Mar 31, 2014

Letting Go of Your Art

I'm sometimes asked if I have a hard time letting go of my paintings when I sell them. People often have the idea that artists get very emotionally attached to their work. Because of the love of their work, that must translate to love of the painting itself. I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps it's because people feel art comes from the heart instead of the head. Or perhaps because the artist is emotionally stirred by the subject, it's assumed they become emotionally stirred by their representation of the subject. But, if you think about it, many people love their work but don't necessarily translate that into an attachment to the end product. Think of architects. Theirs is a creative job. They may love their work. But do they feel the need to own every house created from their ideas? Not likely. So, do artists need to keep every painting created from their ideas?

I certainly can't speak for other artists. Maybe it's true for some artists, that their paintings become part of the family, their children, birthed from their creative womb. So perhaps they form some deep emotional bond with it that way. But I can only speak for myself.

Do I have a hard time letting go of my paintings?

The short answer: No.

Why not? Why do other artists get so attached to their work and I don't? The reason I don't get attached probably has to do with the reason I create art. You often hear people talk about art as a form of self-expression, emotional expression, or whatever the current term is. But, to be perfectly honest, I do not create art for the purpose of expression of any kind.

What! You're an artist! Isn't that the purpose of art, to express oneself?!

Honestly, I don't even know what the heck that means! Express myself? What does that really mean??

I'll tell you why I create art. Not for self-expression. I create art because I want to share beautiful images with other people. If I'm not sharing my images with people, or they don't think they're beautiful, there's no point. I have no desire to paint images just for myself. If I could sit on a deserted island and just "express myself" at the easel all day, knowing no one would ever see any of my work for all eternity, I'd rather just go fishing.

To me there is no purpose to art if it can't be shared. My reward for creating art is not self-expression. My reward is the satisfaction of knowing other people are deriving pleasure from it. I want people to see it, become emotionally stirred by it, and get some sort of enjoyment or pleasure from it. If I paint a picture of a horse, and someone tells me they have to buy it because it reminds them of their wonderful childhood summers riding horses on the uncle's ranch, that is far more gratifying to me than simply creating a painting of a horse because of my own love of horses, or love of painting.

That said, there are exceptions. I do occasionally become somewhat attached to a painting under certain circumstances. This is usually a result of having achieved some milestone in my skill development. For example, I did get a little attached to this fox pup painting when I finished it.

Why this one? Because it was different. It was the first painting I had ever done where I used only the three primary colors and white. All paintings created before it had included tubes of all sorts of pre-mixed colors. In this one, I had used only red, yellow, blue, and white. All browns, grays, greens, oranges, and every other color, was mixed from those primaries. That, to me, was a special achievement in my skill development, and I was rather proud of the results, especially for my first try.

So, for a while, I did not even put this painting up for sale, because I did not want to part with it. It wasn't because I had a particular attachment to the work, or the scene. It just represented an accomplishment in my skill development and I wanted to enjoy the triumph for a while.

I did, however, eventually get over it and sell the painting.

Here's one other example of a painting I got attached to for a short while. Again, not because I had any particular attachment to the image itself, to chickadees, or apples, or the greens and reds, or whatever. It was because it represented an advance in my skills to me.This was the first painting I created where I got multiple compliments on the excellent composition of the piece. While I may have already been skilled at rendering detail, or lighting, composition had always been a little elusive to me. This painting represents a point at which I actually conquered the challenge of creating good composition.

This chickadee painting is a more recent work than the fox pup painting, so I haven't tired of it yet and still have a little fondness for this piece. But, it is partly because I am fond of this piece that I would like to let it go and see it sold. If it sits in storage and collects dust that would make me sad no matter how much I love looking at it. I want to know that someone else will love it and enjoy it as much as I have. It's of little use to me if it can't be shared.

For me, I need to move on, to the next milestone, however many paintings that takes. But I certainly hope that all my stepping stones along the way will be enjoyed by many others. Otherwise, my art journey is for nothing.

Mar 27, 2014

Cow and Calf Art Clothing

I've added some clothing to my Zazzle shop that feature my recent cow and calf painting, Cream and Sugar. It's available on women's, men's, and children's apparel as t-shirts, sweatshirts, tank tops, and more. There are many color options, as well as plus and maternity sizes.

Mar 24, 2014

Mare and Foal Spring Painting

I can't believe I missed this one. I usually post on my blog whenever I finish a painting, but somehow this one slipped through the cracks. I actually finished this one before my previous cow and calf painting, back on March 2. I had painted this to celebrate spring, with lots of flowers, and baby animals. And, with Mother's Day coming up in May, this is a good time to start thinking about celebrating a mother's love for her baby.

I actually struggled a bit with the colors for this painting. I wanted it to have bright, cheerful colors for spring. I personally love red flowers but felt red was too intense for this scene, so I stuck with softer colors like pink, peach, white, and yellow. Then there was the problem of the horses' colors. I wanted to do a horse color that was widely appealing. Bay seems to be a popular color for horses, which I understand because I personally love bay horses, but I felt the intense red-brown and black of the bay horse did not go well with the soft flower colors. I finally decided on a palomino foal and a gray mare. The reason for the palomino foal was because I wanted the foal to have a soft, sweet feel to it. Palomino incorporated the soft pastel colors of peach, pink, and yellow. Gray seemed to suit the mare because it was both strong and neutral. This gave her a sense of strength and protection while being a neutral enough color to not clash with the colorful flowers.

So, there you have it. Maybe you think artists pick colors at random, or whatever they like most. And sometimes we do. But other times colors are carefully selected, despite our favorite choice, because they create color harmony, symbolize something, or convey a message. And sometimes it's not always easy to decide which is most important. But, at least for this painting, you know why the colors are what they are. :)

"Spring's Gift"
Oil on gallery-wrap canvas

Mar 18, 2014

Multimedia Artboard on Foamboard!

A while back I wrote a blog post about the advantages of Multimedia Artboard® and why I have been using it more and more often over the more traditional substrates of canvas and Gessobord for my oil paintings.

Here's that previous post:

In that post I said the main drawback with Multimedia Artboard® is that it's brittle when unsupported and will snap like a twig, so you have to mount it on something. This can be a time consuming process of cutting the Artboard, then cutting something like foam board to mount it on, then carefully spreading the Yes! glue around evenly without getting any on your painting side, etc. Not a laugh-a-minute way to spend your morning before you can even start painting.

But, the purpose of this post is to share the news that Multimedia Artboard® is now available already mounted on Sintra® foam board for your convenience! I'm not sure how long it's been available but since it still says "New" on the website I'm guessing it's not been long. Good news for those of us who don't want to spend hours cutting and gluing and just want to get to painting!

Mar 17, 2014

Cow and Calf Painting

New oil painting of a cow and calf. I've never painted a cow before so I was pleased with the way this one came out for a first attempt!

I'm no expert on cattle so I'm not positive what breed this is. From my research it could be either a Guernsey cow or a red Holstein cow. But, considering Guernseys are more common than red Holsteins, I'm going to call this one a Guernsey.

"Cream & Sugar"
Oil on gallery-wrap canvas

Mar 11, 2014

Miniature Painting - No 46 - Buckskin Mustang Stallion

Oh my! I can't believe it's been 2 months since I completed a miniature painting! Well, time to get back to it.

I like to keep these minis coming for a couple of reasons. One, painting larger works can be very time-consuming. Some of my larger paintings can take 3-6 weeks to complete. Working on one painting for weeks at a time can be difficult because, when I don't complete a painting for weeks, I start to feel like I'm not getting anything done. That can be frustrating. With mini paintings I can get one done in a day or less. So it's fun to throw one in once in a while to feel that sense of accomplishment of getting a painting done in less than a day.

The other reason I like doing minis now and then is because, since I can get them done in a day, I can sell them for a lot less than my larger works. That means more art available for you to enjoy at an affordable price. Win-win! :)

So here's my latest miniature painting.

Buckskin mustang
5"x7" oil on Gessobord

Original: SOLD

Mar 9, 2014

Morgan Horse Women's Clothing

My chestnut Morgan horse, Flame, seems to be one of my most popular horse images so I decided to make it available in more forms than just prints. Everyone has to wear clothes, right?! So it seemed a good place to start by adding a selection of women's t-shirts and sweatshirts to my Cafe Press shop.

It can be a bit time-consuming to set up Cafe Press productions in your shop, so for now I only have some women's clothing available. But I plan to add some men's clothing, as well as some other items like coffee mugs and mouse pads. So check back later for more products.

UPDATE 3/16: I have decided to use Zazzle instead of CafePress for all products.  Links have been update to take you to my new Zazzle shop now as my CafePress shop will be closed down soon.

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