Archive for November, 2011

Thoughts on selling art work

November 26, 2011

Xanadu Gallery

I weighed in at the Xanadu Gallery blog today.

I found many good suggestions for an artist to talk about sales with people who come on studio tours, or friends who come to see my work.

It’s worth a read, for any artists out there struggling as we all do for sales in a  downturn market, or any market for that matter..

Personally, I don’t want ever to spoil a friendship nor a potential one by being too commercial or pushy even if I could dearly use a sale.

Here was my contribution to their blog:
I think of Art Studio Tours and visits to my gallery as advertising rather than sales opportunities. Though it’s obvious that the paintings are for sale, I don’t talk about that until someone asks. The prices are mounted beside the paintings. I’ve learned to set out less to see than more.
I do offer to allow the more interested visitors to browse my art storage after I’ve told them how to handle the pieces, and then I check on them from time to time. Sometimes it takes them a few visits before they come back for a sale; but the seed was sown at the first meeting – relaxed and friendly like a open house party. Mostly they are quite amazed at my accumulation of work and they bring people back with them to see it.

I invite friends and new visitors to come back at any time “I’d be happy to make you a cup of tea or coffee and let you browse to your content. Just call before you want to come.”
I get sales from people who came a year before and remember something that stuck in their mind that they had to have.
For anyone who has made a big purchase, I have a stock of small framed sketches 8×10 inches or smaller, and I will give them the choice of one as a bonus.
That being said, I too would like to be much better at turning a conversation of interest into a sale.
I’m always amazed at people who talk up their work by discussing the number of layers of paint they have used or the number of hours or months it took to execute the painting. For me, that’s not the point of the painting. However, people are interested in the process, so it doesn’t hurt to describe how one works. The more patrons know about the work, the more engaged they become.

Therein ended my blog response.

Let me add that,sales are important to an artist. Besides the money part of it, it tells the artist that he or she has succeeded in reaching the heart of the viewer. A sale encourages me to create more, as if the visual conversation I was seeking to engage has begun.

But I never want a friend/potential purchaser/client to feel uncomfortable about a sale; or to make a purchase they feel pressured into. It can only cause harm. I want them to be 100 percent happy with any purchase they make, because they re going to be my advertisers.They need to be proud of what they have bought.

I’m happy to take the work to where they live to put it up where they want to hang it, to see if it works. I’m willing to exchange a painting if they not happy with the original choice, even years later, because they have moved, or they have changed their tastes or whatever. Within limits of course. I’m not offering to fly to New York from Vancouver on spec, just to let someone see how it might hang in their location, for example.

And so it goes.

I’m happiest when I have my work up in shows. I’m working not so much on individuals sales, but on creating an updated resume that demonstrates the merit that has been accorded my work by other art professionals.

There’s show coming up at the Fort Gallery, Small Wonders, in December. All the gallery artists are bring out smaller works to show. It should be very interestnig. The work will be up by the 7th of December and runs to the end of the month. If you get a chance, come along and see what’s there. You never know. You may find a treasure.

The Fort Gallery is at 9048 Glover Road in Fort Langley, B.C., open from noon to 5, Tuesday to Sunday.



November 21, 2011

I sometimes rescue paintings from secondhand shops or thrifts – originals that people have junked, not knowing what they have. Many are anonymous. I can’t figure out the signature (which is a good reason in favour of clearly printing one’s name when signing an original work of art).  It’s amazing what you can find. It’s also amazing what you cannot find – like any information on the author of the work. If anyone can help me out on that front, please do so.

Sometimes they come with framing and sometimes not.

I found a subtle watercolour portrait marked Don Quixote, very sensitively done, about six months ago is a beat-up black frame with a hand cut mat around it. The image is done in loose watercolour washes with blues for the shadows and warm tones of peach, rose madder and yellows in the warm tones. The eyes are beautifully drawn and the mouth and nose sensitively described.

Signature not clear: Kjariscal or K. Jariscal? Don Quixote, 2000. watercolor

“Never fear!” I thought, “I’ll just re-mat and re-frame it.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take it out of it’s frame. Oy vey!

It’s backing was a dusty, dirty pulp board – the cheapest kind of cardboard with no refinement whatsoever and prone to picking up moisture. It was full of acid. The mat wasn’t acid free either. Where it had touched the painting, the watercolour paper was going brown. Yuck.

It was taped in with brown paper tape – kraft tape, it’s sometimes called. The backing was nailed in with rusty nails. I don’t suppose they were rusty when they were first tapped in there.

This is just a reminder – a cautionary tale. It just costs a small amount more to buy acid free matting and backing; or to use barrier paper (an acid free paper that separates the work of art from a cardboard backing).

An acid free framing will last a lifetime or more without losing its crisp whiteness; the non-acid free will be brown in two years and spoil the appearance of your gem, not only dulling the framing, but eventually attacking the work of art itself.

My new acquisition is now looking crisp and proud in its new frame.

My favorite custom framing place is Final Touch Frames in Vancouver on the corner of  4th and Quebec in a blue warehouse space. They are reasonably priced; and if you have works on paper that need mats in the smaller sizes, there are a lot of pre-cut mats that might suit your work.

Up and Coming, Kathleen McGiveron

November 6, 2011

Big Charmers, Kathleen McGiveron, Ceramic Sculpture, approx 12 inches high

At the Fort Gallery in Fort Langley, B.C., we have several new young artists who have joined our collective. In the current exhibition running to November 13th,  Kathleen McGiveron is showing a  witty collection of  ceramic figurines.  Each one is a poke at pop culture – pop singers, pop food, mass culture and the mainstream figurine. The detail above is from the sculpture named Big Charmers and is patterned with a Nestle’s symbol.

In her artist statement, she refers to Red Rose Tea “Wade” figurines as an idea source. I’m not familiar with  those, but I am with the Lladro and Nao figurines which also display a similar shiny glaze over muted colours and a simplified form. Kathleen’s figures are small animals – a squirrel, a rat, a bird. So far, all of the figures are hand made, one-off sculptures, except the bird series which is reproduced by a casting method with a hand-built and unique base. All of them are much larger than the tea-box “prizes” that inspire them.  Each sculpture is painted differently and each includes some iconic logo as part of the imagery.  She contrasts traditional  – what you see from a distance – with pop culture decals such as- Macdonald’s Golden Arches symbol repeated as an understated decoration; or the Mac Apple.

Shutter Shades, Kathleen McGiveron, Ceramic sculpture, approx 12 inches high

She has these decals prepared especially for her and then applies them one by one – the surfaces are curved, three-dimensional,  so it’s impossible simply to lay them down on the clay’s first layer of glazing.

She says, “It is essential that humour and irony exists within my work and that the piece is whimsical. I am interested in exploring a dialogue between the mass produced, mainstream figurine and the mass, mainstream icon. I am fascinated with the human obsession with celebrities and mass media and how certain moments and images can define a person or company. My intent is to explore this absurd obsession and lifestyle, and to bring light to current mainstream figures through my sculptures

Take a look at her web site at

Golden Arches, Kathleen McGiveron, Ceramic Sculpture, approx 12 inch high

On this chipmunkl sculpture, the animal holds a nut in its paws, and the nut is covered with Macdonalds Golden Arches logos.

Jaegerbombs Kathleen McGiveron, Ceramic Sculpture, Approx 12 inches high.

There is a bit of a problem with the exhibition as a whole. There is a group show of paintings going on at the same time and the painting component is quite distracting from Kathleen’s calm and unified work.

The group show of paintings is a memorial to Stu Richardson, a former  college instructor and mentor to a group of artists who gathered at Bernie’s Barn to paint together.  When Richardson passed away, his wife puzzled over what to do with his unfinished paintings. In collaboration with the artists in the Bernie’s Barn group, she gave the unfinished works to “finish” , each according to their creative inspiration. Each artist took a few of the paintings. Using Stu Richardson’s resource materials (photos and travel sketches) they then applied their own technique to complete the work.

There is a range of styles in the resulting work and the unity in this work only comes from the fact that the compositions were all started by Richardon. All are representational, many of boats, several are landscapes and a few are genre paintings of people in situ.

Four of Richardson’s finished works are on display, showing his mastery of the medium both technically and compositionally . “Frost Trees“, below is my favorite from the show because it glows with light.

Frost Trees, Stu Richardson, approx 24 x 30 inches, acrylic on canvas

and I quite enjoyed this one also for it’s detail, the thoughtful content and the beautiful handling of foreground and distance in complete harmony:

Stu Richardson, acrylic on canvas, approx 24 x 30 inches, acrylic on canvas

The Fort Gallery is at 9048 Glover Road, Fort Langley, B.C. open Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.