Yesterday, Elin Pendleton of Wildomar, California wrote, “Starting in mid October — until whenever — my adventure is to do a daily painting. It’s been exciting and extremely rewarding! I’ve garnered a large mailing list from placing my little paintings on eBay. This has re-awakened the need for past collectors to own yet another one — as they get one in their email daily.”
Thanks, Elin. Not a bad idea. I’ve noticed that some folks just seem to know how to use a medium. We all ought to note a few things about how Elin has been able to make the Internet work for her — and you need to take a look at her website in order to understand what she’s doing right.
Elin’s idea of seeding her potential collectors with inexpensive “calling cards” is inventive and fun. Add to this — her quality control is consistently high. Many of her paintings are gems. And because she’s dealing directly with the public she’s not afraid to let her work go out into the world at reasonable prices. Further, she’s openly embraced eBay, the world’s biggest selling spot, as a way of getting her work seen. Elin has all the world for her clientele. Also, because she keeps her operation simple, she can dedicate plenty of time to her daily painting process. And, because she has the ‘worker’s edge’ she stays on top of her style. You can see by her website that she’s a committed painter. And while she’s actively selling, we still get the idea that it’s the art that she loves. Elin’s teaching as well as her books and videos show her love of life (and horses) and that she’s the kind of person who is willing to share.
‘Art direct’ may not appeal to all. I’ve chosen the art dealer and art gallery route because of the privacy they give — and the higher prices one tends to achieve in the long haul. I’m a believer that the website ought to be there to empower an artist’s dealers. But for many artists, Elin’s online approach may be worth taking a look at. The viral nature of the Internet is the wonder of our age. This twice-weekly letter is testament to that. Friends make friends and those friends make more friends. For those of us who might turn friends into customers, the friendships are out there for the making.
PS: “I say to my students that painting is not about the product, but about the process — voicing for them the philosophy that drives my life.” (Elin Pendleton)
Esoterica: There’s a friendly little note at the end of Elin’s letters. “Emails always answered,” it says. Simple, but profound, I thought. A month or so ago I hung a sign beside our own studio computer: “No emails unanswered,” it read. For a while we were on top of it, until late one night I found Andrew face down in the broadloom. Poor chap. He was delirious and mumbling incoherently. Something about “automatic response machine.” “Never,” I said, dragging him to his car by his feet. How blessed we are.
Artwork by Elin Pendleton
eBay as marketing tool
by Linda Blondheim, Gainesville, FL, USA
There is a whole movement on eBay called Art Trading Cards with the same theme that Elin is using. They are traded like baseball cards. Many artists are doing small daily paintings these days and selling them on blogs in the $100.00 range. It seems to be catching on with patrons. I use eBay as an inexpensive marketing tool. I always have one painting listed each week year round. I have many clients who started out with me on eBay and moved on to more expensive paintings from my galleries and studio. In my listing, I give them as much biographical information as possible to peak their interest.
Artists and the Internet
by Heidi Foss, Asheville, NC, USA
As a fine art gallery manager I have a few comments about how to sell original paintings using the Internet. Beginning of last year I had a meeting with about 50 of the artists that I represent. They came from all across the US and I asked them how many had websites. Ninety percent raised their hand. I then asked how many have made a sale directly off their site. Only two hands were raised. Now as a gallery manager and art consultant, artists’ websites are invaluable. It gives my clients and myself a good idea of what the artist does. If we like, then we usually ask to see an original in person before any purchases are made. As for eBay, I represent an artist who has sold all over the world on eBay. He is a recluse, and an amazingly talented artist. Selling on eBay gave him enough revenue to make a living and not have to deal with much human contact. His career, however, has taken a huge upswing since his sister convinced him to have gallery representation. The collectors he now has still include the eBay patrons, but the serious collectors, who don’t typically buy off eBay, are now buying his works before I can get them back from my framer. The prices that I can get for this artist’s work are mind boggling to this young painter who now is ready to buy a home and studio as opposed to just renting a little apartment.
(RG note) Thanks Heidi. The Internet is becoming more important to artists every day. Marques Vickers has recently published a handbook version of Selling Art on the Internet. It’s a comprehensive, cutting-edge resource that’s simply loaded with connectivity.
Web makes dreams reality
by Luke McKeown, UK
The web is truly a great portal — the web has revolutionized the possibilities of making dreams become real for many people. But to live one’s dream and not dream one’s life away is ultimately about letting go and waking up from the daily false awakening each of us is prone to fall into — “Travel in all the four quarters of the earth, yet you will find nothing anywhere. Whatever there is, is only here.” (Ramakrishna)
Downside to website
by John Berry, Wellsville, UT, USA
After viewing Elin’s website, I had 38 open windows on my computer. At each click of my mouse to view an image, a new window would open. Quite annoying.
(Andrew Niculescu note) Overall Elin’s websites are well put together. I agree with John that having every page on the site open in a new window is a bit much. Also, I noticed that some of the paintings don’t enlarge and those that do have small and watermarked enlargements. As I mentioned in a previous clickback, artwork images on a website should be big, clear and readily available.
Stage feeling inspires painter
by Elin Pendleton, Wildomar, CA, USA
Since I feel as if I’m on a stage due to Robert’s wonderful treatise on my daily painting endeavor, I had to pull out all the stops today, and paint something spectacular. So this 24 x 30 inch oil came off the brushes. It’s from photo material I had taken way back in the ’80s. There used to be a really interesting swap meet near my home, where I’d go and buy and occasionally sell my excess chickens and farm stuff. Bought a lot of rabbit cages, ropes, fencing and such. Now that dirt is under a new Home Depot. Not nearly as much fun to shop, and no haggling over prices! But this fellow, I just loved how he sat, king over all he saw, and his objects paying homage to him there. Yes, I started this only this morning. Yet I waited for eighteen years before I felt I was the artist to do him justice. I just love the junk!
Internet won’t work for all
by Petra Voegtle, Munich, Germany
I have been on Elin’s website and looked at her really nice work. While I think that the Internet/eBay really seems to be a good selling platform for her work, I am also convinced that this is valid only for a handful of artists. eBay is not a good selling platform for high-priced, intensive art. Unfortunately people are looking for the bargain, not for high-quality and sophisticated work. I wonder whether this will change over time.
While I fully understand Elin’s intent to bring art to the people for the pure joy of it (I really don’t want to sound arrogant here) and thus making it affordable for anyone to buy it — I don’t think that this would work for many other artists with just the very same intent. Reflecting quality and technical skill on a low-cost “product” is a very difficult thing to achieve. The charm of Elin’s work is equally hard to achieve in such a low value environment. Many artists have tried — many more failed and were frustrated. I tried too, only to realize what I knew before: that it is simply not the right platform for my clientele.
Art every day
by Anne Copeland, Lomita, CA, USA
Creating art every day sounds simple enough, but I think it is probably one of the most challenging things an artist can do. If nothing else, we can learn so much about how we view our own art process — whether we perceive it as something outside of us or an intrinsic part of us. What distracts us, and is there a pattern in all of it? Just how committed are we to working on our art every single day? A small group of fiber artists and mixed media artists have started a Yahoo list, Daily Devotions 365 Days, and starting the first of the year, we will each do some creative endeavor each and every day for the entire year. As artists come to the list, it is interesting to see how different people view this project. Some are off and running, seeing each day as part of a cohesive whole. Still others are already thinking of how they can swap their art they have created after six months. And still others are waiting for some kind of guidelines, and others are having fears about what will happen if they don’t manage to create art every day.
Small exercises reward artist
by Dar Hosta, Flemington, NJ, USA
I envy Elin Pendleton’s efficiency and ability to crank out those delightful little paintings. As a collage artist who lovingly paints paper, then meticulously cuts it, then carefully arranges it, and finally adheres it, I sometimes long for a medium that would allow me to escape the multiple and time consuming steps of the one that occupies my creative hours. The daughter of a painter, and friend to many painters, I mostly marvel at the body of work these artists can generate in a given period of time, as compared to the many hours, days and weeks I sometimes work on one single piece. Alas, each time I have tried my hand at painting canvasses rather than the sumptuous sheets of washi that I adore, my muse betrays me!
Lately, however, I have employed a similar “exercise” in my own scrap-strewn studio. Each day that I go to work in my studio, I do a “warm-up” collage. I have given myself some strict rules: I will use all leftover paints from my larger studio work to paint “cut-off” or leftover background sheets as supports for these exercises; I will only use collage papers from my scrap drawers and never paint anything new for these works; I will spend no longer than 60 minutes on any given piece, and all these little originals will be no larger than 5 x 7 inches, matted with fall-out matboard and framed with 8 x 10 ready-made frames that I purchase in bulk from my supplier. The total time I spend on these is 90 minutes or less and the cost of materials is really only the cost of the frame. What I have discovered, though, is that my clients love them and they have become one of the mainstays of my show sales. People love being able to own a piece of original art, regardless (and, often, because) of its smaller size. These pieces, much like what I saw on Ms. Pendleton’s site, are simply artist’s studies and have the feeling of being little slices out of the larger, more complex works that hang alongside them with much higher price tags.
Gourd art excellence
by Babur Benderlyodlu, Turkey
The first time I met a gourd was in 1963. Most recently I discovered how to make sculptures from gourd. I opened an exhibition in Ankara at the University of Hacettepe in 2003 but I didn’t sell any of my work because I couldn’t evaluate it properly. In the rural areas the gourds hang together with the blue beads (to avert evil eye). I guess I am the first person in Turkey who discovered the beauty, excellence and gentleness of the gourd.
Art coach quandary
by Amber George, Fallbrook, CA, USA
Are the many “art coaches” that have hung a shingle really helpful? Have any artists out there found one that helps, or do they just tell us what we already know? I respect their intention and the idea appeals to me (someone to take an outside look to help guide, thus the coach label), but so much of what gets put out there is not original. Given that many of them don’t appear to be or call themselves artists, do they really have insight into the art business? I would appreciate your thoughts.
(RG note) Thanks Amber. I’ve never been to one, but I’ve never been to a chiropractor either. So I really can’t comment on how much better off I might have been if I had. Regarding art-business coaches, there’s gotta be a place for these folks-many artists get an “F” in this class and a little coaching never hurts. Other artists might have something to say about this. I’ve received a few glowing letters from subscribers who were helped by some of the crackerjackers listed in our links: Eric Maisel, Alyson Stanfield, Alice Rich, Ariane Goodwin and others.
Multiples of wood carvings
by Vernon DePauw, Petersburg, IL, USA
How does a sculptor make money on their art when it can not be duplicated like making prints of a painting. When I finish a woodcarving, I could cast it but then it would not be a woodcarving but a casting. I am often envious of painters who can make one painting a day, have 100 prints and cards made to have income for the original and all the prints. I carve wood for weeks and when I am done only have one item to sell.
(RG note) Admittedly it’s pretty difficult to duplicate a wood carving, but you cannot totally duplicate an original oil either. To be legitimate, it takes another step into another medium — serigraph, engraving, lithograph, even giclee. Many a bronze was once a plaster. I’m sure that woodcarving could replicate into some other medium, be reinvented, and still be genuine. See our material on Rodin and the factory methodology of reproduction-to-order of sculpture that he used.
Value of links
by Deb Trotter, Cody, WY, USA
I have begun to receive requests for links from artists with whom I am totally unfamiliar. Some of them are from England and France. I have to ask myself, what would be the benefit to the artist, or myself, to exchange links when 1. We are so geographically mismatched, and 2. Our art is so vastly different?
I am a mixed media artist, specializing in portraying legendary western heroes, and the artists in question paint English landscapes or surreal nudes. I have never heard of them and don’t know how they have ever heard of me. What would be your advice on possibly linking to these artists?
(RG note) Thanks, Deb. In theory, any link is a good link. They show people as well as search engine spiders that you are active. They raise you higher in search engine rankings. Members of the brotherhood and sisterhood are all over the world. Like it or not, you are now living in the global village. Also, you never know which other sites have high traffic and individuals that might be inclined to click through to yours. Somebody tapping in “legendary western heroes” is just liable to find you on the vast Internet. People are pretty specific these days.
Insecurity a negative force
by Lary McKee, Gervais, OR, USA
We are both of the same thought, that it is really not productive to be dependent, but that you work best when you are dependent upon yourself. Yes! Creativity does flow, in abundance. Dependent artists are often “Sunday Painters.” Why? Because for what ever their own insecurities are, they have a hard time, if sometimes an impossible time, in letting go. Letting go in the sense that to reach inside one’s self and grasp that magic ring, hold onto it and let it shine. Insecurity can be such a negative force. I interview a lot of artists and the first thing I always tell them is: Believe in yourself. Trust yourself. Let go of wanting validation in who and what you are. Just go for it and be happy in the learning process.
What’s the next step?
by Esti Mayer, Montreal, QC, Canada
I only discovered my true calling at the age of forty, and six years later I am still learning and exploring with the same unquenched thirst that ignited my creativity on that first moment of self discovery and wonder. And yet I am slowly but surely realizing that “the next step” is upon me, and that I should get on with the business of sending my works to the big wide world, to be shared with people. I am wondering about the “how to” of getting an agent, of approaching galleries, of finding people with the ‘selling gene’ I evidently lack. The Internet, although a treasure trove of possibilities, does not attract me as a selling medium, and I would prefer to find an agent, who will work with me and guide me through the elusive process of getting my work “out there”. So how does one accomplish that?
(RG note) Thanks Esti. The business of working through an agent isn’t as popular as it used to be. When work is of sufficient quality, consistency and volume, I recommend working directly with one or more brick-and-mortar galleries. But as usual, as seen by the current letter, there are other ways. I tell people to do three things: “Get good, get unique, and get noticed.” Some spots on this site where we’ve dealt with that difficult “next step” before are Success in art, Avoiding the borinary and Make it great.
Every artist needs an Andrew
by Ortrud K. Tyler, Oak Island, PA, USA
Dear Andrew, (sorry Robert, this one’s not for you) I wanted to thank you for keeping Robert’s website in such fantastic shape. It is so easy to find things, all these wonderful clicks, this has to be a 24 hour job. On top of it, it shows that you must enjoy it very much too. So here’s a big thank you. Everybody should have an Andrew in their lives. Are there any clones of you out there?
(Andrew Niculescu note) I am the clone. The “original Andrew” is speeding around in his Bentley.
Dove of Peace
You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 105 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2005.
That includes Judith Wray of NJ who wrote, “Just when you think you are alone on the beach, you discover those aren’t your own footprints.”
And also Alannah Haynes of N. Vancouver, BC who wrote, “I was one of the people on the Arch-World list. I shot off indignant emails to all the addresses you provided and two days later my pictures were gone. Thank you. Now I almost wish I hadn’t — I kinda enjoyed showing people my pictures with Chinese subtitles! No satisfying some people, eh?”
And also Joyce Wycoff Bakersfield of CA who wrote, “Any time I need an art break from my still business-focused life, I prowl through these endless pathways and always find something stimulating.”