Thursday, February 19, 2009

RSS? What's that?

Some of my email list -- mostly the techie types -- had been telling me about RSS Feed. I didn't have the slightest idea what that is. Then I noticed that I had one of those RSS symbols on my web page.

Doing the Research

I looked it up in a book I bought to help me set up a blog, and it looks like this is easy. It will also be a time-saver, since I now travel to several bookmarks to find all the things that are important or interesting. And here's the plug for this extraordinarily helpful book: It's "Rule the Web" by Mark Frauenfelder.

Not only is it written in language that cyberklutz people like me can understand, and gives step by step instructions for anything you want to do on the web, but it has an index. That's for those of us who who know so little about RSS Feed (or whatever else) that we can't even figure out what chapter to look for it.

Still Figuring Things Out

For some reason, I thought when I was young that I would have figured everything out by this age, and could pass on much valuable information and/or wisdom. But this age is not just my own advanced age; it's also the Information Age. There's a new buzz word every day, and I've seen perfectly good technologies superseded by newer technologies simply because they were newer. If you want details, I have a lengthy list of good items that have passed into time, and bad items -- such as aluminum tumblers -- that should never have been brought back into vogue.

The Anxiety Factor

With all the new things to learn, I've had to simplify my life in order to have the hours to deal with them. One thing I've learned is not to follow fads. I joined Facebook and found a lot of my friends -- for me, it's what Instant Messaging used to be. I tried signing on with Twitter and found it unreliable and almost impossible to manage. Sometimes it's necessary to not even try to do every new thing. Some genius is going to come up with something even easier tomorrow.

All About Communication?

One thing I know about all creative people. They need some alone time, or they can't process their thoughts and emotions. Those thoughts and emotions are what makes great art, not the model you found or the colors/styles/techniques you use. In my studio, I live inside my mind, and I'm a very private person. That's why I appreciate the tips on generating better communications, especially with my clients, both existing and potential.

In my studio I find restoration and validation. Time does not exist in this mode. Writing is the same. The final result of both activities? Communication!

-- Nancy

Nancy Park Fine Art

Friday, February 6, 2009

Priceless Art

If I go out to buy something for my pleasure, or as a gift, there is an upward monetary limit. But if I'm shopping with a friend, I tend to spend a little more than I would have ordinarily, just from the feelings of pleasure companionship brings. At an exposition or show in which the shopping is within a limited time, impulse buying comes into play.

Whenever I exhibit my paintings in such a venue, I try to remain available at all times possible for questions about my art, without volunteering too much spontaneously. Off-the-cuff chatter can actually distract some potential buyers from the piece they had shown interest in. There are no hard and fast rules for pricing art, but artists, wrongly or rightly, do establish certain rules in figuring out what price on a piece of art is marketable.

This is where trying to read prospective clients' minds is impossible. You can wonder whether you are under-pricing and causing clients to think your work is not a collector's item, and, at the same time, wonder whether your pricing is too high. It's an almost impossible task if you are showing your work at an exhibition, especially when the exhibit is in a different state or is in a traveling exhibit.

When there is no communication between the artist and the potential buyer, you are not forming the kind of relationship that lets you discuss pricing in an easy manner with someone might become a lifelong client.

So here are the pricing guidelines many of my friends use:

1. Consider the venue and price accordingly. I'm not sure if this works, since it's hard to know, even in a smaller city, whether collectors will look twice at art that is under-priced, or potential collectors will be frightened away by art that is overpriced.

2. Price by the square inch. Don't laugh. This is a common way to price -- say what you will about quality outranking quantity. There are artists who paint up a universe in a 9" x 12", and artists who enlarge a slice of bread and a glass of wine for a 36" x 48", so some common sense in using such a gauge is needed.

3. Price by your experience. How long have you been painting? How many happy buyers of your art do you have on your list? Does it matter if haven't achieved major recognition in your field? These are questions one has to ask oneself, and decide how important each point is in pricing.

4. As above, in #3, price by your growth. If an artist is staying in the same place he/she was a few years ago, some effort is necessary to force-feed the talent. Save up and attend workshops taught by those you admire. Join a group of artists who get together to do art regularly. Swap ideas, methodology and news.

5. I saw this one in The American Collector magazine. Form a chart of your prices to include small to large sizes vertically, and horizontally, list your prices according to the 5-year period in which your skill and marketability is growing. (See illustration above.)

6. If none of these options appeal to you, try the gallery route. A good gallery will help you establish prices. You lose control of selling your own art, but some artists do not consider the selling as pleasurable. As you establish an open and honest history with the gallery, you can go ahead and sell your own art whenever opportunity presents itself, but be sure to charge the gallery's price and pay their commission quickly.

I prefer to sell my own art, but I certainly understand the convenience of having gallery representation. Most of my income from art is in commissioned portraits, and I enjoy dealing directly with my clients very much. I hope one of the pricing methods, or a combination thereof, could be helpful.

-- Nancy

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Excuse Me?

We all know that the more we practice our craft, the more we improve, and that an artist should commit to daily efforts, even if it is not a show-stoppin', earth-shakin', toad-stranglin' major undertaking.

I've come through just such a month. I let the business and busyness of events bring me to a dead stop. I didn't sketch. I didn't paint. Finally, I got into a terror that, if I didn't buckle down and start to work, I would lose what I considered to be a gift from God: my talent.

Although it doesn't take much to divert me, this was TMTW (The Month That Was). I lost two crowns to a chewy bagel and had to get dental work. A young man ran a red light and totaled my car. Because of that event, I was on the phone and meeting people I hadn't intended to meet for the last half of the month.

And today; the last day of a wasted month, I woke up with a healthy cold that made me feel wasted. The cold is vibrant, while the head and chest are in what feels like a final decline.

I decided, "Forget about waiting to feel better; I need to feel better now! Double!!" No waiting for a fresh month. February is too short to paint all I need to paint.

So I sat back down to my waiting portrait commission and started to paint, not as energetically as usual, but with a tired patience that evolved, as I worked, into a quiet joy as the sweet face took shape and I started her little dress. All the time I worked, my cold dissipated itself into quiescence, and I had enough energy left from the creative flow to post on my blog.

I still have the background to design and paint, the legs, and the trim on the dress, but I really do feel better than when I started this morning!

I wondered if other artists let happy or unhappy events get them so tangled up that they think they can't afford the time -- the self-discipline -- to work on their art. Even sick in a hospital bed, if you have a sketchbook, you have the world. When you realize that it really doesn't even take self-discipline, since art is our elation field, where we can dance without legs, and sing at the Met.

Get into it, right now, and see how good it makes you feel! No excuses allowed.

-- Nancy

Friday, January 2, 2009

What a Dream World!

I sometimes wish so very much that you could see my artwork in person. I’m not much of a photographer. My digital images, though I work to balance color, chiaroscuro, and highlights in the photographic representation of a painting, there’s a certain dullness that creeps in when it appears on my website.

I suppose the solution is that I try to paint twice as well if I’m going to show it digitally. It has become a natural process that has been enhanced by the ability to capture huge images in my camera. Then I take them into Photoshop to try to reproduce the exact things I want while reducing it to 96 dpi for the web.

I find myself interacting between the two media: paint and photography, trying to balance everything perfectly so that it is a true representation of my art. That clear and beautiful red that I’ve finally developed doesn’t seem to come through in digital mode as well as the real thing. I need to work with the lighting for photography for different techniques and color masses as well.

How lucky we are with today’s technology; I have no right to complain! A short two years ago, I didn’t have the programs and equipment I have to work – and play – with today. My complaints are mostly about the technology lag in my brain. We live in a tremendously improved world for artists. To enter a show, I don’t have to lug my paintings across town for the professional slide photographers that specialize in art. Digital is king! Some shows want CDs and some want transmitted images, but either way beats getting slides made when everybody in town is going to the only place in town that can make slides. You always ended up sweating the deadline in that scenario.

Eight years ago, when I worked in the art department of The Oklahoman, I needed to visit the photography department to see if I could borrow some film. They grinned their superior grins, said they were almost totally digital now, but would see if there was any film in the refrigerator. Wow. There was one small roll. When I offered to replace it, they laughed. Not necessary, I was told. They no longer had need of film.

In six short years, I finally caught up with the times. I don’t even know where my old Minolta is. But there's still some black and white film in the refrigerator. It’s for the astronomer in the family!

-- Nancy

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holiday Blues

Twelve days to Christmas, and the anxiety engendered by so much to do in the time left is painful. Backache, headache and muscle spasms all vie for attention, and I try to alleviate the physical results of tension by getting a memory-foam bed topper.

The bed now feels like I'm sleeping on clouds. The only problem is that I can't seem to find enough time to spend in bed -- the anxiety of my self-expectations has led to the "white nights." Three hours sleep last night will led to a catch-up of eleven hours tonight. Those eleven hours will make me feel like I'm I'm behind and will never catch up again.

Classically, this is the time of year I can never find enough time to paint, so this year I'm listing, as of today, painting as a daily priority. It's not only therapy for the soul, but the timelessness of existing in a creative mode is therapy for the physical aches and pains caused by tension.

I started this small painting the other day. I don't know if it will turn out to be worth keeping, but it will be good for me and give me more "brush mileage." the implicit humor appeals to me.

-- Nancy

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My New Website

I've just signed up for a new website from Fine Art Studio Online, and I'm really tickled with how easy it is to create a with their built-in tools. I'll still be keeping my original website with Smart Goat, and they are going to include the link to the FASO website, so all is gravy. I'll provide the mashed potatoes, biscuits and dressing, and my new and old friends will provide the gravy!

Do I sound hungry? Like a starving artist? It's time for me to go find something to eat ... Links to both websites below!

-- Nancy

Friday, October 24, 2008

Prices or Not?

I had all my paintings priced on my website. An artist friend pointed out that I had locked myself into prices that I might want to change one day as my work became more well-known. I also thought that if I wanted gallery representation, any commission from galleries would not have been worked into the prices.

So I got rid of the prices.

Then I read a piece in Fine Art Views that posited a different argument on web sales. How could I expect a potential buyer to 1) get in touch with the artist to ask a price, 2) wait for a reply, and 3) then buy the painting? Since a painting is, after all, a luxury, artists need to depend to some degree on impulse purchases.

(I could insert a whole article here on how necessary it is to have esthetics stir, stimulate, soothe and illuminate one's life -- it IS a necessity!)

Of course, price, to collectors who are on a budget, makes a real difference. Why would they want to ask the artist the price, and then back off and/or haggle if the painting was out of their financial reach?

I decided to settle it in a way that Art Collector Magazine uses: Price ranges for small, medium and large paintings. It's not a solid price, which is regrettable, but it gives a potential collector a gracious way to make an offer. I will soon post my current range on my website, along with several other paintings I haven't put up on the site yet. I hope this will encourage people to buy online, rather than have my website turn into an art museum!