Portfolio Link

Should you be interested in viewing a more "formal" portfolio site, please visit: http://www.carlverster.com

Monday, October 25, 2010

Selling Hot Air

It doesn't take long for the conversation to turn to marketing when talking to a budding artist.
Although it's a natural progression I suppose, it does strike me as being odd when confronted by someone who has produced a handful of pieces who is asking how they go about marketing their art. (I really hope I don't sound arrogant when I say that. I find it odd that they talk to me, and odd because it seems quite presumptious of them to think their art is even worthy of marketing yet -mostly because I spend so much time doubting that mine is!)

Yesterday I was approached by a young man who had heard that I had had some success with selling my art on the internet. He has space in his new house to start sculpting and wanted to know how to go about selling his sculptures on the internet. I confess to having no idea what the quality of his work is, if he has done it before and is starting again or whether this was an idea that just popped into his head and he thought he'd go for it. But I was simultaneously surprised that a bloke with no stock was already trying to work out how he was going to sell it, and impressed that he was asking because he didn't want to end up with a garage full of sculptures and so wanted to find a way of disposing them, which seemed pretty ballsy and sort of noble in that his motivation wasn't money, but space.

Someone I respect once said that no artist should consider trying to sell their work until they had produced 100 pieces. I assume the motivation is to prevent the seeming growing flow of substandard work flooding the market, and preventing the 'artist' from imposing their inferior product on an innocent and unsuspecting public, but I hope that the intention behind the suggestion was really aimed at ensuring the artist learns their craft, hones their skill, and "finds themself" as an artist before making a fool of themselves in public.
Now although I didn't follow this advice and began selling my work soon after starting it (heck, I would have never been able to continue buying material without costs being covered by the sales!), I have to acknowledge that I know now that I know much less than I thought I knew then (if you can follow that cumbersome sentence!). My work has progressed and developed, but I can say with honesty that I feel less confident about the quality of my painting now than I did way back when.

By the way, my recommendation to him was registering with www.southafricanartists.com. I have had some success selling through them, and it is a relatively risk free zone to feel out the market. I have however sold as many works off this blog, off Facebook (believe it or not), via galleries, and via word of mouth.
I still marvel at anyone that has the confidence of this young chap. How is it that he just 'believes' his work will sell, while I still am surprised every time one of my pieces sell?
That kind of confidence is a gift.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Songs cont.

"Here with me", Oil on Canvas, 60cm x 60cm

I will probably still tweak here and there until the exhibition, but essentially, this is it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Peeling Back Layers

I thought I'd write a bit about my last trip to the National Gallery in London.

Over the years, every time I have been to London I have made a point of visiting the gallery and taking time to cruise the halls, and gaze in awe at the work of past masters. A significant amount of that time was spend trying to understand how they painted. As someone who has never studied art formally, the techniques used were a mystery to me. Reading books can only teach one so much. Practical learning takes one further.  For the last year I have shifted from painting with arcylics to painting with oil paints and, having to teach myself, I have been forced to learn the craft from scratch, with only the benefit of what I have read to teach me. 

Well, what I discovered was that, that practical experience has helped me gain a clearer understanding of the methodology of classical artists. Of course, I don't for a second pretend that the quality of my work can be compared to anything in the Gallery. What I am saying is that, through the last years experience of getting to grips with oils I was able to look at, say a Titian, and identify how he worked; to peel back the layers of his work and recognise the methods he used, the techniques, and the order in which he did things.

I realise that this doesn't sound very impressive, but to me it was very exciting.  It also enabled me to view the paintings with a greater depth of insight, and see them each in a whole new light.
At one point I was looking so closely at a work that I think I made the security guard uncomfortable. :)  It felt a little like suddenly having learned to read ... suddenly all the stokes and lines made sense.
Oh, what I would have given to be able to share that experience with someone.

 What I hope is that having a better grip on what they did, I will be able to better adopt their methodolody where I can, and thereby improve my work. What better mentors than the Dutch and Flemish masters!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Echoes ...

"Echoes & Butterflies"
50cm x 50cm x 2cm
Oil on Canvas

This is appropriate listening for this piece:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Off to France

This painting is winging it's way to France as we speak.
 It is rather annoying that my work hits France, Canada, New Zealand, the USA, Tanzania before I do! :)
"Too Disturbed" 60cm x 60cm x 4cm, Acrylic on Canvas

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Have you ever wondered how memory works?
Doesn't it surprise you how fast certain memories fade and how some remain engrained in you, as fresh as it was yesterday; how you can forget this or that, but remember say, exactly what a kiss feels like, even if you haven't been kissed for a few years; the first time someone called you babe, how a scent can whisk you right back to a time and place; how a song can bring back a flood of memories you may never have recalled otherwise?
How the mind works is amazing.  We really still have only the vaguest idea of how the brain functions and how thought takes place and how memory is created. We still have no clue how conciousness is enabled or what makes us sentient. I find this all facinating; and in light of that found a certain podcast I listened to completely captivating. It was an interview of two gents who suffer from a rare disorder called "prosopagnosia". Prosopagnosia is more commonly known as facial blindness. People who have this, cannot recognise people by their faces. They may meet a person, talk to them for an hour, and 5 minutes later not recognise them at all. They may not regognise their loved ones, children, spouses, parents, or even their own reflection. Now what particularly facinated me about this interview was that one of the people being interviewed was a well known artist called Chuck Close. An artist! And get this. Chuck is famous for painting, you guessed it, portraits!
How does that work?!?
He paints what he doesn't really understand!
So I got to wondering, is his innability to emotionally connect with his subject what allows him to do it so freshly?  A little, perhaps like the experiments one conducts in drawing something upsidedown ... how not recognising the object allows one to focus on the lines and dissociate emotionally, and therefore find yourself drawing more accurately, because you are not interpreting the subject.
I think Chuck is able to paint faces in a truely objective way, which gives him a unique take on the faces he paints. Now I'm not saying that emotional detachment makes for better art, but I do have to wonder what the exact impact of prosopagnosia is on his ability.

If you would like to listen to the podcast, you can hear it here. (I hope you find it as interesting as I did)
If you would like to see some of Chuck Close's art click here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Radio Silence

So I guess I have been unusually quiet on the painting front for the last while.
If you're wondering why, it's not because I am hiding, or that my broadband is down, or that I am keeping quiet about the secret projects I am not working on, or that I've been scared off by the FBIC (private joke). Truth is I have been working my proverbial butt off on LOTS of things, and they have not all been art related.
But ... you are right. I have been neglecting my blog, and that's not okay.
So, I hereby solemnly declare that I will communicate more frequently, about meaningful things (it's my blog, so that means meaningful to me) and hopefully it will gratify those people who care enough about what I do and think to keep coming back.
Thanks for watching watchers.

Stand by ...

Monday, October 4, 2010

How to destroy paintbrushes

Step 1: Paint for a few hours using all your favourite brushes.
Step 2: Stop to go and do something else quickly, which turns out to not be quick.
Step 3: Forget that you were painting and have left all your favourite brushes still sitting in turps but unwashed.
Step 4: Go to bed.
Step 5: Wakeup, shower, get dressed, grab your bags, lockup and fly to England (don't forget the getting dressed bit!)
Step 6: Stay in England for over a week.
Step 7: Fly home, go straight to work.
Step 8: Go home and pass out with exhaustion.
Step 9: Wakeup, shower, get dressed, grab your bags, lockup and drive to work and then Joburg (don't forget the getting dressed bit!)
Step 10: Return home 2 days later and find all your favourite expensive brushes completely destroyed.


Friday, October 1, 2010


Somewhere between 3000 and 5000 years ago (... forgive me if that sounds a little vague, but I am quoting the experts here. Yes, I know, 2000 years, give or take, sounds as significant as the difference between the time Christ walked the earth and now, but if the experts are okay with that kind of time disparity who am I to argue?) ... anyway somewhere between 3000 and 5000 years ago a bunch of un-named individuals (more than 500 at least!) got together and decided to shape, and then drag a number of really big rocks (and when I say big, I mean really BIG ... you really have to see to believe just how big) a marathon distance overland to a specific, rather nondescript, spot where they set them in a very particular fashion, that just happens to reflect all sorts of seasonable changes. Stonehenge.

Now considering the population in the UK at this time (whatever time this actually was) was VERY small and very primitive, this is a significant feat of both social co-operation and ingenuity, never mind engineering AND creativity. * Aside - Bill Bryson took time out to mention that the guy who co-ordinated this (hey ... coulda been a girl) must have been one hell of a motivator! True! *
It struck me that there seems to be a very close link between creativity and religion. We believe that Stonehenge had some kind of religious significance to these people, and there is evidence that people conducted ceremonies at Stonehenge over two millenia! Now I realise that Stonehenge is not really regarded as being a art piece per say, but it seemed to me, in walking around it, to be a serious piece of installation art. A few days later, looking at the number of religious paintings on display at the National Gallery in London, a truth, pointed out to me by a significant other, was so, so apparent. Early masters focussed almost exclusively on religious subjects. Consider that.
Consider further that we assume that cave art; that of stoneage man; that of the San, had religious connotations.

I have nothing deep and meaningful to say, other than observe that man, at base, seems to be an artist; and artists, at root, seem fixated with the spiritual.
What do you think that means? Do artists sometimes reflect the creative expression of mans' need, mankinds' hunger, for a relationship with God?

Food for thought.