Saturday, February 26, 2011

Accidental Artist

Are artists born? Or are they made? I have been dwelling on this question, on and off for a long time......Was Leonardo born an artist? Cezanne left his job to become an artist.......Did these artists (and many many others) knew what they wanted from the very beginning or art somehow sneaked into their lives? I can assure you, I am no closer to the answer than I was 5 years ago..... But I have come to the realization that art making is the result of an unique temperament. A temperament that seeks something out of ordinary! Whose daily existence is infused with excitement for creating something new..... I have always felt an unfulfillment in whatever I was doing. There was always an yearning for something "more". My parents always told me that, this was because I had ADD!! It never occurred to them or myself that maybe my imaginations needed an outlet and without  the outlet it festered and made me feel disconnected from  the world around me!

Candies, 18"x18", Oil on Canvas
When at last I stumbled into art, I found a a measure of peace. I could leave home without leaving at all! I could lose myself in daydreams without seeming dimwitted. And being paid for my dreams, is an added bonus!!  I wonder how other artists feel... Did all of them know, they wanted to be an artist from the time they could hold a pencil? Or was it a slow realization? Or was it something like what happened to me? Like suddenly colliding with art and losing oneself? I know this post is sort of a  rambling one and I might not be making much sense...... But I really want to know how you feel about it....... How did you become an artist?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Painting with Pigments-Pastel

I am a restless soul. I wish I was not..... I wish I was one of those people who are  consistent in their art. I, on the other hand thrive on challenge. Just when I started to feel I am sort of getting comfortable doing mixed media paintings/collages, I jumped into a completely new medium, Pastel!! I was a pastel "virgin", so to say! Never really worked with this medium before. We had to take pastel in collage as a mandatory course but I am sorry to say, I learned nothing from that class! First of all the teacher was not enthusiastic and as a result the course was more like a chore rather than being a pleasurable experience!

I wanted to really learn this medium and thankfully I met Claudia Post, a master pastelist, exhibiting  at the same gallery where I show my work! Under her guidance, I am learning so much!! I had no idea that you can actually paint with pastel! We used turpentine with pastel to actually block in the shapes before we went into the" pastel"(hatching, scribbling, pointillism, etc) aspect. Once washed with turp, the under painting doesn't look that different from a oil painting in its initial stage.......I learned that pastel can be used as flatly or  as texturally  as we want!

I love to draw, so  drawing with color appeals to me!. Combining my love of color and drawing to create an artwork seems like best of  both worlds. The fact that soft pastels are mainly pure pigments, can give a painitng such depth that it fascinates me! It is just a start but I am going to pursue the medium till I get comfortable with it and its many nuances. The  response I am getting for my pastel work is very encouraging and that will keep me going! Not that I will stop my mixed media works! It will always be my primary medium..... They appeal to me for completely different reasons! I can use unrelated objects to make a cohesive painting and at the same time do my share, in a very small way, to recycle products that has been relegated to trash.....It is such a cerebral enterprise, like solving a puzzle and who doesn't like puzzles??

Onto the studio for me and a happy creative week to you!

Pear and Citrus 12"x16", Pastel, 2011

Arrangement in Blues, 12"x16", Pastel, 2011

Green Jar, 11x14", Pastel, 2011
Creeping Shadows, 8"x10", Pastel, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Overcoming Pricing Pain

Pricing a painting is painful. I am always at a loss about how to price my work. I can never figure out whether I am under pricing or over pricing.....Theoretically I know what I should be doing when pricing a piece. But when it comes right down to it, it is always hard. Most of us would rather just make art and not worry about the business end of it, but sadly we gotta make a living out of our art!

I think the first thing we should try when pricing is  to distance ourselves from our work.We should look around and figure out how other artists with our experience level (and doing similar works) are pricing their work. I mean, in the end people not only pays for a particular piece of art but our past accomplishments/experience as well. They want to feel they are not only getting a piece of art but also getting  bang for their buck. They want to invest in an artist who has been around for a while. We have to practically judge our standing in  the community where we are marketting our art and then price our's competively. My mom might think my painting should be priced in thousands, but seriously unless I am taking a broader view of the art community I am  are just setting up myself for failure.

I don't know about others but many times I end up pricing my art proportional to my emotional attachment to it. Just because an artwork has a special meaning to me, does not mean a thing to the dealers or customers! If we do that, we might end up looking like amateurs. This is something I am trying hard to overcome. If I charge $500 for a little painting because I love it and $300 for another, it will just make me look silly!  I have come up with a way to deal with this dilemma: I just don't put the work I am particularly attached to up  for sale! I assign it as "Artists Collection". Ingenuous, huh?!!

Over pricing can be avoided but what about under pricing? Specially emerging artists like myself tend to under price their work. We want to please the buyer and make a sale and end up treating our work as orphans! Again I think the best way to price is to look around and find out what artists of our experience/niche are charging.

 Recently, I chanced upon a way to price my work! What I am doing is actually giving myself a salary. If I charge say, $20 an hour and spend 10 hrs on an work, the price of the work will be about $200. And we might also want to add the cost of materials. That's a sensible approach, even though a little depressing. But when you are an emerging artist, you have to start somewhere. When I have acquired that experience and that CV, I will probably end up with a different formula to price my work.

 I was talking to another artist a few days ago, and  she told me how she prices her work. She calculates the square inches and multipiels that by 4 and comes up with the price. So, if the work is say 10x10, the price is 100x4=400. Of course there is always a little twicking involved. It seems like a practical way to do things!
So there! I would really like to know how you price your work.  Maybe that will give me some clues on pricing......!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Give Up, "Giving Up"

I am a quitter. I admit it! I give up all the time! Heck, one of my resolution for 2011 is to give up giving up! I quit dieting because I did not shed that 10 lbs I have been trying to lose for last 10 years......I quit art every other day when things don't go well! And so forth! But I think I have figured out how to keep myself grounded! These are few of the things I am trying out when I feel hopeless and ready to give up!

1.Walk away When  going gets rough and my head is ready to explode, I just try to walk away. Leave my studio and recharge my batteries.Take some time off to regain my composure. The distance really helps. I read and watch movies. I read somewhere reading novels and watching movies are the best ways to forget "self"! And that's what I have been doing! By virtue of our profession, I think we never really get a vacation! So I just give myself forced vacation where I don't' even allow me to come near my studio! By walking away I get a fresh take on things and stuff don't seem so`` hopeless!

2. Accountability Whether we like it or not, our actions affect others.And that can be a positive thing too.When I am feeling like chucking it all and walking away for good, I just think about how many people I will disappoint!. My husband is my biggest cheerleader and he had put me through art school at  great expense and sacrifice! And if I just quit, I will disappoint him the most! This is one of the most important motivator for me to do well. I want him to feel that he had not sacrificed in vain! I am sure there are people in everyone's life they don't want to disappoint. Maybe this is what they call accountability?!

3. Non perfection: All right, that might not be good English but this is what I am trying to say: giving up that desire for perfection can actually make us happier! At least that is one of my problems. When I am doing something I want it to be flawless! I  always have this picture in my head about how a finished work should look like! And when it does not,  it disappoints me. If this keeps happening a number of time, then I am on the verge of chucking the project all together. But, I am trying to focus more on the process than on the result. I hope this will reduce my disappointment if the work does not turn out as I want.

4. Baby Steps: Like I mentioned, I have this vision about what a painting will look like even before I have begun it! I think when we have a goal like that, it makes it harder on us and every time we don't realize the goal we feel bad about ourselves. But if we focused only on the task at hand and not try to obsess about the result , we might not feel like quitting! Taking small step towards big goals can be helpful because it would not overwhelm! I have to really try that.....Compartmentalization , I think is the answer. I just hope I will take my own advice!

I have these little rules right in front of my desk so that whenever I am feeling like quitting, I can look up and see what I need to do! I have not quit blogging yet, see? They  just might work!What are your strategies? Let me know! Soon again, my friends!