Open Studios+ selling, art attachment and preservation
For a lot of artists Open Studios gets this pressure-to-sell sort of feeling. A lot of people smell like desperation and frustration. At best artists in that mindset are “selling well” and focused on the sales. I’m glad for them if it pays the bills, but I prefer the conversations without the sales pressure if I can get it. I definitely was more in that mindset that on my first couple of Open Studios, but now I just try to have good conversations, get people’s thoughts, explain things and actually work. I count sales as a pleasant by-product if they happen, and I enjoy Open Studios much more this way. Perhaps it’s a luxury, but I think that what happens is that the people who truly love the work are the ones that get it when you aren’t pushing sales. Anyone who needs to be talked into it isn’t someone I want owning my work anyway.
Working at Open Studios is a tricky prospect and not for every artist or just any piece. Crowds, distraction, conversation, observers… not an environment to paint in normally. But for the last couple Open Studios I’ve had the perfect painting to work on. It actually requires the input of new people for me to work on it, and it’s methodical and piecework enough that I can stop and go much more easily. If I’m not feeling the actual painting part I can simply gather colors from passers-by. People have been so so generous and glad to help contribute to the process that it’s a joy to do.
I made describing that painting and the process into a separate post.
This Open Studios I went in ready to let go one of the two last Sculpted Canvases. It was is in the studio getting neglected and was in danger of damage. The sculpted canvases require more care than most paintings. They must be stored flat or on the wall- you can’t just lean them vertically, so they can be a bit of a pain to keep in a small space.
This one (Wind and Water) was the hardest to store and I had started resenting it for it. I love the painting, but it frustrated me. I decided it needed a home before it got hurt, and before I moved studio spaces. Fortunately a friend who had loved the piece since I first made it but had been unable to buy it until recently confessed her love for the piece the first night and decided to buy it. It’s a wonderful thing to know your work is loved and that the person who takes it home will treasure it. You can’t ask for better, except to have the loan of it for a show when you need it, which I would.
The painting doesn’t show it’s subtly in photos well. The white is not a true white, but a collection of nearly white blues, golds, pinks, and yellows throughout that give it a shimmer that makes it look like it is lit with colored lights. The blues have much more depth in person too. I was thinking of the experience wind and water, snow and ice when it is fresh and clean, bracing and comforting.
It feels good to let it go now. I’m ready to move to new work and a new working space, a new chapter with my artwork. I intend to return to this series, but I no longer need to hold on to the existing ones (barring the first which was my engagement present to my husband).
It sometimes startles me to see people’s attachment to artwork- mine and other work they collect. I of course get attached to images and art, but I am preoccupied with how they are made, and if they are mine they are always my children. I can’t see them the same way and I only have two pieces of my own I enjoy living with in my home. Seeing other people with work they have collected or want to collect because they love it (not just because it’s an investment opportunity) is a wonderful thing to witness. It’s flattering in a way I can’t describe when my work is the object of that genuine love. Having a piece seen daily and lived with, either in a museum or a home keeps the piece alive.
A curator visiting the SMFA when I was a student there saw me rest a work-in-progress on the top of my shoe while scooping up my bag. She as a curator was trained to handle artwork with gloves and nearly gagged because as she said ‘I’m in love with that piece! HI was trained to handle these things so carefully! With gloves!’. My professor very gracefully and diplomatically consoled her by saying something like this:
‘It’s okay. I know you would never handle a piece like that. Artists have to be able to handle their work that way or they could never make it. Your job is to take it out of the artist’s hands and preserve it as soon as it is done so they can’t hurt it.” SO TRUE! The studio gets crowded and it’s too easy to harm an existing piece as you concentrate on the next one. So collectors and art lovers- that is your job. Take it out of our hands and cherish it. Appreciate it, look at it and keep it safe and alive every day.