Taking the fun out of it…

On the Metro, Acrylic on Canvas Sheet, 18″x 24″

Art at the Mill is described as, “one of the premier art shows in the mid-Atlantic region, attracting artists and buyers from over a dozen states.”  The show does offer a huge number of works from 300 amateur to professional artists.  Eleven years ago the pig painting I entered seemed the most likely to sell because of the predominance of pastoral landscapes, animal portraits and other bucolic works that dominate the show.  Instead my view of St. Peter’s cupola with a male figure from behind in a winter coat was the one to sell. This year will be my second attempt to exhibit.  Of the five pieces submitted one was accepted.  A pensive portrait of a little girl wise beyond her years, it seemed the most likely to be noticed.  Although it is well painted, it was not remarked upon by many in my small circle of artists.  Remember we paint for ourselves, not for anyone else, right?  But what about selling art– is it to please the artist or the buyer?

This figure study has received the most attention from my circle of artists in recently posted works. Perhaps it is the daring nature of a nude that makes others stop to stare.  Objectively the painting is brighter, more boldly painted, and not overworked into awkwardness. I felt more free as I was painting this than I did with On the Metro.  This work was also submitted for Art at the Mill.  It isn’t too surprising that it was not accepted.  I do live in Virginia, and I can’t remember the last time there was a nude hanging at the Mill.  Or it could be that the cropped composition and surreal background just did not suit their look this year. Offering such a work for consideration makes me that much more vulnerable.  Something I painted to make myself happy does not necessarily garner the approval of others. I’ll be curious to see what else hangs this Spring. 

Putana della Miseria, Pencil on Paper (my most viewed on flickr
for no apparent reason other than someone looking for a tattoo
design with hearts and flames)

The process of offering work for consideration, even if it’s just to ask a loved one, “What do you think?” is risky.  What lives in our minds and hearts is not normally on display.  As an artist the exposure to the opinion of others can be detrimental to our creativity if not processed with a grain of salt.  We have never lived in an age where images are so readily available as they are now.  The act of someone choosing to look at your painting, much less go through the effort of framing and installing it into their life, can be a huge commitment.  If I were to live on painting, there would be that much more risk involved.  Perhaps that is what it takes to be truly daring and liberated as an artist.  After all, buyers are paying for a unique piece of the artist that only they have procured.  With so many Artistes in the world, however, the cachet of ownership has become diluted.  In a relationship with privileged patrons the onus is on the artist to really stand out.  

Embrace, Acrylic on Canvas Sheet, 16″x20″

One way to be noticed is to widen my circle of potential patrons.  This month I posted work for sale on Etsy.  Although the pedigree of this electronic venue may not compare with that of Art at the Mill, I should be more likely to find patrons by casting my nets across the globe.  If nothing else, the twenty cents it costs to post a work on Etsy is a lot cheaper than the $40 application fee to even be considered for display at a local show.  How’s it going so far?  Well, the game of getting noticed via social media is a lot more work than I realized.  Even on Etsy, it’s about who you know and who knows you.  Eager to set up my community, I immediately searched for artists I admired.  There are no shortages of brilliant artists out there.  There is even a handy group called Finding Fine Art which aims, “to provide a unique shopping experience for fine art collectors seeking original art on Etsy.”  Sounds so easy in some ways.  I have posted seventeen items for sale, all created in a six month creative growth spurt.  No purchases so far, but I have been told by my friends to be patient.  So I will.  Regardless of selling or not, I paint.

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