Friday, October 1, 2010

Odds and ends, also Snowcamp

Whose hand is this?

I am going to answer an e-mail question tonight.
Dear Stape; I would love more then anything to pursue art as a career goal although obviously I am FAR far from a professional. However I am pretty clueless on the professional side of art (that is not associated with the commercial aspect). I would appreciate any advice you have in terms of reading materials, online references, and especially how to approach cultivating a professional art career.
I have no idea how to sell the works I have completed so that I can pay for living expenses and art supplies. Also pricing of work is a very hazy subject.

Earnestina Striver

Ms. Striver;

Good for you! I looked at your web site and saw you were just out of college, and have lots of time ahead of you, and probably no kids or mortgages. You need to take a long view.
There seems to be an excitement today about becoming a professional painter, when I started it was real obscure. Things change. Becoming a professional painter is a long road. At the point you are at now you should be working to develop your chops. If you can, I suggest you find an atelier to teach you. There are many now, and some are good. Most are not terribly expensive, virtually all are far cheaper than college. They also produce more pro's.

The most important thing is that you should be honing your skills.Become a fine painter first being a pro will arise from that. It takes perhaps a decade of full time work to be competitive in the arenas with which I am familiar. But there are outdoor art shows and other venues that can make you some money before you are ready for the better galleries. I know people who make a living selling scads of 5" by 7"s for about 250.00. You need to produce like crazy and promote ceaselessly to do that though, and there is no room in that price for a dealer, you will need to sell the art yourself. Check out Renee Lammers, she does it. I think there are a number of people using this business model today, I don't really remember it existing until recently. The social media have made this possible.

Many successful artists have facdebook pages where they show their art and talk about what they do, if you freind a bunch of them you will learn from them. Many have hundreds of freinds and welcome all who want to follow along. There are also many good artists blogs out there. I have a list in my side bar and they have lists in their sidebars. You can learn a lot that way. FASO is an outfit that can set you up with a blog and a website, but even if you don 't sign up for that they put out a daily newsletter mostly on the business of art and time management, you can get it in your e-mail every day for free. Here is their link.

If you take care of your art, your art will take care of you. If you paint well enough, you can make a living at it. But it is a VERY fast track and you need to operate at a very high level to make a living. I have written a lot on finding and dealing with galleries, if you search The art business waltz, in the box up at the upper left of this page you will find them. You should be able to make your materials pay for themselves and then work at increasing your sales. I recomend you read John Carlson, Harold Speed and Edgar Payne, John Pike and Foster Caddell, Richard Schmid and Jim Gurneys new books. If you read all of my blog, you may find things of use to you there too. Below is a list of some of my favorite art books.

Carlsons guide to Landscape painting. I have written a lot about this book. Here is a link to some of that.

The Composition of Outdoor Painting by Edgar Payne, another classic text,written by an important California impressionist explaining methods of designing paintings. Only available used, but is routinely reprinted. Worth spending some money to get though.

The Human Figure by Vanderpoel I felt I should include one artists anatomy book, I like this one. It is clear, well illustrated and approachable.

Sargent, by Carter Ratcliff, I have a whole shelf of Sargent books, but this one is a good overview of his whole career and different sorts of paintings.

Gruppe on Painting Great outdoor painting book. Another classic by a fine American painter.Explains his one shot, full sized canvas, rapid painting techniques with bold color and brushwork. Power painting!

Edward Seago There are several books of his paintings they are getting hard to find but are worth the effort.

The Boston Painters by R. H. Ives Gammell (my teacher) Out of print but not expensive. Also Twilight of Painting , by Gammell. Out of print AND more expensive. Good book though. A bit of a tirade. Still informative. This book changed my life.

Keys to Successful color by Foster Caddell. Simple presentation on color in the impressionist landscape. Caddell uses a clever means of presenting the material. He shows you an amateur version of a painting and then his and explains what he did differently. So wonderfully simple it could be used as a middle school text. I learned a lot from this book long ago.

The Painted Word, by Tom Wolfe. Great contemporary writer and author of The Right Stuff and Bonfire of the Vanities takes on the philosophical underpinnings of modern art.

Everything I Know about Oil Painting by Richard Schmid A living master writes down his approach. Worth the price. Schmid has mentored a great number of young painters and this book does cover a lot of information. A few of the ideas in here I have found no where else as clearly. Well illustrated and based on a lifetime of experience by Americas most admired traditional, impressionist painter.

You should join the local art association and subscribe to art magazines. It would be useful if you could befriend an artist in your area who is successful, I don't mean someone who makes their living as an art teacher, but someone who makes their living selling paintings. Finding a mentor is important. I have had many. I would never have figured out the trade on my own.


The legendary Snowcamp, a three day snow painting workshop, is scheduled for January 29th, 30th, 31st. Snowcamp will again be held at the Sunset Hill House near Franconia Notch in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Last year we braved some cold temperatures and had a lot of laughs doing it. After a day of painting in the snow, we all meet for dinner in our private dining room and enjoy the camaraderie of the other artists. This is a total immersion experience, a refrigerated boot camp.
We can walk out the inn's backdoor, and paint the panoramic views of the Whites and if our feet get cold run back inside by the fire for hot coffee. There are great locations all over this area if we want to leave the enormous grounds of the inn. Built at the turn of the last century, the inn is charming and comfortable without being too formal. I have taught three workshops there and it is an ideal venue. They also give us a special rate. This is sacred ground for American landscape painting, Bierdstadt, McEnteee and Kensett and nearly all of the other Hudson River School artists painted here in the 1860's.


MCG said...

That hand would belong to the honorable Charles Auguste Émile Durand as portrayed by the honorable John Singer Sargent in 1879. I could just glance a trace of the thenar space, which of course was a dead giveaway.
On more difficult matters, where can I find details about the snowcamp?

Kevin said...

Hi Stape, I followed the link to the Carlson post. I should reread it. Did you ever do that post on Gruppe's books? I'm curious if the reprinted one you knew of might be Gruppe on Color ($$ on amazon). I'm obsessed with collecting the best art books, but can't afford those out-of-print prices. Also, any development on the California workshops? I need more downloader time.

MCG said...

Stape, thank you for this invaluable list of painting literature; I have a couple, not most. I will find the others. What's your opinion on the best magazines to subscribe to? Let's say, the top three?

Philip Koch said...

Ah, even in the darkest reaches of the steamy deep south (which is how I think of Baltimore, MD) there's finally more than a hint of Fall in the air. Final confirmation was received this morning as I read Stape is announcing his upcoming Snow Camp in NH. Another nail in the coffin of our just passed hottest summer ever. Life is good!

Martha said...

I'm working my way through your blog and tracking down the books you recommend. A book on Seago is listed for $888.99 on Amazon. I'll wait on that.

Maybe you've answered this elsewhere, but I was wondering about "decorative" versus "fine art" painting. An acquaintance whose husband is a commercial photographer for a living but is a "fine art" photographer in real life, asked, when she learned I had started to study painting, if I was learning decorative or fine art painting. I asked what she meant and she said one was about ideas, the other looked pretty. I said what about Monet? She said he would have been fine art when he started, but now would be considered decorative.

I was stunned, and said I would be thrilled if I could someday be decorative like Monet. What's the deal? Is it a Tom Wolfe sort of thing? Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine? I have a day job that is as far from art as you can get, so I'm new to this.

Thanks for such a substantive blog.

Mary said...

Excellent list of books. I have many and am going to try to find the others. Some I've found are simply out of my price range, most unfortunately, but I'll keep looking.

I have an unrelated question, though. On all the lists of what you need for a good painting (value, etc), I've not seen a focal point listed. I see a lot of paintings on line, in blogs most often, that look great when viewed quite small, but when I click on the painting to get a good look, nothing anywhere is in focus. I don't know what I should look at. I'd appreciate it if you'd talk about this. And thank you!

Woodward Simons said...

I can personally attest to Carlson, Payne, and Schmid's books. All three are the sort I return to again and again -- because my understanding is developing over time, new concepts become clear to me each time I read one of these books.

Thanks for the long and informative post Stape. I would like to repost this info on my own blog with your permission.

Stapleton Kearns said...

You are right of course. The painting is in the Clark in Milliamstown Mass.

Stapleton Kearns said...

The Rockport Art Association 978-546- 6604 has a reprinted Gruppe book for sale.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I know all of those editors and If I choose one and not another they will all hate me.That is dangerous ground.

Stapleton Kearns said...

It is a harbinger of fall I guess. I was feeling autumnal when I posted it.

Stapleton Kearns said...

That is a good idea for a post. I will get back to you.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I will try to do a focal Point post soon.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Woodward Simons. You have my permission to repost that. Do you need a baby animal picture to go with it. How about a gruesome dissection?

Woodward Simons said...

Ah, nope - no baby animals or anything gruesome. If I post it on my site, I'd rather post a painting of yours or the group at the workshop.

Woodward Simons said...

Oh, the hand is that of Carolus Durand - Sargent's teacher.