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Adding Value to Your Artwork

by Lori Woodward on 1/13/2010 12:35:28 PM

Today's Post is by Lori Woodward, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. She is also a contributing editor for American Artist's Watercolor and Workshop magazines and she writes "The Artist's Life" blog on American Artists' Forum. Lori is a member of The Putney Painters, an invitational group that paints under the direction of Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik.  Find out how you can be a guest author. 

Clint recently shared how he accepted artists into his gallery even when their presentation materials were poor - because their artwork was "kick ass". It's absolutely true, great artwork has intrinsic value to collectors. In order to sell your work on a consistent basis, collectors need to get the impression that you're a professional whose work will retain its value.

I'm not saying that collectors only buy as an investment (although some do)... most buy an artwork because they connect emotionally with it and want to live with it. However, in the back of their minds, they're wondering if their collection might grow in value over time. They are generally interested in the career growth of those whose works they buy and are delighted when they find that one of their paintings has gained value because the artist won an award or had their work shown in a national publication.

It All Boils Down To The Quality of Your Work

Think of an artist whose work you admire and who makes a good living with sales of their work. What image comes to mind when you think of their work? How would you describe their work? Why do you think that artist has a loyal collecting audience?

Now ask yourself - how did that artist get his or her education? What does this person know about light, shadow, color, design? What makes the work captivating?

Finally, ask yourself - what does this work have going for it that mine does not? When one of my instructors asked me this question, it was a real eye opener. Although I could draw and paint fairly well, the thing my work was missing was "confluent color". All the objects in my landscapes and still lifes were painted with local color. I noticed in the landscapes of William Trost Richards, that his work repeated colors in every object all over the painting. In other words, the rocks contained all the same colors that were present in the sea, and vice versa - only with different values and shapes - so that they were recognizable as rocks and water.

There's always room for improvement. Today, there are better learning tools out there for artists than ever in  history. There's no excuse for complacency or stagnation in our attempt to become better artists. If you're thinking that the art market is not competitive, think again. This business, will cost you money - for high quality materials, framing, education... and time to learn, practice and refine your craft and visual statement. But take heart, it can be done, and compared to other business start-ups, being a professional artist costs relatively little with low overhead.

Every Successful Artist Started Out A Beginner

We all start out as beginners, so don't feel bad about being in that position.  I'll say it again... art is not a get rich quick career. But it is a worthy career where it is entirely possible to make a living. I've invested thousands in my art education by taking workshops, classes, buying videos, and books. I have probably spent close to $20,000 on my art education since 1991. That's not a lot over the course of 20 years.

If you've done the "magazine" exercise where you create a "morgue" of pages of artworks you love, then try to decipher what it is that attracts you to those works. Ask  yourself which elements you might like to incorporate into your own work. If some of these artists teach, you might consider taking a workshop with them or buying an instructional video. Workshops are expensive, but they give you a chance to network with other artists - important for your career in the long run; but if you are low on funds, study the works of the artists whose work you admire. Copy if you like, but keep copies to yourself - never try to sell them, or you might get into trouble with copyright.

Take Advantage of Learning Opportunities

Never settle... as soon as you think you've learned everything there is to know about making fine art, your work is in trouble. I've recently heard Richard Schmid say that he's still making new discoveries about color. His current work is more refined than it was 30 years ago, and he was famous and highly collected then! Once an artist, always a student.

There are many art magazines which show how artists work with step by step demos.I occasionally write for Workshop Magazine - one that I've personally learned from. Fine Art Views' writer Stapleton Kearns has a fantastic instructional blog - man, he really knows the essentials,as well as the advanced stuff, and can explain things in simple terms.

Oh, and you professionals out there... what did you do to grow in your artistic knowledge? Workshops, art schools, books, self-taught (yes, that works too)...I'm sure those who want to get to the next level of professionalism would love to know.

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Backstory: About Clint. Email EditorTwitter. Republish. ]

Related Posts:

How to Maximize Your Return on Art Workshop Investments

Take Your Artwork to the Next Level

Climbing to the Top

Charting Your Artistic Course

On The Verge

20% Dream and Scheme, 80% DO

Building a Body of Work

Topics: Art Business | Lori Woodward Simons 

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Monte Wilson
Lori- Wonderful article! Truly hits home with me. Like you I've invested a lot of money over the years in educating it workshops, videos, DVDs or paint outs. I have a library filled with instructional DVDs, videos and books from a large variety of artists I admire and I continuously study them. Instead of watching TV at night I'll pop in a DVD. But good old trial and error is also a good way to improve. Nothing more exhilarating than finally figuring out something that's been eluding you....

Linda Wilder
Thanks Clint, great read. I also have invested a lot of money as well as time...and will continue to do so. As I say in my bio..."I paint 24 hours a day, maybe not just by holding a brush but by thinking, seeing and feeling" Art is a way of life, and I'm always learning.

Question: How many professional artists out there still go to workshops as well as teach them? ( I am giving my first workshop and a week later I am going to one)

Linda Wilder
Im sorry...I meant thanks Lori

Lori Woodward
Linda... no problem. I don't mind if Clint gets the credit. The important thing is that what I write helps artists to do their best work and marketing.

Anyway, I both teach and take workshops. There's always someone way better than I am, but I have a lot of knowledge to share too. Going to workshops is so much fun - I meet other artists, some who've become life long friends. Teaching, is tiring work, but I've always come out a better artist for having done so.

Congrats on your first workshop!

Charlotte Herczfeld
Lori, thank you, excellent as ever.

Being so-called self-taught, I've hunted up the right kind of education, taking classes, workshops, travelling over half the globe to get to the right teacher. I'm also reading, interacting with other artists, attend an online community for artists which is like an art college due to the generous sharing and critiquing from more established artist, one of the biggest and best communities on the net. Reading books, studying videos/DVDs. Generally sponging up as much as I can, including art history, and doing excercises.

What I did to get semi-professional (aiming for wholly pro), was to behave as if I already was. At least as far as I had figured it out. I got a pro looking website with integrated blog at FASO, and that immediately impressed people. I was open, but no excuses, definitely no "poor little me", but I didn't hide I was in a development phase. Treated the customers/collectors the best I could, and will improve as I learn more.

In short, if you want to be a pro, behave like a pro. Do the things the people who succeed do, as they do what the non-successful do not want to do. Is it too much trouble to make preliminary studies of a painting, thumbnails, colour sketches? What do the pro do? Ah! So I do the 'homework' before painting the painting.

I'll be very interested in reading comments from you who are more successful, and learn from you.

Sue Martin
Lori, thank you for sharing one of your key learnings (confluent color). I'll bet every artist has had at least one major learning that has made a huge difference in their progress. For me, it was hard-soft edges, though I still make mistakes in that area.

Pat DeVane Burns
Absolutely true! The computer has turned into my best friend in this regard because I have access to viewing such an amazing array of art and can follow the careers of artists that I admire. Just today I did a painting a la Karin Jurick... my reference material but with more fluid brushstrokes like she uses on a small scale 8"x8". It was like being in my own workshop. Like you said... always a student!

Carole Rodrigue
Great advice! I've also spent countless dollars on books, DVD's, magazines, you name it. And I'll keep doing it also, because it's an investment in myself, and my art. Workshops and classes are on the horizon also. You can learn enough! I'm also attending my first art club meeting tonight, which I'm excited about, and I hope to learn from some of the members. And that's life, and art: a continuous learning process.

R Yvonne Colclasure
Thanks for a great article Lori. I picked up my first paint brush in 1972. I am just now starting to feel like I can enter a few competitions. I don't have a figure on how much I have spent on books, videos, and workshops, let alone materials tested and tried and then discarded when they weren't what I enjoyed. I have to thank my husband for his patient understanding.

Just as I feel like I have gained knowledge in one area, I find there are three others that I need to work on. I think the fact that there is not an end to this endeavor, that there will always be another lesson to learn, another method to try, is what keeps me committed to making myself go to the studio day after day. The carrot is always at the end of the stick. The hope for a time when everything comes together and there are more successes than failures keep me from giving in to the voice that I sometimes hear telling me it is futile, I may as well give up. I will continue to paint and hopefully continue to grow and learn and improve. It is articles by dedicated individuals who write for Fine Art Views that give me the encouragement to keep on keepin' on.

Joanne Benson
Hi Lori,
Great advice! I have so many art books that I can't keep track of them. When I wanted to order books I already had....I had to stop and catalogue them! Workshops are great as well as painting's all good! And you are right, you never stop learning. I always say if I take away one new idea from a book then it was worth the read! Thanks for the reinforcement! Joanne

Terry Krysak
Great article Lori, very inspirational and packed full of some insights into the things that will contribute to building our skills to a higher level.

Compared to the early 1970's when I was in art school, today's artist has a virtual library of artistic knowledge and experience to draw from at the click of a mouse.

Lori Woodward
Thanks everyone for taking the time to read and comment. Incidentally, after getting an art degree in college (late 70's) I was so discouraged that I didn't draw or paint for nearly 10 years.

I regret having lost that time... but I have been blessed to be able to have learned from excellent teachers since getting back into art.

Favorite landscape authors: John F. Carlson, Edgar Payne, video by Jay Moore, workshop by Donald Demers. Fav watercolor teacher:Sondra Freckelton. Oh, and of course, Richard Schmid... his book Alla Prima taught me a ton about color, edges.

Sharon Weaver
Thanks for the intro to Stapleton Kearns blog. His postings about painting trees are wonderful.

Lorraine Khachatourians
Thanks Lori for these comments and reminders. The 'confluent colour' note is a good reminder, particularly for something I'm working on now. Not having come via the art school route, I have used workshops, books, and magazines as well, and now the great art blogs like this one and Stapleton Kearns. I remember one instructor talking about the impressionists and his feeling that they used bits of gray in their works, which helped tie things together as well. In looking up close at some of them at the Musee d'Orsay, you could see these little confetti like bits of colour. It is something I try to remember to use too, although I don't really paint in the impressionist style. Working toward being semi-pro, and taking the plunge to enter competitions are goals for this year. This art blog is particularly helpful in this regard. Thanks again.

Tuva Stephens
Even though I consider myself a professional artist I still take one watercolor workshop each year. My next one will be with Jean Grastorf (Pouring Watercolors). Last year's workshop was with Cheng-Khee Chee in Knoxville. Other workshops have included: Tony Couch,Gerald Brommer,Frank Webb,Judi Betts,Laurin McCracken and others. Having my work juried by such noted artists can be encouraging in helping me to achieve some goals in competitions. When I am not doing art, I'm either reading/taking notes from my favorite books, reading art magazines,watching DVDs or on the computer learning more about art. (My pet peeve is to go to a workshop and see people not doing anything in which the presenter is demonstrating.) I take detailed notes in a hardback sketchbook that becomes very beneficial to me later. I love quotes and stories that these well known artists share. I too have quite a library of wonderful art books in which I highlight important information. I keep every art magazine just to become inspired at times! I really have been enjoying looking at all the wonderful artwork in the Fine Art Studio Online Competitions the past couple of months!

Wendy Froshay
Hi Lori,

You asked "what did you do to grow in your artistic knowledge?"

Along with everything you mentioned in your article, I've found that one major area that helps me to continually learn and grow - is teaching what I know to others.

My students teach me as much as I teach them by pushing me to find new ways of explaining and creating what they are searching to understand. I spend a lot of time observing what they are doing and then visualizing how to help them see better - and every time I learn anything new, I pass it on to them. This helps to cement what I've learned while expanding my own understanding and skills.

The whole process sharpens my own observation and visualization skills, and I love the consistent interaction with other creatives.

Esther J. Williams
My journey has been a long one with art, I knew I loved art and became recognized early as an artist, but I didn`t take it seriously as I do now. I wanted to grow up and have fun in life, so I did. Still can`t get over that I passed up a art college scholarship when I was 17. By the age of 25, all the formal education I took from 1979-1983 was art based at 3 colleges, that I studied 3 separate careers, architecture, design/art history and fashion design. Those years gave me insight but I could not take the careers seriously and gave up just short of a Bachelors to chart my own territory. I can not say I am self taught because of my education, but I did go on to visit many museums and just dissect the old master`s work with my eyes. I would talk to the docents and they were all too happy to share their knowledge. I went to museum lectures. I picked up many, many books on the old masters and read, read, read. Some are 400 pages and I have read the Monet Retrospective twice. I still have all my books, over 200, I keep buying them at our annual art book sale at the local library. I do love art history. All the learning from the old masters was invaluable, but it wasn`t until a few years ago that I reached a big turning point thanks to Kevin Macpherson`s books. In doing my landscape or seascape paintings I learned from Kevin how to work with a limited palette, to relate your colors in the painting, to blend natural color/values, build the foundation of the painting with the shadow family and then the light family. To mark that center of focus early on by placing the lightest light, the darkest dark and the brightest color off center. There was so much to learn from his books that I kept a vigil at practicing and reading, then practice some more and go back and read his books, just to get little tidbits. In the past 2 years, I have grown, but just recently I have also learned to fill a canvas fast, within 2 hours. I am working on speedily completing a composition while en plein air, covering the canvas with large shapes first, then adding details later. Using all the techniques stated above plus trying to make a kick-ass composition can be overwhelming. Eventually all the knowledge learned becomes second nature and the painting paints itself. Some are great, some not so great. Like Lori says, we learn new things all the time. I am thankful for her article, it helps me to express what I am discovering and share it.
I have never taken a workshop or watched DVD`s but I have watch our living artist`s do demonstrations for our art associations and have taken many notes, like Tuva does. It was all I needed to grow and evolve, maybe because I am stubborn. I could go on and on, but I will stop here. There are umpteen sources of influences on my course of artistic direction.

Lori Woodward
Esther, thank you for bringing up Kevin's books. I have both and they are two of the best educational painting books I've got in my collection.

Judith Martinez
Now that you have opened Pandora's Box (for artists) with the lure of one's name in a list and a website link, who is going to PAINT those paintings for the ones who seem to be spending far too much time on the computer ? (I must remember that I am on slow dial-up and may have a warped view of this area.)

The good thing that I can see is that there will now be fewer artists as my competition !

Esther J. Williams
Lori, thanks, I just wanted to give him some public credit. My art sold sparingly before, but after I learned his approach, it started moving people and selling more, it also started to win more awards.
One more thing, I learned the 'lost and found edges' from him. No more painting just the object with hard lines, part of it is diffused, part of it has an edge. I have found that people like the mystery of those edges better.

Fay Terry
Lori, thanks for your words of wisdom. It really does all hinge on the quality of your work.
One thing that has really helped me is having an artist friend or two (with more experience than I have) to critique my work. This is especially valuable when it is someone you really trust and someone who will help you learn to critique your own work by knowing the right questions to ask yourself.

Tuva Stephens
Workshops are great places to pick up helpful information from fellow artists. An artist that was an inspiring teacher to me was disappointing to another artist. She later told me, "the best thing I got out of that workshop was your suggestion on purchasing a DVD by John Salminen's A Designed Approach to Abstraction. She continued to say that she received several awards using a technique from Salminen that helped her in her abstract/watercolor collage technique. (Another thing that I do is watch a DVD of an artist even before I take their workshop. It seems to cement the learning quicker.) So when artists gather together there is a wealth of information we can share with each other. After all isn't that what we are doing, right now!

Lori Woodward
Good point Esther - on lost and found edges. Tuva, an excellent idea about watching the video before taking a workshop... I think I'll try that next time because it'll help me absorb more while I'm there.

Richard Schmid and I are friends, and one day, I proudly set a still life painting out for his critique. He's always kind to people he doesn't know well, but since he knew me pretty well... he said, "Where's your lost edges?" and then just walked away. He was right! I told the entire story and left nothing else for the viewer to do.

I rather enjoy realism, but I've learned that I can paint "implied" realism - which seems to have a much larger audience than hard edged photo realism.

Now, give me some slack here. I'm not getting down on those of you who paint photo-realistically. There is an audience for practically every style and subject in art, but I too have found that my paintings get more attention when I have some lost edges.

Lori Woodward
Oh, and Fay... good idea about a trusted friend for critiques. Yes, I agree - eventually we all need to get good at being critical with our own work.

Sounds like another subject for a blog post ;-)

OK, artist friends - I gotta go offline and get some work done today. Plus I don't want to dominate the conversation. Thanks for all your contributions. You have made this a valuable post which I will refer to for sure!

Michael McGovern
Great advise! "You never stop learning", an art instructor of mine once told me. I am constantly challenging myself to advance, and create my best work in each painting. Like it were my last.

Tuva Stephens
You have my is simple. Keep reaching, learning and set goals. It is rewarding to accomplish goals that I put in writing in my journal. Just check one or two at a time. A journal is a great way to look back at accomplishments and forward to new horizons. Great for record keeping also.

Marsha Savage
I can only say, again, I think this is one of the best articles I have read lately. I keep saying that, and you guys keep coming up with another one!

It gives us some good info to help us evaluate ourselves -- where we are at this time, and maybe where we want to go.

Tuva said: "My pet peeve is to go to a workshop and see people not doing anything in which the presenter is demonstrating. I take detailed notes in a hardback sketchbook that becomes very beneficial to me later. I love quotes and stories that these well known artists share." I totally agree with this one. I always do my worst work in a workshop because I step out of my comfort zone! And my sketchbooks are filled with wonderful notes -- some of my friends even ask if they can have a look, borrow my book.

And, Wendy's comment: "My students teach me as much as I teach them by pushing me to find new ways of explaining and creating what they are searching to understand. I spend a lot of time observing what they are doing and then visualizing how to help them see better . . .". I teach and feel like I have jumped miles ahead because I have done so.

I study as many books as I can -- Kevin Macpherson being a major one. I attend lectures and demonstrations, joined a couple of art associations and participate. I do try to take one workshop per year from someone I admire. I also teach workshops along with my classes. I believe all of this helps cement what I read and see.

Of course, I should spend more time in the studio -- and that is my goal this year. I do produce a good amount of work -- and am quite prolific. Of course a good portion are starts that end up being an exercise of something I want to learn, and then they are not finished pieces. Miles of paper or canvas!

Thanks to all of the commentors on these articles . . . and of course the authors of the articles. This has become my favorite newsletter for learning. Marsha

Tuva Stephens
Marsha, I agree with what you said about doing "what I consider my worst work at workshops because you step out of your comfort zone." That's me! Even though when I get home and show my work my husband likes what I have done. I tell him it is not me, but I was just trying something new! What I love most is when I realize I have learned something new and start incorporating it into my style of painting. I too have had people say I take great notes and sketches/diagrams of what the presenter is doing. You can not retain very much if you just listen and watch. My motto is to do!! I will be teaching a workshop soon to other artists. As I demonstrate, I plan on giving credit to those special artists who gave me certain tips/techniques/processes. I agree this has been a great article, Lori!

Judy Palermo
Lori, it is so encouraging to read about concrete examples where you found instances of improvement. It reminds us that we all have to find those instances ourselves - that needing to improve is not a sign to give up, it's just the way it is!

Diane Donicht Vestin
In regards to Lori's comments on pricing art, she hit home base with her knowledge about how to go about pricing your art. About 20 years ago, I sold my first painting for $1200.00 and since then, nothing. I don't know why. I have my own website, have recieved numerous rewards, but just don't have a following out there. I sure would like some healthy advice as to what I'm doing wrong or what I can do right.
Diane Donicht Vestin

Marsha Savage
Diane, where are you showing your work other than your own web site? I did not see any reference on your site. Also, your last date on your award and recognition list was 1998. Have you been entering any shows since then?

A web site is not enough this day and time in my opinion. I would like to know what more you have been doing to promote your work.

Tuva Stephens
I just recently created my website with FASO. The book, I'd Rather Be in the Studio by Alyson Stanfield (The Artist's No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion) was recommended. You might want to invest in it. It is not meant to be read from cover to cover but studied,and highlighted. Enter as many local, state, and even national shows as you can. People are buying art at shows presently in my area. Many galleries have gone out of busy in the nearest larger city. If no one sees your work, you probably won't sell much. When I taught high school art, my best customers were the teachers because I took each new painting to school to show and tell. Tell everyone you see,"hey I have a website." Most art is purchased by people that know the artist. Join some art organizations! Become a media magnet as Alyson says! There is so much I am learning about marketing in just the past few weeks. Enter your paintings in the FASO Art Competition. It can give you great exposure!

Carole Rodrigue
Great advice Tuva. I find most of my sales are through person to person contact, and a competition/show recently. I've also learned to let go of my artist's ego recently when we had a Christmas party. I'd warned my boyfriend I didn't want anyone in my studio. I hate people seeing unfinished work. But of course, the minute I turned my back, about 10 people wandered in there. I sold a painting that night, right on the spot. The woman picked it up, held it, put it back, held it again, ooo'd and aah'd . . . Sold! So, I guess it's that building relationships thing.

I also sold a larger piece at a show this summer. I didn't think it would sell because it was horses and I'd painted it about 2 years ago. I got the nicest, richest looking, most expensive frame from the framers and the painting took a life of its own. I'm convinced the frame did it. I'll never skimp on framing again.

Rick Mercer
Every day I sketch on the train to and from work. I copy plates from the Charles Barque Course book, sketch people on the train and sketch faces from the newspaper. In the warmer months I take my sketchbook with me outside and sketch people outside as well.

Lori Woodward
What a difference a frame makes! It's like dressing up. There are places where you can buy frames reasonably... that look great. Clint has a partnership with a frame company here. There are others. Carole is right... don't skimp on the frame.

I buy my frames wholesale, but I have to buy them in bulk - just like a frame company would, and I need to have a tax resale number and an account with the company. Don't go to a frame shop to buy custom frames... you're paying retail price, and if you're working with galleries, you'll have to double that price in order to get your money back when the painting sells.

Donald Smith
I agree completely with your statement, -It All Boils Down To The Quality of Your Work.â The question then becomes how to know if we are producing quality. After all, Leonardo said, -The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.â I like my work. I know there is room for improvement, and I am reading, practicing, learning, and I can see growth in my art from one year to the next. Other people like my art, but I don't have any -collectors.â I'm writing a blog, but no one reads it.
In 1987 I was learning how to shoot weddings by a professional photographer. He would shoot 50 to 52 weddings / year and averaged $2,500.00 / wedding. He told me once, -you can be the best photographer in the world, and if no one knows you exist, you will go broke trying to make a living as a photographer. On the other hand, you can be the best marketer, and a mediocre photographer, and you will make a good living as a photographer.â That isn't true of being a fine artist. I can run adds as a wedding photographer, and people will hire me to shoot their weddings. If I painted portraits, people might pay me to paint them, but as a landscape artist⦠that just doesn't work. You're right, you have to be a quality artist, producing quality art.
So, we've come full circle to my first question. How can an artist know if they are producing quality art?

Justin Holdren
So true Clint! I have only been getting my work out there and selling it in the last few years and I am still learning, so I have not applied to the "bigger" galleries until I feel I am ready. Some people told me that I would get no business at the 2 small galleries I am in because they are in rural areas, but one of those galleries is doing really well to get me some small sales and get my name out. They also have a Artwalk one Friday night a month and all the "small" galleries in that town are open late that night. I have been to art walks there where I met people from 5 towns away that come to the events and I have seen a few hundred people come to those events. So, it is true that things sometimes are contrary to what people believe. You can sell at a place with little walk in traffic!

Justin Holdren
OOPS! Meant to reply to Clint's Post about Contrary art marketing!

Debra Russell
Lori...I think studying those artists that "send you" when you view one of their paintings is invaluable.It helps you form your own style. If you can find the artist teaching a workshop, it's even better! I don't strive to paint just like the artist, only to learn 1 or 2 things from them that can be incorrporated into my way of painting. I've also found that when i go to a workshop, I will always learn something from the artists taking the workshop with me. I try to position my self by the best in the group so I can watch them paint as well as the instructor. All of the thousands I have spent on workshops has been far more productive than the 4 yr art education in college...that also cost thousands!

Debra Russell
This winter our plein air group has been getting together to paint indoors when it's too stormy and cold to paint even in your car! Instead of painting from photos, we have been painting along to videos of MacPherson, Schmid, Statts etc. It's amazing to see how completely different all of our paintings are at the end of the session. Again, it's not trying to copy someone, but trying to mix it up andget your brain to think differently about how you paint. These sessions almost always end in a wipe off...but that's what the exercise is for.

Lori Woodward
Debra, what a cool idea! Having a group paint along with a video. Sounds like fun and a good learning time. Sort of like a video game... painting wii

Debra Russell
Lori...there's alot of "pausing" of the video going on, but also alot of laughter and learning!

Tuva Stephens
This is a fantastic idea. I am going to pass this on to other art groups in which I am a member. We have watched DVD's together but not a paint along type thing. Tuva

Tuva Stephens
As for studying with noted artists, once again I agree that you receive much knowledge and skills. In a Tony Couch workshop he told us he was going to give us in 5 days information equal to 2 years of art school. He was not lying. Instruction from the best is so important.

Esther J. Williams
I am running out the door shortly to watch a demonstration by Greg LaRock at the Calafia State Beach in San Clemente CA. Greg has won many top awards and is very successful. He also teaches workshops, but this is a free perk from my plein air art association. We have one hour to hour and a half long demos once in awhile where they show the basic construction of building a plein air painting. When it is a signature artist, the crowd can be large, like up to 30 people. I always bring my sketchbook and SLR camera to take notes and pictures. Then with what morning hours we have left, we all set up our easels and paint. A lot of times, I break free because I am watching the morning light hit the scenery and it beckons me to paint. The freshness of the demo sticks with us and we paint with renewed energy. The camaraderie of all the artists adds a positive vibe in the air too.
If I can pick up one new artistic twist from the demos especially from an award winning artist sought after by collectors, I am gaining ground on producing a better quality painting for my collectors. Greg talks loud, so I am sure I will hear over the crowd! One point, I have, I like to watch them apply their strokes and especially watch them blend the colors on the palette and apply more color, how they handle the brush and where they apply it, it shows me that artist`s unique technique and their process. Everybody is different and I have changed how I build up a painting by watching the signature artists progress. I know I have my own style, but have learned from others new ways. Bye, it`s going to be a sunny day in SoCal!

Lee McVey
Lori mentioned the value of taking workshops. I enjoy workshops, although they are hard work. I take at least one five day workshop a year and sometimes I can fit in one or two 3 day workshops as well. (It helps to have 3 day workshops taught by nationally recognized artists come to my town) I always learn something even if it's information I've heard before. Hearing it again, I 'get it' on a deeper level. A workshop attendee once told me after attending a workshop that she didn't learn anything new. I think she wasn't fully present and fully listening. There is always something to learn, regardless of your level. My feeling is if you aren't learning, you aren't growing.

Joanne Benson
Your post hit home with me. I spent 4 years at a liberal arts college as an art major during the early '70s. Let me tell you, they weren't teaching technique or anything close to foundation courses in drawing and painting. Abstraction was big and at the time it wasn't of interest to me...I actually like abstract art more now than I did back then...but still am a representational painter. At any rate, I too have learned much more from workshops and books and online forums and just plain experimentation than 4 years as an art major! And I love your paint along idea! Way to go...I will mention that to my painting group! Thanks for the great idea! Joanne

Michael Cardosa
Hi Lori,

After reading this article a few times I've come up with a few questions but certainly one major one. Maybe it's just my business background getting in the way but do many artists approach potential galleries with a true marketing plan? When I was in the process of writing a business book on selling through distribution channels (galleries?) one of things that every agent I spoke with asked, what was my marketing budget to launch the book and what would I do to sustain the marketing. As a neophyte author I thought I'd write the book and they'd print and publish! How wrong I was... If I expected a publisher to pick up my book I had to convince them that my efforts would at least be equal to their own to further sales. This might seem grossly unfair but it was reality. At least 5 years ago in that industry.

My question is, would a gallery owner welcome or reject an active marketing effort by an artist to drive business to the gallery for their works?

Lori Woodward
Michael, thanks for your question.

The galleries I've worked with paid for advertisements, put on shows and provided refreshments at the openings, sent out post cards, etc.

Although no gallery ever asked me to promote my work, I continued to do whatever I could to get my work published in art magazines. Sometimes I paid for my own ads (which I really wasn't ready to do), and I also entered shows and competitions in order to build my resume/bio.

One of the things that continues to cost money is high quality linen canvas and framing. Framing becomes an important element of the work, and usually the artist pays for the frame. I also pay to ship paintings to a gallery if they're not in driving distance. I also further my art education, and travel to locations for painting. It all adds up to quite a lot.

The gallery just wants me to deliver a steady stream of excellent work. Good galleries have a list of clients who buy regularly from them, so I don't need to worry about that part.

Does that answer your question?

Michael Cardosa
Hi Lori,

Thanks for answering this so quickly and yes it does. Getting the benefit of your experience is invaluable.

Thank you again...

Tuva Stephens
Do you have any suggestions on how to get artwork into art magazines such as WATERCOLOR or ARTIST MAGAZINE? I do know that so many of the paintings that are featured are winners in national shows.

Lori Woodward
Tuva, here is a link to a blog I wrote a while ago.

I wrote about other artists for a few years before I was good enough to have my work published. Your story and artwork needs to be interesting to other artists, and they generally like a step by step demo.

They like to see that you've got a consistent body of work, and if you've been working with galleries or selling your work, that helps a lot.

Like anything else, if you have a big name - it's easy to get published. I kind of got in the back door, but I got my work into national shows as well.

Post your work on the American Artist forum. The editors do take notice when they see great work.

Tuva Stephens
Thank you Lori! Maybe others could also use this information about how to get their work published.
I recently had a painting accepted into the SWS (Southern Watercolor Society)--19 states, Chee, juror. 95 paintings were accepted from 397. That was one of my goals for 2010. I just have to keep reaching!

Bob Ragland
Brush milage matters!!!!!!
Trial and error in art making is the way to learn in my opinion.
I read somewhere that making art can be a series of mistakes, one just has to know which mistakes to keep.
I am of the opinion, do what ever works, books, teachers, your easel time, you make the choice.

Diane Donicht Vestin
In response to Bob,
I too am all in favor of trial and error in marketing and painting. I have the painting down where I think it is very markitable(spelling?). What I don't have is a market. What's a market? Who's a market? How do I get a market? I don't have a list of anyone, (galleries, people I know, people I don't know, collectors, etc.) Do you see where I'm going with this? If anyone out there can help me, I'd appreciate it mucho. I do have my own website and I also have a small website on FAV, which I hope to enlarge once I get my other half to do it for me as I am technilogically impaired. Not that I try to learn, it's that no one will teach me. Help! I'm drowning in painted canvases!

Tuva Stephens
I read somewhere while working with FASO that artists should post the price of your paintings on your website. I think it helps to show the one that have sold, and unavailable. You are a versatile, fine artist and should be able to sell your work. I notice you enter shows and have been doing well. Do you know of a co-op art gallery you could hang some artwork? Alyson B. Stanfield's book, I'd Rather Be in the Studio, is a great book in giving ideas for marketing. It is "The Artist's No Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion and is motivational! It may benefit you also. Best of luck!

Debra Russell
I agree Bob. No matter how many workshops you take or videos you watch, nothing will help you more than constantly painting. I think a good example are the daily painters. Even though the majority of them were already excellent artists, if you compare their postings 2 years ago to the ones they are posting today, you see a large improvement over their body of work. Even if you don't want to committ to posting daily works, it's a good idea to do a study every day.You will progress at a faster pace when learning how to correct your mistakes on small paintings.

Nature Photography
wow, thanks for this post, i like it so much. keep posting.


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