Hannah, a 20 year old tuxedo cat, was my walking companion during a visit to Harpswell Maine a few summers ago. She and I strolled the shore early in the morning. I was amazed at both her agility to manage the rocks and her acuity for such a wizened cat. Returning from our exploration of the nearby cove, we passed beneath the bows of an ancient apple tree reputed to have a strong spirit residing within. It was a bit creepy and I felt compelled to give it a nod of respect as I snuck under the gnarled limbs. Hannah has passed on since that summer. I wonder if she has joined the spirit of this enduring apple tree. I wish my little friend well. I drew this 22x 30" image with 4-6B graphite pencils on a sheet of beautiful BFK Rives 140# cotton paper. The furry surface adds to the diffused feeling of this drawing. This was a study with the intent to eventually to make a colored pencil painting. But I love this graphite so much, just the way it is. And it has been filed away for almost a year now, so I get to experience it objectively. I doubt a color rendition would improve the message. Mean time, it remains in cue for one day. Enjoy!
If you have ever wondered why the real life artists aren't as happy-go-lucky as they are reputed to be, consider the expenses incurred in self promotion. For instance, did you know that an artist pays a submission fee of $30.00 to $50.00 for every image submitted to a juried show? Did you know that if the piece or pieces are accepted, the artist pays for presentation requirements, shipping and insurance, to and from said exhibition? For example, some shows require plexiglass, which is nearly twice as expensive as conservation glass. (Don't even ask about UV blocking Plexi.) I recently sent two pieces to California. My shipping plus return shipping total was nearly $400.00. Expenses like these are a calculated risk against a possible sale or the possible lead. How many small businesses take that kind of risk? As I've said numerous times, being an artist is not for the faint of heart.
This triptych study of my daughter's cat Linus has had more Facebook shares and likes and pins than I ever imagined. I did several cp paintings from the series of reference photos taken of Linus two from the graphite study. The graphite triptych sold to an extreme cat lover who set aside money from her limited retirement income for five months. She was delighted to finally unwrap the framed piece after months of waiting. As luck would have it, I was at the gallery to witness the reveal. It was a great moment for both of us. Just a simple pencil drawing, but well loved. These moments are what keep me on track. No matter the medium, if a portrait reaches into someone's heart, it is a success.
The hardest thing about being a professional artist is sales. If it isn't a custom order, what sells? Does every successful artist consider this when deciding on a subject to paint? After spending the first few years establishing my reputation, should I stick to what works? Should I, in essence, brand myself ? The collector needs to be comforted by a certain predictability, right? He/she needs to "know" me a little before forking over $1000.00. But as an artist how do I continue to be stimulated? I can't do the same thing over and over without becoming stale. How do I explore and challenge myself if I don't step off the path? I guess it has more to do with business plan and intent. Am I an artist who equates success with income or peer accolades or self fulfillment? The answer is a little of all three. Of course I would love to get paid for doing something well. Who wouldn't? But, that is not my first goal. Right now, I wish to create meaningful, well executed images that resonate with one or two (OK, let's be honest here, many) viewers. My style is emerging on its own and continues to evolve. Who knows what it will look like in 10 years. I don't feel I have time to fool around with what sells at this point in my life. There's too much to learn. I hope that along the way, someone likes my art enough to buy it. So much for a business plan. I really don't have one. I just do the art, show it and enter as many competitions as I can afford. When I actually sell something it's fantastic! Go ahead, say what's on your mind."Don't quit your day job," right?
This is "Stripes Hooligan" completed. He is a little under 16x20". I used Prismacolor pencils, Prisma Artstix, Luminance Caran D'arch pencils and solvents on linen. The reference photos are mine; the cat a rescue from the Family Animal Hospital in Batavia who now resides with me. I painted this as my entry to a competition. We'll see what happens. I already have two interested buyers.