A study vs. the real thing…

February 14, 2009
demo/study acrylic on watercolor paper, about 7x10"

demo/study acrylic on watercolor paper, about 7x10"

One of my students asked why I consider the above demo I did in my acrylics class just a study. Why would I not frame and sell the above piece as a painting? The thought never really crossed my mind, so I don’t think I answered the question properly in class, now that I’ve mulled over the question, here’s a better response.

Artists should not feel compelled to frame and sell everything they do that turns out “pretty good”. That quick little demo sketch is fine for something I did in about 20 minutes while talking to a group of students, but it ‘s nowhere near the quality of something a gallery or professional club would exhibit or offer for sale.

Painting is a process that requires time, patience and concentration. Sketches and studies are important in that they allow you to work out your ideas, address potential problems and have a practice run at your concept. A novel doesn’t go from the author’s computer directly to the bookstore shelf. Only after rigorous editing and refining can a rough draft become a bestseller and the public does not really want or need to see the drafts in between. The only time there might be an exception is if you are having a retrospective of your work or a show where your process leading up to the final painting is part of the exhibit. For example, I’m currently in a show featuring the work of artists who teach. For that exhibit, I have the studies of each final piece framed and hung next to the painting. 

I highly recommend doing a lot of studies, sketches and developing a discerning eye towards your own work.  Recognize and be proud of your growth and development as it occurs, but only offer your very best work for exhibit and sale.