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"travel-artist" - 5 new articles

  1. New Blog
  2. Collection obsession
  3. Altered states
  4. blue frustrations
  5. Travel Artist Profile: Mary-Anne Bartlett
  6. More Recent Articles

New Blog

I've moved my Travel-Artist blog over to Wordpress, for better integration with my website

Collection obsession

Kitikong in his Chiang Mai gallery

The other day, Seth Godin was talking about how artists can make a living, and some of the inherent difficulties. As he sees it, artists have a limited market for their work with any individual collector: "So, what's the problem? Share of wall. Unlike records or shoes, it's hard to buy a lot of art. Pretty soon, you've got no place left to put it, do you?"

But while Seth knows lots about business and viral marketing, he doesn't know much about the business of art, which works quite differently from your typical model. Collectors are an eclectic bunch. Some focus on the work of a particular artist; others pick and choose from an era or style. They buy for many reasons: some find just the right piece for their mantel; others swoon at a piece and have to have it at any price; some are seduced by a low price tag and a promising CV; and others simply buy for the bottom line investment (though these speculators have temporarily paused, leaving mainly what gallerists like to call "Serious Collectors", flattering their sophistication). More often than not, collectors want a piece of the artist's life, manifested in his/her work. And some can never have enough.

Kitikong, pictured above, is a smart, soft-spoken artist based in Chiang Mai. He prints his own work, and helps other artists print theirs. But he doesn't print the work of just any artist (ordinary artists are welcome to play around in his studio for 500-1000 baht/day if you know what you're doing), no, he's looking to work with high-profile or bankable artists who will add to the stacks of incredible work already jamming his flat-files.

You see, this printer is also a true collector. His name-dropping skills are on par with the hippest gallery-goers in London. He's plugged-in to the gallery scene throughout Asia, L.A., New York and Australia. He knows those whom he wants to work with, and has positioned himself to make this happen. (This artist recently made a series of prints at Kitikong's Chiang Mai-based studio/gallery, C.A.P.)

C.A.P. assistants - they live upstairs, life and work inseparable

Through an ingenious funding scheme, he has created a win-win situation for fellow collectors and artists, and also for himself and his assistants. Kitikong is a great example of how an obsession - because for the best, collecting art is a true obsession - can be turned into more than just decorating our living-room walls.

Altered states

Part painting, part photograph: it's a hand-tinted print

When I decided to hand-tint blueprints for the Hong Kong book, I knew that there would be some puzzled reactions: is it a painting or a photo, or something in between? For centuries, hand-tinting has been a common way to enhance black-and-white photographs, woodblock prints, and etchings.

After weeks of experimentation, I found that blueprinting for less time (underexposing them in the sun) gave me more freedom when tinting. Instead of simply coloring the prints, I enhanced them, expanded their borders, and blurred distracting details. Beginning with blue adds a brilliance of color straight away, whereas black or sepia subdue it.

When I paint the photo-sensitive chemicals before exposure, I selectively apply them with a brush. Once it's hand-tinted afterwards, it's actually a twice-painted print.

For another perspective, Jeane Vogel talks about hand-altered photographs and their ambiguous position between painting and photography here.


blue frustrations

My roofless dream cottage next to the sea in Peng Chau, for a forthcoming book

When most people move to the bottom half of the world, their litany of concerns goes something like this: how will we get the furniture there, what car shall we buy, what x-rays/shots will I need, where will the kids go to school, etc. Mine center on how to work in a new environment.

How strong is the sunlight? (Sydney has strong UV and lots of sunshine - one reason I was interested in moving here)

What's there to shoot or sketch?

How important are the arts in its residents' priorities?

But a crucial question for many alt-process artists like me is: where's a printshop to make negatives? (see picture below - none of this happens without large-scale negatives)

Hand-tinted blueprint demo from the book

It's a rare print shop that's willing to risk its overheated machines and run my plastic transparencies through them. So far I've spoken with a dozen places in my neighborhood and in central Sydney, but haven't found anywhere that can make a successful print; the rare printers willing to try just shake their heads as my acetates jam their machines.

So with some deadlines looming this week, I've crossed my fingers and printed dozens of images from paper negatives, as architects used to do with their drawings. I've printed these images over and over, for different exposure times, at different chemical concentrations, onto various surfaces. Tracked blue footprints down our newly-carpeted hallway. Spattered the bathroom with cyan rinsewater. I'd hoped that with some tweaking I could get something beautifully blue.

Nope. Not a single image was serviceable, let alone satisfying. The paper simply blocked too much sun, so the prints had very little contrast. Instead, I've had to focus on other endeavors before I leave for Asia.

Still these attempts have gotten me out of my new neighborhood comfort zone: I've shot a new series and will print it - somehow - when I'm back later this year.

There's always a reason for whatever we're doing, sometimes we've just got to make it up as we go along.

Travel Artist Profile: Mary-Anne Bartlett

Artist on safari

As the founder of Art Safari, Mary-Anne Bartlett seamlessly combines artwork with travel, for destinations from Antarctica to Zambia. A woman of many talents, she has also co-written a guidebook on Malawi.

Here she's written an excellent article packed with advice on how to travel. She categorizes sketching travellers into three types: the 'painting traveller', the 'artist on holiday' and the 'travel artist'.

Which one are you?

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