in this economy
"In this economy" has to be one of the most over-used phrases of the past year--I say it myself, sometimes with self-conscious finger quote-marks raised. It's hit me personally of course--who hasn't been affected? For the first time in many years, I've had a gallery show open and close with zero sales. Other galleries have been slow also, and in general it has been a struggle for almost everyone I know in the art world, whether gallerist or artist, to keep going.
As someone who depends on art sales for a living, the strain of worrying over income has at times led me to daydreams of a "real job." That bubble pops pretty fast when I consider the realities of giving up studio time, and I remind myself (and my husband reminds me too) that what I do best is paint, and I need to keep at it. And that it does have value, including monetary value, to the many people who own my paintings. So I'm riding this out, encouraged by the sales that do occur,and thinking about how to work smarter within the gallery system that has served me very well in better times.
I've recently made a number of small (12"x12") paintings, for example, which have sold well over the winter. And I am currently re-evaluating the work that is out at various galleries and thinking of what might need to be rotated--a challenge when the work is scattered around the country. But in the past I have seen a painting languish in one gallery and sell quickly in another, so I believe this is a worthwhile plan.
Another strategy is to work over paintings that come back to me unsold, in light of new ideas and techniques that I've developed since the work left my studio. Of course, there are certain paintings that I don't want to touch, but others have the potential to be so much better with just "a couple" of changes. (Usually more than that! since one thing leads to another, and another, it's pretty easy to launch into a whole new painting.) With my multiple panel paintings, re-working can include taking out the bolts and moving panels into new configurations, in addition to re-painting the surface.
I brought six older paintings home from Circa Gallery on the weekend and have been enjoying working with them in this way--bringing them into 2010. When looking closely and critically at this older work, deciding what I'm still pleased with and what I want to change, shifts and developments in my work become clear to me. I see that I've learned to make more intricate textures and surfaces, and I've found ways to incorporate lines, scratches and other marks that I didn't used to do. I also prefer stronger contrasts these days, and a bit wider range of color within a painting.
The painting above, White Rock #2, (30"x24" oil and wax on panel)is one of these re-worked paintings. I heightened the contrast, added more texture and thin color washes, and it's ready for a new life.