Friday, March 20, 2015

Who Are You Painting For?

Golden Hour -©T Grillo Laird -  oil on canvas - 24x48
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I entered this painting in a competition for a national exhibit. It did not get in. I had the chance to submit two paintings for consideration, but only entered the one. I had a second painting ready but didn't enter it because I thought the first was better. Not long after, I posted both paintings on Facebook. The painting I didn't enter, quickly racked up 260 "likes" and sold the next day. The one I entered in the competition, the one I thought was better, received 105 likes.

So, what does this tell me? Are competition entries more likely to be successful when they have greater popular appeal? Was it self defeating to enter only one? Am I a poor judge of my own work?? 

Then I started to think. Who am I really painting for? Whether for galleries, judges, or the writers of articles who can make an artist's reputation, I'd have to tailor the work- even if only subconsciously- to what I think would meet their expectations. What then happens to exploration and the quest to strive for the highest level and the excitement of discovery that comes with freedom from anyone's expectations- including my own?

I recently attended a workshop where one of the participants plied the instructor with questions about various marketing tactics. He listened, then quietly said "If the work is good, people will take notice." In the silence that followed, I could see my way forward.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Painting From Photos

Though 99% of my work is painted outdoors, there are times when painting on site is impossible. Traveling with non painters or with people who are anxious to get from point A to point B in the fastest way possible, usually means I need to take a photo if I want to preserve an image I wanted to paint. It amazes me that such travelers fail to realize what unexpected treasures they miss in their single minded focus!

Here's a 24x36 I started from a photo during this past week. Though I have paintings waiting that were started on the beach and need  to be finished, wind, rain and cold kept me out of the dunes all week. This one still has a long way to go.

And here's the photo reference I started from.

I knew I wanted a yellow sky reflecting into the water, yet I didn't want anything in the background to overpower the boats. I'll see how it all evolves and if I succeed with it.

Photos can be an exciting resource when used as a jumping off point. They're also useful for unfamiliar details. But copying a photo verbatim as a standard practice, cheats the painter of the experience of seeing all the subtle color shifts and experiencing all the intangibles that find their way into a painting done on site. 
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