Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

This small display is what I currently have available at the local art gallery/framing shop here in town.  It's a nice place, lots of light, a fine array of mostly local wall art, original jewelry and scarves, pottery and wood and glass objects.  The owner is a congenial woman who works hard at getting people to support the local art scene.

In the past her business model was to have artists sell their work on consignment, and lots of work came and went, especially seasonally.  This past summer she decided to try a different arrangement.   Artists rent a space for six months at the time, and she does not take a cut of the selling price unless it is featured in a different part of the shop.  There are things I like about the new arrangement.  The primary thing being that all my work is grouped together, easy to find.  The is an artist statement with the work, and I can easily tell potential customers where to look to find my work. 

There are a couple downsides, however.  The expectation is that the art will stay for six months, unless it sells.  For me, this prevents switching a lot of work out seasonally.  And I have always been of the opinion that work that stays in the same place too long becomes stale - essentially invisible. The other downside for me is that based on what I sold the first six months, I came out even to the rent I paid.  The easy answer is that I should raise my prices, but I have a strong belief that local people should have access to original artwork that is affordable.  I also don't think the local market supports wall art very vigorously.  I make every effort to do quality work, and frame it nicely, but inexpensively.  I mostly cut my own neutral colored mats and use craft store sectional framing.  I use coupons all the time.  But looking at how this turned out for me the last six months, I did not come out ahead.  At all. 

So, I am searching my soul a bit, trying to decide what to do.  I need to decide why people don't buy more.  Is the subject matter of my work not what local people want on their walls?  Not good enough?  Is the market here too depressed to support even my modest pricing?  Am I working the wrong size?  Should I be selling online?

I just do not know.  I do know that the mixed media work I have been doing lately, which is not currently at the gallery, appeals to me very much.  I am trying to work out the kinks in my process, and attempting to get at least a dozen ready to put in area shows, and eventually offer for sale.  For now I think I will just concentrate on getting the work done - and think more about sending it out into the world later.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Kiss

I've been working fairly regularly on a series of 11x14 inch oil paintings, done over wallpaper and other vintage papers, and based on found photos from my local consignment shop.  The picture I found of a man smooching his lady friend appealed to me very much.  It clearly is a snapshot, not a studio photograph, and her grin is wonderful to me.  I tried to suggest a horizon line, and initially intended to only include the figures, but as I went along I knew I wanted more to the image, so I added a tree.  That also had the benefit of providing something dark to set off the arm of his white shirt and part of her dress.

The challenge for me, besides making decisions about colors for clothing, hair and so on, is how much background to include (there was a house and some shrubbery), and how much of the underlying papers to allow to show through.  I want the papers, because they not only provide some visual interest, but also suggest bygone times. 

For better or worse, this is what I finally settled upon.  It's a bit silly and sentimental, but I think it's also appealing.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year

Gotta say, I don't enjoy this time of year, cold and dark as it is.  I don't really like hunkering down in the house trying to stay warm, but there are some good things.  I catch up on my reading, watch some of the old movies that have piled up on my DVR, and I doodle and paint more than any other time of year.

Take this doodle, drawn yesterday in a successful attempt to avoid having to make some hard decisions about a collage/painting that is cooling its heels in the studio.  I had recently read an interesting book about Kurt Vonnegut's drawings, and spent a nice afternoon really looking at them, reading an introduction by his daughter Nanette, and an essay about his art from a critic.  Then I shamelessly copied a few into my sketchbook, since that seemed to be the best way to analyze his style.  For me, anyway.

Then I opened an email from Carla Sonheim, whose fascination with doodling into photos of sidewalk cracks leads to some very interesting, and often whimsical, results.

Anyway, I downloaded her "crack of the month" - which sounds dubious but is quite legitimate, and found myself channeling Kurt's style, more or less.  And I liked it. 

So, this afternoon I will quite procrastinating and go up and see what I can do with that troublesome collage/painting. 

Happy new year.