Sunday, July 7, 2013

Harder Than It Looks


WOW! This blogging is harder than it looks. Maybe it is because I am not used to doing it, but I find it funny that rarely am I at a loss for words until I start to write something for this new blog. I suddenly become a babbling idiot with fingers, white knuckled and frozen in fear over the keyboard, even though an hour ago I had all kinds of great ideas for it. I'll need to work on my way of doing this and maybe write down those great ideas when they come to me. Maybe this is why I am a painter and not an author.

Anyway, I just finished a small Grand Canyon piece and have a few words to say about it on my Painting Techniques page, you can see on this blog. This painting is similar to my last and even the same size. You will see and read what I am talking about. Fortunately one of my best collectors purchased this painting and is waiting for it to get dry enough to put a light coat of varnish on and ship to him. Thank you Peter.


                                                        "Sunset Near Powell Point"
                                                           18"x24" Oil on Canvas

Another thing I will write about and give some short basic information on is limited palettes and some of my practical thoughts for their use. I would not attempt to out do the extremely fine and informative article by James Gurney http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/2008/01/limited-palettes.html James Gurney's Blog has some outstanding information on just about anything one would like to know about art and painting and done in an entertaining and interesting way. It is one of my top recommendations whether you are a beginner still trying to figure out which end of the brush works best, or an experienced gallery and museum quality painter. It's good stuff!

So now, it is past time that I should be at my easel doing my best to figure out what the heck am I doing.

8 comments:

MJC said...

Beautiful work, John! What depth! I'm looking forward to reading your entry on limited palettes tonight.

John Cox said...

Thank you Martin. I hope my comments on limited palettes is interesting and helpful. Please feel free to ask questions anytime you have them.

Robert P. Britton, Jr. said...

Hi John!

Your painting here is just fantastic! Fabulous! Outstanding!

My wife and I had a chance to live in Phoenix for 4 years. I spent ALL my time working and almost NONE of my time painting. it's such a shame.

I've recently tried focusing on developing my skills as a painter after listening to my dad at 18 tell me to get "a real job".

Such a mistake back then. i'd give anything to have those 30 years back.

now i'm 18 hoping to get to where YOU are.

I don't want riches. I don't want fame. I just want the ability to paint, enjoy God's creations, and capture that beauty in oil for people to enjoy.

I keep practicing and seeking. I know no one will do it for me.

But wow is it so difficult to get any traction at all in terms of marketing.

But I keep sweating it out!

I'm so glad I found you. Keep up the posts and I'll follow along!

God bless! YOu really have an amazing skill!

John Cox said...

Welcome Robert and thank you for your kind words. I can easily identify with all you have said, but I hope I can give you some ideas on how to hone your skills in art and painting. My "Painting techniques" section I will be addressing many things as they come to mind. I am preparing a step by step work in progress, that should be ready to post by the first of next week. I have several paintings in the works right now and on of them will be the how to. It is an 18"x18" landscape in oil

Also, I will be happy to address questions about painting in the Techniques section. It is a way to get more content posted and help other at the same time so please feel free to ask anything you wish about painting.
Again, Welcome.
John

Robert P. Britton, Jr. said...

That's fantastic, John.

I don't know where to start with questions. But I can think of one in particular because of your southwest mesa and redrock scenes. they are fantastic btw.

The question has to deal with the orange/red rock. Do you glaze? The reason I ask is because if you hit the value of the lighted/high lighted red rocks, the reds/oranges get so weak when working with titanium white.

So I'm wondering how you handle keeping the colors saturated while at the same time lightening their values?

Or do you shift the values DOWN to lower key so you don't have to lighten the highlights with much white? (Is it titanium or flake or zinc that you use)

The other question is a problem I have about time value. Because I'm not established, I can't afford to spend 30-100 hours on a painting and sell it for $400. But on the other hand, I know that some of my paintings, when done slower, can be better.

I paint alla prima on 99% of my paintings, trying to get done in < 4-8 hours (one day) with a few touch ups. Even then, if I sell a 12" x 16" for $1 or $1.5 per sq inch, factoring in labor, it just doesn't make any financial sense.

So that's my dilemma. I could never see working 100 hours on a painting, say 16" x 20" and selling it for $300. It's just not worth it.

Put another way, I value my time and my efforts a lot and want to get paid a reasonable rate. But I can't figure out why one artist commands so much and another of equal skill can't get traction.

So that's two questions, one on technique (keeping reds from getting beat up by titanium white when going low values, and a marketing/business question).

Sorry for the long comment. I should probably have emailed these to you. And I can't wait to see your technique pages.

Anything you're willing to share that would help me that'd be great. I really want this badly and am willing to work to make up for those 30 lost years if it's not already too late!

:)

Robert P. Britton, Jr. said...

PS. I'm not saying I'm of equal skill to you! Not the least!

If you look at Kathleen Dunphy for example. She captures side-lighting en plein air very well. But her paintings aren't designed well, say compared to Stapleton Kearns or John Pototschnik.

Yet she's commanding some pretty good prices for her art ($8 per inch or better).

Others, Joe Paquet for example, is commending even more.

When I compare Kathleen to Stapleton, Stapleton is the far better artist and painter. Or even Stapleton and Paquet.

The art world seems like the stock market. It's so fickle, and I just can't seem to identify those elements that allow someone to come out of the ebay world into the world of selling for respectable prices.

Also, I realized you offered help on technique, so you can skip these business/marketing questions.

I live in two worlds: I try to learn to make better paintings with the intention to sell (the sales/marketing world).

I have a BS in business management and get business operations and such.

But I just can't seem to figure out how to get from selling $1 (or less) per sq. in, to something reasonable like $4 or $6.

I need more coffee this morning! :) I'm just brain dumping some thoughts on you this morning!

Java, wake me up!

:)

John Cox said...

Robert,
You've given me a lot and a bit more than I can respond to in the comments. So I will answer in the Painting Techniques area of this blog. But, I will give you some short versions of several of your questions and beginning with the last comment first,

The business end of being a working artist as a means of making a living is tough for all, but it is also what all must learn to be successful and I consider it as a painting technique, so I will also write about this and some suggestions for pricing paintings. You should not be charging only $1 per square inch. Your painting is a product and all of us need to price them as such. Ask yourself what does the support (canvas or panel) cost, paint and materials cost. How much is the frame? These are all necessary "overhead." I would suggest multiplying this total overhead cost by 3 if you are not in a gallery or paying commission fees or entry fees to another party. If you are paying others so you can sell, multiply by 4. That gives you a total retail price for a painting of each size. See what that works out to be per square inch. That is what you should be getting at minimum per square inch. What you learned to get a business degree will serve you well. The real estate business is a good business to model what the art business works like. Think of a house as the painting. You work through a broker (gallery or show), when a house sells (painting) is when you get paid. The broker (gallery) gets a cut and you and the listing agent, if not you, get the rest of the commission.

Don't worry about what other artist get for their paintings unless part of that price goes o your bank account. Collectors have as many different preferences in paintings as there are artists and how they paint. All artists need to concern themselves with what they are doing. Singling out one or a few artists to understand the art market is like looking at one or a few stocks to judge the entire stock market. It does not work that way.

As for colors and values. No, I don't glaze. More correctly I should say I very rarely glaze. There are times when a glaze is what is called for to adjust a value or make a very subtle color or temperature change. I mix the colors you see. Remember one color reacts to the colors surrounding it. What a color on the palette looks like is not what it will look like in the painting. I use a white that is a mixture of Titanium White and Zinc White. I use Utrecht White, but other manufacturers make it also. Read my blog on limited palettes. You can ask questions there pertaining to each subject I post. I will answer these in that same section of this blog.

Please understand I just touched on the answers to some of your questions, but I will post some more detailed information on both actual painting and the marketing questions and in those will be something many new artists haven't thought of yet. The art business appears simple, but sometimes there is nothing so complex as simplicity. I will not claim to know it all, I'm still breathing, so I am still learning myself. One of the wonderful things about art is you never stop learning. Your questions are good ones and you are not the only one who has asked them. All artists have asked these thngs when they were starting out. I will get some of this answered in the Painting techniques area this weekend. I plan on doing some writing for the blog and these are good subjects to address. Thanks.
John

Robert P. Britton, Jr. said...

Looking forward to more from you, John! Thank you so much for your response above!

I'll keep tuning in to learn from you and the wisdom and expertise you have!

God bless!