Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Is Anyone Listening?

"Rising Tide"
9x12 Oil
Available Here

"Too warm—cooler!"
"Too blue—greener!"
"Not dark enough—lighter!"

The casual passerby might hear me mutter phrases like these as I paint.   Talking to myself might be a sign of dementia, but not in this case.   It's a habit of constant narration that I've developed as a teacher; students find it useful because it gives them my thought process behind the painting.  But I find it useful when I paint alone, too.  It's all part of what I call "mindful painting," which I discussed in an earlier post.  Analyzing my choices out loud keeps me focussed on the task at hand.  Each statement serves as an evaluation of the brush stroke I just laid down, keeping me on track.

The muttering also seems to serve another purpose—curious folks keep their distance.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Should You Donate Art to an Auction?

Where I have my summer studio, paintings of lighthouses are popular auction items.  Here's one that is not going to an auction.  But, you can buy it at a reasonable price!  Here are details.

I've been asked to participate in many local art auctions over the years.  At first, I felt honored to be asked and also glad I could help.  Usually, the groups sponsoring these auctions tout a good cause for which I have an affinity, such as historic preservation or the preservation of wildlands.  But I eventually stopped participating.  Why?  Because they always wanted to put a very low starting bid on the work—one that was much lower than I could sell the art for outside the auction.

And almost always the art sold for much less than retail.

In my mind, this approach cuts two ways.  First, it devalues my work.  Second, the sponsoring group realizes much less.  The group would make more money if it started the bidding at or near the retail price.

Of course, in some places, there is no real art market, and art just doesn't sell for much, auction or not.  In these cases, fine art should not be included in the auction.  Instead, less expensive items should be offered.  On the other hand, in an area where there is a real art market, an auction that sells items for below market isn't doing anyone any favors—especially if the auction is a fundraiser for a worthy cause.

Have you been asked to donate your work to an auction?  Let me know of your experience.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Hey, It's Exposure

"Acadian Prince" 18x24 oil/canvas

Do I really want this $2800 painting hung over the buffet and subject to splashes of gravy?

"We'd love to hang your art in our restaurant."
"We'd love to hang your art in our corporate office."
"We'd love to hang your art in our hospital lobby."

Usually, these statements are followed by another:  "Of course, we can't pay you, but you'll get plenty of exposure."

What's the value of exposure?  Certainly, someone may see your artwork in one of these venues, but quite often, purchasing art is the last thing on that person's mind.  Seated in a restaurant, I'm more interested in the menu and my fellow guests.  If  I'm a worker in a corporate office, I'm usually looking at my computer screen or headed to the coffee machine.  If I'm waiting to see a doctor, I am focused on what ails me.  In each of these situations, I may see the decor and may even enjoy it, but I'm probably not buying it.

As a painter, of course, I have a professional interest.  If the painting looks interesting, I'll walk over to it, examine it more closely and maybe even check the signature and price, if there is a price tag.  (There should be, and with your contact information, if you want to sell it.)

If I'm asked by a business to hang my work for free, I would first ask if they have a decorating budget.  I'd make them a deal if they buy the work.  Failing that, I'd ask if they would be interested in renting the work.  Failing that, I would say "no."

Yes, sometimes hanging your painting for free in such a venue may sell it or entice a buyer to look at your other work.  But I think it's very rare.  I'd love to have you share your experiences in the comments section below.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Some New Small Plein Air Paintings for Sale

Collage of the New Small Paintings

My new summer studio occupies part of the main floor of a three-story barn.  I'll post pictures of it later, once I get it completely set up, but I want to share with you some of the paintings from my last season here on Campobello Island in the Canadian Maritimes.  These are paintings I painted in the last weeks of the summer of 2018 but didn't have a chance to varnish.  I did that yesterday:

I used Gamblin's Gamvar to varnish.  One thin coat does the trick, and it dries quickly.

I'll be posting these paintings individually through Instagram and Facebook, but you can see them (and buy them!) all right now on my web site:  http://www.mchesleyjohnson.com/new-work/  Shipping to the lower 48 in the US is included; paintings are unframed.

By the way, you can sign up to get notifications when I post new small paintings here:

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Thursday, June 6, 2019

Painting Retreat Opening - Lubec, Maine, August 11-16, 2019

"Ebb Tide" 8x10 Pastel
Plein air view of Lubec, Maine

Sometimes it happens.  People cancel out of workshops and retreats.  When someone expresses interest in a workshop or retreat that is filled, I always ask if they'd like to be on the waiting list.  I encourage them to answer "yes."   After all, you never know -- sometimes a health issue crops up, or there's a death in the family, or some other unexpected detour appears.

And it's happened now for my painting retreat for experienced painters in Lubec, Maine, August 11-16.  I do have someone interested in this open spot, and I will know for sure in 24 hours.  But even if she takes the spot, it's possible another will open.  If you have any interest, please contact me.  I will let you know as soon as the opening is confirmed and keep you on the list in case there is another.

Details on the retreat are here (dates are for 2020, but the information is basically the same for this year) on my web site.

I've written about Lubec, Maine, and neighboring Campobello Island, New Brunswick, a great deal over the years.  But if you are new to my blog, let me tell you that you won't find anywhere more special for ocean scenery.  You'll discover bold cliffs, historic fishing villages, boats and lighthouses, and beaches that are mostly empty even at the height of the summer season.  If that doesn't tempt you, perhaps the prospect of FRESH LOBSTSER will!