Friday, July 30, 2010


An artist friend sometimes makes references to "potboilers," which he defines thusly: "pictures painted with sales as their motive, to keep something in the artist's soup pot... "

I think all artists paint potboilers; in fact, some well-known artists produce nothing BUT potboilers, essentially making the same artwork over and over and over again ad infinitum because they know they will sell.

Other artists, myself included, prefer to branch out a little more than that, perhaps to our detriment, professionally speaking. But I do have a few potboilers of my own.

These are scenes I've painted a number of times, albeit in different sizes and atmospheric conditions. I even once painted the piece on the left as it appears by moonlight.

The scenes are in Joshua Tree National Park. These images tend to be well-received, especially if they are "suitcase-sized" -- small enough for a visitor to pack into a suitcase to carry home, wherever that is. In this case, both paintings are 8" x 10"/20cm x 25cm, and if they're unframed, they could easily be packed and carried away.

I painted these views from pictures I took in the early 1980s. These sites look a little different today:

The spot in the painting on the left is now a fenced planter surrounded by a parking lot. The largest of the Joshua trees has long since fallen over (they do that, unfortunately), and trash dumpsters are now between the clump and the rocks.

I haven't had time to go back and locate the other scene, but a paved road now exists in that area, and I'm sure it also looks different today.

In any case, scenes like these seem to speak to Joshua tree lovers, and as long as I keep sizes and prices reasonable, I normally can hope these potboilers will sell. We'll see: they'll be in the September show at the Twentynine Palms Art Gallery.

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