Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Learning & Growing--Choosing Paintings to Show

As I prepare for the Open Studio Reception I mentioned in the last post, one task is to decide what paintings to show and offer for sale. Advice from other artists is proving very helpful, especially from those who will give me a clear, honest assessment of the pieces I am considering. We don't like all our own creations equally, of course, but cannot predict how other people might see them. Some that disappointed me in some way strike my "jury" as having merit and might prove to be another person's cup of tea. I find that I am ready (more so than even several months ago) to part with most of my "better" pieces, knowing that I will go on to create more. So, the timing is right for a show. UPDATE: I have now added an index to all blog posts about planning and holding an art reception. Access it here.

Today's painting, on an 14" X 18" canvas board, is a romanticized version of a scene near our home which I pass on one of my favorite walking routes. A broken-down, abandoned shed surrounded by rusted metal debris stands on the curve of a two-track dirt drive leading far back into a wooded area. Perhaps there was a house on this lot once although there is no evidence of a foundation, just half-ruined utility connections. It's on a back road shared by a mix of small "Old Florida" homes, newer construction replacing tear-downs, and older mobile homes, so might once have boasted a double-wide. Now natural vegetation and overgrown plantings are gradually taking over, but the place still somehow breathes with the spirit of people who once used tools stored in this shed. It invites the imagination to spin a story of those who called this spot home.
After studying, sketching and photographing the scene a couple of years ago, I came up with this painting, called Long Gone. It took on a life of its own, as creations often do, and I was led away from the initial subdued, realistic palette to make it sing with color. In spite of the air of abandonment, this has always struck me as a happy place, so that's what flowed from my brush. The result has a sort of storybook quality rather than realistically representing the actual location. This painting made the cut for the Open Studio Reception and hopefully will make an interesting contrast to other pieces with more limited palettes and greater realism.
Question of the day: In your own creative pursuits, how often does the process take on a life of its own? How comfortable are you with those experiences--do you like to maintain some control or do you enjoy being carried away and surprised?


  1. It sounds like marketing your art is as much of an art as your work. I wish you luck and good fortune. As to your question - creativity demands risk - as to a life of its own? I can only say I am often surprised what ends up into the final cut as you say. And at times I say, that came from me? No body is more surprised than I am.

  2. Good luck with your art. The question - I tye fishing flies and developed many new patterns. It took me several years to develop enough clients to make any money. I have not dared put my photos up for sale even though I sell many to newspapers and magazines. The creations are for me personally, if anyone wants them - then and only then do I sell them.

    Good luck.

  3. Boy Mary! You said several things that got my thoughts jump-started this a.m. First, I love this piece! My first thought (before I realized I knew this one) was that you must live in the south. Something so graceful and elegant about these trees. Second, when you can still feel the ghosts of those who once used this shed, reminds me of some of my own thoughts when I see such places, or old foundations of homes, etc. I love the beauty and grace of those flowers around the shed, something so right to dignify those that used to live on that property. And last, but not least, your comment about finally being able to part with a piece. I was just talking to my husband about this very thing. I do not know how all of you wonderful artist blogging friends can part with any of your pieces. I'd be embarassed to try to sell my own, but I don't know that I could even if they were as beautiful as what all of you put out! There is something so personal about them, so part of me, that I just cannot imagine losing any of them! I am at a loss to explain the feelings any better, but it was just interesting to hear you say it as well.

  4. What fascinating observations you all have made! I am excited by the conversation we can share across the miles.

    Interesting thoughts about your writing, Grayquill--I guess sometimes you don't know what's in you until you start writing. You are correct that marketing art is an art of its own--and one that few artists actually enjoy.

    Bill, your fishing flies and your photos are wonderful. Any and all of your creative pursuits could become part time career paths if that became a goal for you. Right now, I think you are plenty busy enough.

    Autumn, how amazing that you thought of the south when you saw this fanciful rendering of the scene. Your insightfulness constantly amazes me! I appreciate your kind words about this piece and all your thoughts about art and about parting with our creations. Perhaps the time will be right for you along the way sometime. You are always modest about your work, but I think you would be surprised at how meaningful it is to others. You will have customers when you are ready for them, I promise you.

  5. Wish I could attend your event, as I think this one will be a charmer in your show. It's a beauty!

  6. Thank you so much, Robin. I truly appreciate your encouragement.