Summer is Here!

May 28, 2012

Melon & Flowers, oil on canvas, 11×14 in. – available via Michael Ingbar Gallery, 212-334-1100

It’s Memorial Day and that means summer is officially here! For artists who paint outdoors, it’s a great opportunity to get out there and capture the summer light. But that doesn’t mean studio painters can’t join in on the summer fun.

Summer offers a host of flowers and fruits that can be used to create colorful still life arrangements. Instead of relying on photographs, why not push yourself to do some painting from life? Setting up a still life is not difficult, but it does require some thought in order to come up with a balanced and harmonious subject for painting. I start by selecting a color harmony, for example, in the painting above, the complementary colors (green, purple and orange) are predominant. That is because I selected objects that were based on this color scheme in advance–I knew I wanted to paint the purple rhododendron, so I purposely selected the melon, limes and other greenery to come up with a design based on that color scheme.

Next, you have to think about the size and shape of the objects you select. I’ve chosen to work with spherical, organic forms (most fruit and flowers will fall into this category). This creates a repetition of shape and form, which serves to make the composition cohesive and filled with swirling motion. I’ve varied the sizes of the objects, which will keep things interesting and prevent the composition from becoming static. The wedges of the fruits actually help to point the viewer’s eye in the direction of the flowers and at the objects on the table, they also act as an angular balance to all the roundness.

Once you have your objects placed, set up a single light source on the arrangement and you are ready to paint. If you cannot leave your set up standing for an extended period, try working small so that you don’t have to leave it up for that long. This piece is 11×14 and was completed in one session.

So if you are looking for something new to paint this summer, why not give still life a try? It doesn’t have to be traditional or old fashioned in design, be creative and use the bold colors of summer to create something new and exciting!


Making the Most of Your Gallery Relationships

May 21, 2012

Empire State Building & Red Crane, oil on canvas, sold via Michael Ingbar Gallery

If you are represented by a gallery, you need to work WITH them in order to make the most of the relationship. While this may seem obvious, in today’s world of Internet sales, many artists make the mistake of actually competing with their galleries.

I’ve seen artists who offer their work for sale directly from their web sites at a discount (sometimes up to 50%!) from retail. This is a terrible way to do business. In doing so, the artist is practically guaranteeing that their work will not increase in value and that discounting will be expected in the future by collectors. Also, how can a gallery possibly compete with a pricing that does not factor in their commission?

Artists need to realize that having a well-established gallery behind them is worth its weight in gold. I work with 4 commercial galleries in New York City, Philadelphia, New Hope, PA and Naples, FL.  Each of them provides me with a much broader reach to prospective collectors than I could ever manage on my own. Additionally, they provide credibility–having your work marketed by a reputable gallery says “this work has our stamp of approval”, that is worth a lot to a prospective collector.

So, how do you make the most of your gallery relationships? Here is what has worked for me:

– Keep your pricing consistent among the galleries as well as with any sales you make directly from your studio.

– Give the galleries your retail price and allow them some leeway (typically 10%) to discount without having to notify you first (any additional discounting of course must be discussed individually).

– Promote the work you have in the galleries on your website, blog and Facebook page, and list the gallery contact information for each specific piece rather than having prospective collectors contact you directly. You have to make up your mind–are you in the direct sales business or are you a represented artist?

– Stay current with your inventory, send the gallery JPEGs of your new paintings as soon as they are completed and list them on your Facebook page and other online venues along with the gallery contact info.

– Discuss joint marketing efforts with your galleries, be sure they have the info they need to list your work on THEIR online pages as well.

– Promote their events even if you are not taking part in them–by doing so you are driving traffic to their shops and someone might ask about your work even if it is not in that specific exhibit.

Making a living in this business is not easy, but it is much easier if you work with the people that can help you rather than against them!


Paint What YOU Feel Like Painting

May 14, 2012

Pastel Sketch of Naples Florida for possible future painting, 5×7 in.

I’ve had a busy month–demos, workshops, new series to complete for a new gallery, major student exhibit, etc. Right now, I feel like painting something new and different. So I am.

I’ve decided to try a new series of paintings of Naples, FL. I am rerpesented there by a wonderful gallery, Trudy Labell Fine Art, and I would like to work more closely with them to gain exposure in the Southeast. Up until now, I’ve always exhibited my NY urban landscapes and flower paintings at the gallery. I’m hoping they will be interested in my new idea. However, even if they aren’t, I’m still enjoying myself painting something that interests ME! I could never be the type of artist who paints purely for commercial purposes. There are too many offbeat subjects that interest me visually–traffic, run down buildings, laundry, dirty dishes, etc. I don’t care so much about “what” I’m painting, as I am not a narrative painter. Visual patterns and textures are more interesting to me than telling a story, therefore, I can find interesting things to paint just about anywhere.

Also, I believe when we paint things that truly interest us, we do our best work. Therefore, prospective collectors who really connect with a painter’s message, won’t be put off just because the subject is slightly out of the norm.

I’ve always followed my instincts when it comes to choosing a subject and have never regretted it. As a professional, of course sales are important to me, but I would rather paint a painting that might not sell than pass up an opportunity to explore a subject or medium that truly excites me.


Come and See the Show!

May 7, 2012

Exhibition of paintings and pastels by my students at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, May 4 through July 1

I am really proud of the hard work my students have put into the exhibition we are having of paintings and pastels at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey! The show is on display now through July 1, and on Friday, May 11, there will be a reception from 6 to 8 pm.

Everyone put forth their best effort to make this exhibit a success! Each artist who participated created a new piece specifically for the show. There are 44 artists exhibiting, media includes oil, acrylic, pastel and mixed media. The subjects and styles are incredibly diverse, but the show holds together very well due to the standardized format of a 12×12 square for paintings or a 16×16 in. framed format for the pastels.

I hope you can make it to the art center to see the exhibit live and meet some of the artists. There are 3 other exhibits opening that night at the center, so it should be a fun and lively evening. Hope to see you there!

The Visual Arts Center of NJ is located at 68 Elm Street, Summit, NJ. For more info, visit www.artcenternj.org or call 908-273-9121.