Art Post No.16


Art Post No.16 for Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Artist Chris Erskine
Artist Chris Erskine

Art Post is published every Wednesday morning on this blog: Fat Cats – Starving Dogs.  As an artist, I focus on urban landscapes and architecture that is found in the City of Hamilton, Ontario.  Every building and landscape has a personality, a history, and a story to tell.  My art explores these visual stories.

Chris Erskine


Odds and Ends – Art Education


Odds and Ends – Monday, Feb 23, 2015

Art Education

Artist Chris Erskine
Artist Chris Erskine


Last weekend, the Globe and Mail (“Art School Confidential” by Simona Chiose; Feb 14, 2015, Section R1) had an article on the OCAD University and the many challenges now facing the institution.

One of the key problems, from my perspective, is how do you make money once you leave art school. As the article states:

“The economic prospects of arts grads have never provoked as much anxiety. Those with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts or design make the lowest salaries of all university graduates; over 20 years, they earn $300,000 less than someone with a philosophy degree.”

Going to art school is not the best way to become rich, but you do hope to be able to survive as a working artist. The challenge of making a living from the arts is something that was recently explored on the PBS Newshour.


Economic Correspondent, Paul Solman, produced two very good stories on how artists were coping in the post 2008 great recession world.


June 27, 2013 – Performing Artists Compete, Move, Adapt in Tough Economy


Sept 21, 2014 – Artists Learn Art of Business to Brave Tough Economic Times


What further complicates things is that the digital revolution is now affecting all aspects of society.


At one time, you had to visit a physical location to see a piece of art. Now, distance is no longer a barrier. You can make a judgement about its value without ever physically encountering the work. The unique object that took the artist time, effort, and money to make is now turned into information of a digital image. Once this conversion happens, the work of art becomes a digital commodity and with a very low threshold to owning. An art poster may lack some of special qualities of physical size and texture, but this is only a marginal lost compare to the image itself.


This is the same problem that authors with paper or musicians with vinyl.


How do you charge for something that can be experienced or consumed for free?


It is not clear from the article whether the OCAD is addressing this problem, but if art schools wish to survive then I believe they must.


Chris Erskine

Art Post No.15

Art Post No.15

Art Post No.15
Art Post No.15

Art Post is a weekly review of the art related activities of Chris Erskine.

I continue to work on the “Bold Street Art Painting Project”.  As I have mentioned before, this project represents my return to painting after about 10 years as a print maker.

In the past, I explored how time impacts an individual or a particular landscape through portrait paintings. Now, I have shifted my focus to urban architectural landscapes.

With my return to painting, I have also decided to switch from acrylics to oils.  Oils have a richness that seems difficult to produce with acrylics.

If you look at the right hand column of photos, you will note my work to date.

After sketching out the various buildings that make up Bold Street project, I decided to jump right into painting composition.  This proved to be a mistake.

So, I took a step back, and decided to do a series of small studies.  This will allow me to work out the details of each building and get more comfortable with using oil paints.

At the moment, I am working on the under-painting in acrylics.  This layer will work out the grey tones in the composition.  Once this is completed, I will add colour using the oil paints.

This is a very traditional-academic approach to painting, I hope it works out.

Chris Erskine



Odds and Ends Mondays – Shameless Self-Promotion Not

Shameless Self-Promotion Not

Chris Erskine Artist
Chris Erskine Artist

Melanie Ezra is an amazing Artist from Wales, and she does a fantastic job at letting people from around the world know about her very original art.


In a recent posting entitled “Shameless Self Promotion,” Ezra said that people thought she was very good at promoting her art, but she disagreed.


Let me paraphrase her points and explain why I disagree with her assessment:


  1. The Art should speak for itself


All art needs help with being seen and understood in the competitive global art market.


Yes, a good gallery will help with this process, but the artist is critical to the promotion his or her work.  Gallery owners have limited resources and need to have successful shows to continue to operate.  If you are not actively trying to generate traffic to your art then you are leaving your fate to whims of the gods.


  1. If I were that good at Public Relations then I would not still need to tell people


As an artist, I am constant growing and developing, and so is my art. If my art is constantly changing then why would I believe it would speak to the same kind of people?  This is assuming that I can somehow connect to all the potential customers in the world at any one moment.


  1. If I was that good at Public Relations, I would be a Public Relations professional


While our calling may be as an artist, this does mean we can’t be good at other things as well.  We are made up of many skills and abilities, being good at public relations is just one set of skills within many others.


  1. There are so many other things I need to do better.


One of my favourite saying is perfection freezes progress.  If you wait until everything is perfect then nothing will ever happen.  So, you move forward and put your self out there.  By making mistakes we learn and grow.


Beyond Ezra’s art, what makes her so remarkable is that she is actually put herself out.


I am constantly looking for artists who promote their art effectively, there are very few.


My list includes only three artists:


Melanie Ezra

Christopher Healey

Mary Michael Shelley


These three artists make a real and consistent attempt to explain their art to the larger world.


Their effort is not shameless self-promotion, but an attempt to share the magic with the people who might be interested.

Chris Erskine



Art Post No.14

11 Feb 2015

Art Post is a weekly review of my art related activities.  Art Post is published every Wednesday morning by 9:00 am.

11 Feb 2015
11 Feb 2015

This week, I continue to work on the Bold Street Painting Project.  This is my big return to painting from 10 plus years as a lino-woodblock print artist. As a self-trained artist, I lack many technical insights that are available to individuals who have completed undergraduates or graduate studio/art history programs.

While some may view this as serious weakness, I choose to view it as strength.  I embrace my outsider status and freely explore the out-of-date or passé approaches to art.  Sometimes too much knowledge can kill creativity or turn something into a visual thesis rather than something to enjoy.

Maybe, I am fooling myself?  You are in a better position to judge than myself.

Anyways, to return to the Bold Street Painting Project, I am not happy with results with the large canvas. So, I have returned to my original plan of working of the sketching details in smaller/single building studies.  Once the problems have been resolved, I will return to the large composition.

The one danger with this approach is the large composition may lose all its potential energy.  Most of my paintings done in the past were done from life.  I find the challenge of completing a work within a single sitting quite fun.  However, the details in buildings and urban landscapes require more time than can be achieved in one or two sittings.  Also, many locations are not the most suitable for extended drawing sessions.  At least that has been my experience in the past.

Chris Erskine


Odds and Ends Mondays

Carnegie Gallery, Dundas (Ont).
Carnegie Gallery, Dundas (Ont).

Art Opening Reception at the Carnegie Gallery

Feb 6th – Christina Sealey revealed her new works at the Carnegie Gallery in Dundas, Ontario.

Christina Sealey is one of my favourite local artists. I have followed Sealey’s artistic developments since her 2002 solo show at Hamilton Artist Inc., when it was located on great factory warehouse site on Vine Street.

I am such a fan, that I commissioned Sealey to do a wonderful portrait of my oldest daughter.

While art reviews are not my thing, I can say what speaks to me as individual and a self-trained artist.

What I love about Sealey’s work is not her master level, painting-drawing, skills, but her exploration of the individual in a deeply urban landscape.  How can you be alone on an old couch when surrounded by the sounds of city life?  Sealey’s people are always separated from the crowd, but still painfully connected.

Human created spaces are everywhere in Sealey’s works, even in the middle of a wooden lot that is actually surrounded by street lights.  The city is never far away in a Sealey’s paintings or drawings.

I would say that these “night” paintings are some of the strongest works I have seen since her 2002 show at the Inc.

In the past, I say that Sealey’s best works were her paintings on canvas, but now she is showing amazing energy with the works on paper.  There is something great happening and I believe a new frontier of exploration is opening up.

The Carnegie Show continues until March.

If you do drop by the Gallery, makes sure to check out the fantastic clay work of Christopher Reid.  I have never seen someone make clay look like beautiful and rich fabric.  It is truly remarkable!

I was also impressed by the acrylic paintings of Iris McDermott in the lower space of the Gallery.  McDermott’s use of color is amazing.

Chris Erskine


Art Post No.13

Art Post No.13 – the Bold Street Painting Project

Chris Erskine