This 2 weeks have flown by while the weather has been so damn cold. Hard to get a lot done in -40 while we get a cold spell. But things are looking up! Weather changing this weekend as the temperature goes above freezing.
I haven’t painted as much this past week as I work on a plan to market my art better. I need to reach people that like the themes I paint. I am working on writing down notes on how I plan to tackle getting or reaching more eyeballs of people that like my art.
As an aside, I am also writing 2 books that I hope to self-publish on Amazon. The first is a book I have started a few years ago on how to survive a stroke. Given I have had 5 major strokes and 4 mini-strokes, I can say I have the experience to write this book. It’s been hard to write and quite emotional for me. The second book is on being Productive and software / Apps I use to manage and leverage my time. This has been a work in progress for 2-3 years. But its time I got around to publishing both books.
I have also been taking a lot of courses this past month. I am planning on launching a new Youtube channel with some new videos hopefully in the next month or so. I hope to display some art and techniques I use to create. A lot of folks have asked how I create my art. So I want to share how I do it.
Earlier this month I found I was getting into conflicts with a few people on Facebook groups justifying my art and it was negative for me. I have spent a lot of time assembling training on my techniques but it has taken way more time to complete. Motivation is not a problem. Many folks don’t realize how much work goes into writing lesson plans, recording videos and then editing them so they make sense. Social media should not be negative but the reality is there are a lot of haters out there, around the globe. I reach over 250,000 when I publish or promote my art, but I am bound to reach some very negative people.
Anyway, 2022 I can say will be my year as I launch a bunch of stuff and turn 60 in mid May this year. Have a great week / month! Stay warm!! And Covid free!
Today as I was updating my website, reviewing my 2022 personal goals, I started assembling ideas for a post. I want to update my blog at least once a week in 2022 if I can manage it. So I thought I would continue with the Frequently Asked Questions theme or “Q and A”. So here it goes…
1. Do you make prints or canvas copies of all your art?
Answer: No I do not. I do print some for my own personal collection and do print about 40% of what I create. Of those, currently I am printing most on canvas and then mounted on stretcher bars. I have a large collection of prints on satin, high quality paper that could be framed.
2. When you say you use Reference Images, what does that mean?
Answer: I use a reference image when I do not know how to paint a picture or if I see a picture of my own or a friend that I want to paint. If I paint someone else’s picture, I always ask for permission. I then show them the finished painting before posting. If a person does not want me to digitally paint a picture, I do not.
In recent times, I have seen photos on Facebook, Instagram or on a website, and approached the owner. This was the case with the “Greek” themed images I posted. In certain cases, if the photographer will allow me, I will offer prints up for sale. I ONLY do this if they okay it. My goals would be to offer to split the profit with the artist.
3. Do I “Trace” images or “Filter” images in Adobe Photoshop?
Answer: When I was starting out, like many new hobby artists, I would Trace. Bu in the last 3 years, 99.9% are NOT traced. But I can duplicate the image in Procreate (my software on my iPad Pro that I use to create art) and it looks very detailed. I strive to duplicate the image but make different brushstrokes and textures.
Some people have commented they see brushstrokes or “filter marks” if you zoom in. Those marks are created by me with special custom brushes. I can create “digital” brushstrokes that resemble the shadows cast by ridges made brushes. I paint these on a separate layer above the image and then lower the opacity by 96-98%. Its very subtle but it works and adds texture.
4. How do you price your artwork?
Answer: In most cases it depends on the printing costs, the shipping to get printed canvases or paper prints sent to me. I then add a amount for my time (always much less than the actual time I have invested in it). I also based prices on the size of a print or canvas. A 12” x 16” canvas will be much cheaper than a 24” x 20” canvas. One other factor that affects price is how deep the canvas stretcher bars are. They vary from 3/4” to 1.5” depth.
5. Do you still paint Acrylics and Watercolours?
Answer: Yes, but not as much. The challenge is that sitting to paint at a table or in front of an easel, is very sore after 20-30 minutes. When I paint digitally on my iPad, I sit on a chair or couch.
In the last year, I have been experimenting with water colours again, coloured pencils and some paints from England. I have also been experimenting more and more with pen and ink. But I have not released many of these as I need a lot more practice.
In 2022, I hope to do more original watercolour paintings and the create prints. Originals will go for more money but prints will run in the $150-$250 range and be numbered with small print runs (under 200).
6. Do you paint from your own photos?
Answer: Absolutely! I take about 25-250 photos each week, especially when I got to the lake or cabin. I don’t paint them all but pick out 5-10% the best ones to paint.
Lately, I have painted digital paintings of other photographers (with permission) as I admire many creative artists. I do not normally paint other artists paintings. But that said, some of my art of landscapes and lakes look alot like other artists paintings. Some of my paintings of the Pine Pass area west of town is a common location for paintings and photographs.
7. Do you paint animal or pet portraits?
Answer: I have in the past for close friends who have lost pets. But I don’t do them regularly as they take alot of time. The ones I have done were well received and were fun to paint!
8. Do you use any special tricks in terms of equipment other than iPad and Apple pencil?
Answer: I use special tips made out of a rubber material that makes it less slippery. I also use a protective glass cover over the iPad screen. I have some people use custom stands and mirrors but I don’t have these or use them. I am due for a new Apple pencil and wait till I get a new “M1” iPad Pro when I can afford it. I need the largest size iPad Pro, the 12.9” as my vision is not great.
9. Where do you post your pictures and new art?
Answer: I currently post on my blog and website (www.gordoncurrieart.com) as well as my Instagram page (#gordonfcurrie) as well as my Facebook pages. I have been posting on large procreate art groups (public and private) and was able to reach over 200,000 procreate fans. But lately, I have restricted some of my posts on Facebook groups as I have attracted a few “haters” or people who are abusive. It’s surprising how many people ask me to upload tutorials or techniques I use. (See next question).
10. Do you offer courses, tips and techniques or books / training?
Answer: This is the question I get asked almost daily! Yes, I am working on all of these.
In terms of Tips and Techniques, I share these all the time on my Facebook page, my blog on my website and on a app that I use (look up VisualTribe app). Many of my Facebook followers like to see art but many are not interested in how I create art. On my blog, I can share more with no restrictions.
Currently, I am working on some beginner and advanced courses and hope to sell them on various platforms (ex: Teachable, Skillshare etc). But they take alot of work as I want to upload videos and they take a lot of time. Even writing lessons plans in very time intensive.
I love to teach and share how to digitally paint. You use similar techniques as traditional watercolours and acrylics. But the differences are you can undo or redo, cut / copy and paste. This makes a big difference. Also, you can paint in layers and then apply custom effects. Lastly, you can use glazing techniques and custom opacity effects.
This blog post is some random thoughts / notes I have been making this past few days. I thought I might share.
I post a lot of my art on Facebook and I have about 800 subscribers currently. Additionally, I post to about 5 FaceBook Procreate groups, that probably haver close to 70-80 thousand members. I also post on my Instagram account (#GordonFCurrie).
This past few months, I am seeing more and more people sending me direct messages to post on Online Gallery’s for exposure. The problem is they want me to pay them fees for exposure. The reality is they basically link out to artists around the globe and try to monetize (make money) from my art. They might generate likes but most are from robots or people in small countries who are paid to like posts and don’t really care if I paint. I don’t want to fall into this trap. Its not honest.
I am also seeing more and more people sending me direct messages wanting to explain how I created the art. They want FREE tutorials, posting of screen recordings. I did this a few times and the videos were stolen and used to sell by someone overseas. Using my art.
So, the simple answer is I am saving my training notes, my creation videos and hope to launch a new course on digital painting in 2022 that will reveal my digital painting secrets. I don’t paint for money, but I am on a limited disability income and hope to subsidize my income one day to cover expenses. I need to budget for a new M1 iPad Pro as my is getting old. The plan is to make it affordable but I don’t wish to give it all away. Likes and comments don’t pay bills. That’s the sad reality today.
In 2022, I want to step up my game and start selling prints or canvases of my art. It will take a lot of expense and time. I have a lot of prints and painting canvases ready to go now, but this past few months I have tried to deal with health issues first. I do not want to put on a huge display and risk getting Covid or a variant. But between selling prints and teaching a little course in the new year…. Well, that’s what I am hoping for.
The other side effect is about 98% of my art fans love my art. But that 2% of haters are very critical of my techniques and feel I should explain every step on how I create my art. Rather than advise how realistic the art looks, they assume I copied it. I guess I just need to ignore them. But its frustrating at times.
I do create realistic art, but it takes hours for me to create. I usually can’t sit for more than 20-30 minutes without a break. Some of my techniques utilize 1-2 programs. I use Photoshop sometimes to mockup or bash together ideas and that makes people pissed off. I have no sight in my right eye and I am legally vision impaired. I use some programs to get the effects I want. But 95% is done manually painting with an Apple pencil on my iPad, not a computer using filters.
I paint for me and need to always focus on the enjoyment of painting and be positive. I have digitally painted for 30 years and the last 5 in Procreate. I am on the Beta program of newer versions of Procreate so I get to experiment a lot. My point being, I have spent hundreds of hours painting digitally but also in watercolours and acrylics. So, a person starts to improve and I think I am getting better at it. Anyway, no more complaining. Thanks for listening.
I get a lot of questions about my art so I decided to share some answers to common questions. I post my images on Facebook to over 1100 people, about 12 Art Groups, Instagram and to many of the buyers who have bought my art. Hopefully, these answers will help.
When did you start painting or doing art?
I started painting Watercolours about 16 years ago when my wife gave me a gift certificate for lessons. Within a year I sold about $3000 in original sales and another $25,000 in giclėe prints. A few years later I started painting acrylics for the rich colour. At age 51, I suffered my first stroke.
After multiple strokes, I started painting digitally, about three years ago. I know paint digitally about 85-90% of the time. I actually started painting over 30 years ago when Adobe Photoshop when it came out. I started teaching Photoshop as well as consulting on graphic design, teaching all over the US and western Canada on a daily basis.
So, although I have only painted for three years on the iPad Pro, I have over 30 years of experience and a lot of art experience. Through lots of practice, traditional painting, almost daily digital painting, my art is developing (hopefully for the better).
How often do you paint digitally?
I paint on my iPad almost daily if I can, even if its 15-20 minutes, then I take a break. In a typical day, I might paint 3-5 hours a day (depending on my health).
Most of my painting is done in the 7am till 10am and usually between 7pm till 11 pm with many breaks every 20-30 mins. I try to produce 2-3 pieces of art per week.
This past few months I resurrected 25-30 paintings I started a year ago and I am now finishing. There was usually a technical reason I did not finish them (lack of a texture or custom brush needed). So in many cases, I might go weeks without posting, then post 4-6 images at once. It appears I have been busy, but it varies.
Do you paint “traditionally”?
Yes, I still paint acrylics and a little watercolour. I also paint with Gouache, Pen and Ink, but in smaller amounts. The restriction with my acrylics is that my back and neck hurt a bit and so sitting at my easel is hard some days. If I paint closeup in acrylics, sometimes I get dizzy when I sit up but that varies day by day.
The other issue with traditional painting is the costs of paints and canvases. For a while, I was not receiving any income until my disability income was approved. So, I had to watch my budget.
Many people do not realize that painting with real paint is part of the experience. Like finger painting as a child, you can’t beat the feel of paint and the smell.
How do you paint so realistically?
A big part of realistic painting, is the research and “pre-painting” work. This coupled with the huge custom brush library, I can strive for a lot of realism.The custom brushes are very tied to the custom “textures” and “brush shapes”. I have hundreds of textures available to me to recreate wood, tree bark, rocks and stone patterns, rust and metal finishes.
In many cases, I might use a metallic texture on some wood patterns.When it comes to foliage, I have hundreds of textures and have specific ones for certain types of trees. Some of my old growth forest paintings use custom “cedar” bark textures. These textures really help a lot.
Lastly, the other aspect of painting realistically, is creating natural “mistakes” in nature. So for old, decrepit, weathered leaf patterns, broken twigs, miss coloured patterns. This is sometimes referred to as chaos theory in nature. Making naturally looking mistakes adds realism to paintings.
You create a lot of digital paintings in Procreate. Why? Do you use other programs like Adobe Photoshop?
I use a lot of different techniques to create my art. In some of my images, I use more than one program. For example, I might start a painting using 3-4 images in Photoshop and “ mashup” and image, much like a collage. Then I might sketch out a initial concept in Procreate.
I have also some custom filters and effects in my software as well as techniques I have learned while creating concept art for my US graphic arts clients. This has helped me as well.
You post how long it takes you and how many brushes you use. Why is that? How many brushes do you have? Why?
I do a lot of training and post my work all over. Many people ask me for advice on what brushes I use, techniques I use, layers used in Procreate and many more. The most common question: “How long does it take to paint your images”. It always is of interest and many other artists assume I work quicker when in many cases it takes me 3-4 times as long. In other cases, concept drawings only taken 3-6 hrs, versus 20-30 hours.A big part of my art is sharing HOW I paint. So I like to share details and encouragement. Ultimately, I also like to teach and can share alot that would be of interest to other artists.
How much time do you paint versus research?
Most cases, I can create a painting in 13-18 hrs of actual painting. But there is alot more to painting than the creation of the art.Most people do not realize there are important aspects of the painting process. They include:
Research of the subject
Reference photos of certain aspects of a painting (ex: painting realistic horses)
Custom textures and effects used
Custom brush creation and modification
Names for paintings (this is done sometimes before I start a painting)
Choosing the size (dimensions) and resolution (usually 300 pixels per inch).In many cases, I can spend as much time in the above stages BEFORE I make the first brushstroke.
Why do I paint? Besides enjoying art and creating stuff……
Painting is fun, exciting but also helps me reduce stress, helps me deal with health challenges like my vision challenges (I am 99% blind in my right eye), keeps me busy at home now that I am on a permanent disability.I have a list of a few hundred things I would like to paint before I loose any more feeling in my feet or hands. ( I have type 2 diabetes and was insulin dependent till about 5 months ago).
Do you “photo-bash” images?
“Photo-bashing” is the process of mixing a series of photos, usually in Photoshop, to create the image I want to paint. For example, I might want to paint a barn. In addition, I might add in a horse, a old truck and a blue sky with clouds. So I might create this concept in Photoshop and then use it for inspiration and as a reference image or guide.
Most of my images start in my head or dreams. But if I wish to paint a horse or cowboy, I may not know how to paint them. So I do research and in some cases, preliminary “concept” pre-paintings so my horse or cowboy, in this example, looks realistic.
What are your favourite subjects that you like to paint?
I paint many different images and themes. When I started painting watercolours, I painted alot of gardens and Japanese themes. But some themes looked far better in acrylics (primarily due to the opaque nature of acrylics.Now, I can say some of my favourite themes include:
Japanese gardens, monuments, stone and rock-work
Marinas and fishing boats from the Pacific Northwest
Pets (dogs mostly)
Old Growth Forests from BC
Old Railcars / Steam Engines
Fantasy pictures (Knights, Old cities, Medieval times etc)
My wife’s Gardens and yard
Old cars from Europe
Old bands / musicians like Hendrix / Jerry Garcia
Mountain landscapes / mountain ranges / lakes
Natures scenes, fall scenes, birds and owls
Western themes (cowboys, old western building, horses etc.)
This digital painting started as a concept idea I had of a cowboy in town for the Saloon opening up. Created in Procreate 5.2 and with the Apple pencil, it used about 11 brushes, 10 layers and 12-14 hours work. This painting accompanies the other two in my western series.