Monday, October 5, 2009

A thought about galleries

Again, no picture this time, but I am working on a large (24" X 36") landscape. Ever since I left art school I have had a gallery affiliation with a small gallery. I sold there sometimes, but never enough to really make any kind of living. In the meantime I have worked at a number of jobs on the outskirts of art. Being a Waldorf teacher allowed me to work every day in art while I did a chalk drawing/painting on the blackboard for my faithful students to copy. Now that that is in the past I have been cranking out more art and wanting to sell. As one artist put it..."I never intended to be the major collector of my own work." (What a great comment. Sorry I can't recall the artist who said it.) In the meantime, that gallery owner has decided to retire and close the gallery. Just before it closed, I sold my last painting there. I've sent out the disc of my art and the usual bio and statement, etc. to a number of galleries that carry work similar to my own, avoiding those that are far afield from what I do. As you may know, it's very hard to get into a gallery. I took a workshop with Ralph Oberg last summer, who said that we need them more than they need us. After looking around on the computer I somehow began getting emails about doing something online from a certain gallery and its marketing agressive owner. I got together about ten of my works and tried that gallery and was accepted. I haven't sold anything yet, but this is the best thing that's happened for my art in a long, long time. It's absolutely murder to get those rejection letters and know that you can paint circles around most of the artists represented by the gallery you are looking in to. Nobody said this was fair. It pays to know someone, but when you don't, you have to have confidence in what your work says about you. We didn't spend all those dollars for training and endless hours in front of the easel to be stranded by the economy, the luck of the draw, lack of exposure or rejection letters. A dear friend who is a writer sent a manuscript to over 100 book publishers before she found the right one. Persistence and a positive attitude count heavily. This is a tough business, but so are they all! Think positive and don't give up easily on yourself. Prepare for when the right moment comes.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Twilight Zone

Sorry, no picture this time. My computer is down for the last several weeks with a dead hard drive, so I am unable to carry on with several of my computer based activities. I did my watercolor portrait painting workshop with six students and an excellent model. Two of my paintings were accepted to the Farms & Barns show in Dixon, Illinois. I drove them there last week. One oil and one watercolor done plein air for a month long show. The day I drove to Dixon, I also drove to Griffith, Indiana to see my old instructor from art school who was in an art in the park exhibit. Not having seen him for about 35 years -- hey, we both looked remarkably unchanged. We sat and talked for almost two hours. I can honestly say that I never had a bad day in his class. I maybe got frustrated with myself from time to time, but in an atmosphere of real learning experiences I was at my best. Luckily I have my son's computer to add a page here, but for now I'm in the computer twilight zone.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Portrait workshop

This Saturday, June 27th, I will give a portrait workshop in watercolor at Ed Hinkley's studio in Chicago. There will be a live model and I'm looking forward to it. Click on Ed's site listed at the right.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fire's Creek, North Carolina

Just last week my wife and I drove to the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina. I had taken a blacksmithing course two years ago and a painting course last year. This year I decided to just go plein air painting instead of taking a class since the area haas so many nice features -- mountains, creeks and wooded landscapes. While my wife was quilting with her class, I headed out to Fire's Creek, near Hayesville, North Carolina not far from the school. On the road to the parking area I noticed the "Bear Sanctuary" sign -- which I had not anticipated. However, there were no bears around to disturb me while I painted, only the sound of the waterfall and of rushing water. At the location was a waterfall and a bridge over the creek. These are both 6" X 8" oil paintings done on two days in about an hour and a half.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The portrait

A long time ago I realized that I had an affinity for doing portraits. Pretty early on in art school I was able to get a good likeness in charcoal. Does it take a certain empathy with the human being, maybe not. I don't think John Singer Sargent was a real lover of many of his subjects. For me, it helps. I remember doing a double portrait, husband and wife. He was a jolly soul and easy to paint; the wife was a lot harder -- 40 miles of bad road. I had to think to myself, well, she's somebody's mother and grandmother -- so look at it like that and forget how crabby she looks. It worked and I sold it!! This particular watercolor shown above is done from a black and white photo taken at the turn of the century --- the 1800s to the 1900s --- of a flower seller in London. It's done on a 10 X 14" sheet of Canson watercolor paper.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Setting bricks on the Yellow Brick Road

Once upon a time -- that would be art school -- I had a teacher we called Mr. C. He taught Fundamentals which was my first class of the day -- drawing, painting, perspective, color theory. Mr. C was good natured, fun and loved his work and wanted us to love our work. By and by he taught us not only to get a job done, but to put professionalism into our efforts. I don't know if he liked me especially more than others, but he made it seem like that. We all probably felt that way. I can't remember him ever scolding anyone except maybe for having too good a time talking in class. I enjoyed having my work critiqued month by month as it gave us time to talk about the work and other things as well. We had grown up in similar areas. Anyhow, after all these years (I will admit it was over 30 years ago) you never forget people like that (helping you laying out those bricks on the Yellow Brick Road of art) and how they helped you to get where you are and how thankful you are that they were there for you. Mr. C left the school some years after I was gone and went on to do other art related things and at the age of 70 or so is still active doing demonstrations and painting and entering shows. A week or so ago I googled his name and found an e-mail address. I wrote and he wrote back. Like someone said; we only are able to see what we do because we stand on the shoulders of those who helped us before. He helped give me a lifetime of enjoyment working in and appreciating art. I think he's proud of me -- I know I am of him.
The painting pictured above is a 10 X 14" watercolor portrait.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Secret Life of the Artist part 2

Here again, it's been a couple weeks since I have posted. I have been working only in watercolor and haven't had much time for that because of that other part of my life -- the one that actually earns some money. I had a watercolor in the annual Illinois Watercolor Society show in January and February, but as yet it hasn't sold. I have been doing portraits lately. I realized that portrait painting is something I enjoy above all other aspects of painting. The one on the left is from a painting by the American painter, Frank Duveneck. The other is from a black and white Edward Hopper photo when he was young. They are both done on 10 X 14" watercolors blocks. I can tell you that I prefer d'Arches over another brand I won't mention. The last oil painting I did is still waiting to be finished; an outdoor scene of black angus cattle I encountered when I was on the farm. They kind of followed me around the fence sort of like my dogs do hoping I have something for them. I will post that when I finish.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Secret Life of the Artist

It has been over a month since I posted so I thought I would include a picture of some of the things I've been doing lately, art related and not. The landscape is a 15" X 30" oil of hay bales in a field in Cody, Wyoming at sunrise. I spent a long time on it mostly trying not to be too tight. The second image has nothing to do with painting. I sometimes repair old pocket watches to make money. I buy old broken watches in hopes of getting them running and selling them. I hoped to make a career of painting, so while I have painted, taught painting and worked an an illustrator and animator there are always other things that painters do that are totally unrelated to art. Two of my closest friends from art school have put in 15 to 30 years at jobs that have nothing to do with art. One works at a supermarket (something he has done since he was a teenager) in the frozen food and dairy section. He has tremendous talent and great idealism and is represented by a third rate gallery (the same one that I have some of my work in!!!). So he will probably put in another year or so and then perhaps be able to retire to what he loves doing, full time painting. I would venture to say that most of the people he works with know nothing about his talent as a painter. Another friend whose work I have always admired (he was a year ahead of me in art school and was an inspiration for me when I began) traveled to Europe, painted in France in the countryside and has done large beautiful landscapes -- and has been a delivery service truck driver for about 15 years. I went painting with him last summer and now that he's not regularly painting, he just feels resigned that his skills have eroded and is a truck driver more than a painter. I know there are many among you that have the same experience, yourself or friends. How many people work at their craft of art and never tell anyone they work with about it? My buddy was talking with a long time painter who said "Just because you do this on a part time basis, it doesn't make you any less an artist". It's an interesting subject.