Are You The Artist?

“Are you the artist?”

I get asked this question approximately twenty times per day each summer, and even more so on weekends and holidays. I can understand why people ask it– after all, I’m standing behind a table full of artwork and have a cheery, “Ask me Anything!” expression on my face. However, the question always makes me laugh. Why? Because, sitting less than a foot behind me– on a concrete pedestal, no less– is The Artist Himself, paintbrush in hand, easel and canvas on full display. He might as well be wearing a beret (though a straw fedora lends itself nicely to the artist stereotype as well).

Marty at the Harbour. He is literally right behind me, i.e. I spun around and took this photo of him painting.

Marty at the Harbour. He is literally right behind me, i.e. I spun around and took this photo of him painting.

(It’s also funny because we have numerous “Acrylic Paintings by Martin Machacek” signs plastered everywhere, some of them giant ones. A few of these signs even feature larger-than-life-sized photos of a bearded, blond man on them. With a paintbrush in his hand. I don’t know how much more direct we need to be with our messaging, but it appears the most crucial bit of information– the Not-So-Secret-Identity of the Artist– is still getting lost in translation.)

An actual sign at our harbour booth. This one is about 4 feet tall. (Shakes head in disbelief.)

An actual sign at our harbour booth. This one is about 4 feet tall. But are you the artist, miss? (Shakes head in disbelief.)

Anyway. Sometimes, in response to the “Are you the artist?” question, I’ll state the obvious: “Actually, my husband is the painter”, while subtly tilting my head back in Marty’s general direction. Other times, I’ll let my sweeping Vanna White motions do the talking for me. [In exaggerated pantomime] Wow, right behind me is…. A NEW CAR! THE ARTIST HIMSELF! Would you look at that! [Imaginary clapping and fanfare]

The truth is, I am an artist, just not the capital-A Artist that people are referring to when they ask me The Question. I do lots of creative things, both business-related and in my spare time, but Marty is The Painter and understandably gets the spotlight when we are down at the Harbour. (It would be creepy and disturbing otherwise, no?)

Me being artsy. (Not to mention orange.)

Me being artsy. (Not to mention orange.)

Over the past few months, Marty and I hatched a way to blend his creative energy with my artistic awesome-sauce. After much deliberation and several bad ideas, we came up with videos. Time lapse videos, to be more specific. We figured, “Hey! You [Marty] make super cool paintings, and I [Dana] know nothing about making videos whatsoever! We don’t even own a camcorder (or whatever the hi-tech term is for those newfangled machines that record moving pictures)! Therefore, we MUST make videos of you [Marty] painting! THEY WILL BE AMAZING!”

Ha. This is how I suddenly became great friends with Google. After doing some preliminary research, I determined that:

  1. This would be so much easier to do with a camcorder! But what fun is ‘easy’ when you can make things way more complicated than they need to be?
  2. In the absence of a camcorder, I still didn’t own– or want to purchase– an “intervalometer” to help me time the photo taking remotely on my camera 
  3. I definitely didn’t own– or want to purchase– a graphing calculator to help me time the photo taking remotely on my camera (because, hello— the lack of graphing calculators is the main reason why I majored in Communications in the first place)
  4. I didn’t even want to borrow a graphing calculator from somebody else, because that would mean I’d have to program it to take time lapse photos, and even I’m not that big of a dork
  5. I might want to borrow a camcorder from somebody else, but meh– I was too lazy for that and would rather spend hours on Google trying to figure out camcorder alternatives instead
  6. Time lapse video making was still possible with our older camera. I’d have to rig up a tripod, many random cords, a camera, my laptop, and free software… in our kitchen… but making a time lapse video was still possible. Perfect.

And so (drumroll please), we did it! Marty hunkered down in his painting cubby (you can’t even call it a “studio”), I worked some serious nerd magic on the laptop, and our camera magically started taking photographs every five seconds. It took Marty a while to adjust to having his picture taken by the kitchen paparazzi every few seconds, but eventually, he settled into a rhythm and created his masterpiece. When he finished, I spent some more time poring over DIY video-making threads online and finally figured out how to stitch everything together into a bonafide time lapse video! Behold– my masterpiece:

Hey??? Are you super impressed or super DUPER impressed? Haha! I had caught the time lapse video-making bug– a rare but apparently potent condition. Ahem. So I made another time lapse video of Marty painting, this time taking my nerdiness to the next level and individually screening each and every photo (over 10,000 of them!) before stitching them together in a moving picture. So it could be crisp and perfect, obviously. (And don’t even start: I already know how deep I am into those dork-o-rama waters.) Anyway. I can’t even tell you how proud I am of this particular video (below), because doing so would reveal all sorts of geeked-out layers in my psyche, and I’m not prepared to do that just yet. We’re still at the “taking it slow” phase, right? But check this out:

I know. I KNOW!! I love this video because I can honestly say, “I made that!” at the end. Am I the artist? Hell, yes! Did I figure out a convoluted but effective way to create time lapse videos, without a camcorder or a closet full of geek equipment? Double hell, yes! Now all I need is a beret. And Vanna White. And then I’m set!   

36 responses

    • Thanks, Cindy! This must be what having children feels like– painful to get there but totally rewarding at the end. 🙂

      ^^ Spoken like somebody who has no children, right? Haha.

    • Confession time! After consulting The Internet, I determined– hopefully not incorrectly!– that an explicit nod to the music used was sufficient in these videos, particularly because we are not selling anything or otherwise distributing the vids for profit. The whole point was to feature music that Marty actually listens to while creating his paintings, i.e. songs that inspire his creative process! (If I suddenly get dragged to Alternative Music jail, though, we’ll know the reason why.)

  1. I’m glad you bragged about your work all over the blog. I noticed that nowhere on either of those videos did you credit yourself as the artist that you truly are. You’ve done some really impressive work!

    • Marty wanted me to put my name on the videos, too, but I didn’t want to confuse things. (After all, there are a lot of names in the videos already: Marty’s name, his company’s name, the band name, song title, painting title, etc.) Instead, I decided to write a blog post and make it SUPER OBVIOUS that I made these videos! We have also given me credit for them through Marty’s newsletter and his art FB page. 🙂

  2. Dana, this is truly amazing. TRULY! I can’t imagine ever being able to create something that awesome. Without a camcorder? Just lil ole you? I think it would be very challenging for an artist like yourself to be with someone who is more “out” as an artist. I’d be feeling–sometimes–like everyone was looking at the main dude and missing out on the main dudette. (OK, Marty is way talented. But so are you!) I’m just projecting what part of me would feel like…

    • I’m going to get all Freudian on you now, Kathy: I secretly *like* being out of the spotlight. Not because I don’t like attention– because I can ham it up like anyone else– but because I don’t like the RESPONSIBILITY that comes with that attention. I’ve done some psychological digging on myself, and I believe that I’m giving my all to this art business so that I can share in all the kudos and rewards WITHOUT having to deal with any blame or criticism when/if something goes wrong… or especially when somebody “doesn’t like” something. (It slays me when that happens.) Marty’s artwork is a way for me to (sort of) put myself out there while still retaining a significant buffer of psychic safety. But it’s my ‘shadow career’ in a sense– one of these days, I’ll have to step out of the shade and into the spotlight myself. (How’s that for deep?) 😉

      • Wow! I think this is extremely insightful, Dana. There is a part of me that has never wanted to be in the spotlight, either. We must learn to be very tender with the parts of ourselves that despair with blame or criticism. Am actually just learning, after all these years, to tenderly allow those parts of myself without going all unconscious with the pain of it.

        • It doesn’t help that our star signs (Cancer) are so fragile and sensitive, either. I was actually just “prescribed” some crystals to help me filter out the energies of others. (Black tourmaline and Arizona tourquoise, FYI.) I have a tendency to ride other people’s energies a whole lot– positive or negative– so this way, I can wrap myself in a protective, crystalline cocoon and keep my energies safe to myself. (I don’t even care if it’s all a placebo effect. To me, feeling shielded by my tourmaline pendant is totally worth it!)

  3. Really well done, Dana. Great to watch hours of work unfold so quickly. Bet Marty finds it useful, watching his technique/sequence, too.
    As it emerged, the Saddledome one held a “receding floodwaters” feel for me.

    It might make you feel better to know that I am often asked the same question: “Are you the artist?”, except it is while I’m drawing. .. which kind of stings.
    Some of the real creativity lies with coming up with new Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions.
    I loved it when the guys at the hotdog stand, one year, came out with t-shirts reading: “No, I don’t know who owns that yacht”.

    • Thanks, Dean. Marty gets asked The Question, too, and same thing: he is full-on painting when people ask it. Seriously, people? Sometimes, when people ask him “Are you the artist?”, he likes to answer a simple “Nope!” and keep on painting. Sometimes, though, he also answers that he’s “just learning” and will “hopefully figure out how to draw straight lines soon”. Hahahaha!

      I was thinking of making a “Not the Artist” t-shirt, but people would still ask the question and then I’d be gesturing to my own, um, chestal region a lot. Better to just channel Vanna, methinks. 🙂

      Are you still in SK? How’s your mom doing?

      • Yes, her mobility is not the greatest, and still a ways from getting back to the point of her former independence.
        I’m doing my best to balance out the blizzards, snow-shovelling and roof-ice removal with some fun, curling, but generally pretty happy to be here helping mom along.

        • Haha– sorry to laugh, Dean, but your comment is the epitome of Canadian winter stereotypes. 🙂 It’s a great mental image, balancing roof-ice removal with curling!

          PS: It takes a long time to recover from surgery, but your mom must be thankful to have your support, especially in the dead of winter. Good luck!

    • You’re too kind, Emily. Amazing? Fantastic? (I THINK SO, TOO.)

      Seriously, though– I’m happy you enjoyed the videos. I’m preening like an effin’ peacock over them. 🙂

  4. HOLY CRAP!?!?!?!?!?!? This is soooo cool!! How did you do that in the Calgary one where the painting filled in without Marty in the shot? And damn – that Calgary painting is AMAZING.
    It’s incredible to see the process, I’m in total awe of painters – how they make everything pop. How the hell? I guess that’s why I’m not a painter…..
    Nice work. Seriously.

    • Thanks!! My favourite part of the whole Calgary video is when the buildings seem to paint themselves. 🙂 (Magical spoiler alert: It turned out that way because a lot of the shots on that side of the painting had a really crisp– and gigantic– view of the back of Marty’s head with a blurry painting in the background. Not cool. By eliminating all the giant head shots, progress was still being made on the painting but Marty himself wasn’t in the shots. Now that I see how it turns out in a video, I might make a special cut of ONLY painting photos so that the artwork seems to create itself. Such a nerd!)

  5. I had already watched the video on Marty’s Facebook page, (since I am a mini-stalker apparently?) and I was wondering how the heck you did this. Thanks for clearing that up! And for spelling poring correctly. Hell yes!

  6. WOW! I LOVE the video! You two are such a super team.

    On a completely unrelated note, I signed in wordpress today specifically to get your sauerkraut recipe. That was like a hour and a half ago….I got all sorts of distracted. Still trying to find that recipe! (Did I imagine it?)

    • Thanks for the video thumbs up! (It feels good to know that people besides me, Marty, and my mom think it’s cool. Ha.)

      Glad to hear you eventually found the kraut recipe, too. It’s there, I promise!

  7. Super cool, Dana! My husband has been after me to learn to do time-lapse photography. I’m afraid it will end up being one more thing I spend too much doing. (And I still have to learn how to use my new camera!)

    • I’d have a hard time taking the time-lapse skillz outside, Robin! I have seen some spectacular time lapses of sunsets, sunrises, clouds, etc. before, but I’m totally fine letting other photographers pursue that avenue. 😉

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