The grave of John Singer Sargent in Surrey, England from findagrave.com
I get a lot of e-mailed questions (thanks!) so I think I will catch up on a few of the more interesting tonight. The questions are in italics.
I looked at their primers online and they make several different oil primers. I was wondering which one you used specifically. I tried one a while back but I don't think it was the right one because it melted when I put a turpentine wash on my board. Hope you can help.
I had that happen too. It seems that Sherwin Williams has reformulated their primers, to be low VOC. I have been using Zinsser, oil based interior-exterior Cover Stain Primer. It seems to work fine and I haven't had any problems with it. They also make a lot of shellac based primers, they are NOT what you want.
As an emerging artist with no gallery representation and only Facebook to show my stuff to the world, I realize I could get out there more by setting up a blog. But I want to be very clear about my motives and goals. So far, I think those are: 1. Use it as a tool to become more daring, productive and skillful; 2. Focus and articulate my thoughts about the creative process; and 3. Generate some sales. What do you think are the main reasons for an artist to have a blog? Do you think I should use Blogger, or as my techno-nephew recommends, WordPress?
I see a lot of artists blogs that show a painting and then tell about why the artist painted it and then ask for money. Maybe they work, I don't know, but it doesn't seem like a good business model to me. If your prices are low enough, it might work but you need to generate some interesting narrative for people to read. I don't think you will generate much of a following just showing your paintings unless you are REALLY, REALLY good. I know there are some "painting a day" people who have become very successful, but I think there are a million others who have not. Still If your work is very inexpensive it might be worth a try. My friend Renee Lammers has a blog you might want to emulate, she generates interesting text about what she is up to and her readers can feel like they know her. Here is a link to that. I think Renee is doing what you would like to do, and she is selling paintings from her blog.
I don't know that it will make you more productive either, my own experience is that it takes time to do this and that time has to be subtracted from something else. I don't have a TV for instance. I sit down and write every night the way most people sit down to entertainment. In order to have a following, I think you need to write routinely and constantly update your blog. People will not return many times to a stale, unchanged blog. So doing it is a discipline. Writing about what you do will clarify your thinking, I know it has for me. I also have to stay one lesson ahead of the class, which means I have to study up to write the blog. A lot of things I write about I know well enough to talk about but I have to double check everything when I am committing it to writing. I spend as much time doing research as actually writing.
My main reason for doing the blog is to give away the things I have learned. I keep the self promotion to a minimum. People read my blog because they learn things that are useful to them. I am able to do that because I have been painting a long time and have had some exposure to older more experienced mentors who have passed on. The payoff for me is that a lot of people know who I am and that is useful up to a point. It is like advertising, I guess. It does fill workshops. But mostly I like to feel that I am useful.
I do my blog on Blogger, but I am moving to wordpress soon as my techno-wife thinks (insists) I should. The beauty of that is my archives are on our own server and not Googles. It is supposedly a better platform, I will let you know if I find it that. You might check out this article by Clint over at Fine Arts Views He is in the business of providing artists with websites that include a blogging platform. Their sites are user friendly and I think they provide a good service. They are inexpensive and I recommend checking them out. You can quickly have a web-site and a blog and they will be linked and easily found by anyone looking for you.
If you want a lot of people to buy your art a blog might help but I would recommend you get VERY good at painting. There are lots of galleries (there didn't used to be) perhaps you should find one that will show your work, a local coop perhaps. If you were taking piano lessons you would play recitals. Part of the art gig is showing.
Showing art on Facebook is weird. I see dreadful things followed by twenty comments from their friends saying how great they are. There are some great artists showing on Facebook, but they are generally in galleries too. Usually I knew who they were before joining Facebook. I think there is no substitute for actually showing the art on a gallery wall. I don't think showing on Facebook will hurt you, but it is not the same.
I'm new to oils and have only learned to paint alla prima. If I want to add to a painting (Want? I need to!) how long do I wait / can I wait / should I wait to add more color on top of what I have down? There are a lot of times when I try to add my next layer but do nothing except smear what's already there.
You don't need to wait. You will find that with practice you can add a new note into or onto the existing paint. A delicate touch is the key, that and not having too much paint already on the canvas. If the paint gets too thick, pull it back with your palette knife. If you want your paint to dry more quickly, use an alkyd medium, like Galkyd or Liquin. The reason that oil paint is so great is that it doesn't dry quickly. That long open time is an advantage because it allows you to manipulate it. I think that if you practice you will find that working into wet paint is just as enjoyable and maybe more so than working on a dry painting. You have far better control of your edges and you can meld the new paint to the old better than on a dried painting.