Sunday, December 28, 2014

Thoughts About Art in 2015

The following is part of a news e-mail that I receive from the editor of a major art magazine:

"Would it surprise you that I know many artists who have become wealthy -- some incredibly wealthy -- from their art? You probably know who some of them are, but there are many more you haven't heard of who are making a killer living off their art."

This was the kind of thing that always energized me in terms of pursuing a career in art. I never even expected to become wealthy at making and selling art -- a comfortable living would be just fine.

The thing of it is -- I do know artists who do quite well, financially and emotionally. Some of them are excellent artists and others -- well, let's just say I don't connect as well with what they do.

For some reason, it hasn't turned out as well for me. Some of the problem, possibly, is that in southern California, buyers seem obsessed with impressionism and the plein air look. These people really seem to believe that this style is superior to the more photographic/classical realist look that I prefer. The blurry impressionist works "leave more for the imagination to fill in and is therefore 'better' than traditional realism." In fact, I read/hear this notion so much, it seems like it's a line that has been passed around, taught somewhere, gone viral and taken on a life of its own.

I suspect abstract expressionists feel their art is at the very top of intellectual involvement, then -- what could leave more to the imagination than artworks that don't have a subject at all?

Maybe it's a marketing thing -- the editor who wrote the above quote is selling a set of DVDs that is intended to help artists do better with the $$$. However, I know for a fact that what he said above is true -- there are artists (most are not household names like Thomas Kinkade) who sell -- even in this economy -- works that sell for much more than I ask for my pieces.

So -- where do I go from here? Well, for now I look upon my website ( as more of an online portfolio than a real selling tool, although I have provided a means to sell from my site. I probably could do more with it, such as frame the paintings so they're ready to hang as soon as they arrive at the buyers' homes (as one friend suggested I do). It means shipping would be more involved, but not impossible.

Then there are galleries. I haven't had great luck with them. I think it helps if the artists already have an impressive following of buyers, but I don't have that. I find that gallery owners like my work, but they have difficulty selling it, at least in SoCal.

Outdoor art shows? Too much of a gamble. They're expensive to do and involve a lot of physical exertion. At too many of them, I had just enough sales to cover expenses (which is not the point of doing shows), or no sales at all.

In the end, not much will probably change next year. I'm painting landscapes that are not deserts in the hopes of attracting a more diverse crowd, and I'll continue to doodle along at a relaxed pace (I'm getting too tired to push like I used to). And I'll paint more holiday scenes for the book I want to put together together (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas -- maybe Hanukkah -- images). Like this:

holiday,Halloween,autumn,Thanksgiving,Christmas,seasonal,church,lights,snowman,pumpkin,Jack O' Lantern,fall,trees,house,snow

I can't afford the guy's DVDs (even with his moneyback guarantee), so I'll have to continue on my own.

Have a great 2015!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Decorating with Art: One More Time!

As you may have noticed, I really love the old-style, classical realism kind of art, whether 2D (paintings) or 3D (sculptures).

So when we used to watch TV (which we don't do so much anymore), it was often a bit distressing to see modern art/abstract expressionism work in shows where up-to-dateness and high style was the look intended for the backgrounds and actors. Realism was for lower-class characters or stuffy old rich folk who could afford to collect the Old Masters.

Most frustrating of all are the D-I-Y interior decorating programs such as those on Home & Garden TV (HGTV), where artwork is the last thing one does, one can make it him/herself, and its sole function is to "tie the room together." In short, anything that can be created quickly and that uses the same colors as those elsewhere in the room is fine. Eliciting emotional responses are not necessary.

Offhand, I don't know if the "artwork" to the left was made on a TV program, but it is fairly typical of an HGTV-generated piece. No doubt all of the colors that appeared in the furniture, throw pillows, carpeting et al are in this painting; in fact, many of the hues also show in the figurine of the macaw on the mantle, as well as in the glassware to the right of the macaw. It ties the room together. How color-coordinated.

Any guesses as to how long it took to paint this masterpiece?

And sadly, this kind of stuff has so infused the American consciousness that it's all accepted without question or comment. Excellence is no longer a criteria for what we look at every day on our walls.

On the right is a different approach for adding culture to a room. This is a shower curtain that has been turned into a wall hanging. I assume it wasn't expensive, and if you like octopuses (ocotopi?), then this is just the thing for you.

I've also seen TV designers heading over to fabric stores and buying material with either a pattern or pictures, stretched on art canvas stretcher bars, and hung.

Now -- maybe this is all intended to be temporary. When the decorating budget recovers, maybe the home owners will pick up some real art -- as long as it's in the appropriate colors. One can hope.

Many years ago, I took a college course in interior decorating. The instructor told us it's best to choose the carpeting and furniture colors first, since colors are more limited in these items. Then choose the paint color to go with the furnishings.

I'd go a step further: choose the artwork first -- the works that move you and that speak to you in a way like nothing else can. Then get the furniture, and then get the wall paint.

Do it this way, and you'll have a beautifully-designed room that you'll want to come home to and that makes your life better because of the art that touches your soul in special ways.