Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I've painted a lot of aspen trees this year. It started out as a challenge - I struggled with them, and since they're everywhere in Colorado I figured I should work on it. And they're fun to paint - every grove is different. Also, the galleries love aspen paintings, because tourists buy them, and I can't complain when they're paying my bills during a rough patch in the economy. But this is the point where I get a little bit wary of being pegged as a painter of very specific subject matter.
Do I want all of my galleries to be begging for aspen paintings for the rest of my life? Probably not. I like painting them, but like everything else, only when I feel like it!
The best artists out there sell regardless of what they paint. It doesn't matter if Richard Schmid paints a figure or a landscape - he executes all of his paintings so well that his collectors see value. And since he's painted a variety of subject matter throughout his career, his audience doesn't expect to see only one thing.
I paint purely landscapes, so my subject matter is already a bit limited, but I like painting different scenes, seasons, and moods. I used to paint a lot of big vista mountain paintings, but since I've moved to the mountains, I find myself painting the more intimate scenes - the corners of the landscape that you see when you spend more time in a place. I think that expanding my comfort zone has improved my painting.
It keeps me on my toes to paint different things, so there's a fine line to walk between keeping the galleries happy and painting what will help me grow as an artist. I think this is something a lot of artists face when they sell through galleries, and sometimes the best thing is to find a gallery that is run by owners who truly appreciate good art (vs. "sellable" art). I tend to have the attitude that if I improve enough that anything I paint is a knockout regardless of subject matter, it won't matter what I paint so much as how it's painted. To get to that point, I have my work cut out for me - I won't be getting bored any time soon.