Grabbing the heart

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Dear Artist,

Recently I had an opportunity to watch people buying my paintings. It was a solo show where people were coming in and interacting in a friendly, social environment. By watching people’s faces, I noticed something I hadn’t quite seen before. Many buyers appeared to me to just glance at a work and make up their minds then and there. This blink-of-an-eye was of course followed by the regular rationalizations that buyers (particularly couples) go through when they’re considering something: “Is it too big?” “Where will we put it?” “How do you feel about it, dear?” At the end of my letter I’m going to tell you what I think triggered some of those instant decisions.

New research in neuroscience seems to indicate that advertising is most effective when some sort of desire synapse is triggered in a nanosecond. By covering volunteer heads with EEG sensors, using eye-tracking techniques and galvanic skin responses, researchers such as Dr. Robert Knight of the University of California, Berkeley trace the emotional roots of decision making.

In applying this stuff to art, it would have nothing to do with the sort of buyer who looks at a work and thinks he needs it because he needs to look smart or intelligent. Or the buyer who recognizes a farm he’s been on or a mountain he’s climbed. It applies to an open-minded person who simply and instantaneously feels good about something.

The advertising business (US$600 billion this year), dealing as it often does with visual stimuli, pays big bucks to people like Robert Knight to tell them what’s happening in people’s heads. I’ve never heard of anyone doing this in our business.

A clue to Knight’s thinking is his disdain for focus groups. By rationalizing everything, focus groups often come up with the “wrong” (and unemotional) decision. When you think about it, a couple anguishing over the purchase of a work of art is like a small focus group. Often as not they talk themselves out of it. At the same time, some works just seem to walk out of galleries. Are these works talking on an emotional level to the folks who can’t resist them? And what is it about these works that they can’t resist? No matter what type of art you’re looking at, at the top of the list I’d put “Unusually satisfying pattern.”

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “The brain makes behavior. If you can effectively measure the brain, which we think we can, we can give you information that’s not available through any other methodology.” (Dr. Robert Knight)

Esoterica: The brain, when instantly engaged, acts in an emotional manner — what we often call “heart.” Art in its higher forms is all heart. Sorry to admit this, but when I look at some folks in galleries, it seems to me that we are able to engage their hearts in the same classic way advertisers work hard to achieve: (1) You get their attention. (2) They become emotionally involved. (3) They retain what they feel. And it all happens in the blink of an eye.

 

Personal motifs win out
by Dar Hosta, Flemington, NJ, USA

 

Together original painting by Dar Hosta

“Together”
original painting by Dar Hosta

I am thinking that a viewer’s response to a piece of art might just be the reverse of the artist’s, with regard to that satisfying pattern. Like many artists, I generally do not like what I am working on until at least midway through, until I’ve added all my own personal motifs. And one thing that, for whatever reason, I “must” put in is a circular, celestial body — whether it is a sun or a moon is often open to interpretation — or the work just doesn’t seem right to me. I hear, from my patrons, that it is often this very thing that draws them in. Perhaps my compulsion could be what engages them.

 

Dilation of blood vessels
by Marty Gibson, Scottsdale, AZ, USA

 

Ectasia original painting by Marty Gibson

“Ectasia”
original painting by Marty Gibson

This painting inspired a buyer to exclaim loudly “I want that painting!” the moment he saw it. I’ve never had such a reaction and was puzzled about his instant and rather boisterous decision. When I asked him why he was so drawn to the painting he said “it excites me in a way that no other painting ever has.” The title of the painting is Ectasia: a medical term that describes the dilation of blood vessels — and the derivation of the word ecstasy. Maybe I’m on to something here!

 

 

 

 

Emotion lacking in US culture
by Kim Rodeffer Funk, Hampshire, England

 

Memories mixed media painting 30 x 40 inches by Kim Rodeffer Funk

“Memories”
mixed media 30 x 40 inches
by Kim Rodeffer Funk

I was trained in interior design… which should be an emotional response… but I have been slowly getting away from that since I found the very emotional work of painting. So many people do not like to admit they just like something because they do and so much they will find a place to make it work. Like much of education, they want to be told they like something and why. Think about it, in the US this is the way many of us have been educated. I know in other countries you are still encouraged to express yourself and support your reasoning, but that is sorely lacking in the United States educational system. So what is the answer? For me, it is to keep working from that place that feels right inside of me… But your letter also reminds me of an article I saw recently about how some research is showing that — gasp — the arts are helping with brain development and how the arts are important in education! Can you imagine? I wonder if it was a lot of focus groups which helped these researchers come to this conclusion.

 

Instantaneous connectivity
by Ines Smrz, North Easton, MA, USA

 

Ines Smrz beside one of her wooden screens

Ines Smrz beside one of her wooden screens

The article about sales “in the blink of the eye” has been my experience in the over twenty years that I have sold my art through galleries. I have always called it “lightning” sales. I produce large wooden screen panels that are hinged to become a free-standing screen. In addition the images are sculptured to a 3D bas-relief. They are a tremendous amount of work, therefore expensive. The clients who have bought a screen have done so “in the blink of the eye.” They walk into the gallery and it is like lightning has struck them. The purchase, in most cases, is instantaneous. No amount of advertising or e-mailing can produce this effect. It is an instant, emotional involvement with the piece. I enjoyed reading this article because it resonated with my experience through the many years of selling my work.

 

The mystery of it all
by Gwen Purdy, Seattle, WA, USA

 

One never knows what it will be that grabs the art buyer, certainly it’s not always what you intended the art object to mean at least to you. I recently experienced that when I showed some of my collages to a friend, the one “she loved” was titled Marriage but it was a spoof of that. She saw only the sacredness and depth of marriage in it, as she described her feelings evoked. I was amazed. So I said, it’s yours. Anyone with that interpretation deserved to own it. We never know what the onlooker “sees” in our art. So each piece put out for sale is a gamble, for either a sale or for a different interpretation than you intended. That is what makes sending art out into the world such a fascinating reward besides the money earned.

 

Sensing a connection
by Sandy McMullen, Toronto, ON, Canada

 

Engagement acrylic and mixed media painting 20 x 24 inches by Sandy McMullen

“Engagement”
acrylic and mixed media
20 x 24 inches
by Sandy McMullen

Analyzing how to capture a viewer’s heart is a paradox. Perhaps when artists put their heart into their work, work from their passion, their strengths, their delights and the practice of their craft, people will be converted from viewers to buyers because they can see, feel, sense the connection. Artists are the guardians of this domain. We are the ones who help bring the wisdom of heart of emotion to others who have been trained by our society to only trust the rational, analytical response. Dance, music, poetry and visual arts provide a gateway for people to bring beauty and soul into their lives. Let’s reflect on standing in this rich territory as our beginning point so that we have a chance of having it come through us into our work for others to see. Whether an artist has a preference for the mind over the heart is not what matters. Allowing ourselves to express who we are in our work instead of trying to “figure” everything out from a marketing perspective is at the root of being an artist IMHO otherwise we would be in marketing. Marketing and sales of course must be addressed if we want to make a living at our art but it is not what comes first. Letting our passion show is viral and sparks those neurotransmitters in ourselves and others.

 

Fundamental human responses
by Patricia Ryan, Beavercreek, OR, USA

 

Fall Driveway, Clackamas County pastel painting by Patricia Ryan

“Fall Driveway, Clackamas County”
pastel painting by Patricia Ryan

I think “unusually satisfying pattern” nails it, dead on. I have spent many hours trying to figure out why some very abstract paintings corral my interest for years, while others have absolutely no effect on me. When one grabs me, it evokes feelings that I can only rarely express verbally, but nonetheless are solid and memorable. It’s like a feeling of connectedness to something I need. Maybe the pattern of lights and darks, or the combination or patterns of colors causes a response in the brain that simply mimics patterns of stimulation associated with really fundamental human responses. Or maybe the patterns are stimulating a function of the brain that current science doesn’t understand or even recognize — some kind of non-verbal awareness. Not everyone “gets” truly abstract art, and those who do don’t like the same works. So the patterns may be individual.

 

The complete artist
by Terri Menefee, Royal, AR, USA

 

I grew up in an art gallery and now I teach and make art for a living. Yes there is something to this heart process in the purchasing tendencies. Here are a few other things to consider: Often a buyer will buy several pieces by a particular artist because they like the person with his or her story. It is always a good idea to be available for your buyers and share a story of the whys and how tos. Another point to consider is the social impact some buyers (not me of course) buy to be seen buying, or to show off, purchasing not for art’s sake, but for bragging (this buyer has all coordinating furniture and furnishings)… so as much as I would love to say pouring our heart (as we do) into our work, having a good story and a nice suite helps too.

 

Finessing your own sales
by John Ferrie, Vancouver, BC, Canada

 

Aqua original painting 40 x 60 inches by John Ferrie

“Aqua”
original painting 40 x 60 inches
by John Ferrie

I am currently making pre-sales on my new show Fallen Angel. I represent myself, run my own gallery space, market and sell my own work and close all the deals. I think people are more savvy these days and buying directly from the artist gives them more of an experience. I have learned everything the hard way and made every mistake twice. I come from a family of stock brokers, so I seem to have some business sense. It has been my experience that Husbands shouldn’t buy art alone. They take a piece home after touring my studio and inevitably the piece comes back, with the wife in hand, to see the rest of the collection. I always look for what I call “The face light up!” This is where the clients face has that light bulb moment where they know this is their piece. I know then that the deal has closed and the client loves what they are getting. That magic moment where what you are communicating is what the client reads and there is that “esoteric” connection, but it is rare and fleeting. I always say, art is a luxury item and is the LAST thing people buy. Artists should resolve themselves to the fact that 90% of the population will not like their work and of the 10% left over only 5% can afford it. You got to sell like you don’t need the money! Sell with a velvet glove and if the deal isn’t closed within 48 hours, it’s not going to happen.

 

Emotion beats focus group
by Les Stones, Yorkshire, England

 

Blossom in the tree original painting by Les Stones

“Blossom in the tree”
original painting by Les Stones

As a professional artist, and with 30 years experience the last 15 as a professional, maybe I should know why certain paintings of mine sell — and why others don’t seem to hit the mark, but I don’t. Your article made me think, as at the open evening of a group show I exhibited in this week, two men in smart suits were standing in front of and discussing one of my paintings. It was a small simple scene of sheep in the snow with evening approaching. Leaning closer to take a look, each in turn seemed to be pointing out certain aspects to his companion who nodded thoughtfully. It all seemed very business like, they seemed to study each brushstroke, analyze and discuss the composition — it seemed so clinical that if they could have weighed the painting and worked out a ‘paint to canvas’ ratio I’m sure they would have! Meanwhile, a lady approached, seemed to glance at the painting then walk on. The two men were still in front of and discussing the painting when a few seconds later she returned. Again she slowly walked past, peering ever so carefully around the men to be able to take a second look at the painting, and then walked off. A few minutes later she approached me, introduced her self and told me she had just bought the painting! She said that she just “loved the colours and the feeling in the painting, and had to have it” She seemed thrilled, though she had seen the painting only for a matter of seconds she knew she wanted it so bought it before the “two chaps who were in the way decided to.” I think her emotional response to the painting must have equaled the emotional response I had when I first chanced upon the scene when I was out sketching, and must have captured in the painting. It wasn’t the quality, size, or any perceived investment value of the painting she was buying — she just loved how it made her feel. She felt, and bought the ‘poetry’ in the painting, not a visual description of what sheep in the snow look like. Maybe that’s it, as a professional artist I have to sell what I paint, and if someday I am ‘painting to sell’ my emotional response is not there and will not come through in the finished painting. Some of my paintings have remained unsold even though I may think they are more technically proficient — they may describe the subject well enough, but not let people ‘feel’ it.

 

Balancing the brain
by Judith Madsen

 

Chores with Grandpa watercolour painting on paper 20 x 22 inches by Judith Madsen

“Chores with Grandpa”
watercolour on paper 20 x 22 inches
by Judith Madsen

I just did an 8-session, one week brain training to equalize the activity of my left and right brain spheres. The technology is only 4 years old, fascinating and amazing and it is because they can now directly measure the activity within your own brain, and coax less than active alpha, beta, theta, delta, gamma waves with music for only your brain that they have pre-assessed. I turned out to be more left brain than right brain, which did not surprise me. One session of 2 times a day for four days is what is recommended and then to wait 2-3 months for the new neural pathways to entrench. The concrete thing I noticed immediately was that my blood pressure went to normal, so no more hypertension! I’m not feeling depressed or anxious like I was before. I was hoping for less procrastination, but that I can’t measure yet. It was $1800 for all 9 sessions of 1.5 hours each) and I talked to so many referrals and testimonials that I was really excited about this new technology. I don’t mean this to sound like a sales pitch but I was very excited to hear the technology has developed to so accurately measure the brain using eeg-trodes run by a 9 volt battery. The technology is all in the amazing computer developed by Lee Geddes. You can even see brain chatter or when you blink. Really was fun. I managed to improve my brain balance 50% more than where I started.

(RG note) Thanks, Judith. Brain State Technologies can be found here.

 

The long spoon of mockery
by Jim Larwill, Lac Bussiere, QC, Canada

 

Like a boot torn by a dog I ponder the lives of painters, north window being light that guides a canvas world where a poet befriends landscape fashions of his time; my friend telling me his mother has died with less word emotion than my lover’s story of her gnawed footwear, each picture a lost passion in markets of style and form where acrylic colour and washes of grey water contend, frames twist and turn in a whirlwind of wanting while on they cling to humble hopes of art. In this dance of the pure I am their piper who pays their tune with quick laughter devil of divine nothing they offer me cash in payment of songs that sing silence to every image they blank from a world on to the walls where endless nails mark craft of smooth manufactured plaster, each board sandwiched between cellulose sheets screwed to 2×4 works of nature, creative grain sculpture — time hidden between spaces that light no longer penetrates, but still past shining screams out along threads of screws calling to forests timbered in acid free falling, paper bleached by leach chemicals, capital that brushes green to mills of sepia need as rivers suck the life colours out of hillsides bleeding brittle and dry, autumn now a blaze of burnings in a pastiche world whipping with winter storms of tanned cotton spun by a horse grinding bark on a tread mill, happy with the endless progress it makes (such never ending movement) bag on its mouth comfort as hooves march in open highways of its own shit circled, they stuff their mouths with oats as they fallow a carrot dangling. Like a dog kicked by a torn boot I ponder my own life knowing bitter mockery is the long spoon I offer the lives of painters who eager of any payment will take what they can get even when it comes from failure’s voice screaming sandwiched between their sheet of image radiant with didactic proclamations, I blow egos to wind until the balloon explodes with thunder and hot raiment’s melting my visions into brush strokes captured in their mind, now eyeless with ranting Cyclops poetry hungry knowing the north window is the painter’s window and poet’s carve words to numbing tungsten blades slashing lashes on backs of gallery slaves pulling on oars headed for the end of the world, an ocean of perspective that drops.

 

 

World of Art Featured artist Leslie Anderson, ME, USA

 
You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes A. Carole Grant who wrote, “I am a quilter. I had a solo show a few years ago now, and it was a very revealing time, both for me as a person and an observer of people. I made it a point to be available on Saturdays to meet and interact with the guests. Watching them look at, talk about my work was almost an out of body experience. There was more emotion, rather than rationale in the purchases.”

And also K.S. Harris of Italy who wrote, “I understand where you are coming from, saying that the first thing which touches you is pattern. But for me, the first thing that touches me is color and mood (I think). How do we know what is the FIRST thing which attracts us? So many things are probably happening at the same time. But I think I see color and mood first.”

And also Kordelia Kudelka of NC, USA who wrote, “I am currently in a small show, and when I found out I hadn’t won anything, I rushed through the rest of the show, looking at the pieces as ‘the competition,’ ‘how’s he/she better than me,’ or with disdain. Yesterday, I went back with a friend, and in better circumstances, enjoyed looking at “The Show”…so I guess mindset activates the shutter of the eyes, allowing for enjoyment.”

And also Claudia Lorenz of Saanich, BC, Canada who wrote, “I suggest revisiting Kumar and Melamid’s examinations of consumer desires in art production. Their conclusions are perhaps even more enlightening than Dr Knight’s.”

(RG note) Thanks, Claudia. Students of art, Kumar and Melamid, tried to figure out the “most wanted picture” of several cultures. In the US interviewing results showed a family, outdoors, by a lake, with some deer and George Washington, and was about 2 feet by 3. A native of Delhi India where he studied printmaking and painting at the Delhi College of Art, Shaurya Kumar graduated with his MFA from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2007. Kumar is currently an Assistant Professor at Bowling Green State University. Kumar has also directed documentary films on the painting traditions of India. Their research does not seem to be the emotional reactions of serious collectors so much as ideas of persons otherwise uninterested in art as to what they think are the best pictures.

And also Nancy Cook who wrote, “Have you read the book Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell? Quick thinking is what it’s all about. In that nanosecond we “know” something. We don’t always know why or how.”

(RG note) Thanks, Nancy. Yes I have, and I wrote a letter about it here. And it seems that when we try to put our decisions into words we get into the business of fooling ourselves and muddying the waters.

 

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Grabbing the heart

 

 

From: Pat Kelly — Mar 18, 2008

My experience confirms your observations. The gallery that represents my work seems to especially attract that type of collector. The owner is particularly good at discussing the emotional aspects of my work and the work of others in the gallery. She calls us “Feeling” Collectors often tell me how much my work connects with them emotionally. This particular gallery shows quite a bit of Plein Air work. I have always felt that Plein Air primarily has an emotional appeal, the feeling of the place and time, a connection to the Creation. My collectors have told me that they like to sit among their paintings and muse, perhaps it is a way to re charge their battery when emotions run low.

From: Dennis Cabral — Mar 19, 2008

I am a collector of modest means who has been acquiring art since 1988 and I must tell you that I think your point about an instantaneous connection is “right on”! It takes mere seconds for a “right” piece to grab my attention, i.e., my heart. Considerations such as “Where will we put it? The frame’s no good. . . etc.,” play but a minor role — if any — in deciding whether or not I will purchase a particular piece. A simple “test” that I have applied over the years is this: When a painting triggers that special “Oh Boy!” feeling in my chest when I first see it, I quickly walk away from it and let my breathlessness sort of settle down. Ten minutes or so later, I will return for a second look and if the initial excitement wallops me again (as it almost always does), then I know that I must have the piece. The decision is quick and it is sweet! And, I have learned that this initial “magic” not only endures, it actually grows stronger over time. Although I have 200+ paintings in my collection, they are all cherished and, because of the “heart connection,” I can fondly recall the circumstances under each was acquired. I don’t know how to explain this emotional “gotcha'” phenomenon, but I do know from personal experience that it is not only real; it is also a very good friend and guide.

From: Rick Rotante — Mar 19, 2008

For the true collector, it’s always about how the work appeals to them. Why people buy art has many faces, monetary, investment, connection to the artist or a myriad of other reasons. Art hits a personal cord that can’t be easily explained. Color, at times, influences decision. Other times value or content. Subject matter draws people to art. I own lithographs that mesmerize me in their technique and handling. It was once said to me that there is a buyer out there for all artwork. I believe this because we’re all made of the same stuff, suffer similar problems, build on the same hopes and have the same dreams as many others and we find a connection through art and buyer. Some artists may never get into a gallery, but they should still follow their muse and create. Art is not about sales; it’s about connecting with the world and with yourself. There are those who create it and those who appreciate it by owning it. Some do both. The true experience is the feeling one gets when one views a work of art that can’t be expressed with words. Many times trying to explain the feeling diminishes the experience. Why one buys a work of art doesn’t need or require explanation. Only the commerce side wants to know why people buy. The true lover/collector needs only to feel the connection and cherish the experience.

From: Stewart Turcotte — Mar 20, 2008

There has always been a difference in perception between the older freedom loving jurors and the up and coming young artists. In recognizing fresh ideas and opening the door to some unique ideas, the jurors may have unknowingly and without blame, opened the door to misconception. The success of Maude Lewis and Grandma Moses has given some artists with less than stellar abilities to incorrectly assume that the end justifies their lack of trying or lack of ability. Maude Lewis struggled for years to produce her artworks and was applauded for how she overcame her physical shortcomings and became recognized for this naïve oeuvre. Picasso, Daphne Odjig and other great artists who painted simplistic masterpieces were incredibly gifted and well studied as beginners. Their early works show incredible draughting skills and understanding of the masters that may not be visible in later works. They chose to do what they did and to stretch the bounds of what was acceptable but understood what they were doing and how they wanted their work need be interpreted.

From: Kathleen Sauerbrei — Mar 20, 2008

Art is a work of the Heart! For both the buyer and the artist. It is nice that these two feelings meld in a gallery. We as artists try to portray our feelings with every stroke, and the buyers feel that we did it just for them! It can and often is, a win-win situation.

From: Lorelle Miller — Mar 20, 2008

Once a long time ago, I noticed a young man kneeling on the floor at a local art exhibition (there was such limited space it was displayed near the floor). He was entranced by this painting I had done. I watched him for possibly 10 or 15 minutes completely mesmerized by the work. At the time I pondered what to do, my curiosity was killing me. How could this painting have such an effect? What had brought him to his knees in the most literal sense? I carefully approached him and asked about this curious spell that my painting had produced in him. He told me that he had related to this image on a very personal level, it became his experience, a vision of his life and relationships. How could I have ever guessed that my image would touch someone to such depths. So many times we isolate ourselves thinking that we are so different, or unique, however the human experience seems to be very universal so much of the time. What hurts, hurts us all, what makes us laugh translates into many languages, so it stands to reason that the arts hold a key of sorts to a world that knows no earthly boundary. One that can speak to a broad audience about a diverse world, yet get a simple message through.

From: Mary Timme — Mar 20, 2008

After several rejection letters that were either nice or not, helpful or not, kind or not, I figured out what people are looking for. The hard part is, they can’t articulate it, because they haven’t seen it and can’t put it into words. As the artist, you have to reach out to that part of them that wants to be satisfied, that they don’t even know enough about to tell you about. You do it by pouring your heart out in a ‘universal truth’ whether it is a visual or written, or beaded truth, that speaks to them on the ‘heart’ level and satisfies. Then the click, the blink of an eye, is just waiting for the correct person.

From: Paul de Marrais — Mar 20, 2008

I came upon the price-placebo concept in an article. People were given two bottles of wine…one at $9 a bottle and one at $90 a bottle. They didn’t know that it was all the nine dollar stuff. They preferred the ‘expensive’ wine by a large margin. Apparently a brain researcher took it further by measuring the activity in the area of the brain where ‘pleasure’ happens. They found more activity in that area of the brain when the volunteers tasted the “expensive” wine! Of course, it was the price that made people think they were going to receive more pleasure. Makes you wonder if “discounting’ is such a good idea!

From: Scott Menaul — Mar 20, 2008

These doctors are looking in the wrong place. It’s not about anatomy and chemistry. It’s all about the human spirit, emotion, past experiences, aesthetics. Most of the artists I talk to know that art and art appreciation is a spiritual matter. It goes beyond the physical realm. To reduce it to brain activity and chemical balance is false and degrading to art and the artist.

From: Edward Berkeley — Mar 20, 2008

In the ’70s a new high speed pneumatic drill was introduced during a neurosurgical meeting. There were three identical prototypes in three colors: electric blue, gold and silver. A hidden panel watched most neurosurgeons trying preferentially the gold one. This was the final choice named Midas Rex.

From: Enda Bardell — Mar 20, 2008

I can attest to the emotional appeal of a painting. I have bought a few paintings, not for the subject matter, but how it increased my heart rate. Once, when attending an opening, I saw a painting of tulips which “raced” my heart. I quickly ran to the painting to hold it, while I sent my husband to find the gallery attendant, and bought it. I don’t paint still life or flowers, nor do I really like paintings of the same, but this particular simple painting of tulips touched me. Now, please tell me, how does an artist keep her/his excitement and passion going while working on a painting for several weeks? When I’m passionate about a subject, I need to get it down fast, before I lose it. Some of my better paintings are the ones that took the least amount of time. The ones I “work over”, are less successful. Like Toni Onley said, “The more successful paintings just fall off the brush. The less successful ones take longer.

From: Natalie Fleming — Mar 20, 2008

I also have noted that when a couple is involved in the art buying process, it more often than not results in no sale. When I see a couple trying to decide on one of my paintings, I tell them that when couples buy art together, they often buy a compromise, not a painting that either one really loves. The solution: Let one select their choice of a painting that he/she really loves, and the next time allow the other to independently select his/her choice. That way their household has paintings that are truly loved and not just o.k. and I have two sales instead of none.

From: Michelle Madalena — Mar 20, 2008

I tend to agree that many people will buy things on the merit of the first impression. What is interesting to me is being able to create that feeling everytime they look at a piece of art or ornament or what have you that pleases their senses. I care little for those who buy art to look smart or important in other peoples opinions. Buy art because it talks to you don’t buy art just for show I find that people who do that really haven’t a clue as to whether the art is speaking to them or not. I want my art to be appreciated by the person who will always enjoy it.

From: Rick Rotante — Mar 20, 2008

Jim Larwill–W H A T ????

From: Carol Chretien — Mar 20, 2008

May I add my belief that art, when being viewed by the public, is completed by the viewer. As the artist, creating with heart and emotional investment, I let the “finished” piece go when I sign my name to it. When it is seen by eyes other than my own, I believe, it becomes a whole different piece of work in the eye of that beholder …and…when it is purchased by someone who loves it, then it has a heart and home of its own! That is being “grabbed by the heart” in the best way. Purchased for any other reason is a purchase…purchased because it has a heart connection makes it live.

From: Judy Reinsma — Mar 20, 2008

An emotional reaction led my husband and I to buy an expensive sculpture in Santa Fe one year. We had absolutely no intention of buying nor did our budget allow us to. We were just walking through the many galleries, looking at everything and enjoying ourselves. When WHAM this bronze just said “Take me home” we walked away, too expensive, but we couldn’t help coming back to it. It now sits on a stand in our living room and it provides great pleasure to both of us every single day. This was definitely a decision of the heart and not the head. (I don’t know if you use artist’s names, it was a sculpture of two stallions by Star Liana York)

From: Jim Larwill — Mar 21, 2008

Les Stones… she didn’t buy “the poetry in the painting” she loved it, poetry hasn’t made a profit in a 1000 years…. love your painting “Blossom in the tree” even though I hate cats…

From: Consuelo — Mar 21, 2008

Do you not think that 500 years ago when life was simpler, albeit a tad more barbaric, artists of the day were trying to figure out what draws patrons to their art? Frankly, I’m glad the reasons still remain a mystery, for life would be boring if every piece of art rendered were a masterpiece and every artist a Michelangelo.

From: Leslie Stones — Mar 21, 2008

– glad you like ‘Blossom in the Tree’ Jim, but I don’t understand how anyone can not like cats… as for the poetry thing, I’m really glad that’s not how I try to make a living – choosing a good title for a painting is often hard enough! As I’m writing this, just in case anyone out there is listening (reading?), I begin to realise just how much time I spend on a computer these days. It has got to the stage that I spend about as much time at a keyboard as I do at the easel. Trouble is that I now depend on using a computer for every business aspect of my work. Finding suitable outlets, checking/answering emails, emailing jpgs to galleries and customers, updating the website, publishing and selling limited edition prints (all the scanning and image manipulation etc. took me quite a while even to learn the basics), designing and printing my own publicity material, art licensing, there seems to be an endless list. However, without the benefit of technology, I might still be sending out under/over exposed photos to galleries, waiting weeks while wondering if I would get a response – or even the photos back. I have never been lucky or possibly good enough to rely on a good gallery or dealer to handle everything, I have always had to work hard at the ‘business of art’. Self promotion for example, is hard for most artists, though a few are real experts! By the way, I’ve used ‘Leslie’ not ‘Les’ this time as ‘Leslie Stones’ put into a search engine finds my website, Les Stones doesn’t. I’ve only just found that out, oh well, we learn a little every day.

From: Mária White — Mar 21, 2008

Jim Larwill — Wow! talk about powerful imagery! You do it with words!

From: David Rodman Johnson — Mar 21, 2008

Art is initially a subject of direct attention that becomes peripheral and environmental over time. It catches our attention, holds our gaze . . . why ? Our own sensory response to our environment cannot be described entirely in human verbal language, but can be realized in the tactile, visual, and emotional ‘language’ of art. Heart is central to this experience . . . no one can really define ‘love’ although we recognize and ‘fall for it’ in others, and in art. We all have preferences; we all seek the ‘oooo’s’ and ‘ahhhh’s’ of life. Art speaks to all of us in a manner that we cannot say . . . so is a mystery, a quest. What a treasure when it is found . . . like the voice of a loved one that you thought had been lost. For those of us who create these treasures, the ‘finding’ is in our sensitivities; our perceptions of life’s wholeness. Perhaps we are translators for that which cannot be spoken ? In any case, it seems to me that cherished art becomes a portal through which we may enter the Universe . . . a glimpse, a sliver, a hint of our very own heaven. We are providing a personal journey to an emotional state of mind . . . Art is not a product, but a service.

From: Karen R. Phinney — Mar 21, 2008

I have enjoyed reading the article, and comments, on grabbing the heart. I have occasionally sold a piece to someone who really connected with it, and that always feels good! I also know that when I get an image “out of the blue” in my mind, and I paint it being true to the image in my head, it is better than one I have thought about a lot! It may come like a bolt out of the blue, with the colours and all, and I know I just have to get it down. And that feels like the best fun, the most high experience one can have, that passion to capture the image before it fades………

From: Sam Liberman — Mar 21, 2008

The subject is pretty well exhausted, but I would like to mention the idea that people, maybe only me, like and need art in order to open our eyes. Have you ever been to a museum or gallery and when you leave you notice that everything outside looks different and fresh? We all need to have our visual sense refreshed regularly.

From: Liz Schamehorn — Mar 21, 2008

Jim Larwill…Wow!

From: Suzette — Mar 21, 2008

I echo Rick Rotante’s comment: Jim Larwill–W H A T ?????????

From: Andar Sal, Dubai — Mar 21, 2008

These letters and the responses from professionals and even amateurs who get the “Eureka!” moment are the most valuable thing for creative people. Artists often think they know what they need to know, but this community serves by concerning itself with the real problems and solutions that creative people work out for themselves every day. It is a site of joy for the mature artist and an opportunity to study and grow for others. Well done Genn!

From: Frank Armistead — Mar 22, 2008

I think that Jim Larwill has captured the essence of what art is better than the rest of the discussion. Now to capture that on a flat plane or a single three dimensional image …..

From: Norma E. Hoyle — Mar 22, 2008

Scott Menaul: Re Dr. Lee Gerdes scientific breakthrough… one might think of it this way… the brain is a ‘tool’ of the spirit, allowing it to manifest in the most complete way. One would not fault a sculptor for sharpening his tools.

From: Ron — Mar 23, 2008

It’s amazing how many people who consider themselves to be artists can’t understand let alone appreciate poetry. Thanks Jim – a breath of fresh air as opposed to hot air.

From: Cassandra James — Mar 23, 2008

I really enjoyed reading the richness represented here, except for Jim Larwill’s letter – sorry Jim, you sound more like a writer than fine artist. I think the painting is more experience than product. And it seems some folks prefer to disguise their work with incomprehensibility of language. I’d rather see it represented in the form of fine art, which is so much richer than language, which strikes me as a blunt tool. I live on the right side of the brain, I’m afraid, but accept that and enjoy it there.

From: Theresa Bayer — Mar 25, 2008

Mr. Larwill has put together some wonderful evocative imagery but for my furrowed little brain, a huge monolith of text unrelieved by paragraphs fails to pull me in, and instead of reading it, I skim. Just my “blink” response, I guess. Great content, but I wish the form were…(dare I say it)…more accessible.

From: Rick Rotante — Mar 25, 2008

The reason poetry hasn’t made money in a thousand years is because of people like Mr Larwell. Too many don’t read poetry much less understand the imagery. Imposters like Mr. Larwell only muddy up the waters. It’s no surprise to me there are those who will be impressed with the “larwell jargon” passing for poetry. Too many don’t even read books anymore. Try some of these and get back to me: E.E. CUMMINGS, CHARLOTTE BRONTE, LANGSTON HUGHES, OLIVER W. HOLMES, JONATHON SWIFT, EDITH WHARTON, SIR WALTER SCOTT,A.A. MILNE, CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, WILLIAM BLAKE, ROBERT BURNS and many many more.

From: Cynthia Wilhelm — Mar 25, 2008

Terri Menefee, I had a disappointing experience of an artist telling me a story about a painting of theirs that I had just purchased. I had a personal response to the imagery in the painting and obviously liked it enough to buy it. Then the artist told me about how it captured some kind of conflicted feelings he had about his mother! That was information I could have done without. My own experience of the painting was quite peaceful. After hearing his story, the painting was never the same for me. I never hung it on a wall. After storing it for a long while, I ended up donating it to a local school for their fundraiser. Someone else is now enjoying it unencumbered by that story of conflict. So, based on this experience, I would tell artists to use good judgement about sharing their personal stories about their work. First find out about the viewer’s response to it. Carol Chretien’s belief that art is completed by the viewer really rings true to me. What an artist puts into their work is not always the same as what a viewer “gets” from it. That is part of the wonder of it all… (And, Jim Larwill, you do have a wonderful way with words. Loved the experience! Did you mean to write, “fallow a carrot?” It has an interesting feel, but also could be a typo. I’m currious.)

From: Jim Larwill — Apr 08, 2008

art of being a lemming

like a boot torn by a dog I ponder the lives of painters,

north window being light that guides a canvas world

where a poet befriends landscape fashions of his time;

my friend telling me his mother has died with less word

emotion than my lover’s story of her gnawed footwear,

each picture a lost passion in markets of style and form

where acrylic colour and washes of grey water contend,

frames twist and turn in a whirlwind of wanting while on

they cling to humble hopes of art. In this dance of the pure

I am their piper who pays their tune with quick laugher

devil of divine nothing they offer me cash in payment of

songs that sing silence to every image they blank from a

world on to the walls where endless nails mark craft of

smooth manufactured plaster, each board sandwiched

between cellulose sheets screwed to 2×4 works of nature,

creative grain sculpture – time hidden between spaces that

light no longer penetrates, but still past shining screams out

along threads of screws calling to forests timbered in acid

free falling, paper bleached by leach chemicals, capital that

brushes green to mills of sepia need as rivers suck the life

colours out of hillsides bleeding brittle and dry, autumn

now a blaze of burnings in a pastiche world whipping with

winter storms of tanned cotton spun by a horse grinding

bark on a tread mill, happy with the endless progress it

makes (such never ending movement) bag on its mouth

comfort as hooves march in open highways of its own shit

circled, they stuff their mouths with oats as they follow a

carrot dangling. Like a dog kicked by a torn boot I ponder

my own life knowing bitter mockery is the long spoon I

offer the lives of painters who eager of any payment will

take what they can get even when it comes from failure’s

voice screaming sandwiched between their sheet of image

radiant with didactic proclamations, I blow egos to wind

until the balloon explodes with thunder and hot raiment’s

melting my visions into brush strokes captured in their

mind, now eyeless with ranting Cyclops poetry hungry

knowing the north window is the painter’s window and

poet’s carve words to numbing tungsten blades slashing

lashes on backs of gallery slaves pulling on oars headed

for the end of the world, an ocean of perspective that drops

*******************************************

since there has been a number of comments I thought I should try and post the actual poem I wrote with its title, line breaks, and original lack of starting capital, and lack of final period

and yes opppssss!!!!! it is follow, but fallow might even be better

since I am an imposter, thought people should see the original imposter, and not the imposter imposter… even if a bit of an impish poster

hope that this comment gets the poem through in its intended form even if it is too late for people to notice

From: Michelle Marie Madalena — Jul 29, 2011

Well Robert it has been quite some time that I have been receiving all of the letters and I believe they might go back as far as the first time I joined, U kept me going just knowing I would always receive a message about what I am most passionate about.

 

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