Monday, April 11, 2011

The Job of an Artist

 Nice, but will it go with the couch?
I spent 35 years in construction and know that there is art in a good foundation.  Rafters cut to perfection have a clean, crisp look and provide strength to the finished, framed house, the biggest "art projects" that I have ever worked on.  A house can become the most expensive art a person will buy.
     Fifteen years ago when I developed an interest in art welding my sense of scale was reduced and I created smaller art pieces.  Steel is still expensive but has an intrinsic value whether the art is good or not.  It has value by the pound.  It is always an investment because the materials themselves have worth and will cost more next year.
     A year ago I discovered painting and am having a lot of fun with it but don't understand its value at all.
I have seen at garage sales what I consider perfectly acceptable works selling for less than the price of the canvass.  Painting is the cheapest art since popcorn.  You can paint some really big paintings for three dollars worth of paint.  I enjoy it.  It is fun.  It is creating poetry without language and images without restraint, but I don't understand it.

Night Scene

There is a marketing to the sales of paintings that is like no other.  Everyone knows that the nicest painting is on a thirty dollar canvas and contains three dollars worth of paint.
You can buy a thirty five thousand dollar car and the dealer might make $2,000 for his trouble.  You can buy a house and the commission might be 6% but expect to pay 50% to the gallery where you buy your paintings.  So, half the value of the painting is in hype.  It is in the wine tasting, the opening night, the rubbing shoulders, the gala event!  We buy a painting because we want a piece of this action, a taste of something we may dream about.
     Good artists work their trade and ingratiate themselves to galleries that work for them.  I am happy I discovered painting; it is a cheap way to fill the day but when you are used to selling art by the pound it is difficult to understand its value.



SooZeQue said...

This is why we are called "Starving Artists"! Everyone wants a piece of our action. Gallery fees are very expensive and yes they have overhead and they draw crowds, but I don't like overcharging for my work and that leads to another story... what is it worth? These high fees, jurying, judging, commissions and bio's etc,are what make me crazy. I just want to create and sell at a price that anyone can afford. Pricing is always a difficult task.

Kay said...

I agree with SooZeQue...I have an artist friend who had many pieces with a local gallery..a very popular place and they charged 60% commission and told her she was responsible for getting buyers, collectors etc. to go there!!!! What were they doing for that 60%? I have never been in a gallery..and I would like that just so I could leave the promotion stuff up to them and paint away..but for now I am spending money on entries and it is a bite out of an already skinny wallet with little if any payoff!!! Oh well..I paint for me now..and it is more fun. I too do not understand the pricing of paintings. I have asked professionals for advice on pricing and never get straight or useful answers. Tried pricing by the sq. ok with large paintings, not small ones. My artist friends see my prices and think I am underselling myself. Buyers come to open studio and I make deals and take less just for good will!! Trying to seem calm all the while and not desperate! I just want to paint and I want people to like it well enough to buy it. Is it asking too much?

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Barbra Joan said...

Just reading what the other 3 comments here is why I've been painting for me.. Yes, I've sold, yes ,I've even won a few awards here and there. You have to exhibit your work , enter competitions, juried shows, art exhibits, pay fees, commissions, not to mention the cost of framing your work before you even put it out there. That's been my biggest setback because I can't mount and frame my own..Can't afford to have it done.. ..You see the hundreds of thousands of really good artists and only a handful make a name.. Sometimes all it takes is a known celebrity to buy something and that 'makes it fantastic, beautiful, flowing, complex, yada yada .. Horse doo.. I will paint for Barbra Joan, if someone likes it and buys it ... good.. if not I'm just one of the starving artists that didn't market it right... Oh, well here I am..

Barbra Joan said...

Oh, BTW this painting is definetly a fish... an abstract fish. Yes?

Maundering mutterer said...

I have only ever bought paintings from artists who are so obscure they haven't been near an exhibition. I can't afford the wine-drinking hype. On more than one occasion, I felt that these artists would not be taken seriously unless they increased their prices - and I told them so!