Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Art Marketing Tuesday-Social Media

I realize I have been reposting things of late.  I do research in the mornings for my own career and have been coming across some very good information that I want to share.  Research for me for you too, not too bad!  I hope you find it useful.

Today I have for you 7 Social Media Marketing Tips and, although I haven't done all of these things, I would like to hear from you what you have tried and what has worked for you.  Everyone else reading this would like to know too - so share in the comments section of this blog, if you will, not just in Facebook.

This information, posted on Mashable, is a bit dated too, having been written in 2012.

 This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

According to market research firm First Research, there are about 5,000 art dealers and galleries in the U.S. with combined annual revenue of about $6 billion, and Art Market Monitor estimates the size of the overall global art market to be around $15 billion annually. There are also more than 200,000 fine artists working in the U.S., according to recent research by the National Endowment for the Arts.
But while fine art is big business, there is often a wide chasm between the creative process that makes a great artist or a sophisticated gallery owner, and the marketing process that drives branding and sales.
“For the majority of artists, success will ultimately come down to their effectiveness in marketing,” says Darius Himes, Assistant Director of fine art photography gallery Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco. “Artists need to embrace the fact that both their work, and they themselves as artists, are brands that must be marketed.”
So whether you’re an aspiring artist who wants to build an initial following, or a veteran art dealer looking to expand awareness of your brand, it pays to get savvy to new social marketing techniques to help you achieve your objectives. The following are seven strategies for more effective social marketing.

1. Optimize Your Website


A website is now a cost of doing business, and it’s essential for artists to have at least a minimal web presence. But even established artists and galleries with robust websites should consider a refresh, particularly to ensure that the site is optimized for search and mobile.
Himes notes that Fraenkel Gallery recently undertook a full overhaul of its website to incorporate more social, search and web marketing best practices.
“In addition to making a number of aesthetic and navigational enhancements, we also eliminated all of the Flash-based elements that weren’t searchable and that reduced the mobile functionality,” says Himes. “We also made sure that the new website was scalable to any mobile device, and that all pages had unique web addresses which would be easy to feed into social media.”

2. Get Busy Blogging


Blogging is one of the best ways to get your art or gallery found by the search engines and provides excellent content to fuel your other social marketing activities.
“Blogging is close to necessary at this point when it comes to both SEO and the building of a fan base,” says Greg Heller-LaBelle of web marketing firm DAY Vision Marketing. “The main thing we try to instill in clients is to start thinking of themselves as creators and syndicators of content.”
In addition to posting new work or promoting new shows or openings, your blog can also be a place to offer a behind-the-scenes look at your creative process, share pictures from relevant art events or chronicle your time at a prestigious art auction.
“As an artist myself and owner of a creative company, I'd say my number one tip is to pull back the curtain and show the behind-the-scenes work that takes place,” says Mark Ley, Managing Director at Copper Blue Creative. “Showing how a piece is made, or the location you are shooting photography, all help the fan to feel as if they are a part of the creation.”

3. Maximize Your Facebook Presence


Having a Facebook business page for your artist brand or gallery should be a no-brainer: it’s free, it’s simple to use and it gives you access to more than 1 billion people.
To use Facebook as a vehicle for promotion and awareness-building, first set up your Facebook business page and invite your friends and colleagues to “like” the page and share with their network … then start posting! Many of the same content strategies for your blog also apply to your Facebook page, but make sure to also spend a little bit of time each day engaging with your fans.
“The main reason why artists fail with social media is that they are not providing a value to their connections with any helpful, interesting and relevant content in their comments and posts,” writes John R. Math of Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery. “As artist participants we need to be active, engaged and consistently provide some kind of value.”

4. Be Active on Twitter


Twitter is a great tool for building a following and promoting your art or gallery. The best way to get started is by looking for relevant people or businesses to follow; try digging around a site like Listorious to search for other people's lists by topic. For example, a gallery owner could use Listorious to search on "art” to find lists of prominent tweeters in the art world. Then start tweeting — at a minimum, tweet out all the content that appears on your blog and other relevant news about your art or events. Don’t forget to use hashtags with your tweets to boost the searchability of your content.
You can also follow keywords and hashtags to easily find relevant content to share and people to follow. Set up a running search or column in your social media tool (TweetDeck and HootSuite are great options) on particular terms and hashtags so you can quickly scan for interesting content to retweet and people to engage with.

5. Take Advantage of Pinterest


Use of the visually oriented social site Pinterest has exploded over the past year, and many artists are using Pinterest to share their work beyond Facebook and Twitter.
To get started on Pinterest, first set up a profile that includes keywords and your website address, then start pinning. When you pin your art, don’t forget to add a watermark to protect the image, as well as keywords: Pinterest is searchable, so make sure you describe your pin clearly. You should also customize the link to point back to your website or whatever other page you’re promoting.
You can also get more exposure for your images by including a price for the item into your description. This simple trick will add your pin to the “Gifts” section on Pinterest and will display the price across the front of the image throughout the site.

6. Experiment With Facebook Ads


Many artists and galleries are also using Facebook Ads as a low-cost way to promote upcoming shows and events.
Artlog, a social platform allowing people to connect with the international art scene, uses Facebook Ads to promote events and sell tickets to art events like exhibitions, tours and discussions. For example, 10 days before its Chelsea Art Crawl & Party last summer, Artlog began running Facebook Ads to promote the event and direct people to Artlog’s website in order to purchase tickets. For every $75 Artlog spent on Facebook, it saw $200 in ticket sales.
Facebook also allows you to target different campaigns or events to different people.
“There are specific galleries and museums that we will use in our Likes and Interests targeting because we know that if people are engaging with those galleries, they are more likely to be the right audience,” says Manish Vora, co-founder of Artlog.

7. Use Press Releases for Search


While galleries typically develop and share press releases about upcoming shows with relevant media, they often neglect to distribute their release over the wire, and thus miss out on one of the best low-cost ways to propagate their brand across the internet and drive search results. You can use a low-cost service such as PRWeb to distribute your release for under $100.
To optimize your press release for search, start by making a list of the keywords and phrases that are most relevant to your company, and then cross-check these terms using Google’s keyword tool to assess monthly search volume. Once you have your list of keywords, use them in the headline and subhead of your release as well as throughout the body of the announcement. Avoid repetition by using secondary and tertiary keywords.
For example, if you’re a San Francisco fine art gallery looking to boost your search results on the phrases “fine art photography” and “San Francisco art galleries” — as well as around a particular photographer’s work — you might include the phrase “fine art photography” in the headline, subhead and first paragraph of the release, along with the artist’s name, while including the term “San Francisco art gallery” elsewhere in the release.
Make sure that you attach any hyperlinks back to your website or blog to these keyword phrases rather than your name or generic terms like “art opening.”
You should also consider adding images or video to your press releases: Releases that include an image or a video get shared three times more than text-only releases — and viewers spend up to thirty seconds more with this content.
How are you promoting your art or gallery using social media? Tell us in the comments.

Hope this gives you some great ideas for promoting your art and that you are enjoying your Tuesday, this last day of September.  See you in October!

'Til tomorrow!

~Alex

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fearless Creating

On the Empty Easel website there is a write up about a book that I'm going to get ahold of and read, it's called Fearless Creating: A Step-by-Step Guide To Starting and Completing Your Work of Art by Eric Maisel, Ph.D.
Almond Blossoms by Niki Hilsabeck
Here is a reprint of what I read about this book on Empty Easel, written by Niki Hilsabeck:
     As you can probably guess from some of my other articles, I have a passion for reading about the connections between psychology and creativity.
     One of the books I picked up (early on, as a beginning artist) was Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel. It’s a book I’ve hung on to over the years because it contains useful theories, inspiring quotes, and thought-provoking exercises that help me renew my focus on creativity.
     Fearless Creating takes readers through the entire creative process, from the conception and nurturing of an idea to the completion and publication or display of the finished product. Throughout the book, Maisel references the stories of creative people through the ages, both famous and not well-known, sharing the struggles and joys of their artistic careers.
     Maisel takes a proactive approach to the concerns and pitfalls many artists face, including creative anxiety, a need for meaning in their art, going against the grain of society, and self-sabotage. The author has extensive experience working with creative patients, and provides exercises to re-route the reader’s thoughts so they can become part of the creative process.
     I’ll admit that I didn’t stop and try each exercise as I read (spoiler alert—one of them involves throwing a hot potato) but I did use many of the written exercises, and still refer back to them if I’m having trouble at a particular stage of creating.
     One of the things I enjoyed most about the book was the abundance of sidebar quotes from creative personalities of all disciplines. Even when pressed for time, I often find a quick bit of inspiration just by opening Maisel’s book and reading a quote.
     Reading through the theories, completing the exercises, and digesting the sidebar quotes, I come away with a sense of creative community. The struggle to bring creative ideas to fruition is often misunderstood by the community at large, so it’s reassuring to read a book that affirms the value of artists and their work.
     Fearless Creating encourages artists to embrace their unique qualities. Themes such as “wildness” and “tameness,” “fifteen active qualities of the artist,” and “appropriate clarity” highlight the need to know and express your authentic self as an artist.
     The beginning of the book, in which Maisel describes the idea of “Hushing and Holding” an idea, was most useful for me as a visual artist. I used to just throw myself into painting projects without giving ideas much time to develop; hushing and holding gives me the opportunity to be more selective and nurture an idea before I begin a painting.
     The author devotes the last chapter to showing and even selling your work, and includes a twenty page appendix with strategies to manage anxiety at the end (this appendix alone makes the book worth hanging on to, in my opinion).
If you spend long hours on your own and could use a quick pep-talk, Maisel’s book is definitely a handy one to keep in the studio.
     Fearless Creating is probably not a book you’d want to read in one sitting. However, I would suggest reading it through in chronological order at least once, as the book is designed to help the reader break down and analyze the creative process from beginning to end.
     There’s a lot to digest throughout the book, and because it’s psychology-based, you’re more than likely to come away with new ideas about yourself and your work habits—all of which will take time for your brain to process and utilize.
     One caveat is that the book can be a bit didactic at times (“you must” and “you will” are phrases that make frequent appearances). Being a free-thinking, creative artist you probably don’t like being told what to do—but then again, who does??
     However, if you can accept the occasional forceful language in the spirit of personal growth, you might find yourself returning again and again to Fearless Creating for its wisdom as you grow and change as an artist. Just keep a pencil handy as you read it!
Doesn't it sound like a really helpful to us artists book?  What is your most helpful to you book for keeping motivated and inspired?

Hope you are enjoying your start to the week this Monday.  I know I am.

'Til tomorrow!
~Alex

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Today, I am going to share quotes with you from my Artist to Artist book from the sections:  The Language of Art and Mysticism, Magic, & Spirituality.  As I have said before, I hope you are touched by these quotes and it helps to know that throughout time artists have felt the same things while creating that you do every day ...know you are not alone when you go out there and create.
They tell you that a tree is only a combination of chemical elements.  I prefer to believe that God created it, and that it is inhabited by a nymph. ~Pierre Auguste Renoir 1841-1919.
At one time the earth was supposed to be flat . . . yet the probability is that life, too, is spherical and much more extensive and capacious than the hemisphere we know. ~ Vincent Van Gogh 1853-1890
The mystical will always be with us. . . . A whole mass of things that cannot be rationalized - new born thoughts that are still not properly formed. ~ Edvard Munch 1863-1944
A work of art is finished, from the point of view of the artists, when feeling and perception have resulted in a spiritual synthesis. ~ Hans Hofmann 1880-1966
I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say in any other way - thing that I had no words for. ~ Georgia O'Keeffe 1887-1986
Everything has two aspects:  the current aspect, which we see nearly always and which ordinary men see, and the ghostly and metaphysical aspect, which only rare individuals may see in moments of clairvoyance and meta physical abstraction. ~ Giorgio de Chirico 1888-1978
Painting is, in my opinion, a richer language than that of words . . . . Painting is a language much more immediate, and, at the time, much more charged with meaning. ~Jean Dubuffet 1901-1985
The painting is not on a surface, but on a plane which is imagined.  It moves in a mind.  It is not there physically at all.  It is an illusion, a piece of magic, so what you see is not what you see. ~ Philip Guston 1913-1980
I would like to express man's relation to the world and to himself - and to some spiritual force outside himself. ~George Tooker 1920-2011
Great art is art that strips you of words, and then allows you to find the new words to describe that experience. ~Eric Fischl  1948-
So that's all for this Sunday's inspiration!  Hope you have been having a great weekend and I'll see what I can come up with for us to talk about tomorrow.

'Til then.

~Alex

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Selling Art

Today is Selling Art Saturday.

Do you know how the BIG gallery market works?  Since I will continue to be considered an "emerging artist" for quite some time, perhaps for the rest of my life...this is something Mark and I are still learning.

Today I would like to share with you something I read the other day.  It is from a post written by blogger and gallery owner Edward Winkleman.  His blog is well worth reading whether you are an artist or a collector.  And his gallery?  Well.  Here is (in part) the write up on their gallery website:
We have participated in art fairs such as The Armory Show, SEVEN, Pulse, ARCO, Art Chicago, NADA, INDEPENDENT, and Moving Image. Gallery artists have exhibited in some of the world’s most important venues and biennials, including the Venice Biennale, the Vienna Kunsthalle, The Art Institute in Chicago, the Getty Center in Los Angeles, the Singapore Biennale, the Sharjah Biennial, and the Whitney Biennial.
Impressive, is all I have to say about that.

One of the artists Winkleman Gallery represents is Shane Hope.  Here is one of his 3-D printed artworks:
Shane Hope "Computronium-Cloud Copyllution" 2013
  Anyway.  Here is Ed's post.  Very educational for me and for you too, I hope.
That Primary Gallery Discussion
Of all the negotiations that an artist has with their dealer, few are as treacherous to navigate as the one concerning the "primary gallery" question. The reason it can be trickier than other issues is because each new potential opportunity to work with another gallery can change the entire landscape. If, for example, you have a primary gallery in City X and then a gallery in City Y wants to work with you, whether the City Y gallery is going to be happy to become your "secondary gallery" will depend on how they feel about both the other gallery and that other city.

In general, it's not to any gallery's advantage to be secondary gallery for any of their artists and it's often to their great advantage to be the primary gallery for all their artists. It's to most artists' benefit to have a primary gallery for some situations and not at all for others. Further, a gallery powerful enough to work out primary gallery status for most of their artists is usually one well worth working with.

So what do we mean by "primary gallery" or "secondary gallery" in this context? We've discussed this before, but an email from an artist struggling with these issues suggests we could flesh out the issues a bit more. I've changed some details to protect the artist's anonymity:
I recently graduated and I was picked up by a gallery soon after in City Q. I wanted to get some clarification about other galleries working with other galleries. Is this a common thing? I am not familiar with this and I have been asking anyone with answers about this. I am allowed to get representation in another gallery in another state, however, I was told that I needed to tell that other gallery they need to split their half of the commission with my gallery. Ex: from the 50%, one gallery gets 30% and the other gets 20%. This was not told to me at the beginning. One, I do not feel comfortable in this position and I don't think it is my duty to do this as the artist. Two, if my gallery is the one to start the relationship, then they can discuss their terms. I have been told it is a rare situation and rarely works out.
Also, are galleries allowed to take a % from every exhibition I participate in? on works that aren't consigned to them? I am a new, young emerging artist and I feel I am being taken advantage of. I feel I am in a situation I don't know how to go about it. If you have any advice/input it would really be helpful.
OK, so let's begin with a frank discussion about why a gallery might insist on this. (And, from what is provided here, I would conclude that this artist is NOT being taken advantage of, but is not being communicated with effectively.)

In the gallery system the term "primary gallery" means an artist's main gallery, or #1 in the pecking order. This is the gallery that maintains his/her master archive, does much of the communications promoting their career (i.e., with institutions planning exhibitions), will work to raise the money to produce most of the work in situations where that's part of the artist's practice, and generally resides in a high-profile market, meaning they get the kind of traffic/critical attention for the artist that other galleries in other locations just can't. In return they may stipulate terms for representation by which their investment in building the markets for their artists is returned to them through commission on sales in other galleries. The thinking here includes the notion that the other galleries (usually in smaller cities) can only command the prices for the work by this artist because of the primary gallery's reputation and hard work in building their market.

Such terms of representation vary widely (including percentages, duration, geographical extent, etc.). Even within most galleries, they are highly negotiable (i.e., Artist G, who is internationally renown and sells work in the 6-digit range, may be able to insist on terms that Artist T, who is fresh out of school and still building a market cannot [nor should, IMHO]).

A "secondary gallery" is any other gallery (within certain geographical restrictions usually, but not necessarily) that an artist who has a primary gallery works with too. You can have many, many secondary galleries, but within any geographical area, you have only one primary gallery. Of course, no gallery would volunteer to be a secondary gallery for their artists, but it's often a small price to pay for the prestige and/or income to be had by working with an artist who already has a strong market built up by another dealer.

Personally, I feel the real "victim" (OK, so it's not truly that dramatic usually) in such situations is the secondary gallery dealer, not the artist, who will still make their 50% of any sale. But I do realize that until all the terms are established, it can be highly uncomfortable for any artist wishing to have other galleries in addition to their primary gallery, so I empathize with this artist.

Having said that, however, discussing---in depth---how any gallery you're considering signing up with works with other galleries is Representation 101. All the anxiety expressed by the artist above can be eliminated through a simple conversation before the fact. Questions I suggest you ask if your potential new (potentially primary) gallery doesn't offer such information upfront include:
  1. Will you see yourself as my "primary gallery"? And if so, what does that mean with regards to services you provide and expectations of working with other galleries?
  2. Do any commissions you expect of secondary galleries expire after a certain period of my working with them?
  3. Where do these terms apply? Are you my primary gallery only in this city/state/country/continent ?
  4. How should I discuss this with a gallery in another city that wants to work with me, but doesn't want to pay commission? Should I ask them to talk with you about it?
  5. Can this be put in writing?
Question 4 is your real tool here to alleviate any frustration/anxiety. Make the galleries duke it out (they will compromise to your benefit usually). Just be aware up front what your first gallery expects before agreeing to representation. The devil truly lurks in the details of this issue. Personalities, grudges, greed...they can all come into play when dealers talk to each other. If you, as the artist, understand the terms up front though, you don't have to suffer through any of that. Nor should you have to. You may need to make some tough decisions at times, but no one can spare you from those, so....
If you are experiencing a growth spurt with gallery representation, I hope you find this useful information.  I know I did.  Hope you are having a great weekend.

'Til tomorrow -

~Alex

Friday, September 26, 2014

Artist Film Friday

I want to share this film of artist, Louise Bourgeois with you.  I don't like spiders much, but I like Louise a great deal and I'm sorry we are without her now, as she passed away in 2010.
Louise Bourgeois photographed by James Hamilton,
in 1992, with her piece Arch of Hysteria
I hope, if you get a chance to watch Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine, that you will watch it. 

Here is the synopsis of the film from Wikipedia:
Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine, a 2008 documentary film about artist and sculptor Louise Bourgeois directed by Marion Cajori and Amei Wallach and distributed by Zeitgeist Films, chronicles the life and imagination of Paris-born artist Louise Bourgeois. Her process is on full display in this documentary, which features the artist in her studio and with her installations, shedding light on her intentions and inspirations. Throughout the documentary, Bourgeois reveals her life and work to be imbued with her ongoing obsession with the mysteries of childhood. Bourgeois has for six decades been an important and influential figure in the world of modern art. In 1982, at the age of 71, she became the first woman to be honored with a major retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art. She is perhaps best known for her series of massive spider structures that have been installed around the world. Filmed with unprecedented access to the artist between 1993 and 2007, Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine is a comprehensive examination of the creative process.

The reason I wish to share this film with you is because there is one point in the film that illustrates very beautifully why artists contribute so much to the world and the people in it. 

Artists manifest and share what unhinges our own grief and our own pain and what releases the light of our souls.  Even though manifesting these emotions through art is therapy for us, and can be disturbing sometimes, the unhinging of these emotional doors help other people too.  Even if certain emotional doors remain locked in you...at least on one side of the door, maybe some light can come in.

Here is a part of the movie I have transcribed for you.  Louise is speaking with, I think Amei Wallach.  She is sitting at a table in her kitchen and she has a tangerine in her hands.  As she is speaking she is drawing on the outside of the tangerine with a sharpie marker and then cutting along those marks through the peel.  Here's a visual:
And this is what she says:
Tangerine - the word is a stimuli for me.  If I start drawing a figure on the tangerine little by little the past is going to re-emerge and I will be able to verbalize it.  That's it (holding up the tangerine).  Now this is not my work of art - it was my father's work of art.  Around the end of the dinner on Sunday, he would stand up and take his tangerine and announce he was making a little portrait of his daughter.  After drawing it he had a way of cutting it - like so - ...so then you lift up all these shapes that you have drawn and then cut (she demonstrates, peeling back the different peel shapes) the drawing the cutting and the lifting - right.  And then when you reach the navel the core would come out.  This is the moment you would look inside and the core was fantastic - you would marvel at it right?  And you were supposed to marvel at it too; "Look, just look!  How impressive."  Then he would turn and say "I am sorry that my daughter does not exhibit such beauty because my figure is very rich and obviously my daughter doesn't have very much there - the little creature was just a girl."  Maybe the audience never peeped, since they were being fed, they never peeped and maybe - maybe some of them felt sorry for us.  But I didn't realize that, I thought at the time that they were laughing at us, that they were not laughing with us, that they were laughing at us.  And the pain was very great.  (she is trying to keep her composure and must pause from time to time).  After fifty years the thing is so vivid it is as if it had happened yesterday.  (long pause again)  All these children gather up in the night and what can they do except cry and cry in the night?  An it is completely useless...what I want to say is that people want to cry in the night...shy do they do so?  They don't do it to be clever.  They don't do it to disturb the peace.  They do it because...it helps them and, since you become very ugly when you yell, you know? . . . .so they cry all night an no body knows why...(she cannot keep her composure any longer in front of the camera and leaves the table and the screen goes dark.  The next frames of are one of her exhibits and you hear her voice again), ...I overcame this trauma through a dream. . . .his eyes fell out on the table and the cat jumped up on the table and gobbled up his two eyes.  I had achieved my revenge.
It is a constant amazement to me that so many people ever survived childhood.  Louise had three boys of her own and I don't think she was always easy on them either.  At one point in the film she says about parents and children that you come here and you were never promised a rose garden and parents do the best they can.

Hope you are doing the best you can today.  I know I am...and I'll be back tomorrow.  I think it may be Selling Art Tips Saturday :).

'Til tomorrow!

~Alex

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Evolution Revolution

Happy Art History Thursday!  Can you guess who we will be talking about today?

But first, I just want to say.  There are some artists out there who are constantly fretting about finding "their style" of painting or sculpture or ...whatever it is they create and I say...stop it! 

Instead.  Relax!  Through your lifetime create and create and create - do it the way that it is in your heart to do it.  To put constraints upon what you do because you have been convinced by someone(s) - or you just think so yourself - that what your work looks like today is what your collectors expect and want and so on...could very well be limiting your contribution to art and the evolution of your work and to the whole world of art while you are here. 

If you are thinking those thoughts I say: Don't Do It! - look at those thoughts squarely in the eye and then...stage a Revolution!  Imagine if the Beatles just kept writing songs like "It's Been a Hard Day's Night" and never wrote "Across the Universe" or "Let it Be"?

What if the artist who painted this picture continued to paint like this all his life?
Well, and why not?  It's a very nice picture, don't you think? 

Can you believe that 22 years later the same painter painted this same scene and it looked like this?
These paintings were both created by Paul Cézanne - they are of Mont Sainte-Victoire in the south of France. 

I want to share with you an excerpt from a wonderfully written article which was published in The Guardian written by
Cézanne immortalised the Mont Sainte-Victoire 87 times –
and even purpose-built his studio to ensure a good view of it.
Photograph: Kevin Rushby
. . . . For our brief overnight stop in Aix, I'm determined to visit Cézanne's studio (atelier-cezanne.com), purpose-built so the artist could easily view his mountain. His tiny house has miraculously survived much as he left it: his hat is on the peg, his backpack waits by the chair, and on the wooden desk stands his last wine beaker, dry and purple-stained. It is as though the man has simply flown from the window and is out there with the nightingales. All around are objects recognizable from his paintings: the olive jar, the wooden rosary, the empty bottles and the armless cherub figurine, mundane objects that he transformed into thrilling and potent images.
Cézanne's Mont Sainte-Victoire seen from la Route du Tholonet.
Photograph: The Gallery Collection/Corbis
During Cézanne's life, few people, a handful only, came to this place. He had abandoned the art world of Paris and been depicted as a failure by his former friend Emile Zola in the 1886 novel L'Oeuvre.
Our guide to the artist's studio, Gabriel, makes a face: "After that, the two men never spoke again."
Gabriel shows us the extra-tall door in a corner of the room, which allowed Cézanne to take big canvases outside to paint in natural light: "He lived on an allowance from his father then, when the father died, Cézanne inherited everything."
Cézanne's stubborn refusal to give up on painting must have been particularly annoying to his parent, a self-made man and bastion of the local bourgeoisie. No one liked the young Cézanne's works, except the occasional maverick American. At one point some citizens of Aix actually asked their unwanted artist to leave. Sales of his paintings were so rare that the lower room of this one-up-one-down house became choked with canvases.
In the upstairs studio, I find a chest of drawers under the north window that contains souvenirs, photographs and mementoes, among them a letter written to Claude Monet and the clay pipe that features in The Card Players.
Cézanne's studio in Aix. Photograph: Kevin Rushby
Last year, over a century after Cézanne died, it was reported that one of the five versions of this painting sold at auction for over $250m. It's a shame, I reflect, looking down at that cheap clay pipe, that his father didn't live to see the moment when his son's painting became the most expensive the world has ever seen. Mind you, if he had, he would also have witnessed his grandson selling off those treasures for a few francs in the days after Paul died.
Leaving the studio we set off up the hill to find the viewpoint where Cézanne painted many of those Mont Sainte-Victoire pictures. Like the studio, it is still much as he found it: a fabulous panorama of pantiled rooftops and cypress trees stretching out across rolling hills to the spectacular peak topped by an enormous cross. One local who spied on the old white-bearded painter reported that his technique could be highly unorthodox. He once got so angry with his failure to render the sublime colours and forms that he grabbed a nearby rock and smashed it through the canvas. . . . .
Now I'm going to have to check my passport, make sure it hasn't expired and make arrangements to go to the south of France this summer with my dear sweet hardworking husband.  I don't think he'll mind.

Here are some other nice things to read about this area of France and more about Cézanne painting Mont Sainte-Victoire:

http://www.fantasticprovence.com/section/culture-fashion_r5/the-mont-sainte-victoire-by-paul-cezanne_a928/1

http://usa.loccitane.com/fp/Provence-For-Lovers,82,1,a879.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aix-en-Provence

So that is our Art History Thursday today.  Next Thursday it will be October!  Hard to believe.

Hope your day is full of creative goodness and maybe a classic butter croissant (or two) ...something I am suddenly craving...  :)

'Til tomorrow!

~Alex

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Contemporary Art Wednesday AND NEW GALLERY sneak peak

I want to share with you the other artists work at the galleries who represent my work too.  I will be doing this on Wednesday from now until I run out of artists to talk about.  I am proud to say that my sculpture looks at home with different art styles - and the galleries who represent my work reflect that.
 
Here is a painting, done in oil, by Karla Mann who is also represented by the Jackson, Wyoming gallery also representing my work;  Turpin Gallery.  This painting is titled "Life's a Picnic"
Leaving Wyoming and heading into the mountains of Colorado, we will make a stop in Vail and Breckenridge and step inside a new gallery that just received my sculpture last week - Art on a Whim Gallery.  In Art on a Whim you will see one of my favorite paintings (a giclee special limited edition) called "The Swimmer" by Robert Bissell.  The imagination in his paintings is pretty fabulous, I think.
Leaving the Colorado mountains and heading south and further south still to the artsy little town of Tubac, Arizona you will find many galleries.  Head on over to Rogoway Turquoise Tortoise Gallery and you will see my horses there, right as you walk in.  You will also see some amazing work by artist Michaelin Otis.  This collage is called "Alert Harris".
Next, for your travels you decide to head east to Texas and find yourself in the picturesque little town of Fredericksburg.  You are drawn to a stone house that has been beautifully converted into an art gallery called the RS Hanna Gallery and you are lucky enough to find the charming Shannon Hanna herself at the gallery (will you tell her I said "Hello" ?). 
 
Along with a few of my horses you will see some fabulous art such as paintings and sculpture by fellow Colorado artists Lindsey Bittner Graham and Dan Glanz.  I love Lindsey's loose painterly style and the way she communicates emotion in her work and Dan's sculptures of animals are so expressive.
Above is one of Lindsey's paintings called, "Rising Star".
and the sculpture below is one of Dan's sculptures titled "Bacon on the Breeze".
Now, should you decide to continue East and a little bit South toward Houston town, you might stop off at the newest gallery representing my sculptureThe Gallery at Brookwood.  They just received the first sculptures from us yesterday and I don't have photos yet, but I am feeling very good about them being here. 

Brookwood is a non-profit community providing spiritual, educational and vocational opportunities for adults with special needs.  A portion of the sales of my sculpture help support the citizens of this community and they have some awesome artists in their gallery.  The pastels of artist, Rita Kirkman are among my favorites...I just love her cows!
There you go - the tour of the galleries representing my sculpture is officially over.  We may do this again next Wednesday.  Tomorrow is Art History Thursday!

'Til tomorrow!

~Alex

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Artist - Entrepreneaur? Marketer? or Both?

I have said before that artists must also be entrepreneurs and to some degree I think this is not a wholly accurate statement. 

It may be more appropriate to say that an artist must be a creative marketer of their work...or perhaps it would be best to say that artists must also be entrepreneurial marketers to be successful in the marketplace.

Creating a startup as an entrepreneur means - well, a lot of things but for now let's just agree the definition is: to develop a new product or service or to fundamentally improve on an existing product or service in such a way as to disrupt a certain marketplace that has become complacent or an industry that has lacked innovation for too long a time.

For artists, I think the elephant in the room is marketing.  Artists do what they've always done.  They create, depending upon the artist, what they create.  The "marketplace for art" is what it is.  

What each artists needs is a "marketplace for the specific art they create."  Although the artist him or herself may not be the most suitable nominee for this task, anything we do would be more than that elephant in the room could ever do.
Like these elephants, you may need help marketing your art - and that's okay.  The two most important things are to: no matter what, keep creating - and then to market it somehow, in every way you can think of that is appropriate...do it!

Here is a reprint of portions from an very long article courtesy of Alan Bamberger's Artbusiness.com blog.  I have divided it up for the next few posts so we can think about the individual sections together. 

This is the revised and updated text of a talk originally given to artists at the Indianapolis Art Center and to art students at the Herron School of Art at Purdue University and the first piece of sage advise that we have for today from this talk is simply this:
The most important first step towards becoming a full-time artist is to keep making art. Being an artist is never easy and the temptation put your art career on hold and apply yourself instead to other interests can sometimes be overwhelming. You might be thinking about giving art up until the kids are grown, about focusing only on your non-art job for a few years, or about closing down the studio for a while because sales are slow. My advice is simple: Don't do it.
For example, I recall a reasonably well-known artist who decided to quit painting at a relative high point of his early career and proceeded to make hardly any art for a number of years following. When he decided to take up painting again, his new work looked like little more than derivative rehashes of what he was doing when he stopped. He was totally out of practice and had lost his creative edge. To this point, he's managed to reestablish himself as a respectable artist, but he'll never again be the creative, cutting-edge force that he once was.
From a financial standpoint, he can't charge as much per painting as he would have been able to had he kept working. Collectors tend to approach his art with caution and buy conservatively because they're not sure whether he'll stop again. They know that if he does stop, he'll again negatively impact the market for his art. Even though he's now supporting himself as an artist, he has and will continue to have a credibility problem with both dealers and collectors.
So continue creating art no matter how difficult the process becomes. Continue even though you're not selling anything. Continue even if you're dissatisfied with what you're producing. Persevere, work through the tough times and you'll be glad you did.
And don't just keep producing art because it will keep or increase the value of your work but you'll be glad you did simply because it's good for your soul and spirit and general over-all well being.

It's time for me to go into the studio and do just that...create.
Wishing you a day of creativity too!

'Til tomorrow -

~Alex

Monday, September 22, 2014

Are you a Professional?

I don't know what you do or who you are.  Maybe only you know that.

Let me explain.

Maybe you're a rock star and you wear all the clothes and you have the entourage and the fans and the houses and cars and "friends"...and you're feeling fulfilled about all of it.

Good for you.  You're a professional.  But you know you're not all that ...stuff.  In fact you care very little about all that. 

You think of yourself as a musician - but not with ego, not with pride, just with this internal...this is who I am.  You know you can count your friends on one hand, your favorite house is the little house you grew up in in Indiana and no one knows how to find you there, and your favorite shirt is one you've had for years, it's very soft and says Haynes on the label. 

What you need is to make music.  And very little else.  You don't make music for anyone...only for yourself.  Sure, it is interesting and it pleases you that there are other people who like it too, if there are.  But - it isn't a requirement to whether you make the music or not.  It is inside you and you find happiness in expressing it.

But maybe you're a Rock Star and you don't feel fulfilled by it.  The money is nice and all.  You have great stuff and are surrounded by people who would do anything for you (as long as you are "successful")  You don't know how you'd get along without it all. 

But the truth is, if you didn't have to do it, you wouldn't.  You listen to classical music when you get any time to yourself and wish you had finished your biology degree because you're secretly fascinated by the taxonomy, morphology, cytology, phytogeography of tulips.

For the sake of this conversation you are an amateur Rock Star - no matter how successful you may be by our society's definition of success.  And not just that, the world may have benefitted more if you had finished your biology degree rather than played rock music with less than all your heart put into it.
You lose a part of you and the world has lost too...because your tulip?...it isn't here.

So - have you ever asked yourself this question?  If you were the only person left on earth, how would you spend your time?  Would you still write music or play your instrument of choice? 

Would you still do what you are doing right now?

If you would not, what would you do? 

What do you get lost in?  What could you spend hours upon hours doing without noticing the passage of time, like you did when you were a kid and you played pretend games? 

And I'm not talking about spending time distracting yourself.  I'm not talking about escape.  I'm not talking about video games or the latest hot HBO series or spending hours on Fac... uh...social media.

Would you explore?  Would you build?  Would you pilot a plane?  Grow vegetables?  Make bread?  Shop for the most amazing shoes?  Work out?  Run?  Hike?  Groom Poodles?  Solve two mile long algebra equations?  Re-invent the wheel?  Climb steep mountain faces?

I know.  You are NOT the only person left on earth.

But whatever that is for you.  I hope you will consider spending time with it, whether you think you have the time to or not.  There is the real world you have to tend to the details of, of course.  But how much of that could be minimized so you can nurture and develop what you really want and like to do? 

I hope you get to go into your world today and spend some time there.  I know I will.

'Til tomorrow!

~Alex

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Inspiration Sunday


Good morning and how are you doing today...hmmm?  Can you believe it is almost the end of September?  I am just amazed that it is almost winter time. 

It has been a very busy time the last few months for Mark and me and I am looking forward to settling back in to my regular end of summer season routine.  Maybe I'll even have some time to paint again. 

I will have to make an announcement about my contest for comments in the blog in return for a choice of a painting...I need to extend the three month period I had set since painting is only something I can do if I have the luxury of time.
 
Not that I'm complaining.  I have had time to sculpt and although that is my profession, I consider it a luxury all the same. 

In addition to the new gallery in Breckenridge and Vail, my sculpture is going to be in ANOTHER new gallery and I will share with you the details of that gallery this week when I get some photos from them.

This new gallery is another Texas gallery - an addition to the gallery in Fredericksburg, Texas, RS Hanna Gallery. 

Since Texas is such a big state, we decided two galleries in Texas would be okay.  Plus this new gallery has some very special aspects to it that are somewhat different from a more traditional gallery.  But - more on that later!

Hope you have been having a very enjoyable weekend and have made some time to relax and that you enjoy today's quote and they provide some inspiration to you for the week ahead.  Here they are:
Art is creative for the sake of realization, not for amusement:  for transfiguration, not for the sake of play.  It is the quest of our self that drives us along the eternal and never-ending journey we must all make. ~ Max Beckmann 1884-1950
I don't demand that all work be a masterpiece.  I think what I am doing is the right thing for me - that is what I am and this is living.  It reflects me and I reflect it. ~ Louise Nevelson 1900-1988
We all name ourselves.  We call ourselves artists.  Nobody asks us.  Nobody says you are or you aren't. ~ Ad Reinhardt 1913-1967
To be an artist is to believe in life. ~ Henry Moore 1898-1986
I feel anyone who does anything great in art and culture is out of control.  It is done by people who are possessed. . . . Yet the whole exciting thing about art has to do with being out of control.  It has to do with real things. ~ Nancy Grossman 1940-
An odd contradiction, if the layman were correct in his unconscious assumption that the artist begins with reality and ends with art:  the converse is true _ to the degree that this dichotomy has any truth - the artist begins with art, and through it arrives at reality. ~ Robert Motherwell 1915-1991
And there are two sorts of beauty; on is the result of instinct, the other of study.  A combination of the two, with the resulting modifications, brings with it a very complicated richness, which the art critic ought to try to discover. ~ Paul Gauguin 1848-1903
Philosophers and aestheticians may offer elegant and profound definitions of art and beauty, but for the painter they are all summed up in this phrase:  To create a harmony. ~ Gino Severini 1883-1966
If a man devotes himself to art, much evil is avoided that happens otherwise if one is idle. ~ Albrecht Durer 1471-1528
Durer - Young Hare
Come quickly.  You mustn't miss the dawn.  It will never be just like this again.              ~ Georgia O'Keeffe 1887-1986 (to her house guests at her Abiquin House, 1951)
Wishing you a Sunday full of all good things!

'Til tomorrow -

~Alex