The World of Art

Paul Dorrell was commenting on the art scene in Colorado yesterday, and it got me thinking about how many sectors of the art market there really are. I read a lot of art forums and blogs, and I’m always amazed at how stratified the art world can be.

There’s the art scene in New York, which (from my vantage point in Colorado) seems to revolve on its own axis independent of the rest of the world. There’s the western art scene, which is centered around the big art markets in Scottsdale, Jackson, and Santa Fe. There are the more regional art markets, which tend to revolve around tourist traffic and more representational artwork. There’s the California plein air scene, which maybe gets a little more hype than it deserves (Isn’t it just painting outdoors? Why the fancy French name?). And so on and so on….

Outside of regional differences in the art market, there also seems to be a big divide between the world of contemporary/modern art, and that of representational art. Both sides seem to look down their nose at one another, as though the other isn’t producing real art.

Even within more specific subject matter, there are sides. In the world of portraiture, there are those who work from photographs and those who only work from life. While there are many who fit in between, those on the extremes are the most vocal, and the bickering between the two sides never seems to end. In landscape painting, there’s an ever-growing divide between the “plein-air” painter and the studio painter, and a lot of people seem to want to choose sides. As a landscape painter, it mystifies me – I paint outdoors sometimes, and I paint in the studio sometimes – what’s the big deal?

Considering that most artists are so passionate about art, I find it funny that we choose to align ourselves with different groups and choose sides. Then again, it makes sense that a bunch of people who are extremely passionate about what they do would be extremely passionate about defending their way of doing things.

I just paint what I love to paint, and sell it where people want to buy that type of work. I’m happy, and the checks are coming in, so I have no complaints. But I can’t help but wonder how much more visibility, support, and funding the arts would receive if everyone would quit their bickering and realize that we’re all working on the same thing in different forms…

The World of Art

Paul Dorrell was commenting on the art scene in Colorado yesterday, and it got me thinking about how many sectors of the art market there really are. I read a lot of art forums and blogs, and I’m always amazed at how stratified the art world can be.

There’s the art scene in New York, which (from my vantage point in Colorado) seems to revolve on its own axis independent of the rest of the world. There’s the western art scene, which is centered around the big art markets in Scottsdale, Jackson, and Santa Fe. There are the more regional art markets, which tend to revolve around tourist traffic and more representational artwork. There’s the California plein air scene, which maybe gets a little more hype than it deserves (Isn’t it just painting outdoors? Why the fancy French name?). And so on and so on….

Outside of regional differences in the art market, there also seems to be a big divide between the world of contemporary/modern art, and that of representational art. Both sides seem to look down their nose at one another, as though the other isn’t producing real art.

Even within more specific subject matter, there are sides. In the world of portraiture, there are those who work from photographs and those who only work from life. While there are many who fit in between, those on the extremes are the most vocal, and the bickering between the two sides never seems to end. In landscape painting, there’s an ever-growing divide between the “plein-air” painter and the studio painter, and a lot of people seem to want to choose sides. As a landscape painter, it mystifies me – I paint outdoors sometimes, and I paint in the studio sometimes – what’s the big deal?

Considering that most artists are so passionate about art, I find it funny that we choose to align ourselves with different groups and choose sides. Then again, it makes sense that a bunch of people who are extremely passionate about what they do would be extremely passionate about defending their way of doing things.

I just paint what I love to paint, and sell it where people want to buy that type of work. I’m happy, and the checks are coming in, so I have no complaints. But I can’t help but wonder how much more visibility, support, and funding the arts would receive if everyone would quit their bickering and realize that we’re all working on the same thing in different forms…

Why Bother to Plan At All?

What a crazy weekend.

I had nothing on my schedule this weekend, so the plan was to catch up on painting. I have 24×30” and 14×18” paintings that need to go to the gallery before this weekend, and a 24×36” and 16×20” that need to be completed for a commission. Since I had barely started any of these, I figured this weekend would be a good time to make some progress.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it really happened.

A short hike on the trail near my house on Saturday morning turned into a big ordeal when my dog Bailey got bit by a rattlesnake. Our house is in the middle of rattlesnake territory, and I see the things all the time when I’m out hiking or trail running, but I usually don’t worry too much about them. On Saturday, there was one coiled up in some rocks on the side of the trail and apparently we pissed it off because it rattled at us. Bailey was ready to sniff at it, but Nate pulled her away by her leash before she got too close.

We thought everything was fine until she stopped walking about a ¼ mile later. Anyone who knows my dog knows that she doesn’t just stop in the middle of a hike. We checked her paw for thorns and couldn’t find anything, so we tried to keep going, but she just wouldn’t put any weight on her back paw. Finally, Nate decided to run home and get the car, while I walked her through the field to the end of a cul-de-sac at the edge of our neighborhood. We didn’t see the snake strike her, but I thought her behavior was a bit bizarre so we took her into the vet right away. Sure enough, they found a snakebite on her back leg and went into emergency mode to take care of her.

In the end, we spent half of the weekend visiting our pathetic dog at the vet – it was so sad to see her laying there with an IV. Luckily we took her in right away, so she’s going to be okay and we were able to bring her home last night. Her leg is still twice the size it should be, but she’s back to being her normal hyper self.

Unfortunately, I’m probably going to be too freaked out to hike by myself on this trail anymore, which is a bummer because it’s one of my favorite things about the location of our house. Oh well…

As for painting, I only managed to finish the underpainting of the two big paintings, and get about a third of each of the gallery paintings done in oil. Other than the underpainting, I didn’t make any progress on the commission, but I have a little more leeway on time so I’m trying not to stress.

Since it’s Monday, I’m putting together a schedule now to get everything done when I need to – this is my plan for the evenings this week:

Monday
=> finish 24×30” painting (complete middle and foreground)
Tuesday
=> finish 14×18” painting (complete middle and foreground)
Wednesday
=> finish 16×20” commission (finish rocks and foreground)
Thursday
=> work on 24×36” commission (finish mountain and start on sky)
=>photograph and sign paintings for gallery
Friday
=> frame and drop paintings by gallery in AM
=> leave for vacation and RELAX for five days (Aspen/Snowmass for the long weekend – woohoo!!)

And then I wonder why I feel like I have no life sometimes. Geez!

Why Bother to Plan At All?

What a crazy weekend.

I had nothing on my schedule this weekend, so the plan was to catch up on painting. I have 24×30” and 14×18” paintings that need to go to the gallery before this weekend, and a 24×36” and 16×20” that need to be completed for a commission. Since I had barely started any of these, I figured this weekend would be a good time to make some progress.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it really happened.

A short hike on the trail near my house on Saturday morning turned into a big ordeal when my dog Bailey got bit by a rattlesnake. Our house is in the middle of rattlesnake territory, and I see the things all the time when I’m out hiking or trail running, but I usually don’t worry too much about them. On Saturday, there was one coiled up in some rocks on the side of the trail and apparently we pissed it off because it rattled at us. Bailey was ready to sniff at it, but Nate pulled her away by her leash before she got too close.

We thought everything was fine until she stopped walking about a ¼ mile later. Anyone who knows my dog knows that she doesn’t just stop in the middle of a hike. We checked her paw for thorns and couldn’t find anything, so we tried to keep going, but she just wouldn’t put any weight on her back paw. Finally, Nate decided to run home and get the car, while I walked her through the field to the end of a cul-de-sac at the edge of our neighborhood. We didn’t see the snake strike her, but I thought her behavior was a bit bizarre so we took her into the vet right away. Sure enough, they found a snakebite on her back leg and went into emergency mode to take care of her.

In the end, we spent half of the weekend visiting our pathetic dog at the vet – it was so sad to see her laying there with an IV. Luckily we took her in right away, so she’s going to be okay and we were able to bring her home last night. Her leg is still twice the size it should be, but she’s back to being her normal hyper self.

Unfortunately, I’m probably going to be too freaked out to hike by myself on this trail anymore, which is a bummer because it’s one of my favorite things about the location of our house. Oh well…

As for painting, I only managed to finish the underpainting of the two big paintings, and get about a third of each of the gallery paintings done in oil. Other than the underpainting, I didn’t make any progress on the commission, but I have a little more leeway on time so I’m trying not to stress.

Since it’s Monday, I’m putting together a schedule now to get everything done when I need to – this is my plan for the evenings this week:

Monday
=> finish 24×30” painting (complete middle and foreground)
Tuesday
=> finish 14×18” painting (complete middle and foreground)
Wednesday
=> finish 16×20” commission (finish rocks and foreground)
Thursday
=> work on 24×36” commission (finish mountain and start on sky)
=>photograph and sign paintings for gallery
Friday
=> frame and drop paintings by gallery in AM
=> leave for vacation and RELAX for five days (Aspen/Snowmass for the long weekend – woohoo!!)

And then I wonder why I feel like I have no life sometimes. Geez!

Burnout and Recovery

“Aspen Light”
Oil on Canvas Panel
12×9″

About a month ago, I was feeling burned out.

Burned out on work, on art, on everything.

The feeling came after scrambling for two weeks to provide six new paintings to a gallery at a time when I was so tired from pregnancy that I could have easily slept for 12 hours a night. Once I delivered the paintings to the gallery, I spent three weeks doing a lot of nothing, and I didn’t touch a paintbrush almost the entire month of May.

At the time, I wondered where my discipline and motivation had gone, and had a lot of self-doubt. Now I’m getting back into the swing of things, and I honestly have to admit that I was mostly burned out due to the crappy first trimester of pregnancy. I wanted to do everything I always do, and my body just wasn’t up for it. Period. No negotiation.

All I’ve got to say now is THANK GOD I’m past that first trimester and feeling like myself again (minus the fact that my wardrobe is rapidly becoming un-buttonable).

I’ve been busy again the past week or so, trying get some paintings done for the gallery, working with a commission client to nail down a composition, and juggling work and life and everything else. I started five paintings last Sunday, and finished three by Tuesday so they’d be dry enough to frame and deliver today. I put the signatures and finishing touches on them last night, and framed and photographed them. I also finally got approval from a commission client to start on the second of two paintings, the composition of which we have been discussing for over a month now (that’s a whole other blog entry in itself). So now I’m finally ready to take off from work, deliver some paintings, and hop on a plane to Chicago for the weekend to attend a wedding of one of Nate’s friends.

Despite the busy schedule that doesn’t seem to end, I feel a lot better now. I’m looking forward to coming home from work on Monday and starting a couple of large paintings I have planned. No more burnout!!

(The painting above is one I’ll be delivering today. It’s small, so the brushwork actually shows in the picture for once. I had writer’s block last night, so it has a bland title, but oh well. I always figure that people buy my paintings for the image, not the title, right??)