Friday, January 30, 2015

I was in Santa Fe last week doing some research on the gallery scene there. I am looking for new venues to exhibit my work, and I had sent a snail mail promo to many of the galleries in advance of my trip.

After following up when I arrived in town, a gallery asked to meet me and I was in the gallery speaking with the owner when a woman burst in the door with a shopping bag in hand.

"Are you Sharon?" she asked me. I replied, "No," and the gallery owner rose to meet her and asked if her could be of assistance. "I want to show my portfolio," the woman replied. To which the owner said he was busy, but she could come back another time.

She asked if she could leave the book, and he said, "Yes." She continued to push and ask him questions, without a care in the world that she had not only arrived without an appointment and was seeking to have her work reviewed on the spot. She seemed totally unaware of the fact that she had burst in and interrupted a meeting.

After she had left, the gallery owner and I were talking about their representing my work, and the subject of how the artist/gallery relationship is really a two way street. It is  team effort. An artist who is gifted, but is not easy to work with can limit their options when it comes to gallery representation. While we were talking, the owner turned to me, and said," The woman who was in here earlier will never be represented by my gallery. I don't care how her work looks, or how good it is. I will never have her work here."

Clearly, her lack of professionalism closed his mind on her and her work. It is not just how we paint that galleries are looking for, it is how professional we are as well. 
Next time you think about approaching a gallery, be considerate. Inquire about their portfolio review and submission requirements. Don't just show up unannounced and expect the gallery to look at your work.
Remember, it is not just your work that they are interested in. They want to know if you are professional, too.
Can they work with you?

Monday, January 5, 2015

How Do You Know When it is Done?????

"Fog LIfting."  work in progress...

Many of my students as well as collectors often ask me how do I know when  a painting is done? There is no hard and fast rule or quick answer to this question. Finishing a painting is a process, not an end in itself. Here are some suggestions on how to create a visual check list for yourself in order to determine when to put the brush down.

1. Take Breaks. Let a piece sit between painting sessions for a day or so and then come back and look at it with a fresh eye.  You will be able to see things about the piece that you did not notice during your previous painting session.

2. Trust Yourself. Draw upon your inner wisdom and listen to what the painting tells you. I encourage my students to have more confidence in that intuitive sense that comes from being an artist. Stand back, and  many times you will hear the painting say "more yellow," less blue," "too dark," "values too close together," "too chromatic." If the painting is still communicating what it "needs," then you are not done. The dialogue must quiet in order to be able to sign your name.

3. Don't Rush. Hurrying up just to finish is never an end in itself. If you are painting wildly to capture the fleeting light streaming across a field or the last rays of daylight, then painting succinctly is needed. However, if you are rushing just to finish, to feel "done," then you are setting yourself up for disappointment. I like to remind my students of how much a task master John Singer Sargent was when he began a portrait session. He would often stand and stare at the canvas for hours, and then produce a mere stroke. Sargent was known for rubbing out a day's work if he was not satisfied with the result.

4. Know when to let go. Don't hang on to a bad start and try to make it "turn out."  We don't all come out of the gate in stride every day. Be aware of this and allow yourself a fresh start if need be.

5. It Will Never be Perfect. Understand that there will always be something about a painting you could change or do differently. Allow your individual painting efforts to stand on their own. Each painting is a stepping stone to the next one. Think of your work as a string of jewels all linked together. If you continually rework and rework, instead of moving on to the next piece, then you miss out on the experience that painting gives you.

6. Move On. Don't wallow. Don't muddle. If you find yourself chasing the light, the color getting overly muddy, put the brush down. Move on to the next canvas.

7. Appreciate Your Efforts. Knowing that you have made a big jump in your work, mastered a technical challenge or noodled out a difficult composition is reason enough to sign your name.

8. Be Compassionate. Have patience with yourself and the process of creating. Taking pride in your work and what you create is key to knowing when to allow a painting to stand on its' own.

9.  Let Your Ego Go.  Be open to the comments of others whose work and opinions you trust. Constructive input is integral to the artistic process and one that will help you look critically at your own work.

10. Don't Settle. Always put forth your strongest effort. When you sign your name you are saying this is my art, this is my creation.   Are you ready to sign your name?

     "Fog Lifting," 10 x 20,  Oil on Linen. Completed painting....


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

 When To Say No.......

A client contacted  me a few weeks ago to inquire if this painting was  that they had seen in one of my galleries last year "still available." I told them, "Yes, it was with the gallery"  where they had originally viewed the piece. They then wrote back and asked what I might have  that "wasn't in the gallery," but in my studio.  From past experience I recognized that what they were after was a cheaper price by trying to buy  directly from the artist instead of the gallery.

However, they received a bit of an education, as I when I sent them images, I also sent them prices in step with the market value. Many clients are under the impression that if you buy from the artist, you can "get it for less." 

The client then contacted the gallery and inquired about the piece. When quoted the price, they said they did not want to spend 'that much." The gallery offered to contribute shipping and  although we normally do not discount prices, since they were a repeat client, we offered them a collector reduction of -10%. They ended up not purchasing the piece as they wanted to "spend less."

Many galleries as well as colleagues of mine would have chased the dollar and gone for an even deeper price reduction. Discounting one's work like this is never a good idea. As an artist, you work long and hard to establish a market value for your work. Collectors, who have purchased work from you would not take kindly to learning that a similar size painting was sold for significantly less than the one they purchased last year. And, your galleries, who depend upon you to be professional, would not take kindly to your undercutting them in the marketplace.

So when to take the sale and when to let it go? If the client is trying to drive the price of your work, instead of the other way around, give it a long hard think. I let  this sale go, and I told the gallery to do so as well. It can be tough to do in time when the bills need to be paid and the revenue stream is slim. However, discounting your work for a quick sale only serves to erode the value of your art, your career your relationship with collectors. Is it worth the price?

12 x 12
Oil on Linen
Available at Turnbull Fine Art

An Artist's Journey

An Artist's Journey

Sunday, November 2, 2014

New work is up on the website, You will also find a new home page image and a fresh look to the page. We have also redesigned the portfolio. Take a look!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I have recently been delving in to the world of encaustic, the art of painting with pigmented beeswax. Encaustics go back over 2,000 years to the ancient Greeks who used the pigmented beeswax to seal their boat hulls. Encaustic painting was also used to paint funerary portraits. It is a misnomer to believe that encaustic is not archival. In fact, it is one of the most stable and archival materials available. It does not fade or crack over time. Portraits done thousands of years ago are still as clear and richly colored as they were when they were painted. Check out the Fayum portraits at the Louvre.

"Spontaneous," 12 x 12, encaustic on wood panel

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Capturing the LIght

The cane fields near Haaliimaile are known for their strong winds. I have, however, always been captivated by this view looking up toward Makawao through the cane. So, one fall day, a friend of mine set out to paint this scene en plein air. Two days and a few studies later, I had enough visual information to begin this studio piece of the same view.

Once you have taken the time to work in the field, translating this visual information to a larger piece is in hand. You already know your way around the composition, and because you have actually experienced the scene up close and personal, this thread will carry through to your studio piece.

The challenge in working strictly from photos, is avoiding a stiff and/or unnatural feeling in the subject or scene. Photos do not accurately measure the quality of light, they flatten out and darken shadows and they distort the picture plane. How many times have you been on vacation and taken a photo of a beautiful scene only to return home and try to explain how marvelous it was to a friend? The photo doesn't quite capture the scene the way you remembered it.

Working from a small study is therefore, and invaluable way to bring your visual color notes back from a painting session and apply them to a larger work.