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A Plein air painter examining the value of art

May 4th, 2020

A Plein air painter examining  the value of art

Over the years I have watched buyers gage their perception of what something is valued. Most people can't relate to the value of a painting and I must admit, at times I have become a little miffed when an object sells for a price that seems way over value. So how do paintings acquire their "value"?

Good question? One time an interviewer asked my opinion about athletes earning some much money for playing a game. My reply was..."good for them, I wish somebody would pay me a lot of money for what I am doing!" So, I guess value is whatever someone is willing to pay for an object or service.

The artist, as the principle owner of their creation can place a perceived value on the work and then seek to find some one willing to acquire it. Here is a short, but true story...

Years ago a painter did a painting that they weren't sure about but put it out for the public to submit their opinions. After a couple weeks, it wasn't getting any love. So his hunch seemed right and he was ready to unload it. Unframed, it sat there waiting for some one to offer anything reasonable. Then they walked up...a couple from Canada asking about it's value. The artist was done with it so he said they could have it for $300.00. The couple balked! They countered $250.00. After a slight chuckle artist said his wife would kill him and declined their offer. They left and he went home shaking his head. Later his wife, with all her wisdom suggested they try a reproduction of it to see if that would sell. So they did. Immediately it became one of his best selling images! He discovered a new attitude toward that beautiful painting. After buying it a nice, simple new frame he placed it back out for sale. A few days later a couple from South Carolina walked by and inquired. With a fresh attitude he gave them his standard pricing. Afterwhich the couple assessed their inner value meter, then agreed and paid extra for shipping! That original painting sold for $1600.00 and the prints have earned even more. What do we know!

There is alot that goes into value, beginning with attitude. We artists are each unique and create images and objects so rare. We have been blessed with a gift and don't let any one tell you different!

I would love to hear your stories about how you value your work.

Painting in Public...it's pros and cons, Part 3 ...questions

April 29th, 2020

Painting in Public...it

While painting in public occasionally a passerby wil ask questions... "Do you have a studio?" and my answer is usually the same. Yes, but my wife calls it my storage closet. Usually they chuckle and ask another question about another topic. "How do you concentrate out here with all these distractions?" ...another favorite. The answer to that iqnuiry takes a little more diplomacy. Every person that stops to chat can be and sometimes is a customer, so I answer with a smile and say how much I enjoy meeting everyone. This is true, most of the time...I do have to be careful to not encourage too much conversation. Though I try to be welcoming all the time, it's in my DNA.

Questions are varied and yet, often the same... Do you know where there is a restroom? A restaurant? A ferry boat pick up station? The time? The freeway? A drugstore? The list goes on!

Another favorite is, "What are you painting?"... This is when I want to have a little fun and sometimes will say "I am painting a painting!" The younger people will look puzzled by that answer so I laugh a little, apologize and point to the scene and show them the painting. After which they fell much better.

My absolute favorite question to answer is "How much for the painting?" ...especially when I give them the answer and they next ask "When will you be finished so I can take it home?" Those two questions always make my day!

What is the old saying... One must go through the less than perfect ones to find that red, ripe, delicious, crispy apple!

What questions do you answer during your day?



Painting in Public...it's pros and cons, Part 2, weather

April 24th, 2020

Painting in Public...it

Weather! That ugly word that most midwesterners know too well. It can ruin a good day of painting or worse an almost finished piece! It can chase the most hardy of us back into the comfort of our studios! Rain and wind are the most notorious culprits. I have had more than one French easel blow down a cliff or a canvas go flying as if it was attached to a kite string. The stories I could tell would fill books...but! Persevere, don't give up yet! The reward is worth the effort .

Last January I was visiting my home state of Ohio and went out midday in 19F degree weather and did a small plein air of a creek scene where I played as a child 45 years ago. Though I was wearing two pairs of socks and pants, multiple shirts and jackets with a thick pair of gloves, my time spent was great and the result was a small memory captured in oil.

Yes, the studio is great...everything is at your fingertips including the thermostat. But there is a quality in plein air paintings that doesn't exist in studio work. I look at a photograph of Paul Cezanne walking with all his painting equipment on his back and I cheer him!

My vision of heaven is to be painting along a magnificent cliff that's holding back the big blue ocean. Then as I survey the coastline I will see all the great plein air painters of all time there doing what they love most, painting!

Painting in Public...it's pros and cons, Part 1

April 21st, 2020

Painting in Public...it

Painting in the public is basically how I have made my living as a professional painter for the last 23 years and there are pros and cons to this approach.

The biggest pro and con together is being in the public.

First impressions... when you are having a bad day the world can see it! There is no hiding! When those times occur with me I have learned to just grin and bear it...a little humility can go along way. I do love going out in the desert alone from the crowd and just paint. I prefer to be in the zone without interruptions, but...

When all is going well and the people start gathering around to watch, one enjoys that attention. Though I have discovered that people are generally kind. No matter how bad I think a painting is going some one will walk by and say "good job"!

I have learned to treat praise and criticism the same... they are both frauds!

I was going to make write about this subject in one session but as I began the realization came to me that this is an in-depth topic so tomorrow will be a continuation on painting in public.

Please take time and comment about what is your pros and cons when Plein air painting, thanks.

Plein air painting competitions

April 20th, 2020

Plein air painting competitions

Painters have egos and are very emotionally sensitive...creating an interesting dichotomy. Maybe that just describes me, which is why I try to take a neutral approach when participating in a Plein air painting competition/festival. Yes, of course, winning an award and selling some paintings is a goal but there are other motivations on which I like to focus.

1.) The place or location of where the painting takes place. I have done certain events multiple times but my interest wanes quickly. Give me a new, undiscovered arena and my excitement grows! I have traveled as far as Ireland to "compete" and brought home memories to last a lifetime.
2.) Discovering a new palette used by artists from a particular region. Ireland's natural light is very unique, Hawaii offers a prism of color equal to that of a rainbow. The red rock of Utah glows and the greens in the Midwest overwhelm at times. This variety keeps me alert and focused.
3.) Meeting new people. Though many Plein air painters tend to either isolate or hang out with those they are most familiar, a few new friends can be made in almost any group.

I have learned over the years that awards are great but there are more important aspects of a competition. Ultimately, it is about developing as a plein air painter, pushing ourselves in new ways, exploring what we haven't yet discovered, and meeting people whom may become a life long friend. Be happy for those who "win" but more importantly, enjoy the journey which being a plein air painter offers! Stay focused!

What are your thoughts on this subject?

Painting by Paul

April 19th, 2020

Painting by Paul

Plein air painting has been my profession since 1997. My education back ground is abstract expressionism as taught at Youngstown State University in Ohio. My real studies in Plein air began when I broke my ankle in 1990 and was confined to a cast. I would sit in the back of my Ford Ranger pickup and paint little paintings depicting views from around the San Diego coast in California. I soon realized painting in Plein air was my passion. I left a good job working at the University of California, San Diego in January of 1997 to pursue this passion and here I am (by the Grace of God) in 2020 still pursuing this same passion!

What is your story?

Plein air painting

April 19th, 2020

Plein air painting

Plein air painting is a very small niche of the art world. For many years Plein air paintings/drawings were considered studies for larger studio works. J.M.W. Turner was always in the outdoor studying the effects of light and other natural forces through his small quick almost abstract drawings and paintings. Today these pieces are viewed as works of art and I would argue some of his best work. He did his work almost 100 years before the French Impressionists! The list of artists that worked outside is long and very honorable. My choice to paint in Plein air is not to be on that list but because I love the outdoors.

Since the time my mom would tell us kids to go play in the yard, through the years of wondering around in fields and woods, playing in creeks, swimming and fishing in quarries, playing baseball, football and basketball in the local schoolyards, swinging a golf club on courses to setting up my easel and painting what I see in front of me...the outdoors have been where I spend most of my days.

Plein air painting has a small but very loyal following in which I am a committed member.

To what genre of the art world are you committed and why?

Plein air painting when traveling

April 19th, 2020

Plein air painting when traveling

Plein air painting when traveling is my favorite professional experience. Going to and from almost anywhere today is pretty siimple. One suitcase for art equipment, a few wet panel carriers to house the wet paintings and one small luggage with essentials and there you have it. One time our plane lifted off the ground, in Madrid, about 5 a.m. stopping in the Belgium airport to have some waffles before departing for San Diego, California where we landed right after sunset that same day. Amazing! Mind boggling! Simple...

Then the best is finding a scene to paint in a place I had never visited prior and for the following three hours just paint like a mad man! The entire experience is incredible, every moment... it doesn't get any better and to do this everyday in new, yet to be discovered cities and towns is a dream.

Discovering Spain was equal to Italy or France with it's antiquity and romantic charm. The city of Seville, if you ask me, is the heart of this great country. Horse drawn carriages, ripening oranges ready for picking from the collanade of trees enchanting the passersby, a magnificent centuries old gothic Cathedral inspiring such awe that one must visit it's hallowed grounds. Which also happens to house the remains of Christopher Columbus...yes, that Italian explorer!

A new place, a fresh painting never before painted and never duplicated... that is what I mean...a plein air painting experience that can't be topped!

Do you have a favorite way to paint or create? Write back and tell me about it!