Things I Learned as an Oil Painter: Thing #11

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maccski's avatar
And so on to thing #11:

The artist does not make quality judgments about the work: that's the viewer/buyer's job.

Sounds weird? I thought so too. But the more I painted and the more I sold, the less I seemed able to predict what would sell and what would stay.

It's frustrating when you think you've painted a masterpiece and it just keeps coming back home with you. I have a painting that I'm really proud of; I think it's one of the first strong pieces that I painted (but that's just my opinion). I put it in 4 shows and then gave up trying - it hangs in my home now. I can't say I'm unhappy about that: it's kind of bittersweet.

The opposite situation is one to be careful of. I've had to bite my lip when a buyer asked to take a painting and a voice in my head shrieked "Really? That one? You're kidding, right?". Just don't let on that you're surprised. They love the painting enough to part with hard earned cash for it. Your surprise could insult their taste. This has happened to me often enough so that I now just breeze through the transaction, cool as a cucumber (but in my head I'm doing my touchdown dance...not pretty).

So the moral of the story is that your ability to paint doesn't necessarily translate into an ability to appreciate (your own) art.

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Why am I posting this stuff?…

Take a look at my Facebook page...if you like it, please "Like" it!…

This post segues nicely into the next (thing #12)...
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KanatSanat's avatar
"It's frustrating when you think you've painted a masterpiece and it just keeps coming back home with you. "

I heard someone advise never to sell your best work anyway ;)

I took five things to an exhibition, sold four and the other one is hung in my living room. I never wanted to sell it anyway
maccski's avatar
My house is full of art I can't sell or can't bear to part with - some pieces fall into both categories!
glunac's avatar
This is very true. Must work on my poker face.
To a lesser degree, I am often surprised by what it s faved/featured here & what is not.

It's funny how we (the artists) become attached to certain pieces but feel other pieces we created are crap. This feeling of dislike is pronounced when the paintings doesn't meet the idea we envisioned in our heads originally.
maccski's avatar
I just sold a painting last week and listened as the couple debated between two pieces....very interesting. They focused on the colours and the frames and whether they would go nicely in the den or the dining room, etc, etc. A lot of people buy art purely as part of the decor and make decor-type judgments. I have no problem with it (it sells art, after all); I just don't think like that. I guess I'm more inclined to redecorate a room to better show off a painting!
glunac's avatar
They got it all wrong...You don't buy art to go with the decor, you decorate to compliment or enhance THE artwork.

Oh well, at least you were paid. LOL
RandomSearcher's avatar
Thank you for sharing these "things"! I have a strange feeling like you post my own thoughts :typerhappy:

Regarding viewer's judgement, you're 100% right, it's impossible to predict what will sell and what will not. Maybe it's because we like our work not for its quality, but for something behind it... Some memories, associations, even the mood we had while creating it - all counts for us, but not for anybody else. Viewer does not appreciate your efforts and sentiments.

In the arts school I remember I had a cheat: whenever we were free to choose any subject we like for our homework, I painted dogs and cats from the pictures I could find. They were nothing difficult, I didn't have to think of colours and composition (it was done for me by the photographer), but it was a shure way to get the top grade for my homework. Even teachers could not resist the cute subject :D
maccski's avatar
I agree - I think each of us reacts to a painting from a unique perspective based on our life experiences.
21stCenturyDamocles's avatar
i think we all have this problem if not several hanging in our studios to keep us company for time immortal. my way of dealing with it is to make mention of it in my memoirs so that every one will know when i'm gone that it was my favorite.
paintings are a lot like lovers many come and many go but it takes just that one person that sees in it some quintessential mystery that a life can be built on so never say never, and i can guarantee after we are gone they will be buying our canvas scraps! LOL save every thing HEHE
21stCenturyDamocles's avatar
PS i hope that did not sound egotistical i was just joking around
maccski's avatar
No worries Paul - your work is going to be around a loooong time.
21stCenturyDamocles's avatar
one would hope but there are no garanties. look at how few of leonardo's have survived and he was revered in his own life time. but on the other hand i suspect he did not paint that much, off doing his Renaissance man thing.
citypainter's avatar
I find that the paintings people react to the most favourably are sometimes the ones I'm least happy with, and vice-versa. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that people often respond purely to the *subject* of the painting, whereas the painter is looking beyond that at the technique, composition, etc. That's how I see it, anyway.
maccski's avatar
You're right - I've had buyers make up little stories that explain what's going on in the painting.

Buyer: "We saw the car next to the house and it looked like the person had just finally got home after a long tiring journey. It's a very comforting painting."

Me: "I just thought the shadows were cool."
ja5on's avatar
One of my favourite paintings that I've done (in my opinion) hangs in my studio and has never been on the market, it doesn't fit with my usual oeuvre and I don't think it's very saleable.
maccski's avatar
OK I'm curious - based on the insane work in your gallery I'd be interested to see your favourite...
ja5on's avatar
Not my ultimate favourite but one of them, I did it in about 2006. [link]
maccski's avatar
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