use. The whole discussion of fees for art is charged I know. But
let me reassure you that I know as many people who never exhibit,
or sell their work, as I do people who charge a wide variety of
prices for their artwork. Still every time I have to price a painting
I am at a loss. I try to go by a cost per size basis, but some things
that are small --12 x 12 inches say, take as much time as some larger works.
In the paper this week there was a story about a guy who's
decided to charge by the hour. I can see the look of shocked
outrage on the faces of some of my artists friends at that one.
I know lots of artists who think you sell your soul when you
paint for money, but I disagree. When Vermeer painted all
his master works, that many artists are trying desperately to
replicate today, being an artist was considered a trade, not some
other worldly craft that didn't require financial recognition.
The Girl with the Red Hat
oil on panel
22.8 x 18 cm.
The National Gallery of Art, Washington
An interview with Maurice Sevigny that Edgar on Arty Fice published
on his blog this week, made me think about all the people who raise their
eyebrows when an artist charges a decent price for a painting.
People will readily pay thousands of dollars for a sink they'll replace
in five years, so why should the art that will grace their homes
and perhaps generations of homes for years be free? I've heard
artists in this town say that artists who paint to make a living
are somehow baser than artists who toil without thought of
earning something for their beautiful ideas.
Yet some of the best artists I know earn excellent money producing
their work. I have friends who are just too shy to either exhibit,
or sell their work, but some of the people I know
who don't worry about making money from their paintings --
don't have to because they have a great job, or they've got
family money, or a spouse who foots the bill.
The blog world is filled with people who paint at least five days
a week, and sell five days a week. I raise a glass to those artists.
The good thing about the need to produce is obvious -- you
produce. But I also realize that some larger, or more complicated
work can't just pop out like a piece of bread out of the toaster
on demand. But in answer to Edgar's question, I don't think
there's anything wrong with demand. As a portrait painter,
I get my work from people who see what I do and want it.
I don't take direction from my clients, but I do try to please
them. I try to learn as much as possible about them, and create
a painting that will reflect their character and inner spirit as
well as their appearance -- but I do it in my own artistic language.
I can't do otherwise. How do we keep our integrity as artists and
sell our work? How do we keep our integrity and do any of the
jobs we do? -- we have a passion for our subject matter, we develop
our ever changing personal mark, and we continue to learn.
My huge thanks go out to Edgar for making me think. His interviews
with Sevigny have been great -- incisive, wide ranging in ideas
and really, really good.
While we're on the topic of money a painting of Vermeer's sold
for 40 million dollars Canadian in 2004. Too bad he didn't see
that money in his lifetime. He died poor at 43 and left the world
the richness of his vision.
Have a loving-what-you're-worth day.