Only the Best
After sending out my newsletter yesterday, I was getting ready to re-frame the two paintings I showed in it They were older paintings. I noticed that "Oklahoma Symphony" had mold on the back of the cotton canvas. I removed most of it with vinegar, but I think the canvas is still not reliable. I want my paintings to hang in people's homes for at least a few generations, so I've taken this painting off the website, and I will destroy it.
Too much time as an "amateur" artist can fool you into thinking of your work as always being there. Just as you would assume your talent and skills will always be there. When you start selling it full-time, you realize that your reputation as a professional hinges on using the best materials and the best substrates for your work.
That moldy canvas was one of the prepackaged three-fers that I should only have used for studies, not finished work. I have no complaint about cotton canvas if it's high-quality. I started some works on linen canvas this summer, and I like it even better. But I should have thought about the organic qualities of paint and canvas, whether cotton or linen. Both the oil colors and mediums I use have individual qualities. For instance, Titanium White was what I used before I started using Permalba White. Titanium White is wonderful for its softness and non-yellowing quality. But Permalba's richness and creaminess dries to a luscious finish and is great for knife painting.
The second assumption is that I would always be a terrific artist. Too much praise, and too many awards, given too early, can convince anyone of this. By the time I retired from my commercial art career, I thought I would just leap into being a professional artist without further training. After all, I had finished a life of marketing my art -- although it's much easier when your client pays you for work that will make him money. I had a surprise in store for me -- If people are buying art for love, for decor, to impress, or for personal reasons, it's a whole different kind of marketing.
I was surprised to see that, while I was doing still doing fashion art and designing ads, my gift for art had been overtaken by quite a few absolutely fantastic professional artists, who obviously had worked on their skills in order to enhance their natural talents. I've also seen those with little talent, and much hard work, excel as much as those born with it.
Not only that, but these artists with a capital "A" had taken further training and workshops from even more celebrated artists, in order to keep their education and skills current. My conclusion was:
1. Use only the best materials for your painting, just as you use quality frames to enhance it.
2. Work every day on your art, even if it's just to steal a few moments sketching. The housework will wait for you!
3. Invest in continuing education with the best teachers possible.
4. Take time to learn the newer marketing skills of this age. Word of mouth may be the best advertising, but your reach, and impact, is enhanced with a web presence.
I've enrolled in a workshop this fall with an excellent portrait artist. I will be all eyes and ears! I've found a source for linen canvas, pre-stretched, and I've ordered a book on learning HTML, so that I won't be left behind in newer communication skills. I'm my worst critic, so I hope I brush up enough to impress ... myself!
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