Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Random Thoughts on Painting Blogs

January 25, 2009 by  
Filed under why painting perceptions

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.

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5 Responses to “Random Thoughts on Painting Blogs”
  1. Karla says:

    Really enjoyed your comments on the painting a day phenomenon.

  2. Bob says:

    Stumbled on your Blog, Fascinating stuff! your writing has a good flow and you can feel the passion in your prose.I added this to my favorites. I agree with the daily painters.You would think you would get tired of painting the same orange over and over?

  3. Barbara says:

    Found my way to your blog by following links. I’m so glad I did. Your exhibits and comments are thought provoking. I will be following it for your perceptions. But I am as interested in following the evolution of your painting as it follows your thoughts here.

    Best of luck, Barbara

    PS By respectable gallery, did you mean one that offers this generation’s painting, or the next, which I think of as dominated by fantasy?

  4. I have just discover your blog. Love your writting style and your are now on my list of favorites.

    I agree with all your comments 100%, but one: “what really struck me was the prevailing commercial aspect of so many blogs”.

    I was just in one of Bob Burridge’s workshops. He told us: “Develop a thick skin not to get hurt. Most people see us as having a hobby, not a real profession. A few years ago I was in the Sausalito outdoor art festival. A couple went by and the wife commented: “Oh…look how many beautiful paintings he has for sale!” To what her husband replied: “Of course…he does not have a real job”

    I’m trying to establish myself, and sell all of my small work on my own. Absolutely nothing wrong about that.
    “Have not shame making money with your art” should erase the “starving artist” mentality.

    I do paint because I love to, first of all. But it’s a business and would like to sell more. My art is pretty good as it’s right now. Thanks God I don’t need my art to survive. I teach art and Yoga. But ideally, I would love to just paint. Like most of us.
    The artist you are talking about had one or two articles on some art magazines, drawing attention to his already great work.
    Actually, one of my friends bought a piece from another great and succesful artist, Carol Marine, not because she likes her art. The reason is “they are going up in price” and maybe, one of these days she can sell it on Ebay. Not too many people buy art just because they like it, but the artist have to be established.
    The time spent on my small pieces (which they are not done in half an hour as studies, like so many I see in many blogs) plus my teaching is interfering with the production of my larger work. Some galleries would love to show my work…if I had a large “body of work”, at least 25 for a solo show. Or maybe they are being diplomatic.
    So I am trying to be proactive and decided not to teach art or Yoga for a while to concentrate on a series of larger works and posting maybe one or two small ones on a weekly basis. And maybe…maybe I will have the twenty five pieces…and hopefully they will be good enough to go to a gallery.

    Also, small daily paintings, to me, is not about having a poetic view or having any special message (what could be a message on a garlic clove?…) other than practicing color harmony, composition, light and shadow, etc. And most are done from imagination. I do however have books on quotes, some of them funny, that perk up my imagination and inspire me to paint some still lifes. So maybe they are kind of poetic after all.

    Art to me is a bit like real estate. Instead of “Location-Location” is about “Promoting-Promoting” or “Exposure-Exposure”.

    Cheers and best of luck.

  5. nigel mason says:

    I found your blog by accident and I’m sure many others of a like mind will do too. It makes me feel less cynical when I read a blog like yours. It makes me feel good that there are people out there that look for the poetry in painting – something I’ve felt strongly since being a boy. I’m going to view your work now. Keep going!

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