Today I am thinking about my move from the Banking Corp. world to the world of full time artist. I recall many times sitting with my uncle Jack Reid, the greatest watercolour artist Canada has ever known. We discussed so many things about art and life during his life and I look back fondly now to all of those precious moments. Perhaps more precious now as he has been taken home to his final rest in heaven. I now have only jack's words and my memories to call upon when I want to consult him,
I am particularly thinking today about the many times I asked him, pestered him with inquiries about his daily activities and what does an artist fill his day with? Do you just paint all day? Well, nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing could be further from the truth because as I am now learning through my own trials and experiences as an artist, those paintings don't just jump off the table and walk into peoples homes. There is a significant amount of work that goes into spreading the word, as I like to call it. Today we artists can not rely only on the agents of art to promote what we do, many of those artist are having struggles of their own. What we need to do is to embrace the cyber world of marketing and appraoch our art from a modern perspective. I am happy to say that because of the cyber world now available to us more people see art now than at any time in history. My uncle Jack was just beginning to enjoy that exposure (on top of the wonderfully succesful career he already enjoyed in the conventional art arena).
I am happy to discover the new ways and grab them with all my might and excitement. As I said to my dear uncle just hours before he passed; "I am proud to take up the torch that you carried".
Now, on with the race.
So artists paint nice pictures. or so it seems by the massive amounts of paintings or shall we just call them pictures out there. I see it every time I drive by some frame shop masking itself as an art gallery; pictures in the window. Pictures on the walls. Just pictures. Nothing to motivate the passers by eye. No story. No real sense of HEY! LOOK OVER HERE! I WANT TO TELL YOU SOMETHING!
I want my paintings to take you by the hand and walk you into the location, make you curious what's around the next corner. Make you think you are hearing the breeze as it moves through the birch.
That's the job of the artist. To tell a story that makes you feel. Invites you into the experience.
As I inch closer, day by day to my final day under the umbrella of "security" of working for the corporation, working for the establishment, working for the Institution known as "The Bank", I feel nervous. Am I a good enough artist to survive? What about all the other artists out there trying to make it work? What happens if I don't sell enough? What if the string of success I have enjoyed over the past year and a half comes to a screeching stop? What if demand for my art dries up completely?
Am I a fool for not taking advantage of the Firms offers to assist me in finding another job? Will I regret not having taken advantage of HR's hand of help to "relocate"?
I am struggling with these questions today.
I know the life of an artist can be hard. I am comforted by my almost two years of steady growth in paintings as well as sales of those paintings, and I am comforted by my incredibe hunger to paint yet another painting. I feel I have no choice but to try this.
It's my Ferrarri Moment.
The Ferrarri Moment in my life came about by my inablility to grab the opportunity and run with it regardless of the consequences. The constant fear of failure. When I was 23 years old I worked in a photography equipment store. There was a customer who came every Thursday in her Red Ferrarri. She knew I loved Ferrarri's and one day she set her keys up on the counter and said "Go for it!"
I took the keys, I climbed into her car, I turned it on and then I just sat there. Couldn't bring myself to drive this intimidatingly expensive sports car. She came out and asked me if I was going to drive it and I handed her the keys and said no, but thanks anyway.
I never forgave myself for that moment. I promised myself that if I ever had a moment like that again that I would take the opportunity. I called it once and for all my "Ferrarri Moment.
Today I am staring at the biggest Ferrarri moment of my life. Do I stay in Corp. life or do I follow my instincts and inner desires and go after my life long dream?
I choose to "Go for it"!
Follow me on this journey.
Most of the paintings I have sold online have been to local patrons. They typically email for details and make an appointment to come and view in person. So in fact they are not actually buying online but rather finding it online and doing the transaction in person. There have been a few that have purchased without seeing the actual painting. I give them credit as this takes some degree of trust. To make that process as comfortable as possible I make myself available to the patron in a few different ways;
First of all, the fact that the Patron is speaking with me, the artist and can ask any number of questions and get answers promtly is one form of comfort and assurance. Another is to speak with me on the telephone. To hear a real voice and to refer to the painting as a painting and not an item. To be able to describe it in detail and it's heritage and creation. This is very assuring.
More than anything I beleive that just being available to online Patrons is the best way to give confidence in the reality and quality of the Painting in question. I use a Blackberry with email option so that I can respond when ever and where ever a call or email comes in.
Once a Patron has made a succesful purchase and has received thair painting, and the packaging we use is the most protective reasonably available, the tone is set then for future purchases.
There have been many return Patrons. I appreciate their confidence in me.
Today I am thankful for the sign painters brush.
Years ago, when I was just 17 I began working in my uncles sign shop. Lettering trucks, vans, paper signs, banners. Virtually every letter painted was in bold or normal Helvetica. This meant that two things had to happen; First of all you had to have a steady hand. This only came from practice. Get out the white pages telephone book and use the columns to practice vertical and horizontal lines, over and over and over.
Secondly, you had to have sign painters brushes. These brushes have significantly longer hairs than oil brushes or even watercolour brushes. So you learned to paint long steady lines by palleting your paint and mixing it with thinners.
After a a few years the repetition of sign painting became a bit ununteresting to me. I moved to pictures.
To this day I attribute most of my brush strokes to the methods of brush work used in those early sign painting years. In fact I still employ sign painters brushes into some aspects of my oil painting.
Thanks to James Reid of James Signs and Roz Reid who gave me the time and exposure to the world of sign painting, I never knew then how valuable it would be to me to this day.
In just two and a half months I will be leaving the corp. world in which I have spent the past 25 years working. Working all the while with my mind on other things, things like painting pictures. Serving finance clients but in my mind dreaming of brushes, paint and canvas. Since I began "putting my art out there" for the world to see (internet) just a year and a half ago I have been wondering if I could seriously survive on my art alone. True enough sales have been steadily rising, demand has been steadily moving upward and my prices have been elevating with demand. Interested parties from around the world (scammers excluded) have been coming to my internet door more and more and I have a rising sence of confidence about this.
And then the day of reconing came. The day when my Corp. bosses stood in front of my whole division of the financial institution I work for, and they said thos words younever want to hear. "Your jobs have been outsourced..."
I reacted like everyone else, shocked. It only took about ten minutes to realize my dream was about to come true. I was about to become a full time artist, like it or not.
I invite you to follow me as I go on that journey. My Blog here will be your way to update and follow. As well youcan advise if youwish. Share your own experience here. I'd love to know about them.
Stay tuned! :-)
So this artist friend of mine says to me: "I never try to sell my paintings. I just put them into the closet and take them out once in a while when someone like an Aunt or Friend asks me what I have been painting lately. I don't think anyone would really be interested in buying any of my art anyway".
Here was my reply:
I stacked my paintings up in my basement for twenty years. Everytime I painted I just propt it up against the wall. I gave some away at birthdays and Christmas, etc, but really thought no one would really want them.
Then one day I just decided to throw one up on kijiji and see what transpires. It sold in just two days! It was only a three hundred dollar painting but never the less, the women who bought it sent her boyfriend on the three hour drive to pick ut up and pay for it for her!
I realized then and there that there is a market for anything, even my piddly simple little paintings. I have sold 53 since then and have to keep painting to keep up my inventory.
I say all this to give you a proverbial kick in the butt. Just put them out there for the world to see. Some one will identify with them and you will be able to see someone be sooooo happy to have your painting. Price it low, who cares anyway, you just want enough money to buy another canvas and paint another painting, right?
The Artists Journey
This is my blog page and it is where I get to be the opinionated man that I really am. The views are my own.
I invite your replies and comments, on my virtual welcome mat.
This sketch above became this finished painting below
The Pine Tree Painter.
How did I become known as the Pine Tree Painter? You could say I paint a lot of Pine Trees, that would be true. I paint a lot of other things too, but Pine Trees, Spruce Trees, Birch and others seem to be a continuous string in what i do. I just like the way they stand there like a custodian of the land. or a greeter to nature. So, I continue down the path with the Pine Tree Painter name on my head, It's ok.