Why bother?

why-bother
Why Bother Notes?
 
Why bother?
I often see artists posting on social media that they have been accepted or rejected from exhibits. I see and hear artists constantly worried about being rejected from these shows, congratulating the winners, but snickering behind the back of the losers. I confess that I bought into that for some time as an emerging artist. When you are young, you do these shows to get name recognition, to climb the ladder, to be one of the cool artists. I see far too many artists who spend most of their time hanging around art openings, on studio visits to more popular artists, hanging around at museum shows, art walks, and generally hoping that the cool factor will rub off on them if they are just seen with the right people.
Why bother?
What I see lately is an alarming number of artists who have been around long enough to know better, who are still being hurt by these rejections. Artists over 50 who are chasing that dream. I say, why bother? When you have been in the art business longer than dirt, as I have, you need to know that the only thing that counts is making the best art you can and selling it to the right person.
My day revolves around making the best art I can, and finding the collector to buy it. Those are my only business concerns. I don’t care who wins an award or who gets into the exhibits, which rarely produce sales. My collectors don’t care either. I’ve done a few surveys over the years with collectors about what is important to them. Not one of them was interested in my museum history, which is pretty extensive in the south, my gallery portfolio, which was pretty good too until I decided to go independent, or how many awards I have won.  They are only interested in my stories about the life of an artist, and the paintings. The only people who want resumes are art people. I’ve not been asked for one in about 10 years. Can you paint or not? That is what people want to know when they buy art, unless they are investment collectors.
I believe a lot of artists have made the mistake of thinking that what the  “art community” thinks is important. It really isn’t. For the most part, the art community does not support artists financially. Yes, I do sell art to other artists, but that is a minor part of the income from my sales. I can’t worry about whether artists, critics or curators/jurists approve of my work. They don’t pay my bills or put food on my table.
Why bother?
I am greatly concerned about my friends, patrons, and collectors opinions, who support me both emotionally and financially. We should pay attention to those who nourish our lives, not to those who reject or snub us.  Unless museums, curators, art leagues and associations are actively supporting your career and generating sales, why bother? Leave the bragging rights to those who really need them. Spend the money and time on your own career path instead.
More musings for artists and collectors to come…..
Today’s Recipe
Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
4 slices bacon
1 shallot
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme sprigs

Peel any blemished leaves from sprouts and discard. Trim stems from bottom of sprouts, cut sprouts in half; set aside.

Preheat large sauté pan on medium 2-3 minutes. Cut bacon into 1/2-inch pieces (easy to do with kitchen shears) and add to pan. Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring often, or until bacon just begins to crisp. Meanwhile, chop shallot.

Stir in shallot and pecans; cook 3-4 minutes, stirring often, or until bacon is fully crisped.

Stir in sugar and vinegar; add sprouts and salt. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring often, or until desired tenderness. Garnish with thyme sprigs.

Think Like Art Lovers

think like art lovers

Think Like Art Lovers Notes

Think like an art lover if you wish for success. Being an artist doesn’t make you a good business person. You have to want both. The customer IS right, in that satisfying them and attracting them is more important than your own pleasure. If you are a hobby artist, or have a  successful spouse, benefactor, or alternate income stream, you don’t have to care about what potential collectors think. This post is not for you in that case. 

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Think like art lovers

I recently had a discussion with another artist that did not go well. The artist is trying to build a business. He/she had printed post cards to hand out that are very dark. White font on dark background. Several different hard to read fonts on the card and a very dark photo on the back. I suggested that white on dark is harder to read, that multiple fonts are confusing, and dark photos do not attract viewers. He/she bristled at my suggestions and felt his/her aesthetic was under attack.  The point was missed entirely. Think like the potential art lover who finds the card hard to read and the photo dark. It is not about the artist. It is about the collector, who will pass on by because the card is confusing and hard to read. Don’t be too proud to take advice or suggestions from other artists. I am always happy to get a new or better idea. There are always people who are much smarter and more creative than me. 

Linda’s Etsy Shop

Think like art lovers

I have seen countless artists web sites that are poorly designed for the viewer. There are no purchase buttons and often no listed prices. The back grounds are full of patterns and bright colors that distract from the art. There is no information on shipping or payment process. There is no information about the artist, no testimonials from collectors and no invitation to buy art or visit studios or galleries. Collectors don’t like to have to ask about prices, or information. They don’t want to be pushed in any way. Even if you only sell through galleries it would be helpful to have a price range listed on your web site and information about what makes you tick.

Think like art lovers

Artists have studio parties that are poorly planned with no promotion, boring food and poor results. Artists invite all of their artist friends for moral support, but few professional artists  buy at art parties. The artists hang around together rather than reaching out to potential collectors they don’t know well. I learned long ago to invite collectors to my parties. The only artists I invite are my students, who are so supportive of my career, and often purchase my work. Have a separate party for professional artists if you wish to, but they are not your market for sales. There are exceptions of course. 

I recently attended an art gallery opening where my art was included. The gallery owner was not ready. He/she had no price tags ready. He/she asked me to wait outside because I was 20 minutes ahead of the official start time. He/she had no plan ready for sales in place. He/she had no one assigned to handle sales or to show work to visitors. No price list on the wall, and instead rag tag pieces of paper with magic marker to put prices on. He/she spent most of the time in the kitchen, chatting up  friends, while visitors wandered around. Two artists stood in the middle of the gallery gossiping together, ignoring visitors. He/she did get people there but for the most part they seemed to be neighbors and other artists. He/she did little to no marketing in the city 20 miles away that has 200,000 plus residents. Despite this I did sell a couple of small paintings. I don’t know how many sales for other artists he/she sold.

Think like art lovers

Never assume that people know what to do at parties! Give them directions. Have someone who stays in the gallery who will handle sales. Put out  price lists with sizes and prices. I have three framed lists in my studio. Put out signs for sale items. Put a sign that says “purchase here” on the table you are going to use for selling paintings. Have craft paper, scissors and tape or bags ready. You need to make visitors aware that paintings are for sale, it is not just a social gathering. You don’t have to say a word about purchasing if you give people proper information and clues via signage including what payments are accepted. Be prepared to accept credit cards, checks, layaway payments and cash. Make signage look neat and professional, not like an afterthought that screams amateur. 

Think like art lovers

I want my collectors and friends to feel comfortable in my studio, as it is like my home. I want them to be happy to come for a visit, to be comfortable in coming to parties alone if they wish to.  I  always provide cold drinks, coffee, tea and snacks for my guests. I treasure them and they are important to me. They are welcome to purchase art but I never push. They can find directions to both my Country Studio and my retail gallery on my web site. I keep regular, advertised studio hours,so collectors know when they can come. 

None of that will happen unless I know how to get the word out about my art and the fun life I have. Ignore collectors at your own peril artists. It is not about your aesthetic in marketing, it is about your customers’ comforts. Always think like art lovers when you design your business. Pretend you are a regular collector. What do you expect from your relationship with the artists you follow? Will you be welcomed and treasured? 

More musings for artists and collectors to come….

Today’s Recipe

Baked Crab Cakes

Nonstick aluminum foil

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

4 (3-oz) crab cakes, thawed

1/2 cup bacon pieces

1 lemon, for zest/juice

2 oz spicy pickle spears (or chips), chopped finely

1/4 cup tomato trinity mix (fresh diced tomatoes, onions, bell peppers)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon minced  garlic

1 small cucumber, sliced thinly

2 cups baby arugula

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with foil. Place bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Flatten crab cakes into 3-inch disks, then press into bread crumbs, coating both sides. Place crab on baking sheet; bake 7 minutes, then flip and bake 6–8 more minutes and until crisp and brown. 

Place bacon pieces in microwave-safe bowl; microwave on HIGH for 45–50 seconds or until crisp. Zest lemon (1 teaspoon); squeeze for juice (1 tablespoon). Chop pickles (about 1/2 cup). Combine zest, juice, pickles, trinity, mayonnaise, garlic, and bacon; whisk to blend and chill remoulade until ready to use.

Slice cucumber (about 24 slices). Place arugula on a serving platter (or plates). Top with cucumbers, crab cakes, and remoulade; serve immediately.

Integrity Matters

integrity

Integrity Matters

Integrity Matters Notes

Please know that this is really my desire to help others and not a rant or negative tirade. I feel the need to say as much as I can to help other artists, especially those who are inexperienced and may not know what is acceptable etiquette.

I’ll give you a few examples of why integrity matters.

Once at a prestigious  paint out in Florida, a local artist who was evidently known in the area for still life paintings showed up and placed herself front and center at the museum where we had been invited to paint. She was not one of the invited artists and was not in the paint out. She was indiscreet to say the least, garnering as much attention for herself as possible, handing out her promotional materials and so forth to visitors as they approached. The promoter of the paint out had invited local painters to paint for a day, but she went far beyond that. To make her flagrant behavior worse, she showed up at the patron opening, giving out her promotional materials everywhere. She was not invited to do the event and was not showing her work in the museum, but she chose to abuse her privileges as an opening guest and  undermined the participating artists.

This kind of thing happens too frequently at art openings. It is one thing to be a good marketer. I am certainly that, but one crosses the line very easily when they use these tactics. Frankly, I was not impressed with this woman. I really don’t care how good a painter she was. Some of the artists used that to explain away her bad behavior. I would never buy a painting from her and I have no desire to know or befriend her. She showed no class or integrity. Perhaps that doesn’t matter to a lot of people anymore but it does to me.

There seems to be a strange relationship between how “good” your work is and how much you can get away with. I wonder if she would have gotten away with this inexcusable behavior if she was a beginner or had hobbyist work?. It seems that this was all overlooked because she  studied with a big league painter and was a brand name in that area.

Linda’s Etsy Shop

She is only an example of the many artists who abuse privileges. When do we become so desperate to sell our work that we will push the limits of integrity and good form? Is it really worth it to go to someone else’s opening and try to push them out of the way to push our own work? Is it really worth it to push clients into a corner, pressuring them to buy, because that’s the way you are supposed to sell art? There are all kinds of selling tactics out there which are high pressure. Would you really push someone to buy your painting if you know they cannot afford to? Sure, offering layaway and other easy payments is fine. I do that. I’m talking about pushing them, using high pressure and guilt tactics just to get a sale. I won’t do that. It probably costs me sales every year, but I decided long ago what my core values are in business and I won’t change them for convenience.

Linda’s Rustic Paintings

Another example is the artist who will visit an artist’s studio, just happening to bring in work to share. Clients come in and the visitor rushes to show off work to them, ignoring the fact that they are a guest in the other artist’s space, robbing that artist of the valuable connection to his/her work in their studio.

Integrity Matters

I won’t use tactics to undermine other artists or try to steal their clients out from under them. I won’t set my gear up in front of another artist who is trying to paint. I won’t set up next to an artist and start chatting.

I won’t make snide comments to other painters. Once an artist said to me, “Someday you will be a good artist if you keep working hard”. This was a painter who did the same shows and events that I did. It was crushingly unkind and happened at least twenty years ago. I remember it to this day.

Integrity Matters

Other artists will be shrill and insistent that their work be placed in their favor at exhibitions or that they not be placed next to the work of a competing skilled artist. They make a scene and then the promoter or curator gives in to avoid conflict.  I won’t go to a committee and demand that my work be placed in the best location for a group exhibit. I won’t try to lure artists to do things they really shouldn’t do. My brutal honesty gets me in a lot of trouble and sometimes hurts feelings but at least I’m not leading someone down a yellow brick road. I am a realist.

Think about your core values and integrity as a professional and keep them alive in all of your dealings with artists and patrons. Don’t be so desperate for fame and recognition that you will leave them behind.

Integrity Matters

If you go down the right path and treat others with integrity, the results will some day pay off. Someone else may pull ahead with unfair tactics, but in the end, you will sleep better at night. Take pride in your work and your work ethic and apologize to no one for the work you do. Paint with joy and expectation. Take the high road and leave the low road for those who have no respect for themselves or their actions.

More musings for artists and collectors to come….

Today’s Recipe

Shrimp Toast

1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill (or 1 tablespoon dried dill), finely chopped
1 lb cooked shrimp (tails off), divided
1 cup shredded Mexican-cheese blend
1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon ranch (or Greek) seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic blend paste
1 (12-oz) loaf Bakery french bread, sliced 1/2-inch thick
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°F. Chop parsley, dill, and 1/2 lb shrimp; place in medium bowl. Stir in cheese, mayonnaise, seasoning, and garlic until blended. Coat both sides of bread slices with spray.

Spread shrimp mixture on bread slices and place on baking sheet; top with the remaining shrimp. Bake 10–12 minutes or until cheese melts and toasts are hot. Serve.

Beginning Age Body Soul

ssve frames

I am beginning to age in both body and soul.

Age Permission Notes

I am beginning to age both in body and soul. It is ok to do this. We have such a culture of youth that at first I thought it was terrible to become older. It is not. It is just different. I have gradually become a studio painter. My RA has begun to be insistent that I change some of my activities. Lugging equipment around and setting up in hot or cold temperatures is not that easy or even fun these days. I no longer feel safe painting on the side of a road. I can’t run fast enough to avoid unpleasant situations and I like to have an afternoon rest time.

Linda’s Etsy Shop

I am beginning to age in both body and soul.

Oddly, I have become a better painter, due to these restrictions and age. I am not as distracted. I have reached the age that brings freedom. I don’t have to care what other artists are doing, the latest trends, the plein air paint outs, fame, or being cool. I can keep my own painting schedule. I no longer do a lot of shows or exhibitions. Those I do, are often handled by my studio assistant Carolyn.

I find that I have become very independent in my actions and thoughts. There is a huge freedom in being of a certain age.  Many older artists fear being marginalized, but that is no longer a threat, thanks to the internet and social media. We can be just like everybody else, sitting in front of our computers.

Monthly Painting Offer

I am beginning to age both in body and soul.

The old adage, “You are as young as you feel” is still true in my case. I finally have the studio I’ve always wanted, out here in the woods. I have my beautiful trail to walk every day and enjoy the natural world. I have a retail shop, where I show my work and go to meet and greet friends once a week. Now and then I do a show, and I enjoy writing and answering questions for other artists. I have regular studio parties out here in the woods.

Age is only a restriction in that it changes your physical prowess and your way of looking at the world. So I walk instead of run. I don’t care for night life much. I have little interest in pop culture, but I love a good movie and a good read. I don’t feel the need to chase after recognition as a painter. Instead, I feel the need to excel in my painting discovery and skills. I enjoy being in my studio more than out and about and I am much less social. I do make up for that with online interaction and I have improved my computer skills quite a bit. I can now manage my own web site and update my social media, newsletters, and blog without much assistance.  Not bad for an older gal. I’m not ancient yet, but I have made adjustments over the last couple of years, and changes in my place in the world. I travel less, partly because my car died, but also because I love my studio and being there.

I am beginning to age both in body and soul.

I think it is a mistake to think you are washed up because you are older. I didn’t have a clue about painting before I was at least fifty and I am just now beginning to develop a bit of skill at sixty eight. I figure in about ten to fifteen years, I might get to be a pretty good landscape painter. If I’m too shaky by then, I’ll become an abstract expressionist. That seems to be the current trend these days for a lot of former representational painters. When I get really old and tired, I’ll become a professional mentor for kids coming out of art school. In any case, I have it covered for the rest of my days. People like me never retire. I couldn’t stand it!

I am beginning to age both in body and soul.

We can age well or badly. We have that option as long as we have our minds. It is really a choice. We are all traveling along that timeline from birth to death and how we travel means a lot. I intend to continue to think and learn as long as I still have cognition. I may end up in a wheel chair, but that won’t matter towards the end, because I can still paint or write. I am optimistic that I will go along having a lot of fun, until I don’t. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about when I won’ have fun anymore. I stay busy, though my habits change as I age. I learned that fun is fun at all ages and I intend to keep having fun.

More musings for artists and collectors to come….

Today’s Recipe

Olive Tomato Salad

2 tablespoons fresh basil, coarsely chopped
2 pints grape tomatoes
1/2 cup whole Kalamata olives
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Chop basil (leaves only); halve tomatoes (if desired). Place in salad bowl: basil, tomatoes, olives, and cheese.

Pour in oil, salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Marinate at least 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

Writing is a Skill Worth Learning

writing

Writing is a skill worth learning.

Writing Art Notes

Writing is a skill worth learning and practicing for painters. I am a terrible writer, but I don’t let that stop me. I have discovered that I am well suited for the blogging format of writing. I don’t like to write long essays or book chapters. A few paragraphs usually gets the job done in terms of getting my thoughts down in words. My grammar and sentence structure are appalling but I do get the thoughts down that are precariously readable.

Linda’s Etsy Shop

I know several writing experts and poets who take months or years to produce the proper work of a writer. I’ve been asked many times to write a painting or art marketing book and I even made a pathetic attempt at it once. My mind just doesn’t function in the logical disciplined way that is necessary for good writing. It’s funny. I have great discipline in my studio and keep it orderly for the most part. I have a predictable schedule as a painter and take it very seriously and earnestly. Not so in writing. If I can’t get it down on paper in half an hour, I’m over it.

Linda’s Rustic Paintings

Why is writing important for artists? I believe writing is one of the best marriages with visual arts. Ideas flow through us almost constantly. We are very visually stimulated by just about everything we see. Painters live in an alternate world. We are constantly analyzing color, color temperature, values, composition and design of multiple scenes and objects. While the non- artist looks at a tree, we are looking at it’s parts and designs, colors and so forth.

Writing is a skill worth learning.

We have little ideas that pop into our minds at all hours, day or night. I am so scatterbrained that I need to write these ideas down, in order to make sense of them and to use them properly both in painting and marketing my work. Ideas are not very useful unless they are acted upon. Writing them down in some order allows me to put them into a painting or to help me sell a painting.

I was once asked by a student to write down step by step how I do a painting? It was a very hard assignment, much more difficult than I expected and it was very revealing to me in terms of my process and technique as a painter. I had to think it through and be accurate in my description. It set me to wondering if there were ideas to improve the steps?

Writing is a skill worth learning.

There is an exercise I do with students called the point. In it, they are required to plan a painting in advance writing out the answers to multiple questions asked. They use the written plan to execute their painting. Then we as a group, analyze the finished painting according to the plan. Did they execute the painting fully as planned, or deviate from the plan? How do they justify the change? I have used this exercise in my own paintings many times and they are often better for it.

Writing will make an artist far more perceptive of their own painting journey.

More musings for artists and collectors to come…….

Today’s Recipe

Sandwich Spread

I often use this spread for small finger sandwiches on carrot or banana bread, cut into triangles. You can make the sandwiches ahead of time and keep them in a freezer. When unexpected visitors come, pull them out put on a platter with some grape tomatoes or fruit and you have a lovely food platter to serve them.

8 oz cream cheese

3 T honey mustard salad dressing

Salt/pepper

1 can of chicken drained

3 T drained crushed pineapple

¼ small onion diced fine

1 celery stalk diced fine

½ tsp red pepper flakes or 1/2 diced red bell pepper

Mx it all up and spread on bread, cut into triangles or bars.

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