Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gallery in the Woods

I took this photograph standing outside the gallery where my artwork is going to be shown. You have to ignore the reflections on the glass window. I went there today to deliver all my pieces. This is a painting by Laurel Hausler, she is one of their star painters. I have to admit, the painting is very creative. Very fun and eye catching.

I let the gallery owner price my paintings. Pleasantly, I was shocked at the prices. Last night I looked at one painting, my biggest and best, and said to my husband, "I'd let them sell that for $900." Of course I would get half. The gallery owner priced that piece at $1,900. This price is probably fair to my talent and the amount of time I put into the painting. But it was a price far above the range we had discussed when they came to my apartment and saw my originals for the first time. At that time I had told the gallery owners that I didn't care about money, I only wanted to get rid of the paintings, and to sell them all very cheap. In time I came to regret the words that I said. They came from a place of fear and very low self esteem. As my paintings are an extension of myself, when I think myself worthless, I think my paintings worthless. I would go farther and say that when I want to hurt myself I want to destroy the paintings. But my mind is not always so twisted. There is time when I look at what other artists have done, and I really feel I have earned a place standing next to them.

When my artwork was actually in their gallery the owners forgot about our prior pricing discussion. I did not remind them of it. Some of the works will sell at almost double what I had imagined they would. The owners seemed very excited about the show. The husband, Dante, pointed out to me one artist whose black and white drawings had magical appeal. He said that although the two that were hanging were very good, she had disappointed them in the past, they had a show were her works were not very good. Implied was the observation that some artists are uneven in their talent, and that when they book an artist for a show they can be disappointed. I was to understand, by his comment, that I had not disappointed Dante.

When I was driving to the gallery I prayed to God to let me get through the social exchange and delivery with my sanity intact. I don't know what I feared. Yes I do. I feared that my works were so bad that the gallery owners wouldn't want to sell them for very much. I prayed and then I got something big today that is worth more than money to me. I got confidence. I got faith, from the gallery owners, that my paintings are worth people paying good sums of money for. Naturally not one painting may sell. These are poor economic times and buying an expensive painting is a luxury. Do people go shopping much in January? I would like to make money, but in a real sense, I don't care if I make any money. It is the paintings that matter. Are they good? If I believe that what I'm doing is worthwhile, making paintings, then it is a little bit easier to choose life and shun death.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sword Thrust

I know that my drawing looks simplistic. But honestly, this took at least two days to draw. It is part of a much larger painting. It is the decoration on the front of an altarpiece.

I am struggling with this painting. There is a figure of a girl that I drew that needs to be re-drawn before I paint her. The temptation is not to waste time on trying to redraw her, just go ahead and paint her the way that I originally planned. Her outline is penciled in on the canvas. I'm struggling with whether or not to put my all into one painting. In part, I feel a bit like a machine grinding out paintings. The faster I make them the more money I make. But then there is pride in product. I want each painting to be me at my best. At this point, I know that I will not get back in money what I put into each painting. It is so hard for me to work. I exhaust myself after several hours painting. And then their is the mental pain that follows exhaustion. It seems like in a fair world you get back for the effort that you give in. But I don't know if the world is fair.

So I look at his painting and think to myself, "if it sells at $1,000 I get back $500. There is paint, canvas and the frame which are all my own expenses. Maybe it won't be good enough to sell at $1,000. Maybe that is too much to ask for it. I don't know what it is worth. I don't know if anyone cares that I make an effort. Fools deceive themselves. Fools are so proud of their accomplishments. I think that if I hate myself, and consider my talent slender, I avoid being a fool."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ball Toss

I did this plan for a painting in one day, several hours. That is some sort of record. Haven't been painting for several days, I guess I stored up my creativity. The paint on my large canvass is wet, it doesn't help that the room is very cold, this particular color dries slowly. I want the paint to be dry before I work again, worried about smearing paint with my sweater sleeve. Might need to rest my hand against the canvass while I paint too. It just makes sense to be working on two pictures at once.

This drawing is for a 8" x 10" panel. Believe it or not it worries me that I like working small with small brushes. The insecurities of an artist. I think that if I were a better artist I would work bigger with bigger brushes.

When I saw my Dad last he warned me against using photographic references. Said that the photographer could come after me for using his creation, wanting monetary compensation, have to be very careful to change details. I guess it makes sense not to be writing on my blog too much about some of the sources of my inspiration.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Blood Rising

I started painting today on virgin canvas. I guess the canvas is not completely blank, there is the tracing of pencil where I put down the outline of a new composition. All counting, it took about a week to design the new painting. I had to make drawings. Two drawings came from photographs, one in an artist aid book of nude models posing, and the other in an Italian fashion magazine. Two more figures were drawn with the aid of a poser program my husband uses to create an on-line comic book magazine. He manipulated computer generated bodies to give me poses that I imagined. We printed out on paper these bodies and I re-drew them. I did not use the computer faces, the male got a bull dog's face and the female got a fox's face. To accurately draw the animal faces I used yet another artist's aid book, this one of 19th century animal drawings. Because these drawing are so old, there is no copy-right, and anyone can copy them. In all there are four figures in the composition that I drew from pictures, and three more figures that I drew from my imagination. And then, there are four candles.

This painting is different from others I've done in the past. I'm being influenced by artwork I saw in a gallery here in Brattleboro. I really like this woman's art, I would buy some if I could. Since I can't buy it, an alternative is to make my own. In all the work I've seen so far the woman uses black backgrounds. Flat black or glossy black, but by using black you put the figures in an undisputed imaginary space. No landscape, no sky, no plants, no water no mountains off in the distance. I think that the black makes the image seem like something out of a dream. Black is cold and harsh and urgent. Black makes the color you use pop. I'm not going subtle with the color, there will be strong yellow and green-blue, with some naked flesh, a pink-white dress, and red-hued cobblestones. I am not creating a landscape but I am creating a ground for the images to rest upon and this is a path, in front of black space, made up of dark red-hued cobblestones. Nothing in my painting is floating, it is all anchored on the cobblestone. I like making a ground out of a checkerboard illusion. There is checkerboard ground in my two last pieces, "Monsters Fucking" and "No Place for Tears".

I anticipate that the best part of the painting will be the red, yellow, and blue auras around the candle flames.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dad's Landscape

On Thanksgiving day my Dad gave me this landscape. He had done it while he was living in Maine last summer. It is a view from the top of Monheghan Island. The large central building is a motel and nearer in view is a little cemetery. Dad showed me about 20 paintings that he had painted over the summer when my husband and I came to vacation with him in September. This painting several people had looked at and commented on. It was one of his best. Dad has been painting for a while and I own not one of his paintings. I found this to be very sad. I own three of my brother's paintings, but I bought each one of them. This painting had a price tag on it of $2,500. Naturally I could not afford to buy my Dad's art. He shows in three galleries in Connecticut. I assumed that this painting was bound for an art gallery.

It took all of my courage to ask Dad if I could have this painting on Thanksgiving day. Imagine my surprise when he said yes! I think it was because a corner of the painting had become damaged in transport. He was keeping the painting because he planned to make a larger version of it. I believe he had given up hopes of selling it. I was very happy when he gave me a nice gold frame and the frame almost completely covered the damage.

Now this painting is hanging in my kitchen next to one of my own paintings. The contrast of our styles is very jarring. We really do not look good hanging next to one another. But we are family. I have to give my Dad's painting a place of honor.