Saturday, October 31, 2009

Painting for the market

Everyone has an opinion about what kind of art sells best in the marketplace. My dealer tells me red sells. Most people say flowers don't sell, but I know differently. Such statements make me feel contrary. I can honestly say I have never created a painting specifically to sell it. I don't think about art in terms of sales. First and foremost, my work has to be important to me. My friend says such statements come from artists who can still eat and pay the bills if they don't sell work. She is probably right about this. For me, it is about creating work and having someone care enough about what I have created to take it home. I think it is impossible to determine what will sell, and if you go down that road you are lost forever because your work ceases to be something that comes from the deepest part of you. It makes art a product defined by the marketplace.

It seems that the kind of work I like to create is often in a category that is supposedly more difficult to sell. Take my penchant for floral imagery. I've had a love hate relationship with flowers as content in my work. How can something so beautiful and delicate be the stuff that serious art explores? Now everyone knows that such subject matter isn't important, not!

The changing face of red flowers in my work

Breathe 2004

Connections 2007

No red lately.... but still lots of flowers

My next post will explore the use of floral imagery in art.


Leslie Avon Miller said...

If someone buys a painting, we can assume they want to live with it. I myself don't want to live with something I consider ugly or disturbing. We had a small discussion the other day and it turns out we all put something over the head of particular doll when we visited the relative who kept that creepy doll in her guest room. When I invite art in my space it is because it entertains me in some (broad) way. Some people like to be creeped out. Many people love flowers.

Tonya Vollertsen said...

I've enjoyed reading through your thoughtful blog. In my experience the pieces I have done to sell did not and the things I have done only to please myself, everyone wants. I have now come around to the idea that if I just do paintings that I like I win whether they sell or not because if they stay around at least I like them and if they sell then I am confident that I will not be embarrassed to see them again in someone else's home.

Margaret Ryall said...

I'm with you. I like to fill my environment with things that add to my life in a positive way. Sometimes that might be work that has lots of good energy or calmness or absorbing colour schemes. The subject matter doesn't matter to me; not does it have to have subject matter. Some of my favourite paintings are non-objective.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts behind. I am glad I learned early to paint for me. The rest took care of itself. It seems that you came to the same conclusion. I love how you connect with other artists with the click of a mouse. Now I have another blog to check out.

Alicia Tormey said...

Margaret: I have enjoyed reading your blog and learning what others have to say as well. As artists and creative thinkers we each have our own unique voice and the challenge is to stay true to that voice. For me, the pieces that have sold and cultivated interest were the works that remained the most authentic and true to me. Thank you for commenting on my blog and I am happy to connect with you!

Kathy said...

You make two very important points: 1) the importance of creating a work of art that is a true reflection of the artist and, 2) the necessity to eat, have a roof over your head, pay all the bills, etc. "Professional" artists are torn between the two. When I wasn't making enough income from my art I had an unrelated second job to support my "art habit." That way I had the luxury of painting to suit myself. I've always kept it that way, although I no longer need a second job. BTW - your red flower paintings ARE unique and wonderful!

RT said...

Those red paintings of yours are gorgeous! Can`t get enough red in my opinion. It`s my only complaint about being a landscape painter. As for painting to sell, in my experience it doesn`t work. Most people can sense a fake.

-Don said...

Paintings I've done that have been the best received have always been the ones I had the most fun creating. It's as if people respond to the joy that went into the creation of the work. Plus, I'm a bit of a rebel and if I'm told I should do something, I'm likely to do the opposite.

Thank you for your wonderful writings. They always make me think. Between you and Kathy I've had a headache for days with all this extra brain usage...


Margaret Ryall said...

Thanks for stopping by. I've followed your work before I ever had a blog. We are attracted to the same inspirations I think. I'm enjoying your latest posts as you get ready for your exhibition.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the income I make from my art. Up to this point I haven't given it much thought, but I think the time has come. That is a whole hornet's nest for many artists who only sell original work. I have the added problem of living on an island which means lack of easy access to different markets. The internet seems to be over run with artists selling art. I have many questions about this topic. Want to create a post? How about selling art without selling your soul?

You can always sneak a little red into the landscape. Who knew you had created all those beautiful florals you are posting now?

Glad to hear you mental facilities are being challenged by the discussions that are moving back and forth across blogland. It's important to have a framework for what you do. I am feeling very invigorated by the to and fro.

Kathy said...

Margaret - good idea for a post: "selling art without selling your soul!" There are so many things to consider - but necessity is a huge motivator. Several years ago, when I did my annual spring cleaning of the studio and house, I created a large stack of studies for other paintings that I had no interest in representing as completed work with my signature. So, I put them in an art bin, unsigned, and set them on the front yard with my yardsale. The purpose was to recoup some of the costs incurred by purchasing painting materials. I kept the prices very low and made hundreds of dollars! So, I do this every year now. However, I do not sign the work because it doesn't represent a finalized version. I was criticized by another artist for doing this, but ... it wasn't dishonest, the customers understood what they were getting, and I paid for all my materials that year. Did I sell my soul? No, I don't think so.

Tina Steele Lindsey said...

So beautiful Margaret. I love both or your red paintings. I struggle with this as often I am painting for specific spaces and fine I must compromise what I might want to do to concentrate on what would best suit a space. I don't have enough time to paint just for myself. One can tell this by visiting my home. With the exception of two paintings, my walls have mainly my father's work hanging on them!

HeartFire said...

Margaret, I'm catching up on your blog, so many good posts. I love comparing older works to more current ones. The later of your red poppies looks so much more complex and rich in textures, fabulous.
Occasionally I start thinking about that issue of selling my art, but mostly I just paint or make things that I feel inclined to do. I'm of a mind that's truly the best approach for me otherwise it would begin to feel like a "job" and not art to me... Thanks for your thoughtful blog.