Irony of a Studio Accident

So I have kind of an ironic story about a studio accident I had with these pins I use so much in my art.

I was snipping some with wire cutters and try as I may to contain the pieces some went here and there around my studio floor.

One stray went straight into the bottom of my heavily soled studio shoes. Unaware I carried it around with me until it was time to take off my shoes. My shoes are backless so I just kick them off using my other foot.  Using the foot that already had the shoe removed I kicked the back of the other shoe to remove it. Missing; my foot slipped and I stabbed myself in my big toe with the stray pin. Ouch! Hopped around a bit and thought nothing of it and went to bed.

Next day the big toe hurt even more and two days later the big red streak appeared. I was infected! What the heck? I prick myself with pins all the time.

Off to the doctor thinking I was going to have to have my toe lanced. All he gave me was antibiotics and suggested that the pin had some bacteria on it.

A few days later while taking my daily look at my unfortunate big toe to see how the infection was receding; I noticed a tiny pin head (pun intended) size dark spot, hum.  So I mustered up some courage and placed an ice pack on my toe for 10 minutes to numb it. Then I got a needle, tweezers and some alcohol swabs, disinfected them and held my breath.

I opened the sore and called my husband; this was a two person job. While I held back a piece of skin he was able to grab a hold of the dark spot (which we thought was just dried blood or something), pulling out a 3/8” (I measured it) piece of pin; the pointy part.

The body is an amazing thing; it was trying to eject this foreign object from my toe. My big toe feels so much better now, thank you.

The irony is that while I am using pins and needles to make an artistic statement about what stilettos can do to harm your feet, this very item ended up harming my foot.

Do you have a studio accident that you survived to tell the story?

Bev Tosh – A Finer Artist

I met Bev Tosh in the early 90’s as a student in her figure drawing class at the University of Calgary. Later I attended her figure painting workshop at Series in Red Deer – twice. When I left my design business to pursue my art career full time an opportunity came available for studio space with Burns Visual Arts Society. Bev is one of the founding members of BVAS and I was honoured to have my studio space in the same building as her’s.

My tenure at BVAS was 4 1/2 years during which time I met some pretty amazing artists and made some great friends. I would still be there today if I hadn’t moved away from Calgary. I miss the creative energy of BVAS.

In 2007 I had the privilege of showing with Bev and our dear friend Elizabeth Clark (1947-2008), in our exhibition “Home Bodies” at Profiles Public Art Gallery in St Albert.
For me as emerging artist, this was a milestone and an exhibition that I will always be proud of.

Home Body Exhibition
Home Body Exhibition

Bev also provided me with the opportunity to work on her first website when I was just starting  We recently converted the old HTML site over to WordPress so that Bev could add and maintain her content. But more than that – At the time I was developing the WordPress Help site for artists and Bev generously acted as my editor, going through each tutorial one by one and offering feedback and telling me where to insert my commas (I’m really bad with commas).

Bev was very generous with her time; in fact Bev is simply a very generous person, period. Her work with the war brides is nothing short of profound. Collecting the stories and painting portraits about these amazing women who gave up life as they knew it to venture forth to a new country, Bev has captured the essence of a generation.

Bev Tosh War Brides New Zealand
War Brides, Otago Settlers Museum Dunedin, New Zealand

As a documenter and artist, Bev has single handedly become a historian and lecturer about war brides. Her exhibition “One Way Passage” has been shown as far away as New Zealand and she is currently working on a Dutch War Bride exhibition. For little or no monetary gain other than honorariums, Bev funds the travel, insurance and crating of her work.

Passion is just one of the best words that I can use to describe Bev. That and modest; she achieved R.C.A designation with little fanfair. R.C.A. is an acronym for Royal Canadian Academy, one of the highest honours for a Canadian Artist.

I once heard someone in the arts community say that Bev’s pursuit of the War Brides work was a career killer. I was shocked because I have always been under the impression that success as an artist wasn’t about the money but truth. Truth of concept, truth in passion, truth of self. If you sit and talk with Bev you will experience what passion is, what it looks like in someone that has it and aspire to reach that level of belief in yourself and your work.

So while we are all pondering where our next sale is going to come from, perhaps we could  define what it is to be an artist. When I moan and groan over my lack of commercial sales I think about what Bev has accomplished and ask myself what does my success as an artist really mean?

High Art - PinPoint

I have been very fortunate to have had a few studio visits over my career. The last one is of considerable note but before you get all glad on me; even though it lasted 3 hours, alas it did not lead to representation. But he was very generous with his time and for that I am very grateful.

This gallery owner said as he was viewing the piece that is pictured here, that it was “high art”. So what does that mean exactly? Is it just a nice way to say that my work isn’t salable?

This is what I found when I did a search on the term “High Art”.

Let’s make a list of the things that characterize high art and distinguish it from low art.

1. Complexity of formal properties.
2. Complexity of the responses to the works, which sometimes have no name.
3. The fact that a full and fuller understanding of the work (either the form or the content) allows for an ever fuller enjoyment of the work. One has to gradually grow into the work. It does not reveal everything it has in one exposure.
4. The fact that a full understanding of the work can enhance an understanding of other aspects of life as well.
5. The fact that great works of high art are cross-cultural. They can be enjoyed by people of other cultures who have no other experience of the culture that generated the great work. Each great work of art is potentially a work of world art, not subject to the conditions of its composition.
6. If, according to 5, the work does not fade with distance, it is also true that it does not fade with time.
7. Works of high art are deeply related to morality, in the widest sense of the term, and sometimes problematize morality itself.
8. High art has a history, in which styles, techniques, genres and the entire orientation of the work of art is changed. Properly speaking, low art has no history.
9. Works of high art are individual. They bespeak a personality behind the work. Low art is best when it is anonymous.

Read the rest of this article by Lawrence Nannery

So according to this particular gallery owner rather than trying to find gallery representation apparently I need a patron (one that supports, protects, or champions someone or something). So here goes…

WANTED: One (or two) filthy rich self made entrepreneurs from “high culture” with an appreciation of “high art”. Preference given to those with a slight feminist bend. Please apply within.

Gallery Rejections: I’ve had a few

Over the years I have made 100’s of submissions and like you I have had gallery rejections way too many times. This isn’t an article about how to handle rejection. We all know that we just pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and try and try again.

This is a list of my all time favorite rejection letters, emails. Here goes…

“We are not accepting any submissions right now because we have too many artist.

Good Luck,”

If they have “too many artists” would this not be a disservice to their gallery artists.  Okay; moving on…

“I wish I had the space, you would not believe how jammed up my backroom is!

We damaged two pieces this morning just trying to move things around… : (“

Good to know how you handle the work in your care…moving on.

“Are you doing a new series of encaustic work for the summer in a brighter palette?”

Not the right question (see my post Paint, sculpt, print what you want)

“Thank you for the update, but yours is not the work for me. Best of luck to you.”

Straight and to the point.

“Please remove us from your mailing list. Many thanks.”

Okay then…

One of my favorites:

“Thank you for your submission but upon review we feel your work does not fit with the curatorial vision of the gallery as we are looking for landscape artists.”

I submitted my encaustic landscapes.

My all time favorite:

“Thank you for contact. We love your work and hope to further talk with you on your preferences for an exhibit in our space.”

“We would be interested in knowing if you are comfortable with showing single pieces or if you favor the all story with the all number in the series. Either way we would set dates with you for exhibiting in the coming year !”

“If this is conciliatory with your vision let us know and would be rather exciting if you were to send an example of your work for our tactile appreciation of it.”

I know it reads as an acceptance but here’s what happen:

I was thrilled that I received such a quick response, like the next day and in response to my email requesting their submission guidelines. It wasn’t a formal submission, but I do send all my emails with a link to my website in the signature. So I thought that they clicked through to my website and voila. Also I know that one of the gallery artists recommended me so I thought perhaps they prescreened me.

I decided rather than email back and forth that I would start the relationship off on the right foot and phone the gallery to talk in person. Which I did but was put through to voicemail. So I left a message thanking them and asking for a call back to discuss which series and which piece they would like me to send.

Nothing – no response.

So I sent an email, still no response.

Well anything could have happened. Maybe they went on vacation the very next day. Maybe (god forbid) someone died. I waited a week, still no response. I tried again to phone; voice mail and I left another message. Nothing.

Finally I sent one last email and to this day have never heard back. I can only guess about what happened and it is my guess is that they sent the email to the wrong artist and didn’t have the courage to fix or admit the error. Obviously I will never submit to this gallery again.

Moving on…

Do you have a favorite rejection letter you would like to share?

Paint Sculpt Print What You Want

© Kim Bruce- Sad Tail

no images were found

I was talking to a fellow artist last week about the in’s and out’s of being an artist and in that conversation I found myself saying quit profoundly:

“Just tell me what you want me to paint and I will paint it”

This was on the heels of a discussion about how the gallery system tries to manipulate the artist voice and steer the artist in one direction or the other to make them produce work that in invariably the same but sale-able.

It is kind of a double edge sword. On the one hand we want to sell our work so then why not produce what the market wants and your sales are hence forth guaranteed… aren’t they? The gallery said they would be. But on the other hand, hum… are you copping out?

We want to paint, sculpt, print what we want to paint, sculpt, print and the dam market is suppose to come breaking down our doors to get it.  But they don’t.  So you compromise and paint, sculpt, print what the market wants so that you can paint, sculpt, print what the hell you want and decorate your own walls and the walls of your family and friends (hey that’s their job, to support you with their walls).

So tell me what do you think about creating what the market wants so you can create what you want?