Thursday, February 12, 2009

Will It Sell, and Should I Care?

Up until now I've been subject to an affliction that plagues many an artist; the notion that each work of art we begin must be marketable in some way. This notion has its down side because it can severely limit what we choose to paint or draw and how we go about the whole creation process. It can also paralyze us with fear that we're going to ruin whatever piece of artwork we're currently working on.

Many of us aspiring artists fall into this trap in the early stages of our careers; at the point when we decide that we've become good enough to actually be able to sell our art. Then the pressure is on to make every piece good enough to sell. That pressure becomes stifling of our spontaneity and creativity. Sometimes we paint what we think will sell and not what we're passionate about or what truly inspires us. Our growth as artists can come to a standstill.

That's the point I've found myself at, and now I'm struggling to free myself of those market-driven decisions. It's hard to eliminate them altogether, so I've come to a compromise of sorts. For instance, I know that Friesians are a very popular breed right now and that I only have one image to offer for sale. With that in mind, I decided to do a Friesian for my next art project. Going through Friesian images in my reference photos, a couple of photos caught my eye, and I chose one to work from and began a sketch. You can see it above.

But, another photo also spoke to me, and I kept coming back to it. It may not be something that will appeal to the average horse lover, but it has lots of Art Appeal for an artist. I took that photo out of the box as well and have even toned a canvas for it. I'm even excited at the prospect of beginning the painting and trying a new technique! Just to be sure that I don't put too much pressure on myself, I chose a cheap canvas board. This one will also be a study, and if it turns out well, I would like to do a larger version.

Do I have you in suspense yet to see what I'm so enthused about? Well, you'll just have to wait.

In the meantime, I'll develop this drawing to the point where it can go onto canvas. Because the head angle is tricky, I decided to do a drawing first rather than draw directly on the canvas as I did for "Winter Scotch". It needs a lot of work yet. The proportions are a little cock eyed, and I'm still debating whether or not to add a foal to the image or leave it as is. I'll decide that once the drawing is refined.

"Untitled" above depicts the Friesian mare, Alpie, that I photographed for a portrait several years ago. That portrait became the print, "Forever Friesian".

Will this image be marketable? I don't know, and I'm working hard not to care. For now, it's about enjoying the process of creation and letting the muse take me where ever it will.


Linda Shantz said...

I think we do get too preoccupied with that Karen, but I also think that when we just paint what we love and what appeals to us, people can really feel it and are drawn to the work as a result. If you paint it they will come? :-)

Karen Thumm said...

Right you are, Linda.

Hallartistry said...

I know that feeling. I haven't been marketing my art for very long, and I have thus far mainly been selling ACEOs on ebay, but since most of them end up selling, I find myself thinking about what to paint next that people will want to buy, or looking at my competition and trying to find out what subjects are selling well. I suppose that is ok, but it does become stifling and starts to feel more like work instead of something I love.
By the way, I was reading about you on your website and looking at your progress from younger years to now, and it was so inspiring! I used to draw and paint alot when I was young and took art classes in highschool as well, but after getting married and having children, I have just started really attempting to draw and paint more about 3 years ago. It's hard having 2 young boys and another baby on the way, but I've always had a desire to become a proffesional artist. My art still needs work, but it is inspiring to be able to sell miniature pieces on ebay anyway, and has really helped boost the artist in me!

Thank you for your inspiration!

Karen Thumm said...

Thank you.

Good luck with your art.