Edward Hopper from the artrenewal.com's great online museum. They are a valuable resource. Go check em out. The link is in my sidebar. I am as always, thankful for their allowing me the use of their images.
I have excused myself from a dinner party and am typing away. I will make it short but I did have a few more thoughts about what we have been discussing. Thank you all for all the comments. I am responding in part to some of those.
Several respondents were somewhat incensed at the idea of painting for the market. There is nothing that says you have to. In fact the gallery is hard to get into. There are many different sorts of galleries, and if you do edgy or highly personal work there may be a gallery that is looking for you. But even they, if they want to stay in business, are trying to find things they think their clientele will want. If their client wants edgy and personal, that's what the dealer will look for.
I am lucky in that I am doing the kind of work that I want to do and there are galleries that can sell it to some fraction of their clientele. Therefore for me the goal is to do it as well as I can. My heroes, Metcalf, Hibbard, Seago were all professional painters who showed in commercial galleries. My interest is in picture making. I am making beautiful things for people to hang in their homes. That's my goal. It may not be yours, nor does it have to be. But that is the kind of artist I always intended to be. I don't feel like I have compromised a whit.
However if you are doing art that is intensely personal you may decide the whole gallery thing is too restrictive( I don't as I said) but you may want to paint for yourself alone, or even market your own art. But if you want to be out in the gallery world you will have to understand what the deal is. I am personally very comfortable with it and I enjoy working with my dealers, I enjoy knowing them and we operate together for both of our benefit. It is unrealistic to fault a dealer for being concerned with sales and profit, just as it would be unfair for them to be opposed to my caring about the quality and integrity of my art. You wouldn't want a dealer who didn't care about sales would you? That's their piece of the puzzle. In order to do that they must be business like. They are the sales end of the operation. I am the production end, the factory floor.
This conversation flowed from a letter from an artist who wanted to do better in galleries and hoped for some advice on how to do that. They were not being compelled to be in a gallery, they wanted the benefits to be had from being in the marketplace. I am unashamedly a capitalist, and the gallery world is a capitalist place. I am an art entrepreneur. That's what is going on out here. You don't have a problem with the Rolling Stones getting paid well do you? They are doing it for pay too. So did Hendrix. Making a living with your art is not necessarily incompatible with making good art. In fact I think the process has made me a far better painter. I need to paint well in order to eat. An old artist once told me " Do you know what kind of paintings sell best? Good paintings!"