I just spent way too much time checking out some painter’s blogs, getting some ideas about how I might work on this blog. Of course these blogs embraced a wide range of talent, some terrific, some dreadful but what really struck me was the prevailing commercial aspect of so many blogs. No surprise that painters are trying to make a living but what struck me a downer is that so many are either selling themselves too cheap. Many seem to follow the Duane Keiser daily painting business plan a little too closely. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy and respect Duane’s work enormously and he is very successful at it. Not only is his technique amazing but his invention with subject matter, like his paintings of the play of light and shadows on clear plastic thumb tacks stuck in a wall or stuff like his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
But now there are too many painters trying to hitch a ride on his wagon, making thousands of tiny little paintings of centrally placed still-life items each and every day – that the whole point seems to be how well can you paint it in a short period of time so if you sell it between $100 – 200. I tried it myself for awhile but like many, never found enough people even look at how I painted a little 5″ x 8″ painting of some object I could find hanging around. What often seems lacking is invention, surprise, lyricism, and poetry. Often everything is highly rendered with detail but the compositional organization of the larger forms and purpose of the painting is forgotten.
That many don’t succeed in making memorable paintings with this approach is no surprise. However, that said – there are exceptions and it’s a great practice to make quick studies from life, focusing on getting good color and drawing in short period of time. But can’t there be an expansion of what’s possible to paint about? So many of these little daily painting studies lack poetry and vision and more about what might be sellable to the general public. If you could actually sell one bang up painting of say some fried eggs or hot dog in roll a day and get 150.00 each day that could certainly beat the Museum Security Guard part-time gig. If you work quickly maybe you’ll get enough time left over to work on your “real work” of snarling dogs ripping flesh off of hedge fund managers or whatever strikes your fancy. But I suspect when the Peonies in Crystal Vase are the paintings that pay your rent the snarling dogs will eventually be sent to a nice farm in the country to live.
Sure, we all need to put food on the table and artists have always been making art that can actually be sold to the “masses”. No shame. I just want to be careful to avoid that in my own work – to have this blog be less about making money and more about how to expand my vision. I want to look at the world with a fresh eye and also look at both my paintings and other painters works with that same eye.
My cynical side tells me I probably won’t be making any money from this blog or even get any traffic for quite some time if at all. In case anyone wonders how in the world could you expect to make money here when I’m not selling anything. My thoughts are simply that if my blog becomes good enough to be of value to anyone, that people actually read these posts, then eventually it may draw more traffic to my website and interest in my work – which might eventually lead to getting sales or help me establish a reputation – get into a respectable gallery(if there are any left by the time I am ready!)
I am wanting this blog to follow its own path – make into something that will actually help me to thing harder about my visual process. I am writing to myself, to work through thoughts about painting to help me think about painting more as opposed to just doing it, just painting – as I’ve done for many years. I am not looking for a critical theory to follow or extended artist statement jam session. I just want my work to incorporate more thoughts as well as visual input. I want more senses to be utilized in making my paintings. Like a well crafted poem.