parting with paintings
The painting above, Threshold
(60”x36”) is one of five that I delivered to my new gallery in Toronto, Gallery 133, on Tuesday. I hope that my work does well there, and that this painting and the others will soon find new homes.
Parting with my work is not hard for me, though my husband says he remembers a time early on when I did not detach so easily. I guess that’s true, but my focus has shifted over the years to the process and the journey of the work, rather than holding onto the final result. Aside from a few paintings I have kept that hold personal significance, or that I want to give my sons, I acknowledge the need to sell my work to keep going--so I’m sure part of my attitude also comes from pure practicality.
That said, a part of me is always curious about where my work ends up. Although once in awhile I meet a collector at a gallery opening or learn a bit about the circumstances of a purchase, usually I don't know much about the sale of my work (this information is not routinely provided.) Since it's left to my imagination, I sometimes daydream about where my paintings are hanging...over beds, couches and dinner tables, in entryways, hallways, kitchens and bathrooms, in grand homes and modest ones, a part of people’s lives. But what is most important is not where specific paintings are hung—it is knowing that something I’ve done has connected with someone else’s emotional life and experiences.
Like a lot of artists, I find this sense of connection to be both a powerful motivator and a vital source of energy. It is hard won, elusive and mysterious—this basic, gut-level communication with another person, often a complete stranger. It is acknowledged through comments, conversations, and recognition of various kinds. But one of the strongest affirmations of this connection is to sell a painting directly to someone who has fallen in love with it.
For me this kind of sale happens only occasionally, since most of my work goes out to my galleries soon after completion (truly the best arrangement for all concerned, since I am no sales-person and I am very grateful for what my galleries are able to do for me!) But once in a while, a friend approaches me about buying something from my studio, or someone contacts me that knows me through email, my blog, website or Facebook. In making a direct sale, it is quite moving to know who has purchased the work, where they will hang it, and most importantly how they feel about the piece.
The last time this happened to me was a little over a month ago, when I posted the painting below (Timanfaya #3
, 12"x12") on my blog, and heard from Seth Apter
, a mixed media artist in New York, whose work focuses on paper arts and textural assemblage. We have corresponded a few times in the past, and he reads my blog with some regularity. Timanfaya #3
spoke to him strongly--his excitement over it came through in his initial blog comments and later as we wrote back and forth discussing price and shipping. When I wrapped up the painting for shipment, I felt deeply satisfied to know who was at the other end, and how he felt about the work. And it's funny, but in knowing all of that, my usual detachment abandoned me it was
a bit hard to send the painting off.
We decided to post simultaneously on our blogs today, he from the point of view of a collector, and me from that of the artist. Please click on his name above to read his thoughts.