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.
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.