Thursday, November 29, 2007

Am I a big phony?

View of copy -- halfway done.

What I wrote last time seemed like a big lie after I thought about it. Not influenced by sales? I have been known to feel compelled to go out to a site and repaint a scene after a painting sells. And that actually is not so much about thinking that the view is 'lucrative' but actually it's more about a sense of loss. I feel that it is missing and I have to go out to the site and do it again.

But even worse, last week I had 2 parties interested in the same painting (which actually was not for sale in the first place and may be why they wanted it.) (But I wanted it.) I got myself in a bad position of offering it to both of them. (I can't say "no".) I figured I could make a glicee but that didn't seem as good as having the painting. And I haven't crossed the glicee line yet.

So I sat down and repainted it. I copied it exactly. My guideline was that it had to look the same or better. I didn't have some of the same pigments that were used in 2000. It was a most interesting exercise. it turned out well. I honestly didn't think I could do it. Now it occurs to me I could probably make enlargements of small paintings. It took just about as long as the first version took. Doing it gave me some new ideas. I think the curiosity of the copy, the sheer Ripley's believe-it-or-not quality of it, will actually increase the value of the original. And it's a case of the collectors driving the creation or art.

I just visited a website by another artist I know who shall remain nameless. One of his nav bars is 'customer comments'.
Again, a case of a customer-driven approach. There is something quite odd here. Do people really buy art because others are buying it? Perhaps. We all know the frenzy that happens when there are some 'sold' pieces in a show.

So many of the artists I know are so very, very sales-oriented that I often feel they should spend more time on making the actual artwork. Shouldn't there be something almost sacred about the creation of art? I know an artist who brags about making 10 minute paintings. I suppose this is to make himself seem like a great MASTER who has lived in a cave for 40 years, but if everything is done in 10 minutes, there can't be much risk or exploration going on. Occasionally I would think one must put some real time in to refresh one's muse. A painter I knew said it was every 12th painting that turned out. I tend to just not give up on them...I can work on them for years.

Artists have websites because people keep telling us that we need to have them to sell off the web. I've been on the web for, well, since it started and have yet to sell anything off the web (unless you count my book 'Rabbit Language or 'are you going to eat that" which is selling quite well and also available on amazon). I did know someone who sold some work on paper on eBay that when sold, she just rolled up and put in a tube. I tried to eBay a few paintings that I was afraid that I would paint over. They didn't sell but I ended up buying other things while I was on eBay. I get weekly scam email from some other continent asking us to sell work but it seems like a money laundering scheme.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

teaching design

Even though I just had my highest art sales ever, I do graphic design and teach design at an art college. Part of my job is to teach the process of design from start to finish. The students all have real clients with small businesses who need branding and we also make the posters for student films. Mine are the first design classes our students take.

Things are so different than when I studied design. We hand lettered our posters, we used ink, stat cameras and paste-up. Images had to be hand-drawn or painted. One had to go to the library or bookstore or buy a magazine to get reference pictures.

Now students google images. I suggest they go to the type foundaries and good stock image sites but often find students still on google and on the free font sites such as dafonts or myfonts. If you need a font for any project you just download it for free. It's hard to teach them the value of a well-drawn typeface and kerning pairs that took years to work out.

The other day a student found a lovely tif of an antique painting which seemed perfect for his movie poster. I assumed it was a reference for style and asked him what media he was going to use and what he was going to do with it.

"Why can't I just use this?" he said.

"You can't just take a photo off Google and sell it to your client," I responded.

"I can't?"

I continued, "Your client could get sued. They could sue you. If it was that easy, your clients would do their own posters."

All our students draw well. They go through 'Drawing Bootcamp' and even if they can't draw before Bootcamp, they can when they come out. But it is the hardest thing to get students to do something off the computer and scan it in. It's an odd thing. They will take all kinds of stuff directly off the web and put it in their file as an image. Or worse: 'live trace' it.

Live tracing: It has a certain look that I am already tired of seeing, a look which will define our era. A lazy look.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

art season

It's high art season even for those of us who are 'independent'. I somehow thought I'd be over it after fall Open Studios but then there was the Visual Aids show and two more shows installing soon [the Off the Point show linked to the title above]. And maybe another open studio...not sure if I can handle that one as I am itching to paint again. Each one of these takes up precious painting time.
Life has sped up so much in recent years that I wonder if it's possible to get any faster. But it seems to keep accelerating. I stopped watching TV as there didn't seem to be time for that. Even boyfriends now seem to be a luxury in terms of time.
And I am much more efficient these days. When I was younger there were whole series of days given over to not being able to get out of bed, answer the phone or voracious reading, obsessively...Some of these periods were inspired by a car breaking down. Maybe having a better car has saved me from those dark days!
(But seriously, I never had one of those dark depressions after I started running.)

My open studio went really well but one has to struggle to not be influenced by what people are buying. I think the artist is the only one who really knows where the art is going and then often not consciously. I can only hope that people respond to my best work. Sometimes a really good piece is snapped up as soon as it hits the rack or wall.
Views of tourist attractions always sell well even if they are quirky but one really has to find a new way to show them. Views such as the Palace of Fine Arts are interesting more as a survival exercise. One gets so many interruptions and comments that it is really an exercise in just staying focused. I used to call my class at the Palace of Fine Arts, the "Master Class". And it's always amusing that even if you only have one brushstroke on the canvas, that people will stop to tell you how nice it is. People love painters.
And everyone's mom is a painter.

A couple of years ago I was painting one of the California aqueducts outside of Tracy. This one was a river encased in concrete flowing south, near I-5. It was an exciting view for me, with lovely mountains reflected in it. I was standing at the edge of the 'bridge' over it, really I was right next to it. I knew I had to be very careful and I was painting as fast as I could (as I had a fellow painter with me who was not into the site), but near the end of the painting I had to keep standing back to look at the piece. I nearly fell it, really it would have been very nasty. Luckily I didn't stumble or anything. Gosh...seems like an angel follows me around sometimes.