QR codes, the way of the present
One of the reasons for the success of www.robertmcaffee.com is directly related to the adaptation of modern tools. I suppose I could just paint pictures and have a simple web page that just shows them on a plain black or white screen. I suppose I could forego the web and just rely on conventional galleries to promote my work. Some galleries are truly worth their salt when it comes to promoting rather than just hanging paintings and waiting for the world to beat a path to their door. (enough about that already)
I suppose I could go into endless exhibitions and hope for third, second or, wow, perhaps maybe even first prize to help get my name into the local art section of the paper, last page.
I suppose I could enter an art colony or community art group. Those do serve their purpose for certain. I have had my share of memberships over the years. They mostly serve as a meeting ground for artists to chat, sip coffee and express frustrations about the difficulties of trying to find buyers for art.
I could even try to donate a few paintings to my local hospital or library so as to possibly snag some press or semi favourable media coverage.
I have and still do take advantage of all those opportunities but the most important path to success (short of Gods great mercy and grace in my life) is the use of modern technology. Take the QR code for example. Go to your app's screen, download a QR code reader of your choice and download it. Then, where ever you go and see QR codes, like the one shown above, scan it and you unlock access to all kinds of information about the product you are interested in! It's amazing!
Post your QR code to Face Book, or any other fav social media page and Pow! You got mass coverage! More readers than any newspaper article will give you. More viewers than the local walls of the hospital will render. More comments than any local art group will get for you, positive or negative.
It's a wonderful world we live in. How much more wonderful for artists whose well being was solely hinged on the mercy of the art society system of years gone by.
Stand up you young artists! Stand up you budding Picasso's! Stand up you Rothko's and aspiring Monet's! take advantage of the great and virtually free tools at your disposal, and be successful.
Love love love my kids to death, oh yeah! But this time of the year is undoubtably the "Most Wonderful Time of the year"!
No more "Daddy, I'm boooooored" or "Daddy, can you drive me to Max's house", or "Daddy, I'm booooored!" (oh, I said that already.
Yup, now painting productivity get's seriously underway.
I think the classic Staples video says it all in just 30 sweet seconds!
So I took my seven year old to McDonald's today for a happy meal and some play place fun, of course while Daddy reads a newspaper and has a little down time. Ahhhh yes, relax, settle down for a few moments in a busy day.
Wait! What's that? Some kid is screaming at the top of his lungs? Oh just ignore it, he'll settle down once his Mom hustles him away from the play place and out to the van. It's what kids do you know. Cry to go there then cry when it's time to leave.
The screaming became louder and more angry sounding. Before long every parent in the place was looking at each other saying things like: "I know what that little guy needs!". Yup, I know what they were thinking.
Ten minutes became fifteen minutes and now the situation is getting out of hand. Everyone is looking as Mommy attempts to continue texting away and screaming Junior is now hitting Mommy full fisted and all over her back and shoulders. Now you know what I'm thinking? Yup, you guessed it...Wonder how much of tis the kid see's at home?
Sad isn't it. No one in the dining room is willing to intervene lest Mommy presses charges for what ever crazy charge she might think of, but this little seven year old is leaving bruises on his Mom's back!
Then the Manager finally decides she's had enough and steps in to ask the child to stop..he just gets more aggressive. Stomping now, throwing food and utensils around just missing patrons.
Then I see two cops come in, heading right for the kid. They pick him up and usher him and his Mom outside to the parking lot.
Needless to say they get control but it's really troubling. To know that such things happen. Sure there were likely related issues behind the incident but it's heartbreaking to say the least.
So much for a relaxing bit of down time.
Meeting Brian McFarlane
As an artist travelling and doing shows I have met many well known people. Today, while doing my show at the Uxbridge Art in the Park I had a chance to meet one of the greats of NHL hockey play by play.
usually the conversation at my art shows is about, well, what else? My art. Today was no exception. Doing one of the out door art exhibitions that I so affectionately love to do I get to meet people of all walks of life. Today I engaged in a wonderful conversation about art and painting with a couple who, for all intents were just interested in what I do. About ten minutes into it I asked their names. His wife quickly introduced his name as Brian McFarlane, hockey play by play who worked with such greats as Foster Hewitt and others.
I caught myself quickly zeroing in on the sound of his voice and yup, there he was, the voice, or should I say, the man himself.
Imagine all those awesome and great moments in NHL hockey that this man saw and called over the years? All those years that I watched my fav's play on the ice, Bernie Parente, Dave Keon, etc, etc, and that voice was there the whole time! Now he stood there right next to me!
Mr McFarlane, I am still a kid at heart and the golden days of hockey are still golden to me. What a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for taking the time and sharing the moment with me.
Art in the Park
This is my third year doing the Uxbridge Lions Art in the Park at Elgin Park. I enjoy doing these events for a few reasons. The first is the fact that hundreds of people attend and see my work often for the first time. There are many repeat visitors who come as well hoping to see and acquire more art from their favourite artist from the previous years. But the greatest reason I have for doing these out door art events is because it allows me to be face to face with so many people who love to talk about art, and in particular, my work. I have this opportunity to meet people, and share what I do. It's a wonderful opportunity.
I encourage you all to come out and visit.
Working at home and Parenting
There are many challenges to being self employed and also parenting school aged children. I never realized how complex it would be at the outset. Besides the challenges laid before me to get my work done amidst the myriad of requests from others to do this or that for them because "you work at home so you can do what ever you want" syndrome. I have come face to face with the issue of spending time with my kids. They are around even more with summer holidays. Spending my time working and ignoring them while they waste the hours away watching television or playing on devices or putting aside my work to be with them, that's the question.
For me it has always been a battle of guilt: guilty for not spending time with them or guilty for not getting enough work done. After all, when a self employed person isn't working there isn't any money being generated either. That is a big problem. Artists especially have to be concerned about time at the canvas because our work comes in steady most of the time but sometimes the dry stretches can be long and bleak. So the pressure is on to generate $$$.
My choice? I feel the pressure to work, that's for sure but today and most days I opted for the splash pad with my son Nathan. I know I'll never have these years again with him. I'm guilty of thoughts of "oh man I wish I could get some more done on that canvas I started this morning..." but it's quickly tempered by the obvious little 7 year old playing there and asking me to join him.
In the end I never regret the time I spend with my kids. Paintings can always be finished later and somehow through it all God manages to provide for this family of mine.
Now. if I could just get a few minutes in on that painting I started earlier today! lol.
Through the course of my career as an artist (I still feel excited every time I say those words even though its been three years now) I am often asked by other artists how to price a painting. I've heard that line which is now over used about how long it took to painting this painting and how that plays into the valuation of a paintings price. You know the line: someone asks you how long this painting took and you quote your age and say "it took 50 years". I have used that line before but since it's worn out now I like to say the actual hours plus the experience required to do this painting. This leads me to how I price my paintings.
The first factor is certainly the actual hours put into creating the piece. If that were all that contributed to the price then Doctors would only rightly be able to bill you based on the time you spend in their office. Actually, for a doctor to be able to help you they must have spent 7, 8, 9 maybe ten years plus in training for the job. Even at that point they are still practicing so they're hourly value increases with years of experience gained.
The same could be said for teachers, plumbers, mechanics, electricians, coaches, etc, etc.
There fore an artist has the reasonable right to infuse his experience gained into his pricing model.
Another factor is supply and demand. When I began selling my paintings under very humble conditions, and the paintings were very simple as well, I would very comfortably charge 2, 3 or maybe as high as $400.00 for even large sized works. As demand increased over months and now years, and supply became harder and harder to provide (after all, these paintings are not produced on a press) I gradually raised my prices. Demand continued and my prices continued to rise, and still do. Many paintings of mine have now sold for tens of thousands of dollars and rising. This is the cause and effect of only being able to produce paintings at a certain pace.
Another factor becomes apparent as ones artist career begins to mature. It is the mere fact that if you are producing too many paintings it is likely that you are also not spending so much time on each one as could be. So as an artists work matures he likely will be able to increase the amount of time spent on each piece if prices have reached a respectable level, and thus better and more detailed paintings will emerge. This will attract more buyers and continue to graduate prices. One would expect that if an artist is not making an effort to improve that prices will begin to slide because demand will slow.
Let me say here and now that this artist believes in putting in a full work day just as if I were still employed at the bank. Start time, break times, lunch breaks, no super extended holidays (just because I don't "feel" like painting today), such work ethic is critical to steady producing of quality work. Bottom line here is more attention to detail produces better paintings and attracts more appreciative buyers.
I believe strongly that these main elements are what contribute to effective and appropriate pricing of an artists work. I believe, experience, hard work, always striving to do your best, letting your heart dictate your product, and supply and demand are the ruling factors when considering your paintings prices. The bottom line though, is always this: If you are not selling and you know your work is good you likely have to introduce lower pricing even if for a short time. Liquidity always goes a long ways to keep your children fed and the mortgage paid. So flexibility in pricing is needed. Buyers who are accustomed to your higher range of prices will quickly recognize your lower prices as bargains and will snap them up quickly. and when your prices have recovered and demand is up again those who bought at the lower end will have been rewarded for their opportunity realized.
I always wonder if I will ever sell another painting again. I always always think this sale might be the last one. It keeps my feet on the ground and my heart humble. I never assume things will always be rosy. Most of all I thank God above for his blessings both in each new piece I paint and in each new sale I receive.
There are many minor factors involved in pricing but this sums it all up into a tidy nutshell.
I invite your questions and comments on this subject.
Just a little blog about how I paint trees, and why.
When I start a painting that features trees I always start with the tree. This establishes that point and focus. But to really drive your eye to the tree and cause you to focus on it I paint the entire painting after the tree and all around the tree. This makes the paint stop at the tree and isolates it with textured edges. This gives it that third dimension as well. One other thing I try to establish is the illusion of the sky glowing around the tree. This is made possible when letting the first background to dry and then second coating it after the fact to increase the layering that builds up around the tree's edge.
This one was/is called "The first day of summer", 18"x24" oil on wood. You will notice in the finished painting the colours are much warmer and cozier. That is a result of the layering.
Come to see it in person if you like to experience it first hand.
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.