Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Frequent Question An Artist Gets Asked

Below is a plein air painting I did at Lost Mountain Nursery last year. Because we paint outdoors (en plein air), we must paint rather quickly... the shadows change, which changes the colors and values. People were coming and going... I even had one lady park her rather large SUV right in front of me, blocking the view I was painting. Since this was the first painting in the morning, the angle of the light was changing very quickly. I worked on the trees in the upper part for some time, then I walked to where I could see -- just a few steps -- then walked back to the easel and tried to place a few strokes. Mostly, I was pleased with the study.

We give a false impression of how fast we can paint a painting. As you can see, this painting is very loosely done... just giving an "impression" of the scene. But, I love the freshness of this type of work. I do tell everyone when I paint plein air, I do not go out there to paint with the idea it will be a frameable painting .... this is my classroom and where I go to learn. But, many times they do please me enough to frame it and show it.

I am telling about this particular day because ... as people are walking around you, there is one question that pops up almost every time I paint on location or give a demonstration somewhere.

"Lost Mountain Nursery"
Paste -- 11" x 14"
Watercolor underpainting is showing many places.

“How long did it take you to paint that?”

Here is a wonderful paragraph written by a very fine artist, Becky Joy. I am placing her exact quote from her blog here for you to read. It might give you a little more insight into what an artist really does with their time. Her blog can be found at Becky and the article is "HOW DO YOU MEASURE PRODUCTIVITY AND MANAGE TIME IN YOUR ART BUSINESS?" which was published on May 19, 2011.

"On the business side, I’m working on the computer, blogging, writing newsletters, posting on my website, commenting, Facebooking, twittering, talking to other artists about the internet (the new way of marketing) and researching marketing and ideas. I prepare for ads in magazines and anywhere else I can think of. I search for appropriate shows and prepare applications and CD’s and send money into each one. Then I set those paintings aside and wait to find out if I was accepted. When I have been accepted, I have to box the paintings up, ship them, send the gallery or organizations information, follow up, then wait. I go to plein air events and shows to network with other artists and venues. I send press releases. I talk to designers that I’ve worked with in the past. I try to find or think of any new or innovative ways to market. I ship off paintings that I sell on my website or blog. I talk to clients about commissions, sometimes they come through, sometimes they don’t. Oh, and then there’s the framing, buying and assembling (I buy moulding and have a v-nailer for corners). I deliver paintings. I go to the galleries to check out what is going on in the art world and talk to owners that I know. I prepare for workshops that I teach. I take inventory of supplies and buy before I’m out.

So next time when you ask an artist, “How long did it take you to paint that?” remember there’s a myriad of things that go on with this business behind the scenes just like in any other business."

"Pot House Nursery"
Pastel 12" x 9"
The above is the second painting of that day ... same potting shed, but I decided I saw a hint of pink to the old shed and how the light was hitting it during the later part of the morning. So... I enhanced and pumped up the color. This painting has been framed and is accepted in the Women Painters of the Southeast first show. That show will be in Jacksonville FL and I will attend the receptions on April 27 and 28. One other of my plein air paintings was also accepted, "Willeo Park Misty" which won Best in Show in the Great Chattahoochee Paint Out.   Here is a link to the page with info about the show: Women Painters Of the Southeast 2012 Show Info

So... these two were frameable plein air paintings! Visit my web site "plein air" page to see the Willeo painting, Marsha Hamby Savage Plein Air Page .

I always love to hear your comments ... so let me know what you are thinking or how this might have changed your perception of what an artist does.
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