas! This phenomenon is also known as "Wiarton-Willie-Fever" - also known as the "Punksatony-Phil-Flu".
Maybe partially.....but honestly .....blogging just takes time I don't seem to have in a week....and I am not sure it helps my career in any way!! But it's a new year....so I thought I would try again!
Now....I would LOVE to promise you that I would get back to regular blogging (3 times a week)....but that would be a HUUUUGE lie! And I do not want to lie to you, you're my friend!(Or you're a spybot that is going to direct me to your off-brand Viagra pill site!)
Okay so since it is January, and almost "Let's Talk Day"...I thought I might talk about my own mental health a bit...
The truth is, I find January/February/March the HARDEST months. I am not sure if it is the winter related, or post-Christmas-blues, or end-of-year-taxes-sadness....but I genuinely find it hard....and I can be prone to depression....so I really need to WORK HARD to not fall down the rabbit hole of "poor me"!
I have talked fairly openly about my sensitive nature and how I find dealing with rejection challenging - in these old blog posts...
I have talked about loss and grief a lot as well (especially in my OLD blog!) Time and time again, I have also talked about ”the power of gratitude to heal and enhance your life” and about "running your own race".
But honestly, I find I still battle with this "compare and despair" mentality. Normally, I just need to write down my feelings and I can stop myself from getting caught up in it....so that's what I am doing here today!
Honestly, I blame social media for igniting the fires of doubt and then depression! Well...I guess FIRST, I have to blame my own insecurity...but THEN I blame social media!
I have been working as an artist for a LOOOOOONG time now, and now that I am at a certain point in my career, I really notice those who have surpassed me with their successes in the industry. I try not to, but I am bit weak! Ok.....so I blame my insecurities THEN my weakness, THEN social media! BLAME BLAME BLAME...ugh.
I then look at those who I helped when they were getting started, and notice those who have incredible things happen in their career, while I am still battling it out in the mud and rain in a park...
Then.....once I have headed that far down Poor Robbie Avenue,
(you don't wanna go there - it is a dark, sinister tree-lined road)
I look at the kids coming up who get INCREDIBLE opportunities, that I had to work like a MOFO to get....and I feel a sick feeling of "WHY YOU??" I get angry and envious....which is no doubt because I am a perfectionist....
BUT....my long suffering husband said something recently that helped me re-frame things....
He KNOWS I tend to compare my failures to other peoples successes.....and so he suggested that instead of focusing on the small percentage of my peers that "out success-ed" me, that I can look at the number that have not made it this 'far'.
Not to revel in other people's losses, but to help me focus on my own gains. I can then look at the newbies who get the opportunities that I don't, and instead of feeling jealousy, remember how hard it is to make success last in this career and focus on THAT sense of accomplishment.
I am calling it the "Elton John -I'm Still Standing" technique...
Don't you know that I'm still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid
And I'm still standing after all this time
Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind
I'm still standing. Yeah, yeah, yeah
I'm still standing. Yeah, yeah, yeah
Next time you get that awful feeling...and I KNOW I am not alone in this, just channel your inner Elton:
This winter (aka depression season) to keep living my own truth...to run my own race, to live laugh and love with gratitude. To be honest with others, and compassionate to those who need it. And to NOT be caught up in the number of followers I DON'T have on Instagram! Because that isn't important!
THAT seems like something I can do.
The Bitch is back!
(That's another Elton reference for those under age 30!)
Let's all do it!
And remember....if worse comes to worse.....
...and gosh darn it......people like you!
It's rare in the art business that you meet people who like your work enough to take a chance on you. Rarer still is to meet people that share your enthusiasm for building things TOGETHER!
The idea of building together is something that is very important to me. I grew up in the theatre world, where there was always a "we're all in this together" attitude! Everyone was working towards the same goal, and was mostly respectful of each other's part in it!
In the art world, it is often a bit dog eat dog. Your peers are often your competition. Galleries and retailers are often out to exploit your work or care very little about helping artists build and grow. It has always been the most frustrating part of the business for me!
I am fortunate that the galleries and retailers that I am represented by NOW have great enthusiasm for my work. I work WITH them, and have a relationship built on MUTUAL RESPECT and honesty.
I know that the people I work with will treat me well, because I will always treat them well. They will promote me, as much as I promote THEM! More than just honesty and respect, I now only work with people who are NICE!
Right Tay-tay??? WHY? The thing is, there are loads of people out there who are just out for themselves, and good for them, I guess. But I can't be involved in their biz-ness. I have been jerked around by a LOT of people in my professional career, which is too bad....but hd also taught me to trust my instincts and seek out people who are good at what they do, and ALSO good people.
Now why am I going on about this?
Because I was in Hamilton for the SUPERCRAWL as a guest of The Hamilton Store. During the day I got to spend a fair amount of time talking to Donna (the owner)....who is a complete delight! (and Mark who works at the store, and is also delightful!!) And we had a talk about the kind of relationships Donna has with her artists and vendors. It is remarkable. I count myself lucky that I get to be there!
As you know from my MANY MANY blog posts, The Hamilton Store (and Donna) are FANTASTIC! The store has so much MORE than just GREAT Hamilton gifts. There is a HUGE section of local edibles that even TORONTO people would fall in love with!Honestly such a nicely curated store!
NEXT TIME YOU ARE IN HAMILTON....YOU MUST MUST MUST go in!
And please say hello from Rob!
Also this past weekend I was talking a lot about WHY I was in Hamilton....considering I am not a Hamiltonian. I kept explaining that although I LOVE my own city, I also love Hamilton. They have been very nice to me, and the clients I have met appreciate my work! I think they also appreciate that I am not one of those jerky Toronto people...who want to change them, or put them down. I like Hamilton for it's faults and it's challenges, as much as for it's renewal and it's can do spirit!!! My friend Cindy Scaife and I even got a mention in the Hamilton Spectator:
THAT is what it is about!
I think if there was just a little bit more of that in the world...we would ALL be better off!
Thank you again Hamiltonians for your support this last weekend, and I look forward to coming again! And thanks to Donna and Mark and the rest of the staff at thehamiltonstore.caThe Hamilton Store for being so FREAKING FANTASTIC to work with!
Last year, I was a part of Hamilton's James Street Supercrawl.
Truthfully....it was the straw that broke the Croxford's back.
It was hot...then rainy...it had LONNNNNG hours and the installation I was beside nearly made me go POSTAL.
READ ALL ABOUT IT HERE:
SO.....after a terrible 2016 of rain and sweat I decided to trim BACK my show schedule for 2017.
FAST FORWARD TO NOW.....I am doing ONE DAY at The Supercrawl as a guest of (thehamiltonstore.ca) The Hamilton Store!!!
So here are the details.....
SUPER SATURDAY IN THE COURTYARD
SEPTEMBER 9TH from 11am-11:30pm
The Hamilton Store
165 James Street North, Hamilton ON.
(North of Cannon / West side)
I will have all my Hamilton Merch and art - as well as a selection of my other works! I have THIS BRAND NEW piece at the show too:
As you can see I chose 6 signs that I LOVE from Hamilton:
1. The Bowlero Lanes Bowling Alley
2. The Tivoli Theatre
3. Hutch's on the Beach
4. The City Motor Hotel and Restaurant
5. Hendry's Shoes
6. The Millionaires Drive-Inn
A few of these are just HISTORY now....but there are a couple that you can still see around Hamilton!
Why call this one "Electric City"? Well that was a Hamilton nickname at one point....lemme share WIKIwhy:
The Dominion Power and Transmission Company in 1896 brought hydroelectric power to Hamilton from their plant at DeCew Falls. The title of a 1906 promotional booklet on the city proudly proclaimed that Hamilton was "The Electric City." New industries, such as the forerunners of the Steel Co. of Canada (Stelco) and Canadian Westinghouse, were attracted here by the cheaper, more efficient power.
By 1938, with a population nearing 155,000 inhabitants and home to 500 + manufacturing plants, (centre of Canadian Steel and Electronic activities), the city's promotional brochures were boasting that Hamilton was home to more than fifty flourishing branches of United States and British industries, with invested capital approximating $150,000,000. They were also advertising that "Hamilton was home to the cheapest hydro power in the entire world."
So that is why I chose to work with that theme....and also because I had already made a piece about the INDUSTRY of Hamilton...
So come out on Saturday the 9th....I'd love to see you there!
Some days it is hard to believe that I have been working as my own boss......as a full time artist for so long.
This year, more than ever, I have begun to feel like an 'elder statesman' in my local art scene. I have freely doled out hard-won advice to very talented artists that are just starting out.
WHICH IS WEIRD AND FRIGHTENING!
I guess it means that at this point in my career I have been doing this art thing long enough to know basically what I am doing!
That is NOT so say I have it all figured out. Truthfully, I have more questions/worries NOW than I had 14 years ago when I completed my first painting! But after going through my inventory spreadsheet today I realized I have hit a career landmark.
I wanted to share it with all of you!!!!!
I HAVE NOW PAINTED 1000 paintings!!
If you amortize that over my 14 year career, it works out to about 71 paintings a year! Now....let's be clear....some of these paintings have been only 6" x 6".....but still....it's remarkable! RIGHT??
I am actually kinda proud of myself.....and as I look back, I am astounded with how much better my skills are than say......990 paintings ago....
This is one of my first paintings....Husband calls this one "Frau Blücher" (from the Young Frankenstein movie):
Sadly.....he is right on!!! I REAALLY hate this painting....it should be embarrassing....but the truth is....it took Frau....and these hideous failures......
....to get the right feeling for these three from a decade later:
In another decade, will I look back at these paintings through an objective (aka critical) lens to see their flaws? Probably! Sounds like me! I am super mean to myself! ;-)
I have improved with my landscapes too....
Don't get me wrong......I still stand by this painting.....that is from 2005....about 940 paintings ago.....but I DO think my new piece is just a bit stronger.....
CLEARLY, as the years have gone by, my skills have improved, but what of my concept?
I am 100% sure that my inner-artist voice has gotten stronger.
I know what I want to say, and I know how I want to say it.
My work now is all about a clever....some might say 'smarty-pants' approach. And that is how I LOVE it. NO! It is NOT for everyone. But that is more an more okay with me.
I guess that being clever-ish is my "gimmick", it is what makes me unique, and also what makes it all worth doing!!
My art is the truest reflection of me as a person.
I am BEYOND GRATEFUL that I have been able to be a part of my clients lives, all 700+ of them!
THAT....is what art is about!
To touch other people,(no, not literally) to make them laugh, or to make them think, to enrich their lives - or at least enrich their walls!!!
And I know the next 1000 paintings will be better still because I:
FOLLOW MY INNER COMPASS!
And most of all I LOVE WHAT I DO!
Thanks for coming along on the journey!!!!!
ONTO THE NEXT 1000!!!!!!
** fun drinking game.....everytime I mention the word "grateful" take a shot! (BUT you'lll be DRINK mid-read!!)
YOU are a patient person! THANKS! I'll try to make this worth while!
I have been busy catching up with a MILLION things since the Toronto Outdoor Art Show ended. I gave the site a tiny facelift....I also worked on a small mural, and finished a small commission....BUT....that's not the important stuff.....let's talk about TOAE 2017!
Sometimes the "art world" is a breeding ground for insecurity, and more often than I would like, an exhibition is like a pressure cooker for that same insecurity! Honestly, the feelings I have around shows - are the feelings that I am medicated by my therapist FOR! ;-)
Once the insecurity and/or ego boost of acceptance has work off...there is the insecurity about seeing other artists work and successes. Each year there is artwork that is STELLAR - that you can feel inferior to, there is artwork that you think is comparable to yours....that sells WAY better.....and there is some artwork that you can't connect with. One man's art is another man's "my kid can do this".
On the first day I heard a "THIS isn't for me" in reference to my art...and a "No. Just NO!" about my art....people are funny. (And by "funny" I mean awful!) ;-) I murdered both of these people....JUST KIDDING....I just rolled my eyes and harshly judged their outfits in my head. :-)
So...let's go through my days in the square in pictures (I won't be talking about my peers and their art. It is all great, and I am grateful to be included!):
All and all, I would say it was a successful show for me.
I sold a few original paintings, and a BUNCH of my limited edition giclees! I am happy.....but as usual, I miss the OLD DAYS...when I sold a LOT of paintings. Still....I am VERY grateful!
It was a good location for the weather....that is - there was less direct sun on me, and good air-flow! THANK YOU MOTHER NATURE FOR CUTTING ME SOME SLACK!!!!!! It was not as great for traffic flow! The real truth is....the show happens on the square...like in ALL the TOAE photos:
Then again.....I am grateful to be in the TOAE at all! Right??
In the weeks after the TOAE you usually get an avalanche of "opportunity" emails. I call them SPAM! They are often pay-to-show "opportunities" OR "please donate your art" emails OR sales pitches for products I NEED to help my art business! I especially love the form letters....
We loved your work at ______. We think your work would be great for.........if you pay us.........you get to be a part of this opportunity....."
So 2 weeks later, and TEN follow up "opportunity"/DONATION emails later.....I am a little lost on which amazing opportunity to exploit next. ;-)
The big winner for my artwork was MOST DEFINITELY the Raccoon Streetcar! I am trying not to succumb to the 'put a raccoon on it' mentality. BUT I could have sold that one painting at least 3/4 times over!! So...do I work up a bunch more paintings that have a similar theme??? Or I could just paint a raccoon into ALL my existing artworks...like this:
So....all and all a good experience from the TOAE 17.
I am thankful to EVERYONE who came out to see the new work!
THRILLED to have sold some paintings to some good homes, and to have met some new people who enjoyed my art!
Thanks to husband for helping me get it all done. He is a SAINT. (SHHHH DO NOT TELL HIM THAT!)
And thanks to all the volunteers and staff at TOAE.
Glad to be a part of the show!
I just wanted to welcome another fine retailer to the Rob Croxford merch. family!
Mon - Wed - 10am to 6pm
Thurs & Fri - 10am to 7pm
Saturday - 10am to 6pm
Sunday - 12pm to 5pm
124 Cumberland Street
Canada - M5R 1A6
Phone: (416) 962-3916
They have tonnes of GREAT stuff...cards, stationery, gift wrap, journals....and well....pretty much anything made of paper!
OH....and now they carry a selection of my DELIGHTFUL postcards!!!
Below....is only half the store - as you can see it is chock-o-block:
This place has been around for over 40 years!!!
If you haven't been....YOU MUST go!
So....this is a great new print available in my store - and is also available as a postcard:
It is based on my painting.....and I told you all about the production of this piece HERE! So here are the deets on this print:
A Giclée (pronounced "jhee-clay") is a sophisticated inkjet method of printing on acid free watercolor paper. These are produced for Rob by a professional Giclee Printer on an Epson printer with K3 pigment inks. Each is printed in 2 sizes, 16" x 20" ($80.00) and 8" x 10" ($35.00). These are small editions.....so you'll wanna get 'em while you can!! The imagery is 100% MINE, and is based on a portion of a previously painted original. The paper is high qualtity, acid and chlorine free 100% cotton rag paper. Which is NICE paper!
You can buy this one in my store....and you can also buy it in Hamilton at The Hamilton Store or at The Cotton Factory.
You can't see the original right now......because it is currently hanging at Hamilton City Hall:
That's me above with Mayor Eisenburger of Hamilton!
SUPER EXCITING TIMES FOR ME!!!
So....there you go!
Go buy a postcard or print of the NEWEST Hamilton print!
So....for part of March and April I did an art challenge with a few other people. WHAT IS AN ART CHALLENGE?? Basically I was required to post a photo (on a private Instagram account) every day of SOMETHING artistic that I did...which meant I couldn't take a whole day to complete something! The ONLY proviso was it COULD NOT be like my regular artistic practice.
Now....being a type A....I FREAKED OUT.....
I am not good at putting something out there that is not PERFECT...or at least not perfect to me...in that moment!
So it was a real challenge for me...and my fragile ego!!
HOWEVER, it was a safe way to try new things....without exposing myself to judgment or ruining 'my brand'...
(oh man, I hate that term! ;-)
Some of the things worked out....and others.....well....not so much....
BUT I have decided to share SOME of the VERY MIXED results with you guys.....
I also did some video work....most of it is pretty STOOOPID....but please enjoy....
See? DUMB!!! The next video sparked my INTENSE LOVE of slo-mo!!
I love the sound when my hand hits the puzzle....
Then there is this one....
Paint it Black......
Then below is a can that I cut and reassembled on a music box...
I call it "Dancer Escapes"...
I love it when she kicks the can and it begins to warp!
It was totally an accident!!
FINALLY this is just a backstage tour of my Theatre paper piece...
THE BACKGROUND is copy-write of Kim Atlin 2017
So there you go.....after 30 days I have some new ideas....and had some fun! I hope you enjoyed seeing the highlights....
So...I KNOW I promised a bunch of new land/cityscapes to you guys....but I have really been feeling the love for my robots!
I am hoping to have a whole show of new robots to debut SOMEWHERE later this year....or maybe next year??
IF YOU KNOW of a place that my space themed stuff would be a perfect fit....I would LOVE to hear from you!
IN THE MEANTIME.....enjoy this new bot.....
I am trying to scale back the amount of BUSYNESS in my paintings...
I was hoping I could make this work without having to paint every area of the canvas board.....
NEGATIUVE SPACE is HARD for me...I am just NOT a "less is more" kinda guy....I'm more of a MORE IS MORE kinda guy!!
BUT....see what you think....
.....I kept adding details - because I found it so boring - and my husband would keep giving me advice on SCALING back! SO GLAD to have had his help (and that I don't have to pay him)!
HERE is the final bot (sorry for the watermarks - I'm paranoid) :-)
Meep Morp Bleep
(that's robot talk for Thanks Guys!)
I am busy gearing up for the summer exhibition season, and still waiting on what seems like 100 gosh darn juried proposals and entries. BUT hopefully it all will become clear in the next month.
STAY TUNED FOR DEETS!
In the meantime, gentle reader, I want to talk to you today about commissions. Yes, commissions. Because my art is so specific, I sometimes meet a client who loves my thang (sorry - I will try not to use that word again!) but wants me to create something more personal for them!
Truthfully, I find commissions a bit more stressful, as I am inherently a people pleaser! BUT COMMISSIONS CAN BE SUPER REWARDING TOO. It is often the opportunity to translate someone else's vision into my own. It kinda reminds me of painting for the theatre!
This commission was SUPER.....it was for The Cotton Factory. Here is how they describe themselves:
"In the heart of lower Hamilton, this formal industrial building from 1900 is a prime example of adaptive reuse. It has been transformed from a cotton mill into a creative industries complex, with space for workshops, galleries, office space for creative professionals, and studios for artists."
Honestly, it is a STUNNING complex, that is going to help reshape that area of Hamilton! I LOVE IT!
OKAY....let's see how this commish shaped up....
The first step is ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS the research and inspiration. The gallery below has some of my inspirations and some of my research photos...
So with all that in my head, I do a bunch of rough sketches to try to translate and distill the ideas.....
I then send this rough idea to the client and get their opinions....before I begin to refine the drawing!
....once I have a final drawing that is approved by the client, I translate it to the painting surface...I forgot to take a photo at this stage, but I did take the photo BELOW just after....
...I then begin to block in areas....normally I work up ALL the areas at once....but as I mentioned, I wanted this to be PERFECT - so I worked up each area separately! (Like a crazy TYPE A, neurotic artist-type!)
It takes a while to get it right, as you can see above, at first I painted the lettering in grey.....but that ended up changing, as the painting began to reveal itself to me!
....working up The Cotton Factory Building....
...more work on the shadows and such.....
...as you can see....I changed a few of the architectural details of the building that bring it back in time a bit, by making the windows and doors more in line with the 1900's version of the building!
THAT is something you can do with a painting....
Here....a LOT is done.....I changed the Hamilton lettering to green, but was finding the whole thing a bit HEAVY and ill proportioned....I also thought the black border too demanding for the piece!
...I subtracted the bricks and put in more lightness....I fixed the exterior border....but NOW THERE ARE AREAS THAT ARE TOO LIGHT! I KNOW!!! It's all a bit Goldilocks-like! I did fine tunes the banner at the top - THAT is working now!!
...By putting in a traditional Victorian wallpaper pattern, I have balanced the colours a bit better....I have also added a small more industrial border at the top.....the next step involves a series of white washes and colour glazes to give the painting a sense of age. It's the part that makes my work more 'believable' as an old poster!
HERE IS THE FINAL PROJECT:
I was thrilled with the final look.
Once I get to that point it is safe to show the client.
If at that point, the client has any concerns, I can address them.
It doesn't often happen...let's face it, I am usually my own WORST critic! It helps though when you are crystal clear about how the piece will take shape! Generally, if you like what it is that I do, you will be happy with the result!!
So there it is! My latest commission. If you are interested in doing a commission with me, I would be thrilled to chat with you about it!
You can just email me!!
ALSO.....look for prints and postcards of this fantastic piece coming VERY soon!!!!!
MY BLOG - YOUR INBOX:
Rob is a professional artist, lover of vintage stuff, part time smart @ss and compulsive pancake eater!