One of my favorite artists, Brian Rutenberg has a video blog on being an artist. His lofty words and outlook on the profession are really a guilty pleasure of mine, I try not to miss a new video when it comes out.
And much to my astonishment, he spoke one day on how much bad artwork he actually makes - cut to video of him CUTTING UP A CANVAS! This for me was shocking, seriously, he paints on custom built Belgian linen canvases that are twice primed…and then the sheer amount of thick paint he uses leaves me to wonder exactly how much cold hard cash is used to make these treasures of his ONLY to see him routinely cutting one up and retiring it to the trash.
I. Was. Gobsmacked.
It was at this point, I realized, I’m not alone.
I sweat over my work and some days I think I’ve got it only to be gravely disappointed in it only a few hours later. It’s tough, you want it to be perfect every time and only some pieces you can classify as “magical” - - - that piece that everyone wishes they owned, everyone shares, everyone re-pins, etc.
It just doesn’t happen that way. Some days you look at yourself in the mirror and wonder why you keep going back for more punishment. No matter how much energy you put into it, it just keeps coming up wrong.
It has taken me a long time to realize that not only is destruction a part of the process of painting - making really bad work is also a part of it. It doesn’t always teach you something, some days it feels so random, some days it feels like you have no skill. One can really beat oneself up over it.
The most important part of this, tho - - the making of bad art, is a natural of the process, and it seems, may even be important to your development. You destroy it so as not to remember but its imprint is still there in your later work. It’s all one, and it’s all to be embraced.
So you want to start an art collection...GREAT!!!
It's fine, we've all been here - a beginner. You are in a world that is unfamiliar with a huge desire to learn. You're eager and anxious to be on your new journey but you feel totally clueless as to what to do next and this is no different when you want to begin a decent art collection. So where do you being?
Happily, I can tell you that as an aspiring collector you Do NOT have to have a vast knowledge of art in order to make this happen for you. All you need is confidence in what you truly love.
Thankfully, we have the internet in this day and age and it won't take tons of time going to art shows in hope that you will find the knowledge you need to get started. Sites like Pinterest and large online galleries like Saatchi and Fine Art America can help you trudge thru the sheer amount of art available online...and that's OK too, because you will quickly learn what you prefer when it comes to choosing art for your home.
That knowledge do you need? Basically - knowing what you love and what fits into your lifestyle...it's as simple as that. So go ahead and spend some time looking about in these galleries and getting a feel for what you really love. This will make it easier for you to hone what your preferences are thus making it easier for you to make your very first purchase whether at a show or online. You will also feel better about what constitutes good art and that is not as hard as you think it is.
For you, the small collector, it absolutely comes down to what you like because the vast majority of today's collectors that are into art as an investment have the help of those who have a Master's in Art History and often a number of people looking around for just the right investment opportunity - this is not you, so don't try to be that person. You are going to do far better knowing that you are doing this for the love of art rather than trying to score a painting that is going to be some huge payoff 20 years from now. It's just not possible without tons and tons of proper research. Who has time for that?
So begin small and take a few baby steps. Buying a small work under 16" x 20" is a great place to begin. You won't spend a ton of money and a collection of small works thoughtfully done can have a huge impact in your home. It's the really smart way to start and very quickly you will establish yourself as a connoisseur and patron of fine art. Brilliant.
Don't be afraid to mix styles of art, just make sure to pair this styles together on separate walls - you know, just like the big art gallery does.
If art collecting is a passion for you then it's time to dive in and get started. There is so much real opportunity out there and good artists can be very easy to find and buy from - directly. This is the age of technology, after all.
So if you have any further questions - please feel free to comment below. The best way to begin is to take that first step...you are more confident than you know.
Creative Blocks? They happen.
A few years ago, I was dealing with a major creative block. It was awful. Thankfully, the contributing factors were easy to pinpoint: moving house, new home renovations, family illness and then a surprise pregnancy. The changes just kept coming and in over 100 days I didn’t pick up a paint brush ONCE.
It took a few months of working to find my center again and it was frustrating. So, in response to my major creative block I have decided to pass on what I learned about overcoming it:
1. Pinpoint the Attributing Factors:
This part is very important because often times you can figure out how to quickly eliminate or neutralize these issues once you identify them. Attributing Factors can also lead to stress which is covered later in this article.
Write them down and then explore ways to overcome them.
2. Organize Your Workspace:
I don’t know about everyone else, but when I can’t find things or have to spend time navigating clutter, I simply shut down - - or worse yet, explode…Clutter ignites some, but not most, so in light of that, spend some time making your studio a place where your mind is at ease and it feels good, even great to be there.
Anything less will kill both your creativity and your motivation.
3. Find a Way to De-Stress:
Stress kills everything. It’s much like a microbe that is immune to medicine, it just keeps spreading. Finding a way to remove the stresses that most affect your creative work is paramount to your producing the work that will over come your block.
Anything small that can help you de-stress is a great idea, so read on:
4. Exercise and Good Sleep:
It’s so much easier to sit on the couch and watch yet another art documentary, but the reality is that exercise, combined with good sleep will go a very long way to helping you get over your block (and stopping them from happening.)
While the link between creativity and exercise in not actually known, what is known is that getting your body moving helps the brain to work better! Combine this with a geode and consistent night’s sleep and you have half of the battle won. While you’re at it - add eating better and balanced food and you’d be surprised how far all of this goes to your creative output. I did this years ago, I’ve never looked back - and it goes a very long way toward de-stressing your environment:
5. Finally, go back to the basics of Inspiration.
Make bad work when you can’t make good work. You need to stay in the zone as often as you can and the skill of inspiration (and it is a skill) can only happen when you work and work often.
In the end, a creative block - even a very serious one - can be overcome by doing much of the above and every one of these strategies are important. Stay in the zone as often as you can, your creativity will thank you.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that I spend a ton of time cruising art websites and it astounds me over and over again how inept artists are at building and maintaining sites that are attractive (myself included.) They should be nothing less than attractive, but sadly - most of them look like they are still stuck in the late 1990s! (#SoRetro, anyone?)
Here’s the problem: Building websites is hard work, even when you use such services as Squarespace and Wordpress (which is an annoying and impossible service) and it’s not just the initial building out of the site, it is also the maintenance of the site as well and from my professional experience as a designer, I’m finding more and more that people really are not into spending a lot of time “clicking about” sites just for the enjoyment of looking at art.
For artists, then - the standard website is not the answer, at all - ever.
What’s the option?
When I originally wrote this article in 2017, I came to the conclusion that my personal opinion for a good website was Tumblr. With really cheap templates (as low as $11) and a fairly easy to use dashboard (tho finding specific things in the settings can be a nightmare) the nearly-free service enables me to have a site that is set up much like Pinterest, and it's very attractive - which for an ARTIST, is extremely important. What's good about this is the never ending scrolling feature that allows people to look without the irritation of having to click into other pages...because let's face it, even the most dedicated enthusiast would rather scroll than click thru endless pages.
However, the future of Tumblr in my estimation is very sketchy. They recently updated their user policies with the sweeping change of not allowing adult content on the site, which I whole-heartedly welcome, but unfortunately - that was the majority of their business....so now I have to ask - exactly what are they doing now? Are they going to move forward to make this the great blogging site it was before 2013? Let's hope so, because I will personally put my stamp of approval to it.
For now, tho - Weebly is my paid site provider to the tune of $500+ dollars and while some art bloggers say that having a website is not necessary and there are other ways to get your artwork sold without the steep cost; until I get real gallery representation or a solid list of collectors then the paying feature is very necessary, even tho as artists - resources can sometimes be scarce.
All this and the problem remains the same: artists' websites are often horribly planned out and executed. As a former graphic designer I have a huge advantage in this area and all of my sites I'm happy to say are attractive. I cannot emphasize it enough; however, that the site that introduces, displays and sells your art should be at the very least attractive.
With plenty of social media options out there, it really is optional as to whether or not an artist chooses to have a dedicated site. My opinion? Do a Tumblr blog and you have the almost free with minimal work/difficulty option. Keep plugging away at social media and eventually people will come to know you. Good luck and keep posting!