Want to make an artist cringe? Ask her how much her painting costs?
Pricing my art is the single hardest thing about about being an artist. It’s painful. An artist friend of mine remarked on Facebook about the the difficulties of pricing one’s art. We are often asked “How long did it take you to paint?” It’s a hard question to answer. Sure there is a literal amount of time it took to actually apply paint to the canvas, start to finish. But it doesn’t account for the hours, months, and even years sometimes that I have ruminated and planned and redesigned in my head and in sketchbooks and canvases certain paintings. Two years ago I finally finished a painting I housed in my soul for years..literally years I dreamed of this painting. During this time, my skill as a painter grew; I learned new things; I matured as an artist. It was a painting that needed time to develop, I needed time to develop. When I finally was able to come to the easel and paint it..it took a few hours, that was it. And if it doesn’t sound too cocky ..the piece was beautiful; everything I had hoped it would be. Then I couldn’t sell her. It was a long awaited child I had finally birthed and I wasn’t going to put part with her so quickly; putting a price on her was crazy-talk. In the end, I didn’t sell her. I traded her for the work of another craftsperson, someone’s who own work skill, experience, and time I valued.
It’s easy to price out the cost of canvases, paint (you might be surprised at the cost of good quality oil paint), brushes, cleaning supplies, studio rent, business promotion expenses, travel costs. Even an hourly rate, if I were to charge $25 an hour..or $50, or $100, whatever. But does the hourly rate include the time an idea is developing in my head and in practice sketches? I don’t know..I really don’t. And all the failed attempts, what’s to come of them? So many unsuccessful paintings have died on the studio floor so that “art” could be made. A lot of good paint was used and scraped off of canvases trying to achieve the end goal. Did I mention paint is expensive?
Friends have suggested I develop a formula..cost of supplies plus hourly rate sort of thing. It makes sense; I should probably do that. But it’s hard. I tend to price my pieces in relation to how much I love them personally. When I buy art I am willing to pay in reflection to my love for that piece and the joy or sense of peace or emotion that the piece brings me. There’s no real formula for that. I wish there was…it might be easier.
I can’t speak for all artists. I just know that the business end of art is hard for me. And I wish it weren’t so.
This is a large 3’X4′ piece. I used oil, chalk and oil pastel. I am loving working larger pieces these days. People often say they don’t have room in their homes for larger pieces, but I actually find hanging larger pieces easier; it’s certainly easier than hanging a bunch of smaller pieces!!
I didn’t start out this piece with my sister in mind. But as I was finishing I got a call from my her. She lives in Hawaii..I live in New Hampshire so we’re pretty far away from each other. She’s my best friend and we do talk every day. Most every day..often about nothing. I’ll send her pictures of my pieces while I’m working on them..ask her opinion..get her encouragement. She’s a farmer among other things, you can read about her here on her blog…Our Hawaii Farm.
Close ups below.
When I was in art school, I painted what what I believe to be my best work ever. It was an acrylic on a small piece of wood painted in the style of a Byzantine Icon of Frida Kahlo. It was beautiful. It really was. I loved it. On the day it was completed, I hung it in art building on a hallway alongside the works of my fellow classmates, as per the usual practice. That night it was stolen.
I recall when I hung it I had a fleeting feeling that this would be the last time I saw my painting, but I dismissed it. In the blank space on the wall where my Frida had hung, I put a note pleading for her return. No questions asked. I hadn’t even taken a photo of her! Other notes from fellow students soon appeared. They weren’t as nice as I had been and I was kind of happy about that. But the notes didn’t help and I never saw my painting again.
In the years since then, I have tried to repaint that Frida. But they never were as good as that first one and I never finished a piece. You can’t recapture the energy and the magic of certain paintings; they’re just special and that specialness is a one time thing.
This week I was inspired to try again. I decided to forgo the icon format…too soon still. This is the second Frida this week. She looks a little angry here, but maybe she’s got something to be angry about.
Never The Less Oil on 30″X30″
An piece inspired by Imbloc and my beautiful friend Elizabeth. Spring Blessings everyone!
I’ve been working on a series of vessels at the pottery studio. I’ve been doing a lot experimenting, especially with texture and glazing. Above are my spoils so far. I’m in love with them.
Mixed media on 24″x36″
I have been wanting to paint this piece for such a long time. I practice, live, a nature based spiritual life. At the base of this practice is relationship. My relationship with the world around me.. not just people but place and land and earth and all of its creation. Relationship feeds and fuels inspiration.
My particular love of owls is no secret.
This piece is homage to that relationship.
Since October of last year I have become a key holder at Assemble, a Maker’s Studio in Berlin. I have fallen in love with clay and making things. I go at least 4 mornings a week(providing that there is no winter storm!!)…building, glazing, thinking of nothing else but what’s in front of me. It’s a beautiful thing.
One of the best things about Assemble is the community that comes there and makes. There is support and creativity and humor and kindness. It is really one of the most loving and generous spirited places I have ever been. I have learned so much and grown as artist.
There are so many variables in ceramics that one never really knows the outcome of one’s effort until the final kiln firing and the lid is lifted in a revelation…what has been created after all? From the moment the wet clay comes out of the bag, so may things effect that final outcome..some intentional, some not, some seen, so many unseen. One can only be in the moment with pottery. It’s a true letting go. And as an artist, it is a gift to create without a clear agenda. The roads on my pottery map lead to undiscovered lands. It is a trip I will take time and time again.
Awen mixed media on 14″X14″ canvas
It’s been over a year since my last blog post. An entire year. I guess I needed a break from writing. This past year has been one full of challenge and change and I think more than anything I was just tired. Something had to give; I needed more rest and I just let this time go.
It’s funny, I don’t feel especially sad about it. My life was full in so many ways. I painted a lot, I took up pottery. I knitted and hiked and did home improvement. I just didn’t record any of that in my blog. Not a once.
This blog has evolved over the years. I began it during another difficult period in my life. I wrote a lot of poetry then, the blog was a way of reflecting on my life. Recently my blog was a way of sharing my art, although I haven’t been that great about sharing the blog. I just let people find it. This year I hope to focus my efforts on not only sharing my art through my blog but sharing what it is to be an artist.
A renewed focus needs a new moniker. So I ring in the new year with Deidre Blair fine art and craft, and release Liminal Space and Everywhere Else.
Blessings and love and renewal.