What price art?

I might as well begin at the beginning.  Let this be the first of my “free advice” posts.  What is a fair price for art?  It’s something I wonder about in regard to my own painting, as far as what I charge others, and it’s definitely something I wonder about when I visit galleries or read about the art market.  The short answer is “whatever the market will bear.”  That is the short-sighted answer, I think, as well. 

Art buyers should be wary:  not buying art is no way to live!  After all, money is something you can’t take with you.  So, buy art.  The key to art buying happiness is to buy what you love and to think about it carefully enough to make reasonably sure that what you love today, you’ll love a few years down the road as well.  In that sense art is an investment, both spiritually and financially.

If you buy what you love, whether it appreciates financially or not, you’ll still have possession of the something you love.  That’s the first rule.  

The second rule is to learn.  The less you know about art, the more likely you are to pay too much.  And hence your first purchase of art — the transaction you make when you are most ignorant — should not be the one with the big price tag.

The first purchases you make, while you’re learning about art, are made most wisely close to home.  Even if you live in a small place, where you feel certain no Rembrandt is likely to be found, if you buy pictures from local artists, the prices are not likely to be very high and your risk is low.   And mother nature dispenses her gifts as she sees fit.  While you might not bump into Rembrandt in the sticks, plenty of creative, intelligent people are likely to be living in modest seclusion.  You can find beautiful, sensitively made works of art in the most humble locale.

The painting in this post was made by an elderly woman my aunt once knew.  It’s hung in my aunt’s stunningly decorated living room for twenty years, and it’s as beautiful as the day she bought it.  The artist may have copied it from one of those “how to paint” books.  It has the character of something repeated.  But you can tell when you see it face to face that it has something added too.  That added something is the sensibility of the artist.  This painting won’t end up in the Louvre, but it was a good investment for my aunt and a smart example of how to get started.

I have written about art before

I’ve written two previous blogs.  One here and one here.  I originally wrote these other blogs anonymously, thinking that it would get me more freedom not to be linked to my comments.  Now I look upon that as writing anony-mousely and have decided to be bold.  I’ve also written one other place, but am not ready to be bold about it just yet.  I withhold the last for the sake of suspense!  My needle in the haystack has some surprises ahead for whenever someone discovers me!

There are some wonderful blogs being written by artists today and someday perhaps a great many of the best of them will be linked together.  I think there’s some technologically-minded people working on finding the gems among them.  Until that time I shall have to depend upon chance!  But I linked to as many good blogs as I found on my other sites.

This blog will begin as my stroll down memory lane as I search for the ideas that led me to make various pictures.  I’m trying to find the meanings hidden in them, after the fact.  I am just learning to sell now after having spent more years (than I’m comfortable admitting to) learning to paint.

This drawing was a study for a painting.  Studies do not always precede the painting as, in art history classes, one is sometimes led to believe.  This study was made from the painting I was working on.  If you’re an aspiring artist yourself, take note!  When I’m stuck on a painting or just want to reacquaint myself with it — from the start, as it were — I draw things like this.  However, on this particular drawing I had help.  My then infant daughter decided to get in some licks of her own.  Those would be the scribbly lines that go this way and that.  How I love them!  They enliven the image richly.  It just goes to show the affects of bravado in art!  (Infants are not timid.)


I’m just learning to use wordpress, so until I master it, my comments will be a little bit random.

I hope you find this welcome page.  I have been thinking a lot about the people who look at art, wondering what art means to the vast audience of people who look at pictures.  As someone who makes pictures, I think about pictures and painting somewhat technically.  I tend to forget sometimes my own deeper engagement with things.  I need to reacquaint myself with the memories of why I began to paint a particular thing — like this jar of flowers.  They were flowers growing in my parents’ backyard.  The jar is just an ordinary bell jar, like you’d use for canning.  The collection of flowers, to a knowledgeable person, probably hints that my parents’ house is in the warm south — North Carolina to be precise.  Gardeners know where things grow and when.  Artists don’t always know (I don’t!). 

So I needn’t tell you this is spring in North Carolina in a jar.  The azaleas were everywhere.  I put them into the plainest of jars, set them upon a white cloth and started to work.  I loved the way that glass darkens colors and sometimes distorts things.  All the edges of leaves crushed together in the water look beautiful to me.  I liked putting them into this small jar.  It’s a way of pointing out how ordinary beauty really is — that beauty is all around us.  The world is beautiful.  You don’t have to travel far to find it.  Often it’s right at your feet.  Even the plain white cloth, the way that it reflects different bits of the spectrum of white light, is beautiful.  It is not “just” white — but has mixed into it, bits of pale pink, pale yellow, pale blue, and endless shades of different pale pearl grays.  So I paint something small and ordinary and contained like this and for me it is a sign of the cosmos.  The cosmos in a jar, a microcosmos.