Question Answer Notes
I frequently get a question from other artists, since I’ve been an artist longer than dirt! My answers may not work for your particular question but I do sincerely want to help.
How do you get beyond local? I’m a local artist, and my paintings sell well to people visiting my town but I haven’t a clue on how to expand my area of sales.
This is a big question with many possible answers. First, it’s a mind set issue. You must decide that you are going to be a regional or national, or international artist in your mind before you can convince anyone else you are.
I remember back in the day when I was a nobody in the art scene. I decided that I must market out of my local area to be successful. There were just too many painters here and in particular, landscape painters. Emerging in the landscape painter’s capitol of Florida was not going to be an easy task. The first thing I did was some research. I thought about the kinds of landscape subjects I liked to paint and where they would most likely sell. The last thing you want to do is run helter skelter around with a shotgun approach. Look for likely areas of interest. That includes considering the price point for your work. Can an area you are interested in support original art? Does it have a population that is art savvy, with disposable income? Does the region support multiple art galleries, cultural or art centers, theatres, dance companies?
So, you do your research and target specific regions of interest. Now you want to start building a mailing list for the area. Buy a couple of style magazines and newspapers for the area and familiarize yourself with the businesses there and the social and cultural movers and shakers for the area. If there is an art center or galleries, put together a nice packet to send out in the region to art centers, commercial galleries. Don’t forget easy and free ways to market in an area, like newspaper calendars and so forth. Get your foot in the door. If there are jurid exhibitions in the area, enter them. Get to know artists from the area and see what they are doing or visit art websites in the area.
Pick a couple of areas of interest within a three state area and work them constantly. It will take time. Anther way to get started but not always profitable is the art festival circuit for the area you are interested in. Hard work, but a way to start to build a mailing list and get some exposure for your work. Applying to galleries is a long topic all by itself, so I won’t go into that today.
Don’t leave out the Internet as a way to launch yourself regionally,nationally, and internationally. This is my area of interest at this stage in my career. I have accomplished online in about 5 years what would have taken me 20 years to do in the brick and mortar world of art. The Internet is incredibly powerful as a marketing vehicle, but few artists understand this. Frankly, if you don’t use the Internet well, you are going to be marginalized as an artist unless you have a very good collector base. About 80% of my marketing is online. I don’t mean sending out emails all the time, but instead, using my blog effectively, research, social media, and tweaking my web site regularly. I still believe that direct mail via USPS is the best way to communicate with clients. I do send emails, but real cards and letters are better. Everyone enjoys a lovely color post card in their mail. Marketing is a crap shoot always, but I try to answer each question from my own years of experience. My answers may not work for you.
This is just the tiniest piece of the pie to start with. Best of luck.
I’m starting an oil painting class (very very excited about it) and the instructor mentioned for us to get an outdoor portable easel. I already do plein air work in watercolors by putting the painting on my lap. I’d like to do more acrylic and oil outdoors, but haven’t quite figured out an effective set up. What would you recommend for a portable easel and how to carry your supplies?
First you must decide on the size you enjoy painting on location. Large? Medium? Small? For small works, a pochade box is unbeatable in my opinion. Easy to use, instant set up, very efficient and long lasting. For larger works, a real easel would be a better choice, like a light weight field easel or even the Soltek.
What is your aesthetic for equipment? Are you looking for a finely made box or easel? A cheap box which will simply get you through the experience? Does it matter to you what it looks like? For example, I cannot paint with a Soltek easel because it is so butt ugly that it bothers me. I don’t like metal easels that look like they are from outer space. I know it is completely silly, but there you are. It doesn’t matter whether it is wonderful or not. I simply don’t want to use it.
How do you like to handle equipment? Do you like to carry supplies separately from your easel in satchels or in a rolling cart? Some easels and pochade boxes are merely easels, others hold all of our supplies in the actual easel or box.
Durability- In my opinion good pochade boxes out last easels every time. I personally use the Judson Plein Air boxes. I have various shapes and sizes of their boxes. When they get old, I turn them into browse bins for small paintings. They last for many years. They hold all of my paints, brushes, solvent, paper towels and panels. I like to travel light and set up fast. There are other very nice boxes, including the Open Box M which is the fine furniture category. Very expensive and well made, but I don’t like to carry my equipment separately, so it doesn’t work for me. There are many manufacturers out there like EasyL, Alla Prima Pochade (I want to buy his 8×10 box), Wind River and others, all good. We all have our own favorites.
Tripods should be of finest quality to really use your box efficiently. I have the Bogen Junior and it is old now but still perfect
My point here is , research the boxes and think about how best to use them to fit your own painting style before you purchase one.
For studio work I prefer an H frame easel, study and solid.
I look at my blank canvas and wonder where to start? It is all so overwhelming.
Start-with a basic plan.
Color- This is where my charts come in. I like to plan my palette in advance. I usually use a specific limited palette for my work, choosing between the many charts I have made over the years. This sounds boring I know. I do this because I want m work to be fresh and vital. I now so many painters who have used the same palette for years. It is so formulaic and predictable. I always know their work, not by style, but by palette. A signature style is a good thing, but to me, a palette needs to change and move around to be interesting. Color temperature adds interest and depth to a painting. It can create interesting intervals.
Edges and area of interest- I like to play around with hard and soft edge work, lost and found edges, using them to designate the primary,secondary, and tertiary elements to my painting. One of the mistakes I often See in beginners paintings, is a sameness of edge work. The painting is either all loose and rough, with no crisp edge work, or all tightly rendered. Variety is the spice of life.
Perspective- Both linear (this is so difficult for me. I am blind in one eye and my perspective is always off) and atmospheric. I love playing with atmospherics and I push that element in many of my paintings.
Rhythm and Repetition- using repetitive shapes and patterns add interest to the painting. It also leads the viewer around the painting, pulling them through it and keeping them engaged longer.
Values- The most important element in design other than composition. Others will disagree. Thinking about Notan. How will you arrange the values in your painting?
I break values into 5 basics, calling them my 5 value family. Light, half tint light, mid tone, half tone dark, dark.
Shapes and their intervals- Using overlapping shapes creates movement and visual interest. Curves and directional shapes tell the viewer where to go in the painting. Using a variety of sizes and angles create interest, and using an asymmetrical balance is more interesting too.
Thinking of these will give you a good start for your painting plan. Do some drawings on paper of your composition first, and tone your canvas with thin color before starting.
Send me a question any time and I’ll try to help you.
More musings for artists and collectors to come….
1 can rinsed drained kidney beans
1 can whole corn drained
4 ounches crumbled cheddar cheese
2 strips bacon cooked and crumbled
2 tomatoes diced
1/2 bell pepper diced
1 small red onion diced
1/2 cup Catalina dressing
3/4 tsp chili powder
salt/pepper to taste.
Mix it all up chill for one hour. Serve over a bed of lettuce. Yummy!!!