Daily(ish) Painting

I’ve been painting for a pretty long time on a regular basis, but having announced that for at least the next year I would be doing a daily(ish) painting and then posting it for sale on Ebay and other sites, I find I’m both addicted to this practice and also a bit in a quandary to keep coming up with fresh ideas. But let’s back up and see where I’ve been and what has happened, just in case you want to follow a similar path.

My postings began in very early January. I planned on doing small works, mostly 5 x 7’s, some 6 x 8’s and a few 8 x 10’s. I ordered over 200 panels and started to paint them mid December so that I would have a stock to fill in gaps when I was on holiday or teaching and couldn’t get to my easel. I was nervous and excited, but mostly nervous about posting so often. I have a fair email list but would this consistent in-box posting put people off??

After letting people know this is what I was going to do and the date I was going to start, and then encouraging my peeps to either look and bid or just delete – no pressure- I started with a very strong painting that I hoped would sell and sent the first email. It sold with multiple bids!

#1 Ebay Honey jar small.jpg

And then I sent a second painting, and a third, and a fourth……day after day……It was too much. I was getting a serious number of ‘unsubscribes’! It freaked me out.  I know from reading other blogs that we need to find our own ‘tribe’. But it reminded me of all the people we think are our friends on FB, but they aren’t really. OK, no problem. Re-think how I might feel. So I went to every other day.

After 2 weeks I needed to take deep breaths before opening my email to see who else was, ‘no longer interested’, but then things started to stabilize and fewer were opting out. After a month (and several more sales) people were dropping me notes to say how much they enjoyed seeing what I was doing. People at my local Trader Joe’s would talk to me about what they saw. It was very encouraging. And now I didn’t want to let anyone down!

It’s been just over 50 paintings and this is what I’ve learned so far:

  • People will unsubscribe and that’s OK. I lost about 12% of my list, but when I really looked at who unsubscribed they often didn’t open any of my emails.
  • People are watching….way more than I thought they were.
  • People have let me know they are encouraged by what I’m doing.
  • Sales will happen, but not always directly. One client bought 3 paintings after the auctions ended, including one which was a larger piece.
  • It’s hard to stay motivated. It’s just a given. But create regardless.

If you have a daily or almost daily practice, I would love to know how this has changed and affected you and your work. I will post about this again in a few months.

 

Know Your Weaknesses. Know Your Strengths. It’s Just a Process.

The title is really for me.

This past weekend, after spending weeks, months actually, on a project (still not done) and studying color theory from the late 19th and early 20th century, I needed to get out and paint from a live model. It did not go well.

Not to make too many excuses but…. I got there late so I was in the very back row and I couldn’t see the model very well. The linen, which had a clear primer on it, had a strange and slippery feel. And because I couldn’t see well, I couldn’t measure well so my drawing was beyond off. I was testing a new limited palette of colors (suggested by Carlos Duran, teacher of John Singer Sargent) and thankfully that was going well. So I painted and scraped. Then I experimented and scraped. This painting/experimenting/scraping continued for the full 3 hours. All the while I could see other painters look behind them as they repeatedly heard the palette knife taking off layers of wet paint. (It has happened to them too. I truly believe I could feel their empathetic, “I feel your pain”.)  At the end of the session I gave the linen to a friend of mine so she could try it. Painting is hard work. Some days are very good. Others, not so much. This session was brutal.

Today, as I hiked the mountain with my dogs, I thought about what happened and why. And then I recalled….you know how certain things just come back to haunt you?….that an early teacher had suggested I stick to what I do best and not try to do it all. I completely reject that kind of pigeonholing. But there are things we are better at and more suited to do. Portraits are hit and miss with me. I do better with still life. They are more controllable and I have time to develop and correct. It’s quiet. It’s my space. No one is watching me. And even Rubens would parse out sections of his paintings to those who were more capable. That says something!

So I will continue to paint and draw portraits, but I do know that my stronger suit is the still life and (animals portraits). It’s good to know what one is better at. It allows more room for mistakes, learning, and growth.

onion small

Limited Palette of Venetian Red, Raw Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Cad Red Light, Alizarine