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.