Several months ago I entered an art competition held by Art Design Consultants located in Cincinnati Ohio. Since I have been purchasing space on their "Blink" website I received a discount on the cost of submitting four images. Out of the eighty paintings I have accumulated it was difficult to select four that would be strong enough to wow the panel of distinguish jurors. The show is open to all artist who want to submit their work, which last year number 1,600 artist, and from those only 160 paintings will be selected.
I won a spot last year, but I'm not sure how my work compares to other artist and the jurors who make the final decision. As of 8:10pm I have not received an email one way or the other. Either way I plan on attending the awards program in July so I can meet other artist and gallery owners.
On a positive note, I received an email from the art director for Blink magazine stating Art Design Consultants has selected my work to display in their 8,000 sqft gallery. I had to sign a contract with states they will take 50% of the sale of a painting and I agree to allow them 20% to negotiate the sale and then take 50%. Now most people find this way out of line, but it is the standard for most galleries, unless your well known and move a large quantity of work, then you can dicker on percentages.
I have to raise the price of my paintings in order to reflect the gallery's price so if you had your eye on one of my paintings you better act now before the price goes up.
I have been a vendor at several art shows and most people who attend think the price the artist places on his/her work is high. However, if you like their work it is the best price you'll get. If they are attached to a gallery the same piece will double or triple.
Some artist shy away from galleries because they want to market their work themselves. I'm not getting any younger and Parkinson's will hinder my attending art shows so for me a gallery is a logical choice.
Age is only the number of years you've been on this planet, which ages a slower rate than its occupants. I have discovered a disconnect between the age my brain thinks I am and the years my body knows I am. As my mother use to say, "My mind makes contracts that my body can't keep." Back when I thought it was funny but now it a sober summation of reality.
Another realization crept into my frontal lobe, how the symptoms of my Parkinson's blend with the side affects of medication I'm taking and both for mentioned abnormalities mirror old age. As an example, one of the symptoms of Parkinson's is loss of balance which is also a side affect of medication and old age. The only symptom that distinguishes Parkinson's from the other two are the tremors.
In the morning if someone asked me how old I am I would estimate 120 or one step away from rigamortis setting in. I wonder why I agreed to purchase a bed that requires a stepladder to get in? Actually I can pull myself up and into bed, but exiting after a night's sleep is about as graceful as a new born calf trying to stand. It would be easier to roll out of bed and fall to the floor but it has its drawbacks; broken bones and bruises to mention a few. However, if someone ask me what happened, I say my wife beat me up, which she would like to do on certain occasions, but she suffers from Fibromyalgia, which has symptoms similar to Parkinson's except for the tremors and stiffness.
With both of our health issues it seems we are in competition to see who becomes more disabled first, so far she is winning.
Since this is a website promoting my artwork I question the reasons behind this current blog. However, this site is also about Parkinson's and I believe it fitting to discuss how the disease affects me and why I decided to sell my paintings to raise money to find a cure for this hideous disease.
Painting everyday is difficult when you are travelling and there is reasons why. If you are an oil painter and flying to your destination your paints can not travel with you - combustible material. A busy schedule also interferes with finding the time - unless you become anti-social.
Since I've programmed myself to paint I had to find a pacifier - drawing. For less than 10 bucks I purchased a sketchpad, pencils, pencil sharpener, and eraser. What I discovered was through painting my drawings have improved and once again I found joy in sketching.
Sketching is less expensive and if you don't like the way a piece is working out, you can either erase it or turn to the next page. I'm using it to work on composition, contrast, and perspective, which are three extremely important attributes to a successful piece of art.
Composition is noticed first. The work must be constructed to draw attention. If the placement of objects is boring than the other two elements don't matter. If a picture has composition then perspective becomes important. The human eye can find those elements where the perspective is not correct. The eye assesses each element to the brain's database of objects, then determines if what you're viewing makes sense. If perspectives are off the painting looses interest.
If the first two points are correct then contrast between objects becomes important. Contrast between light and dark brings a piece to life; without it a painting is dull and looses interest.
To produce an interesting painting follow the three steps and the number one rule of art, "No two things in a painting should be the same or alike.", which includes shapes, size and color.
We're off to Michigan to attend my grand daughter's graduation from high school but this time we are flying! I have always driven to whatever destination we selected but between my wife's febermyology and my Parkinson's issues, driving for extended hours is impossible.
My sister helped purchase tickets and the only remaining hurdle is "The Dog". We have a Cavapoo, and for those not familiar with special breeds it is a cross between a King Charles cavalier and a toy poodle. He is a cute little shit with curly hair and weighs in at a whopping 16 pounds. He is a great traveler in the car but untested on aircraft.
Knowing the airline would require a carrying case for Mr Charlie I went to our local pet store and purchased an approved airline travel case, one that would accommodate our killer trained lap dog. Feeling smug in my purchase until the day before our departure, which as Memorial Day, I had second thoughts and decided to call the airlines to double check the proper size needed to fit under the seat in front of me. Giving the representative the dimensions of my pet's temporary accommodations and our flight number, which is important because the seats are different for each type of aircraft, she reported that it was to high. For our flight the maximum height for under the seat storage is 9 inches. After the initial shock I promptly questioned the airline's logic in allowing carry on animals that would fit in 9 inches. Before she could answer I responded in a kidding manor, "I guess I'll have to cut his legs off!", I did not receive a chuckle or a negative response.
Knowing she did not have control over the design of an aircraft, I proceeded to thank her and let panic set in. I purchased the carrier from a local pet store, which I had doubts would be open on a holiday, but grabbed the portable dog house and headed off to the pet store.
Lucky for me it was open but unlucky because I didn't have a receipt, which I explained and said I just wanted to exchange it for a smaller one. Getting the go-ahead from a manager I headed off to the appropriate isle only to discover limited options. The only one to fit the bill was 9 inches high, OK, 19 inches long and 11 inches wide. It was going to be like fitting Dolly Parton into a training bra!
Uncooperative and disgruntled, charlie did fit into the carried, much like a 200 pound woman fits into a size to small spandex jump suit. After several attempts at zipping up the opening, without success, I decided to allow his head to project, which was problematic since he could use his front paws to unzip and escape from his confinement.
In order to take a carry-on pet and cram it under the seat will cost $125 and a signed promise to keep it caged during the flight. Will rules were meant to be bent so I followed only those rules absolutely necessary to remain on the aircraft.
Only one of the flight attendants paid any attention to Charlie's head sticking out and requested I zip it up, to which I smiled and answered "yes" only to ignore the request. I couldn't, in good conscious, jam into nine inches, besides he would crawl out and I would have a dog on the loose, so I placed him between my legs so I could pet his head to keep him calm.
Just prior to landing the attendants passed through the cabin and the previous gate-keeper reminded me to zip up the case, to which I responded with a smile and nodded yes before ignoring her warning.
As not to bore you with other details I will finish the story by saying Charlie was very happy when we reached my sister's condo so he could form a river flowing from the nearest tree, I swore I saw a smile of relief flash across his face
I just finished a painting for my son's first house and wish that I could add it to the ones for sale. The painting is oil on a 2 foot by 4 foot canvas and the colors will go well with his decor - too bad.
The couple that purchased a painting last Friday sent me an email on Sunday requesting if they could come to my house and view my other paintings - of course I asked whenever it was convenient for them. It was 3:30 pm when they arrived and they didn't leave until 7 pm - there was a lot of discussion about art. They ended up purchasing two more pieces - one abstract and the other "Forest Road", which was one of my favorite paintings because of the contrast of lights and dark.
They also commissioned another painting from an image he had on his i-phone - not bad for a days work.
I live in the small town of Safety Harbor, Florida and the town throws a street celebration every third Friday of the month from January until June or July when the summer heat chases away even those tried and tested Floridians.
When this event first began the turnout was limited but now the streets are crowed with party goers. I have several art pieces with Sara Mullins, owner of Gallery On The Go, and she has hung six pieces of my work at various establishments around Tampa. She also has a booth promoting her business, as well as a few artist. This past Friday, 5/20/2016 she promoted my work and I attended and brought my traveling easel to demonstrate my artistic talent to those passer-byes.
From my collection of images I selected one to paint and brought only one piece of canvas paper, thinking I would only have time to do one painting and besides, I had four framed artworks and several original works on canvas paper to carry along with my art supplies.
I was about an hour into the painting when a couple stopped by and wanted to know if I sold my work - which I promptly answered, YES. I told them I had several pieces in the office behind the art booth. They seemed drawn to the one I was working on. They inquired about the cost of my paintings on canvas paper so I told them between 45 and 55 dollars. They asked how much I would charge for the one I was working on, my answer was the same, it was then that I realized they wanted to buy my unfinished work, which surprised me. I was trying to comprehend why someone would want to purchase an unfinished painting and what I would charge when the husband asked if I would take $30, to which I answered, "SOLD!"
They asked if I would hang onto the painting until they returned, which I agreed to since I had the $30 in my pocket. I waled over to where Sara was sitting and told her the story, which received a chuckle.
I was talking with Sara and she noticed people in the office so I went in to investigate. It turned out that it was the same couple who purchased my unfinished work. They were looking at my website, twowilletsgallery.com, and asked if all the paintings on my site were ones I painted - "Yes". They were impressed with my work and wanted to know the cost of the pieces hanging in the office. The husband pointed to the "The Greenhouse" painting, which does draw interest, and while I searched for the price the wife pointed to a more recent work, "Bending With The Wind".
I removed the painting from the wall and brought it where the light was better so they could see the detail I put into the piece. They loved the simplicity of my paintings and the wife said they offered a feeling of peacefulness; which solicited a thank you from me since serenity is what I try to put into all my works.
They inquired about the price for the "Bending In The Wind" painting and off the top of my head I gave them a SWAG (silly wild ass guess) and they agreed to the price and the husband quickly asked if the price included the unfinished painting. Since I had only an hour or so into the piece I decided to include it with the framed painting.
Further conversation brought praise for the quality of my work and they asked if I would be willing to meet them in town with art they selected from my website - I agreed since images cannot capture the detail and color that can be appreciated when view the original. My response was positive and asked them to contact me after they made their selection.
This episode reaffirmed my decision to stick with the style of painting that inspires me, realism with a touch of impressionism.
Before the night was over another gentleman stopped and watched while I was touching up one of the paintings on canvas paper. He also like my work so I gave him one of my calling cards with my website information so he can look at some of my other work. He said he lived in Louisiana and was leaving for home the next day - I mentioned that I had ship paintings as far away as Alaska so if he found a painting I would be happy to ship him his selection.
This is why it is so important to get your work out where the public can see it - one never knows who the painting will speak to. However, even satisfied customers drop the ball. I thought for sure Priscilla, one of the women who purchase two paintings in St Augustine, would promote my work with friends and I even offered to come over to the area if she wanted to hold a personal art showing. She seemed so enthusiastic about my work and even said I would be hearing from others after they saw her paintings.
Stop the presses! I just got an email from the couple who purchase the painting on Friday and they want to come over to view other paintings. Who knows, perhaps this could be a new source.
I submitted three piece of art in a contest held by Artavita, which is a website for artist to post their work and for the public to look for art, and my pieces were one of the top fifty finalist. I received a certificate from Artavita in recognition of my work - which is always appreciated.
I just finished "Aspen In Autumn" and currently working on a winter sene on a 24x30 inch canvas. The inspiration came from a photo taken by my cousin Brian Zingler, an outstanding photographer whose images I've used on several occasions.
The piece will be black, white, and gray, which reflects Michigan's winter landscape. He captured an old barn standing against blowing snow, which offers a captivating image.
I am still trying to coordinate a trip to Michigan in September to attend an art show in Rochester called Arts & Apples. It has been active for over fifty years and attended by 200,000 people over a three day period. I applied for the show back in January of this year more as a whim since I did not believe I would be accepted to this very selective show.
It is my hope that my website, "twowilletsgallery.com" will draw interest in my work and a few pieces will be purchased. Those viewing my work should recognize the fact that my paintings are priced below comparable artwork.
My work is also available on Blink magazine's website, which is viewed by interior decorators, galleries, and collectors. Blink magazine is published by Art Design Consultants, which is a large 8,000 sqft gallery located in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Six of my paintings are being displayed in the Tampa, Florida area by "Gallery On The Go".
I also do commissioned art for those who have a landscape picture that they want painted. I did one last Christmas for a man who wanted to give his mother a painting of her house. She had lived in the house most of her life and was selling the house to move into assisted living.
For the past four years I had a blog, coxenartwork.blogspot.com, where I post my paintings and offer painting tips, as well as reviews of art festivals I have attended. In order to streamline my efforts I decided to use my new website as my blog and have requested my followers to join me.
I have worked hard trying to market my work, which is difficult since there are so many fine artist and unless you are known the road to success is riddled with potholes. I have sold several paintings at art fairs and to friends, therefore I am an accomplished artist but unable to make a living off my work.
In 2013 I self published at book based upon my grandfather's WWI journal, The Great Promise. It was received well but those who had leanings towards being a historian found fault because it had a mix of non-fiction and fiction; plus I didn't include a bibliography. While trading emails with one historian critic I decide to seek her help and rewrote the compelling story as non-fiction. I tried to find a publisher but like painting an unknown author is ignored. I self-published it as an e-book on Kindle, World War One - An Unkept Promise.
The point is, unless one is very lucky and gets discovered one's chances of reaching a level of success is slim. My immediate problem is my eternal drive to paint has far surpassed my ability to sell and therefore I have a large inventory of paintings. Over the years I have given so many paintings to my children they don't want any more.
The last art show I attended was in St Augustine, Florida, which is an artist community. I thought an art show there would draw thousands of people -- it didn't. I met an artist whose work was OK but not superior, was selling his pieces for thousands of dollars. I talked with him after the show and his marketing strategy was to mark his work up so people think it is worth the money and if they dicker on the price, he still comes out ahead. I have read elsewhere that there are two schools of thought, the first is price your work low and hope to sell several pieces, or price them very high so if you sell one you're further ahead. I sold three paintings and pocketed $900, which paid expenses. He sold only one, but it was $1,700. So who came out ahead?
I still find it hard to ask that much for my work, which is reflected in my pricing. However, I am leaning towards the higher price for two reasons. First, my work is on par with those who sell their work at higher prices, and if I sell just a few I'll be further ahead.
I'll leave you with this last thought; A true artist paints with emotion and transfers it into his painting so it conveys feeling to those who view it. A painting without feeling is just paint on canvas.
If you read my profile you know that I was diagnosed with Parkinson's back in 2005. I worked until my symptoms were interfering with my job and was forced into retirement in 2009. In January of 2010 I took an oil painting class and since then I've painted almost everyday.
March of 2015 I attended my first arts and crafts show and actually sold three paintings, as well as receiving many compliments regarding my work. Soon the thought occurred to me that I could use my talent to help support Parkinson's research. So far I've donated over $200 to the Michael J Fox Foundation and ask your support to find a cure for this hideous disease.
I call on you to help me by purchasing one of my paintings and I'll donate 10% of the sales. I know that it doesn't seem like much, but I have extensive overhead cost attending art shows. Those who attend arts and crafts shows may not know that most shows are juried. What does that mean, will the artist must submit four images of his/her work along with a picture of their booth and an application fee between 30 and 45 dollars. A panel of judges review each applicant's portfolio and determine if the artist is good enough to be accepted.
If accepted the applicant must accept or decline. Why would someone decline if they applied, good question, its because one must apply to shows months in advance and since acceptance is uncertain, the artist may apply to more than one show. If the artisan decides to attend, they must pay for their booth space, which is usually 10x10, soon after accepting. The cost of booth space is determined by the size and draw of the show. Most shows cost between 200 and 300 dollars, while large shows charge 350 to 500 dollars.
Since I have been actively attending shows for a year, I have not purchased a trailer so I rent a U-Haul to carry my paintings and booth, which for a weekend is around 80 dollars. Then there is the cost of a motel and food. A weekend show could cost close to 1,000 dollars.
Being retired on a fixed income there isn't room in the budget to support this cost so I have to sell two or three paintings in order to break even. So next time you attend a show keep this in mind and help the artisans if you can.
I have completed three new paintings, Forest Fog, Sunrise Above The Clouds, and Red Flowers - although Red Flowers is not finished yet.
I would appreciate your feedback on my work and suggestions on how to market my work.