A dissatisfied artist


Dear Artist,

Yesterday, Colorado painter Tom Lockhart wrote, “I work 50 to 65 hours per week, teach workshops and serve on the Board of a Local Arts Center. I judge art shows and travel to locations to paint. I earn $75,000.00 to $100,000.00 annually — too much to get a grant. I pay more than my share of taxes, expense out what the law allows and still find it difficult to make ends meet. I’m constantly paying entry fees, dues, advertising, framers, suppliers and travel expenses. I can’t understand why the public insists on buying cheap, crappy art from poorly educated artists who suffer for their craft. Yuk! There are constantly retired lawyers, doctors, architects, dentists and other professionals who decide to become painters. They put their work in galleries and sell to the unsophisticated, taking sales away from deserving, serious artists. And now with the economic bad times, it’s even harder to sell your art. What do you think about this?”


“Afternoon at Monarch Lake”
oil painting, 11 x 14 inches
by Tom Lockhart

Thanks, Tom. One of the great features of our game is that it’s a level field where anyone can come and play. You may have noticed that a few years ago when you first ran out onto the field. While you have managed your career well, it was the quality of your work that ultimately got collectors’ attention. While there are back eddies and fearsome rapids in the river of creativity, it’s my observation that quality is still pervasively on the rise.




“A Lazy Fall Afternoon”
oil painting, 12 x 16 inches
by Tom Lockhart

We in this brotherhood and sisterhood live in a state of uncertainty and flux. One year’s laureate is next year’s dead poet.

When we get too stuck in the relative affluence game, like some of our friends in the cash register of commerce, we lose sight of the truly great thing we do. It is to live this life of exploration and daily delight. It is to be free of the grind and indignity of working for someone else’s gain, of commuting to some office, factory or field. Of selling our souls for pay cheque and pension. Of joy in struggling with our shortcomings and weaknesses. Of ultimately making a wholesome product that fine people cherish through generations. Tom, practically everyone thinks you’ve got it made. Fact is, you have.


“Spring Sunrise on the River”
oil painting, 6 x 8 inches
by Tom Lockhart

Best regards,


PS: “Paradoxically, I have found peace because I have always been dissatisfied. My moments of depression and despair turn out to be renewals, new beginnings. If I were to settle down and be satisfied with the surface of life, with its divisions and its cliches, it would be time to call in the undertaker. This dissatisfaction which sometimes used to worry me has helped me to move freely and even gaily with the stream of life.” (Thomas Merton)

Esoterica: Some segments of the art world are a remarkable meritocracy, while other segments are living proof that idiots have taken charge of the asylum. The wild cards are not always the artists, but the critics, media, dealers, interloping amateurs and the incorrigible, unsophisticated public you mentioned. Leave out those other guys and we’d be a pretty happy bunch. Leave out those other guys and we’d all be dead broke.

Tom Lockhart paintings


“Roof Top View Telluride”
oil painting
11 x 14 inches


“Ranch Along the St. Vrain”
oil painting
9 x 12 inches


“Season of Change”
oil painting
18 x 30 inches


“Spring Colors in the Canyon”
oil painting
24 x 32 inches







Rewarding values
by John Osburn, North Bay, ON, Canada

I have real sympathy with Tom. Anyone can pick up a paintbrush. Anyone can take up a photograph and produce an image that will pass for art it seems. We know this product for what it is. You and I have seen it everywhere; hotel rooms, boardrooms, waiting rooms, living rooms. It has little to do with Tom and his vocation and in the long run it will mean nothing. It will eventually find its way to the recycling bin. As a successful architect in my salad days I thought my design ability would easily translate into a satisfying second career in art. How naive. How difficult that transition has been. Thanks to artists like Tom, their generosity, their patience, their ability and experience, I have learned so much. I am listening, studying every day, but mostly just doing it. The only value I set on this work is how much it pleases me to produce it, how it speaks of nature, and how it tells the truth. I believe these values reward both Tom and I in the same quest and I am grateful to you for reminding us both of that.


We’re big kids now
by Esti Mayer, Montreal, QC, Canada


“Defiance and hope”
original painting
by Esti Mayer

Yes, it’s a level playing field. Yes, dissatisfaction can be our constant companion. Yes, working and persevering is the best medicine. But still, I think the artistic siblinghood errs in failing to educate the public. We have become so post-modern in our valuation of every scribble as “art,” of every unabashedly tacky canvas as “creative,” we have stopped criticizing. We are all too politically correct, always afraid of offending and hurting people’s feelings. Well, my siblings, not all art is art, not all canvases are good, not all creative impulses result in worthy works. It is time to stop being so nice and polite, time to call a spade a spade, time to critique and give meaning to the exercise by making it real. I am so tired of platitudes, we are all guilty of them as you know. I am tired of telling bad artists that “way to go” they did a fabulous job, when in fact their work can hardly stand on its own without blushing in embarrassment. Some of my paintings are good, some are bad. I know, I made them. But everyone says “wow” all the time — how are we to know where we stand? How are we to overcome the dissatisfaction welling in us, when we are in fact alone in our own reality. Let the artistic siblinghood vow truthfulness. We are all big kids now — we can and should take it!

There are 7 comments for We’re big kids now by Esti Mayer

From: Patrick — Apr 20, 2009

Esti, I am so glad that you said what you did because that little stick figure painting of yours is a stupid worthless piece of crap. Seriously. Now off you go and have a nice day!

From: Patsy — Apr 21, 2009

I laughed out loud, Patrick: eggzacktly, as they say! Since when does a Spielberg alien display emotions of defiance and hope? And I thought Tom had lost touch a bit, complaining about his earnings like that. He’s very lucky – his paintings are “nice”, but I’ve seen superior work done by the amateurs he so despises. It’s subjective, isn’t it? We have different ideas of what’s great and what isn’t – if we were all the same, how boring life would be.

The art world is a funny old world; why else would someone like Tracy Emin be so successful? What is wrong with painting something that is simply a beautiful creation, that you would like to look at every day for the rest of your life? The real world isn’t so funny; it’s tough, and often distressing, so anyone should have the right to buy something that gives them peace and pleasure.

From: Natasha Isenhour — Apr 21, 2009

That couldn’t have been said better Patsy! Only to add that in my opinion, bad knockoffs and a market flooded with glorified prints hurts our income worse than a Doctor turning his lab coat into a painting smock. Oops! But I traded my rock hammer in for a paint brush! Sorry Tom. I think we should all count our blessings. We are doing what we love and the folks that trade money for our work appreciate that we chose to follow our passion!

From: Jan — Apr 21, 2009

Patrick, your comment brought a smile to my face!! The old proverb, “Be careful what you wish for” held true this time. Tom is fortunate to be selling ANYTHING during these difficult times, AND doing something he loves in the meantime.

From: Anna — Apr 21, 2009

Nup, not with you on this one. Ultimately, the market will sort the successes from the failures, if it’s no good it won’t sell, and if it does sell when critics thought it was crap maybe they were wrong, no need for every Tom, Dick and Harry to throw their 2 cents worth in, sadly the intent behind these UNWANTED critiques is often coming from the worst and best hidden parts of the personality, not constructive in the slightest. A hidden agenda can be a nasty thing. I do wonder just how thick Esti’s skin really was when Patrick gave his opinion (so funny!!), which I believe she may have asked for. Go figure. If a critique is needed, be selective, ask those whose opinions you value, whose work you respect, whose honesty will be forthcoming.

From: Jeanne Rhea — Apr 23, 2009

I happen to like this piece. Fine art, maybe not—but it strikes me as a piece with emotion. The barb wire fence (look) adds something that gives it an eerie feeling. I don’t see so much hope, but I am coming from my own perspective. I would like to know how Esti chose the title.

From: DiReicherts Art — Jul 13, 2009

Everyone makes a good point, the complaint stands: are we artists getting the ‘short shift’? The artist who struggles all his/her life to turn out good art deserves recognition and a good living. It is true that others who retire are taking customers away from the life-long artist but people will buy what they want, regardless


No complaints
by Karl Leitzel, Spring Mills, PA, USA


“Cape May Sunrise with Gull”
oil painting, 14 x 18 inches
by Karl Leitzel

Tom’s situation is pretty much what I seem to be heading toward and hope to achieve within another year or two. As to the mostly amateur artists who try their hand at selling their work, I don’t worry about it. I don’t think they cut into serious art purchasing to any great degree, and most will not keep at it long if there is little positive feedback. In the meantime, it makes life more enjoyable for them and gives a creative outlet. Besides, some of those same retired lawyers and doctors are actually serious art buyers and workshop participants as well, and if dabbling in art themselves helps keep that interest up, I have no complaints.

There is 1 comment for No complaints by Karl Leitzel

From: Anonymous — Dec 08, 2012

Art is in the eye of the beholder. It’s like writing. You do it because you love to do it. If people want to buy it, that is a bonus. If you have to work at something else to support it, so be it.

But there are people who do what they do just because they had some success at selling paintings when they started, or because they were war artists, or because they made a name for themselves with a new style. Think of the big splash of red that cost the taxpayers of Canada 1 million to put in the Art Gallery in Ottawa. It just makes people angry.

I have paintings on my wall that make me smile when I look at them.

That is why I buy them. Most “art” work now is sold to accommodate interior designers who like the colours or the shape. It too, is art.

Some people like antiques, some like landscapes, some like modern, some like abstract some like folk art, and some hate it. You can buy what you like and what you can afford. If you aren’t happy with the money you make, do something that makes you happy. It would be a funny world if every person who tries to make a good living for themselves with their paintings were angry at others who paint for a hobby. Some people work all their lives so they CAN paint when they retire, or sculpt or whatever. The consumers of the world do not all like the same things.


Subjective fascism
by Keith Cameron, Sierra Madre, CA, USA

Tom, in response to your comments you are obviously a well educated technical artist who has in my humble opinion a strong sense of color and form within your interpretations. Having said that, to think that education is the only way to become an artist borders upon subjective fascism. Those you speak of must enter the art market under the same conditions that you face and suffer, or enjoy the sale of their work just like you. Again in my humble opinion the entire world would be a much better place if in once in their lives people could discover the intricate wonder of the contours of the human body; the closeness to nature you feel when you see the complementary colors in dialogue within a sunset and earthly forms; to see our amazing planet reduced into fractals that boggle the mind in macro, and macro views. I wish experiences like that for everybody, and if along the way they enjoy a sale that reflects an appreciation for their efforts we are better for it. I wish you well in your efforts to make more money, but please do not turn on the collective inamorata(o) when you don’t.

There are 2 comments for Subjective fascism by Keith Cameron

From: Liz Reday — Apr 21, 2009

Thank you Keith! We need to think more about what art gives us in terms of observation, wonder & spiritual amazement, not how many paintings we can sell. It’s all about appreciating being alive and the colors in dappled shade.

From: Stu — Apr 22, 2009

I can understand what Keith is trying to say but there is something else to remember: we all need to eat and it is frustrating to spend years honing ones craft only to watch the new flavor of the month come along and sweep up the accolades (or sales). I’m neither defending nor decrying the original posters lament, only stating I can see where he’s coming from. Perhaps he needs to “do something outrageous” to get media attention and thus establish himself as a “bad boy” rebel against the establishment/man/etc typs of artiste? :)


Life is good
by Joyce Aysta, Los Angeles, CA, USA

When I decided to leave the film industry and make my living as an artist, I also decided not to be a “starving artist.” I spent a great deal of time early on, learning about the business side of being an artist, and that was very helpful. However the most helpful thing I did was read a book called How to Get the Things in Life You Want with the Money You Already Have by Carol Keeffe. The premise of the book is that no matter how much money you make or don’t make, you always think you need about 10% more. Carol’s answer is that no matter how much money you do or don’t have, you can live the life you want. The first 10 years of being an artist were a constant financial struggle. The last 5 years, as I have learned to apply Carol’s principals, life has been much easier. The bills are paid on time and I get to do things like take vacations, buy new clothes and get season ticket s to the Hollywood Bowl… Life is good.


Unique voices please
by Elsha Leventis, Toronto, ON, Canada


“Coronas I”
original painting, 42 x 42 inches
by Elsha Leventis

This is a “problem” in just about every field of human endeavour — there are people with talent who never make it and people with no talent who rise faster than helium balloons, and the rest of us somewhere between the extremes. Martha Graham had wise words. To paraphrase — it’s not up to us to judge whether what we do is good or bad, we need to get our unique voices out there because if we don’t the world would never know our work at all and would be a poorer place. There are a whole slew of us who admire and respect Tom for making what most would consider to be a very respectable living at art — or in any field.




Obstacles into opportunities
by Alev Guvenir, Istanbul, Turkey


“The touch”
oil painting
by Alev Guvenir

The art market has its own dynamics. The customer is the decision maker. If he/she likes a piece he’ll buy. An artist cannot criticize the artistic taste of the customer. Every seller has a buyer. Similarly if he is participating in a competition he cannot criticize the jury. He should not lose time and energy trying to control the world. People buy to decorate their houses: It’s their environment, their taste, their value for the money. They buy to invest. They get the nearest critic’s advice. They fulfill their soul. They may get transcendental in front of a blue square painted by a dentist or Rothko. There is the freedom of choice and one should be thankful for that. It is a small perception shift to see obstacles as opportunities. And one benefits a lot. Obstacles drain energy but opportunities motivate.

There are 3 comments for Obstacles into opportunities by Alev Guvenir

From: Anonymous — Apr 20, 2009

well said!

From: Gary Holbrook — Apr 24, 2009

Beautifully put Alev.

From: Theresa Troise Heidel — Nov 20, 2009



No entitlement please
by Doug Walker, Calgary, AB, Canada

There is no entitlement just because we are “trained” in a certain area. Labor Unions have tried this setup in our society (in the start for good reason). G.M. and Chrysler are now collapsing because of the distorted effect of their product and in part the people who work there. Even countries have tried. I used to go to Cuba every year and found that the artists and doctors all get paid the same. This year the hurricanes came and destroyed houses, etc, etc. In the villages one house would be repaired and not the next. When I asked, Why? I was told that the repaired house had a brother high in the government. So there is equal and more equal. Even in the area where the artists are tenured, such as the universities, there is no “Equal” but there is entitlement of income. These are the people who give classes to the retired lawyers, teachers and others such as myself. Would Tom change this or does he want to be part of it? I would say the latter. Also, Tom, I am seventy this year and have been painting 15 of the 15 years since I have been retired. Are you saying my art has no value? “Our system is not perfect but it is better than the alternative.”

There are 2 comments for No entitlement please by Doug Walker

From: Anonymous — Apr 21, 2009

Yes, true, equal and more equal…but please, don’t blame the union workers for the demise of GM and Chrysler, look to the outrageous salaries and bonuses of CEO’s and whoever decided to keep designing vehicles that people didn’t want to buy….

From: Anonymous — Apr 22, 2009

I just wanted to add to the comment by Anonymous – the problem with GM & Chrysler has to do with the management. For the last twenty five years or so they have been too cute by a half. They cut corners, made dumb decisions and basically did what they could to charge what they could and give out the least in product quality. Now that they gotten religion it may be too late. Usually in situations like this those that produce the goods get the shaft while the big shots get to retire and play golf.


Phase out the negative
by Callie Beller

My initial reaction to your writer’s “dilemma” was to throw a rock at his head! Since he wasn’t handy to aim at, the urge got stifled. Seriously though, if this artist is so dissatisfied, perhaps it isn’t the income that is the issue. Judging from his letter, travelling to give workshops and being a leader in his art community don’t seem to be providing him with the level of satisfaction that one would expect. He has needs that aren’t being met, and at 75-100k a year, they have nothing to do with food, shelter or clothing. (Or framing. Just include it in the price of the painting, for pete’s sake!) I think if anyone is going to be a professional artist, they need to manage all aspects of their career, including work/life balance, just the same as any other professional. If another artist has something that you think you should have, examine what the emotional payoff is that you’re looking for. If any part of your career isn’t contributing towards your wellbeing, then it needs to be phased out in favour of something that is.


Room enough for everyone
by Beth Christensen


original painting
by Beth Christensen

REALLY??? Let’s see…I’ve worked for 30 years teaching 4th graders and pulling down less than half of what our dissatisfied artist friend makes… oh yeah, and that’s before taxes and expenses too. My dream was always to be a professional artist, but my family was my priority, and so I limited myself to weekend and occasional evening indulgences in art over the years. That was my choice and I feel no regrets, but now I finally am able to quit my job and follow my own heart. I am exceedingly happy learning and experimenting and would like to show my work sometime in the near future. If I were to sell a few pieces, I’d be over the moon, not because I’d be getting rich, but because someone liked what I have to say enough to invest money in it. Art is what touches a person’s spirit and makes them feel something. There’s room enough for everyone, and thank goodness most of the artists I know are generous both in spirit and in sharing advice and encouragement.

There are 5 comments for Room enough for everyone by Beth Christensen

From: Jim Carpenter — Apr 20, 2009

Very nicely said.

From: Anna Horsnell Wade — Apr 21, 2009

Beautifully said and true. A kindred spirit are you.

From: Nicolle — Apr 21, 2009

Well said!

From: Gwen Fox — Apr 21, 2009

Beth…..with the movement in your painting you are well on you way! I was 49 before I took my first workshop and now show throughout the United States. It takes drive, persistence, never listening to what others think (unless it is someone you completely trust), courage, love, willingness to fail and a devotion to your hearts desire. We are happy when we are full at heart.

From: L C — Apr 21, 2009

Yes, I agree with you! And Gwen Fox Thank you for putting words to my thoughts.


Great life in commercial art
by Jesse Silver, Burbank, CA, US

One of my teachers, James Doolin, spoke to our class about the likelihood of making a career in the arts. What he said was that one in ten thousand would be able to support him or her self through art and that if just one of his students managed a career, out of a lifetime of teaching, then he would have beaten the odds. Well, I’m one of those artists, and I have to take issue with Robert’s comments. I’m a commercial artist. I take home a check, am building a pension, and help others make money. I’m pretty well rewarded for it, making a good six figure income on average. I work in animation and live action films. All in all it’s a good gig. I’ve traveled and worked all over the US and Canada. I’ve dreamt up ideas for everywhere and everywhen. Worked with a swell bunch of extraordinarily talented creative people. I’ve always liked telling stories with my work and this field is perfect for that purpose. The work is demanding, challenging, and ever changing. And it’s a kick to see my paintings, or applied creative input, on the screen. The quality of the work that goes into a film is staggering, and generally of a much higher calibre than I see in galleries. The people with whom I work are fine artists who have chosen a commercial path. They draw and paint and sculpt and model and animate with passion and dedication. They don’t make any big fuss about it. And they support their families through the application of their art and craft. All in all, we’re very fortunate, perhaps blessed, to be able to do this. And anyone who considers us somehow “less than” because we take home a check, earn a pension, and/or help others make money, doesn’t get it.

There is 1 comment for Great life in commercial art by Jesse Silver

From: LKP — Apr 21, 2009

Thanks for these observations. They are in sync with my experience also. I spent over twenty five years as a commercial artist and loved it. Eventually, I transitioned into fine art, giving workshops, and writing books about my artform, mixed media. Some of my most respected mentors in the field, Fred Otnes, Mark English and Milton Glaser are all stellar examples of artists who eventually explored fine art and have excelled at it. I feel that all of the skills I picked up as a commercial artist have been invaluable to me — For example, working with deadlines, networking with other professionals, marketing and promoting my work, etc. Plus, it provided me with a good living for many years and gave me deep satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment that continues to today.


Incompetent songwriter does well
by Lynn Harrison, Toronto, ON, Canada


Lynn Harrison

This week, an influential friend happened to praise a songwriter I consider incompetent — one who, to my bafflement, continues to pursue his career on a professional level. Like the painters Tom mentions, he had another career before and is relatively new to the game. When he started out, I thought he’d drop out quickly… but no! Strangely though, when my friend praised this artist, I actually felt happy for him (maybe because, indeed, he’s had his share of criticism). But more than that, I think something had changed in me. In that moment, I didn’t feel jealous or threatened or as eager to point out the artist’s shortcomings, as I had in the past. Now that he’s achieving a little success, maybe I don’t have to pity him either! There’s a great freedom in seeing that his career has nothing at all to do with mine… that the comparisons I make are all on the surface, and so fleeting and inconsequential.

There is 1 comment for Incompetent songwriter does well by Lynn Harrison

From: Melinda — Apr 21, 2009

Well said, Lynn, especially the last! In the end, maybe the only real valuation of our creative work comes from looking at whole of our work. In today’s hypnotically average pop culture, it’s all we have!


Don’t bite the hand…
by Marie Johannes, Denver, CO, USA

Ouch! I live and paint in Colorado and I know who Tom Lockhart is. I like his work. I respect his skill. But, I was largely disturbed by his comments. I am an “other professional” who is working constantly on my skills to be a better painter. I work many hours a week to improve my painting ability. I’ve spent a fair amount of money on classes and workshops, supplies, etc. I tell ALL my artist and other friends about the fine artists I have studied with AND those with a superior attitude as well. In these tough economic times, all retired professionals are watching their dollars closely. I’m pretty sure that all the “serious” artists who supplement their incomes by teaching are seeing declining enrollment in their classes as well as a decline in gallery sales. Too bad! My husband’s retired from Chrysler! It IS a “level playing field” and there are many who would envy Tom’s stature in the art world. Tom, have you heard the expression, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”?

There are 3 comments for Don’t bite the hand… by Marie Johannes

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 21, 2009

Maybe Marie,

I was wrong in the way I worded my remarks. I am not dissatisfied and I am not condemming the retired professionals. Also, I know I have a very long way to go to reach any level of satisfaction, (I suppose that’s what keeps us going) there are alway others better than us and others that are not as good.

I was feeling the downturn in the economy and reacted. I know as well as you, that we all are at certain levels. I feel as many artist do, that we should pursue our craft with the greatest of integrity. The professionals that I mentioned wouldn’t have it any other way if we chose to enter their fields. I was wrong and I encourage them to keep painting. The comments from others has opened my eyes to many things. If they want in then go for it, we will just have to compete with each other. Thank you Marie,

Tom L.

From: John Boeckeler — Apr 21, 2009

I’m a retired professional, and a Sunday painter to boot, so I know what you mean. I certainly wouldn’t have anything to do with a painter who disdained the likes of me, much less take a workshop from him.

From: Anonymous — Apr 21, 2009

I wonder if Tom’s inner soul sabotaged his outer hard shell by writing this letter. Perhaps it all worked out to the better for Tom?


by Joseph Yos Tany


“Scattered Azure”
original painting
by Joseph Yos Tany

We are co-realizing a few facts and emotions. When self aware one can recognize the happy painter. It is the genius — the playful witness. In the midst of being oneself, the painter is registering all that is in silent meaningful ways. But also be aware my friends, the riff is coming back. This is a self aware universe balanced through creation. The good days for visual artists are returning. They are on their way. The spiritual starvation of all classes of awareness is coming to an end! Tom, buddies, be prepared.



There is 1 comment for Prophesy by Joseph Yos Tany

From: Anonymous — Aug 06, 2010

I think Tom is deeply unsatified not with his success but with his own inner creative self because his paintings to me look like a hundred other landscape painters work. If being an artist is painting what sells or what one thinks might sell then the artist is creatively dead. Painting at it’s best is a relentless inner drive that keeps pushing towards discovery of self, new skills and techniques, new subject material and striving for perfection. It has nothing to do with painting what comes easy, sells or is the new trend! Be true to yourself…never stop learning…listen only to your own inner voice!!





Breton wash basin

oil painting, 8 x 12 inches
by Edward Minoff, Schomberg, ON, Canada


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 DJ Geribo of Alton, NH, USA, who wrote, “Okay, all you poorly educated artists out there, let’s hear it for Tom, ‘aaawwwwwwwww!’ ”

And also Gordon France of La Grange, IL, USA, who wrote, “H.L. Mencken summarized the problem most succinctly: ‘Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.’ ”

And also Cathey Schuster of Auburn, CA, USA, who wrote, “I cheer for each person’s success — not pout about it.”

And also Lanie Frick of Licking, MO, USA, who wrote, “What the mind focuses on most, life will deliver. If one’s thoughts revolve around unfairness, then unfairness is what you’ll receive. If one thinks more about what’s good in life, then you will receive more of what’s good. You will draw to you what you project out into the universe. When I catch my thoughts going in a negative direction I stop, take a deep breath and get my mind on positive things. This can be hard if I watch too much news that’s filled with negativity so I stay away from it as much as possible. Think positive, look for the good, be grateful.”

And also Hans Mertens of Holland, who wrote, “Feeling dissatisfied only hurts yourself. Feeling rich inside is what being an artist is about.”

And also Dianne Harrison of Roswell, GA, USA, who wrote, “I was quite surprised that Tom’s letter was rewarded with top billing and an amazing gift of exposure.”

And also Valerie Greene of Fresno, CA, USA, who wrote, “Would you like cheese with your whine?”

And also Shela Breau of Annapolis Royal, NS, Canada, who wrote, “This was too bloody funny not to say thank you.”


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for A dissatisfied artist



From: Dan Cooper — Apr 16, 2009

It’s hard to believe Tom Lockhart has the audacity to complain. The average income for a professional artist in the U.S. is about $14,000. Most of us have to work at other jobs to support our need to create. I’ve chosen to make raising my two sons a priority over the years, my wife of 26 years keeps threatening divorce because I don’t bring in a regular paycheck, I owe the IRS more than I make, my graphic design business is extremely slow right now, but I consider myself successful because my time is my own, involved with our local artists organization, teach at the Indianapolis Art Center, volunteer to teach advanced art at a men’s prison, and most importantly I keep stretching my vision to create better art. I realize I could have chosen a safe path of churning out landscapes and probably been a “well off” artist. However my life (I’m 57) has been so rewarding that putting a dollar value on it is incomprehensible.

Thank you, Robert, for reminding Mr. Lockhart of a part of what being an artist is all about.

From: anonymous — Apr 16, 2009

He’s right though. The art field is overrun with people who don’t know what they’re doing. The other professions would not tolerate this.

From: Rick Rotante — Apr 16, 2009

Mr. Lockhart has a valid point. Unfortunately, things will go on this way until we re-think art in general and start to embrace it as much as we embrace say -Sports.

Because the masses of society don’t really understand art and we are passing this lack of understanding to our children, art will always be misunderstood and the many who “dabble” will always be the pit falls real artists, who study and put in the time and effort and money, will have to bear. As we move into an uncertain future, unless we change our thinking about artists and art and elevate it to a higher status, very little will change.

On the other hand Robert is right about quality. The one thing hampering this “quality” is the confusion as to what is actually quality art. Or is it even important to make that distinction. Of course, if you’re a serious artist this point is very important. Not every piece of artwork created can be judged as the best, mediocre or worst. There is someone out there who will disagree with your every time and buy what you think is trash. “Quality” experts abound in every nook and cranny of the art world that will gladly tell what and who to buy. So my solution is this. I never worry about my dentist taking up art, good luck to him and I’m sure he will find a buyer somewhere. But my satisfaction lies in the knowledge that whomsoever buys my work will pay for the quality I have put into it and will appreciate the effort that went into the creation of it. That is my only concern.

Take your anger and discontent and channel it into your work. You may be surprised at the result.

From: Anonymous — Apr 16, 2009

Although I understand Mr. Lockhart’s concern about his ability to make a living – who doesn’t? – I believe he has failed to recognize or mention the fact that the professionals he is so angry at have opened up a huge market for art teachers and workshop leaders, not to speak of all the marketing specialists trying to teach all of those professionals how to comercialize their art. I also understand that Mr. Lockhart would prefer to make a living by just painting and no having to teach/travel/market ,etc. Now if he cared to talk to all the engineers, lawyers, dentists and other professionals that took up painting he might find out that they too had to perform a host of activities that they did not care for in order also to make a living. So in case Mr. Lockhart has not heard yet I have news for him; there is no such thing as a free lunch!

From: engineer – artist — Apr 16, 2009

Mr. Lochart, it’s all a conspiracy, we are out here only for one reason – to get you!

From: Richard Mazzarino — Apr 16, 2009

Did he say $75,000 to $100,000 a year???

And you can’t make ends meet??? You have a problem buddy. You should kiss the ground you walk on for that kind of money. You have nothing to complain about, trust me.

From: Roger Thomas NZ — Apr 16, 2009

Wow, thats good money in my book. I do understand where he is coming from though. We have importers of art coming in by the container load from sweatshops in China being flogged at shows, fairs and markets nation wide. It is distressing to see this happening and I would far sooner see lawyers and others trying to step into the art world than blatant copies of other works produced at a ridiculously cheap rate and sold by profiteering fagotts to excited buyers thinking they are getting a bargain until the paint fades and the canvas rots.This activity totally devalues the works of genuine artists trying to make a living out of art and I cringe when I see this happening before my eyes at shows as these people crunch the folding money into their bum belts with a smile on their face. If you think its hard in the US, try NZ with a total population of 4.5million

From: Vivian Anderson — Apr 16, 2009

Glad I never had Mr. Lockhart as the judge in my few forays into the “higher” world of “serious” art.

From: Nancy O’Toole — Apr 16, 2009

Think positively Mr Lockhart! Would you rather be doing something else other than painting? I wouldn’t ..and I make a lot less than you. If you enjoy your painting and are putting food on the table and doing what you love to do, you can count your blessings! It’s not always what it pays you back in the way of money, but all the other wonderful things that happen because of what you do, that really makes it all worth while! I can’t imagine what else I would do that would have given me the same satisfaction, wonderful friends, allowed opportunities to travel, to enjoy the things I have been able to do, all because I am an artist! I am so grateful to be able to have had such a life!

Enjoy every day that you are able to get up & paint, to be able to share with others what you have been given. To my mind this is worth every minute of those 50-65 hours every week! Would you rather be without work and nothing to do? Time, I think would weigh very heavy on your hands! Be glad of every day that you can work hard. Someday you may look back and realize that these days were not so bad after all! If you don’t agree, then maybe you are in the wrong profession!

Think about it! Take a walk & a few deep breaths of fresh air, it just may make you feel thankful & glad to be alive!

From: Nancy O’Toole — Apr 16, 2009

And I may add…I have never applied for or received a Grant!

From: Lois — Apr 16, 2009

I wonder if the $75-$100K is gross or net. If it’s net and he still can’t make ends meet, he has a lot to learn about managing money. I make a salary of 92K (not in art; I do my art for myself, not for sale, and know darn well I could never hope to make a living at it), and support a very-underemployed spouse while saving about $30K per year, living in a high-cost location. I don’t gripe about taxes, and don’t waste my money on an expensive lifestyle. My 11-year old car, meals made from scratch, and carefully selected thrift-shop wardrobe do just fine and allow me to save for retirement.

On the other hand, if Tom’s $75-$100K is gross, and out of it must come a lot of entry fees, travel expenses, framers, etc., plus his own health insurance, on the assumption that he is self-employed and does not get insurance from a spouse or partner, he may have far less than $75K to pay the mortgage and other expenses. But I don’t think the problem is “undeserving” fellow artists. No, the problem is that entry fees, framing fees, etc. are too high, and the public isn’t generally willing to pay enough for art to give artists a good income. That’s one of the reasons I don’t bother to enter shows, pay to have work framed, travel to shows, etc. It doesn’t make economic sense, and I have a more reliable and lucrative source of income. That doesn’t make me a non-serious artist, just an amateur in the original sense of the word: one who works only for the love of creating art.

From: Robert Redus — Apr 16, 2009
From: Jini Patel Thompson — Apr 17, 2009

Okay, just gotta get my two cents in here, as someone who is primarily a buyer of art….

Why does art have to be hard work in order to be moving, transformative, or beautiful?

As a buyer, I don’t care how hard you’ve worked, how many art schools and workshops you’ve attended. I’m simply looking for something that draws me in and intrigues me enough that I want to hang it on my wall and look at it for the next 20 years… and not get bored of it.

And here’s the great thing about *everything* in life, not just painting: You can start at any age and find wondrous skills, talents and vision inside yourself. There are many, many examples of accomplished, famous people in all fields who did not do anything significant until after the age of 40, 50 and sometimes even 70.

Your comment was great because you had the balls to speak your truth – which is why it’s generated so much discussion and heat.

A friend of mine was a professional photographer for 15 years and a true artist. She then quit and went into finance because she said the commercialization of her art was ruining it for her. Now she just does it for herself and has gallery showings for pleasure – not for income. Something to think about…

From: Barb Foster-Jordan — Apr 17, 2009

Wow–what a load of judgemental, elitist crap. One might consider erring on the side of caution and not to bite the hands that feed…

Speaking of which, your grumbling and griping has won you four paintings on display at the top of the previous click back, so Im sure that’ll provide you with some traffic to your site, people to buy your work and so on. Hopefully, that will help you stretch that meager $70-100K a little further…

From: Barb Foster-Jordan — Apr 17, 2009

Addendum/correction to my previous comment:

It should read “75” not “70” thousand dollars. My apologies for the typo which short changed you a few bucks.

From: Tony Miller — Apr 17, 2009

I was shocked when I read about your problem. My wife and six kids would think I hit the lottery if I made that kind of cash from my art. I paint full time and have two degrees and stilll cant spell. But to me and my family that would be a blessing. Sir do you know what the word gratitude meens?

From: Derek Gores — Apr 17, 2009

“If it looks good, it IS good.”

I’ve seen artists with quarter million dollar educations who couldn’t get out from under the weight of their technique training, and I’ve seen powerful, powerful artists who created their own education by reading every book in the local library. And everything in between.

I used to think I lived the creative lifestyle in order to create paintings. Recently I realized it is the other way around.


While I have your attention sir, can’t you recall a time when your brand of art was considered a little edgy? a little different? someone maybe thought you were crazy for having a little impressionistic looseness, when you could make it more photographic? Well, that was the edgy in your youth. New cycles come with new generations, and I’m often surprised that artists don’t recognize this is the way it is supposed to happen. Think of when rock and roll debuted. And then the many permutations that have happened since.


But you really wanted some x’s and o’s I bet. Okay. Try painting on recycled wood instead of expensive canvas. Create your own shows instead of all these with entry fees. Collaborate with some of the weirdos you mentioned. Jumpstart why you love to paint, presuming you do. In fact maybe that is it — maybe all this leads to whether the work is good enough. Take this as a challenge to improve the work. And that likely means reopening the senses, exploring anew. You may find you like something more than these landscapes. A painting should be a physical manifestation of your love and passion for your art – and that is what the buying public responds to. Conversely, they can smell it when you don’t love it.

From: John Mullenger — Apr 17, 2009

“I work 50 to 65 hours per week, teach workshops and serve on the Board of a Local Arts Center. I judge art shows and travel to locations to paint.”

Tom, businesses don’t make more revenue in these times, they cut,cut,cut… Forget the judging, forget the local arts center, forget the travel unless you can pay for it from the paintings you do. Your main source of this revenue is from selling, so focus on this – Paint 100 hours per week if you can, and try changing your style to inject some life into your routine…or pick a new subject theme…

Also, take Robert’s appropriate advice – painting for a living is a blessing. After 20 years in the biz world, with 2 hours of daily commuting, I quit to go back to my love. They may have more money “over there,” but they are also on the road while I sit here on my deck enjoying my coffee before hitting the studio. I would do this for free if it were possible!

From: Roger Asselin– Apr 17, 2009 — Apr 17, 2009

You sound like one of the many self righteous snobs of the art world who think that education is the only prerequisite to good art. Stop your crying and perhaps you will be able to get away from painting the boring rivers that contain your tears. If the public is opting for what you call crap instead of your paintings you should consider who is painting the crap. Your paintings may be well executed but are as common as a penny and repos of similar junk is available at Wal-Mart for $5.87 framed. Your works are a bore because your life is a bore. Stop working at it so hard. Take time for family, friends and love in your life. Your work will reflect more than just another river. Oh yeah, please check your attitude. It really needs some work!

From: Cora Kiceniuk — Apr 17, 2009

I agree, you are blessed if you can make that kind of income doing something you love doing. I don’t make that much money in Nursing which I might add is seriously hard work. If I worked 50-60 hours at it I would. Then, I don’t think that I would have any physical body left to do anything else. I am envious. But, your comments about more inferior artists does carry some bitterness. Be grateful for the gift you have been given. If you are finding you can’t make ends meet, do what the rest of us do…. Get a part time job (that is a joke). Honestly, if I were in your shoes, I would consider myself to be the luckiest person in the world.

From: Jason Tako — Apr 17, 2009
From: Bunny — Apr 17, 2009

I’m finding it hard to find sympathy for Mr. Lockhart. I was never afforded the opportunity for an education, and went to school for nursing as an adult with 4 little children. As a nurse I never earned any where near that amount of money per year….doing some very important work in a trauma hospital. My passion in life has always been painting and unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, have not been able to do this until I took an early retirement. Yes I am one of those “people” he is so disgusted with, I guess. So excuse me if my standard does not “measure up” to your standard….but I have some very happy buyers. And I absolutely LOVE what I am doing.

From: Consuelo — Apr 17, 2009

Mr. Lockhart, tsk-tsk – What a way to use up your 15 minutes of fame.

From: Julia — Apr 17, 2009

I love to paint. I am still learning – as I started in my late forties. ….keeping day job that bring less than 50/year and takes more than 40 hours /week, paying fees, framers, self promoting materials, helping other artists having their own websites, organizing and teaching at workshops… I paint and every sold painting make me proud and richer – as pays for my canvas and sometimes tuition. I have blast when someone likes my painting. I am an artist. Not as good not as successful as some other artists but happy and hopeful that one day I will be able to sell for more! I am an artist.

From: Wendie Thompson — Apr 17, 2009

Just a reminder here, some perspective if you will…Rembrandt, Lievens, Van Gogh and many, many more died in poverty! What makes us think we should be any different?

From: John Boeckeler — Apr 17, 2009

You asked what we think about your situation, so here are my thoughts.

Instead of blaming your woes on retired lawyers and unsophisticated buyers, maybe you should try to take an objective look at your art and see if there’s anything you can do better. I looked at your website and have a few suggestions. But, first, my impressions. I think your paintings are good for what they are – mainly scenics, rivers, mountains, haystacks, and the like. While there’s nothing unique about your work, it is consistent, representational, and done in a craftsmanlike manner. It reminds me of Thomas Kinkade’s paintings and, while not to my taste, I can see that it would be popular and sell to a certain segment of the market.

Along with paintings, your website has a section for limited edition “Fine Art Giclees”, some of which are “Artist Enhanced” for an extra $300. But you don’t describe how these giclees are enhanced. If you are a deserving serious artist trying to sell to sophisticated buyers, you should give more information. Are these giclees reproductions of your paintings? Exactly how are they enhanced?

Your website also has a section for “Limited Edition Prints”, based on your original paintings, but has absolutely no description of the process. Are they color lithographs or just ink jet or giclee reproductions? Any serious and sophisticated buyer would want to know.

Finally, have you considered doing a calendar of your work? Thomas Kinkade does it, and I’m sure he makes a lot of money from those sales.

From: Susan Avishai — Apr 17, 2009

Anyone who is self-employed has tons of ancillary expenses — office rental, assistants, supplies, advertising, car… to name the first few that come to mind. You have to spend money to make money.

But just to get practical for a moment, I’ve found that eliminating the framing (which the galleries take 50% of too, even though we’ve paid for it) saves a bundle. I now paint on 2″ gallery-wrapped canvas, and continue the painting around the edges. Looks great, no frame dings when I transport them.

From: Melissa Evangeline Keyes — Apr 17, 2009

I am currently reading about and studying Winslow Homer, and his work.

He is said to have whined and complained about money to his dying day, tho’ he was making a good living, and had no dependants, and lived a somewhat frugal lifestyle.

One thing he did was paint what they wanted. He was a member of fishing and hunting clubs that owned vast tracts of Northern wildernesses. Fishermen bought his fishing paintings, and hunters bought his hunt and guide paintings. He was able in this way, to spend lots of time in the woods and by the seaside that he loved.

He drastically changed his subject and style when he went from place to place, such as from the dark, moody fishing village in northern UK, to the glaring whites of the Bahamas. I think I may need the jolt of new scenery, new light, having lived mostly in one place for many years.

Also, perhaps from his magazing illustrating early years, all of his work is narrative, every painting is a story or even a novel. You think about what was going on, rather than just look at beautiful scenery. But I do love the beautiful scenery paintings, they’re peaceful. But, maybe I’ll start painting stories. Hmmm

From: Melissa Evangeline Keyes — Apr 17, 2009

Oh, and what IS inferior art? Ha, other that the orphins with huge eyes, aren’t we glad they’re gone!!!!

My college instructors all said, “I don’t know what’s good!” They were all accomplished painters, but had to teach to make a living.

From: Janet B. — Apr 17, 2009

I think that sometimes people come out of differing circumstances. My two sisters are much wealthier than my husband and I.

I scrape together money for art supplies and I paint when time allows. If the situations were reversed and I had access to their wealth and they had to live on our $42,000 a year – before taxes – I would be doing fine – even great – having learned how to squeeze the life out of a buck, but they — well, I hate to think how losing that income would affect their lives.

Could they live without the fancy houses, cars, airline travel and vacations that don’t involve putting up a tent? I am sure they could eventually, but they would suffer. Much as this artist is “suffering”. He doesn’t know what it’s like to live on a fraction of this income.

He’s made it, but having made it, he’s miserable. Scale back. Make more from your income. Simplify. Find the joy in just painting. If you have X amount of dollars, don’t buy the most expensive house, don’t buy the car that needs the premium gas. Don’t eat out, cook it yourself. Don’t waste your art budget on too many charities. Spend your money creating your own art and spend your time painting.

I wish you luck, your story has touched me because I realized that not selling my art might just be a good thing, if it keeps me from ending up on the same hamster wheel that you are running on.

Time to get off this computer and finish painting Sundae, my cat.

From: Barbara Reeves — Apr 17, 2009

I am a woman painter and understand your problem, but my thinking is that you could eliminate some of the things you do to make this money you need. Teach only in your area and not have to travel a long way. Have your students come to you and do all your own framing as I do. It is easy and saves a lot of money. just think of all the ways you can eliminate some of the things that are costing you extra money. Buy a mat cutter and learn to cut mats and buy frame material from frame catalogs and put them together yourself. I do all of this myself and I am 77 years old.

From: Inez Hudson — Apr 17, 2009

Do you suppose that Toulouse Lautrec or Van Gogh or any of the acclaimed artists may have felt the same way in their day? The love of what we do, pouring our souls into our work, is what drives us to produce and, hopefully, constantly improve in the process. We would all love to reach that ultra high income level, but would also be happy to reach the level that Mr. Lockhart has reached.

From: Donna LaBeau — Apr 17, 2009

Wow, thanks for commenting on how Tom has it made. His work is lovely and I see he certainly works a lot. For me I am just so grateful to be a artist who works hard at her work and still loves the process. I have not mastered the hard work of getting my work in galleries that sell lots of art. I know I have not “arrived” yet but I love being the person I am, having the artist eye to see the way I see (even though I dont paint all the beauty I see), I love enjoying nature as much as I love painting it. We all start where we are and some of us sell art that makes others happy by looking at it even though we may not be at the level of the “Tom’s” in the art world. I am sure Tom did not just fall on this earth at the level he is at now and never sell a piece til he got good. I do believe in “do as you love and the money will follow,” and if the money doesn’t follow, then my family will have even more beautiful art when I leave this earth. In the meantime, I get to love my craft, enjoy the pieces I have created and sell them when I sell them. A satisified artist.

From: Leslie Ditto — Apr 17, 2009

You know after reading this article I thought a lot about what Tom had said. I am really new to the art scene and in my genre (pop surreal, lowbrow if you want to call it that) it is a huge problem that everyone is just patting each other on the back for creating work that I consider very sub par is being shown and sold in galleries. But this seemed to be a much bigger problem 2 years ago when I first started and now the economy has dropped people seem to be really looking for quality. They don’t want to spend their hard earned cash on something that an “artist” created in minutes. So it seems that the bad economy might just end up weeding out these artist (at least for now). But Tom will end up going crazy if he focuses on this problem, because it will never go away. We do have it pretty good as artist, I am not making tons of money right now and there are artist that I consider not as skilled as I making a lot more, but I do see a constant growth in myself and my art and people and collectors seem to see it too and appreciate what I do. I am 39 and I use to paint murals for a living and hated it, now I can really express myself and couldn’t be happier. Tom seems to have a lot going for him and his art is beautiful, so don’t worry about those sub par artist.

From: Brian Wolf — Apr 17, 2009

Dear Mr. Lockhart,

Quit your whining. Whoa is me, poor Tom. You sound like your on a pity crusade. There’s plenty of people who work 50-60 hours a week for 10-15-20 years for some company or business who find thenselves suddenly thrown out work through no fault of their own.

“…They put their work in galleries and sell to the unsophisticated, taking sales away from deserving, serious artists…”

I suppose you consider yourself amongst the “deserving”. Really.

Who do you think comes to your workshops? You want to teach art but you don’t want people to become artist.

I will tell you what I would tell anybody who complains about what they do for a living. Go find diffferent work.

Spare me.

Most sincerely

Brian Wolf

From: Mary Lou Arnold — Apr 17, 2009

“There are constantly retired lawyers, doctors, architects, dentists and other professionals who decide to become painters. They put their work in galleries and sell to the unsophisticated, taking sales away from deserving, serious artists.”

The audacity! Who are you to determine who is deserving and serious? With an income of $75 – $100k from making art, you should be grateful.

From: Debbie Noland — Apr 17, 2009

Bah humbug! Who really thinks they are paid what they truly deserve? And, how dare Mr. Lockhart mock those who paint for their souls and spirits and sell their art “cheap?” Those who cannot afford art at the level of Tom’s prices and expertise may at least enjoy original art at prices they can afford and may just bring joy into their lives. Does he really believe that he is losing revenue because others buy inexpensive art? BMW doesn’t lose my money because I drive a Chevrolet. While I would rather have a BMW, I at least have a car.

We read different levels of books/literature, we listen to different kinds of music classical/country, and we can enjoy different aspects of art. None of it is right or wrong, or even better than the other if it is in the eye of the beholder. Be nice, Tom! And be happy.

(Good answer Robert. It just needed to be clarified more straightforwardly.)

Debbie Noland

retired industrial engineer, math teacher, mom, uneducated artist who loves to paint

PS – Every profession has its “crappy” workers – doctors, contractors, lawyers, sanitation workers, waiters, teachers, engineers . . . . . .

From: Donkhote — Apr 17, 2009

Gee Tom, looks like you’ve painted yourself into a corner, pal. They’re handing out torches and pitchforks soon. Better make yourself scarce.

Actually, it was a brilliant backhanded plug for your art career. Of course fine artists don’t make that kind of money, generally! So it was shrewd to plant yourself at the top of the pyramid in a PR sort of way. That’s about as much mileage as you’re likely to get from that article, I’m afraid. I wrote a blog many months ago on my web site artndeed that showed the breakdown in arts careers. With over a million people out there, everyone can’t make it big, but they can do what they love…whether at the beginning of their work lives or towards the end…who’s to judge? Really.

From: Klectica — Apr 17, 2009

Whine, whine – where’s the cheese? Sounds to me like Tom needs to change his life – if he’s got what it takes. . .

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 17, 2009

Hello everyone,

Let me be clear on one thing. I am not an audacious person. I have struggled for over 25 years to be an artist. I have a long way to go. And as most of you know you are really never satisfied with your work so you proceed to the next potential masterpiece.

There are many many other artist better and more well equipped than me. I just want us all to do our best. The galleries and artists teaching have perpetuated this inconsistency, but then so has the market, driving prices where it wants and subjecting people to lesser quality for the sale. I applaud the working person suffering to do their craft however, I did as well, and I remember a qualified working professional artist (very successful) telling when I took my first workshop over 25 years ago. I wanted to study seriously with that artist, he stated, “are you living off your art” I said no, He said, ” when you decide to dedicate your life to this profession and take it seriously, I will help you. This is like a fraternity or brotherhood, I am not about to squander on someone what it has taken me a lifetime to achieve”. That is why galleries only took on art that met a certain standard. Artists were encouraged by their mentors. That is how I did it.

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 17, 2009

I would like to add, as I read through these rebuttals.

I am not a dissatisfied artist. I have not earned that kind of money sitting on my a__ feeling sorry for my self. I haven’t always earned that much. And believe me if it were all profit, people, I would be driving something more than a GMC. I am happy as can be that I’ve been blessed enough to earn a comfortable living as an artist. I did it on my own, period. I didn’t make a comfortable living in another career retire, and then decide to be a artist. I had no choice, at the time (23 years ago), I was fired from a family business because I made more money with my art than I earned as a salaried worker. I supported a wife and a daughter with my painting because I had to. I am not whining, I am looking for answers because we have taken the very people who buy our art out of the equation. If they cannot themselves afford this luxury item (which it is, if you haven’t figured it out), then who can.

From: Dawn Blair — Apr 17, 2009

I have to say that I admired Tom Lockhart’s work until I saw this. Oh, his art is still beautiful, but I have no respect for the artist behind it any longer.

I am a single mother of 2 and I work a full-time job as a bookkeeper for a CPA firm. Every moment that my life isn’t filled with one of those two requirements, I spend doing something art related either painting or marketing. I’m certain that I would fall under what you, Tom, consider to be one of the uneducated bunch. Yes, I’m mostly self taught, but I keep learning with each new painting I do.

Now last year I walked into a gallery and saw works starting at $4000 for pieces that I considered as just started. I wanted to pick up my own paint brush and finish them off. At another gallery, I saw paint splattered on canvases selling for $3000+. In all the art magazines I read I see art I consider junk. Obviously there’s something wrong with the system since my art isn’t in a gallery and these pieces are. Or, maybe it’s just that I haven’t tried because I want to produce consistent quality pieces before throwing my hat into that ring.

Also, in the CPA firm, I see doctors and lawyers, etc. making the same money you are and they also aren’t able to make ends meet. They are constantly refinancing their homes. I see quarterly estimated payments that are equal to my wages for a year and listen to them complain about how bad things are while driving off in their newly financed car to their house with their manicured lawns. Please! Let me tell you that I support my family and my art career on what I make. It’s simple. You afford what you want to afford. How many times have you refinanced your house, Mr. Lockhart? What expenses are you paying out that the average person doesn’t? Oh, and when you say that you pay “more than your share in taxes” I doubt it. Yes, you have self employment taxes along with every other self employed person. That’s not more. There’s also the wage brackets. I don’t think some government official is sitting at his desk wringing his hands together saying, “Oh, that Tom Lockhart. He’s in the 28% tax bracket. Let’s make him pay an additional 20% this year on top of that. Mahahahaha!” Nope, you pay at 28% just like everyone else in your income bracket.

Don’t whine cause you’re lonely at the top and we’re shaking the ladder down below.

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 17, 2009

Hello Dawn,

I just read your comment. You and I are in agreement. You see the same things I see. It’s not about price or money or income it’s about studying and perfecting your craft no matter what. I do pay lot of self employment tax, and yes I’ve refinanced my house several time.

One last thing for you Dawn, I admire your spunk and I too am happy to make a sell. I’m grateful everyday for a sale when it happens. I also donate to worthy causes. Which I don’t get or expect a dime from, (and besides) we as artists can only deduct our supplies, because it cannot be deducted from our income twice. There are a lot more artists out there feeling the sensitivity of this matter. I am sorry you feel as if I’ve no longer earned your respect. I work hard at painting what I love. I have cut out a lot of things to try and make ends meet. I did this when things were much leaner than they are right now. I’ve paid my dues. Must get back to work.

Thank you

From: Consuelo — Apr 17, 2009

Great Moonwalk….. Tom

From: Nicole Hyde — Apr 17, 2009

It might be just me, but I’m delighted that Wilson Hurley quit law to paint full-time. What a joy to art, to life, to his admirers, and I’m sure, to himself. :-)

From: Jacqueline Smith — Apr 17, 2009

I laughed out loud at the last comment by Robert Genn. You do have it made. Maybe you should migrate to Canada and get .20 cents on every dollar you bring over the border or move here and live like a king on that much money. The other thing is you are one of the rare few in this world who gets to do what he loves, a rarity.

From: Gregg H — Apr 17, 2009
From: Picasso — Apr 17, 2009

Very ugly art Tom Lockhart makes. That’s probably why he earns so much :)

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 17, 2009

I’ve read with concern everyone’s comments. I too Nicole am glad Wilson Hurley quit law to paint. Keep in mind though he put his art out when he had the blessing of his mentors. Tom Lovell & Robert Lougheed 2 very respected artist in their field. If I’m not mistaking I think Robert Lougheed was born in Canada. You know each of you are certainly entitle to your comments Picasso, but when you’ve walked in my shoes you can be judgmental. I am a cancer survivor, I have had 11 surgeries in 8 years. I lost the use of my painting arm for an entire year due to an accident. I have had hospital bills up the whazoo to pay for and I am currently helping my sister who lost her job in CA. I’m not complaining about any of that. I merely expressed an opinion and asked the expert on his advise as to what to do. Yes I am a rarity and I am fortunate. I have been rewarded for my hard work. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

From: Gregg H — Apr 17, 2009

Hey Tom, you are getting it. Count your blessings. Life is hard.

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 17, 2009

Hey Gregg H. Everyday!!! thanks

From: Gregg H — Apr 17, 2009

Tom, your art is beautiful. No worries mate! No matter what happens, you have a legacy of things of beauty (as opposed to awful imagery) which is prevalent in Chicago. I wish I was in your shoes. Good luck with the physical maladies. I have my own.

From: Frederick Ross — Apr 17, 2009

While I sympathize with the writer’s whining about taxes, fees etc. I resent his criticism of professionals (doctors, lawyers and architects) who take up painting in their retirement years. I guess I’m one of those professionals who have been spending more time recently developing my gift that I put on hold for 35 years while pursuing my career as a medical doctor. Not that I consider myself particularly talented but since when is it that professionals are not allowed to be gifted in the realm of art? Most of us do it for the joy it brings us and a lot of our work is given away to fund raising endeavors or poor unsuspecting relatives, kids, etc. If I should rise to the level where my work can put people like Tom Lockart in competition then God has truly gifted me and who can deny the sovereign will of the Divine in bestowing gifts as He will? Anyways for Tom Lockhart “everyone wants to get into the act” but for us wannabes we can only hope to get close to the talents that he has been blessed with. Tom I think in all due respect you should lighten up. Most of my work unfortunately is on display for my patients and not in a gallery (yet). F.J.Ross M.D.

From: Nicole Hyde — Apr 17, 2009

Tom, I’ve seen you painting by the side of the road in Colorado and met you at a few art shows and my husband sings your praises as an artist and a person, but I’ll be honest, I was taken aback by your comments. I admire your paintings, but not your philosophy. I wish you well. :-)

From: Randy Davis — Apr 17, 2009

One of the most blatant examples of an “artists” ego centered, hey team, look at me, ’cause I’m the real deal arrogance I’ve ever heard. Your boring!

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 17, 2009

Dr F.J. Ross, Kudos with your work.

Not arrogance on my part. I’m glad you can paint. I bet your talent as a Dr. is well respected. Not too often Doc, that people do what you do in the reverse. I think people are misreading this whole thing completely. Go back and read the rebuttals folks. That is what the jury process is for. And you’ll ask who are they, “Art is in the Eye of the Beholder” Ok then when does this all end? Or where does it begin? Let’s grow up and like the Dr. said, let’s not take it so seriously. I am entitled as you are to your opinion, it doesn’t make me a terrible person. Nicole my philosophy is akin to many.

From: Gregg H — Apr 17, 2009

We all go through periods of discontent, no matter the income, skill level, talent, genre, education. We are all human. We are all imperfect. The only true happiness comes from inside, or divine blessedness. Give this artist a break. We all complain from time to time. The mistake was putting it out there, or maybe the cure was putting it out there. He has already acknowledged his human frailty. He has said already that he counts his blessings every day. All artists need support. Not criticism for when we are in despair or weak in our judgement. All artists are needed in this world. It is better than building strip malls!

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 17, 2009

Hey Greg,

I think you are getting at the heart of all of us.

When I wrote this letter I have never been involved in this form of chat. Nor did I realize I was setting myself up for this. I merely wrote to Robert Genn to get his advise and to express my concern. The greatest period in the history of art was in the Artistic revolution of the 1880 to 1900. We as (at least for me) artists are striving to achieve one tenth the work these artists produced. I feel as you that if God’s will is for you to paint regardless of your time in life, do it with humility and respect for Him that you will produce the best you can. I have had obstacles of all sorts and I’ve tried to overcome them. I want to continue as long as I am physically able. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some great artists. And Nicole, they have passed on their philosophy as well to me. Therefore I feel it is important to not only share what I know but to pass it on.

Thanks, Greg H.


From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 17, 2009

Hello Rick Rotante,

That was well written advise. Thank you.

From: Gregg H — Apr 17, 2009

Tom, look me up on my web site. It is a few posts up. We are kindred spirits. I agree with your taste in art. I absolutely agree that there are ” emperors with no clothes ” playing a game out there. I have made great friends on this site, and I would welcome email conversation with you. I hope you have taken the negative comments with a grain of salt. There are a lot of great artists out there who would give their ( non painting arm ) for what you have.

look me up.

All the best,


From: Frank Hills..Mexico — Apr 17, 2009

Wow!,,Lots of diverse opinions and comments.. I consider framing costs a sign of success.. The paintings that I don’t frame I consider an expense …Please don’t tell my buyers that they should be “sophisticated”..they just buy them because they like them..

From: Gregg H — Apr 17, 2009

For a few years here in my woods, ” sophisticated” was also coined as ” The bad drawing movement”

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 17, 2009

Greg, Thanks I will.

Just a few brief remarks to many others up the list that have written. I could spend all day defending my beliefs as all of you could.

The money I’ve earned doesn’t happen all the time. And yes it’s my gross income. I’ve used my money wisely and spent it frugely. It’s just as the one writer wrote, the fees and expenses are getting out of hand. More and more shows cropping up and more and more artists entering them. The pie slice gets smaller.

The galleries complain about the shows. The shows complain about the galleries. The artists love the shows less commission. The galleries want more and more. Artists seem to be willing to give more and more %. Van Gogh would have loved to be in my shoes and earn a good living instead of committing suicide. so would Toulouse Lautrec instead of dying from venereal disease because he was ugly and unhappy.

The suffering artist. Maybe it is time to change styles and subject thanks for the suggestions everyone. As for the promotion? You can ask Robert Genn. It was unsuspecting to see some of my work on this site, I was totally unaware this would happen.

So it wasn’t a secret plot Folks.

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 17, 2009


Roger Thomas NZ Great Comment!!! We need more like you.

It’s tough making a living doing lots of things. we ARE lucky to make a living selling our ART work. We may be losing our buyers if they dont’ have the income to buy let alone art.



From: E the Outsider — Apr 17, 2009

I was very angry when first saw the letter Tom wrote and quoted by Robert Genn, and was even angier when I think about it more and read along the replies, but toward the end of this, I felt much calmer — life is difficult for almost everyone indeed.

I am a new graduated Ph.D. who works for a scientific instrument company. Coming from China, art was considered as only to be carried out by the educated bunch, and if you did not go straight to art school after high school, you are pretty much done with it. Learning art as an adult seriously? People would not only laugh at you, but also seriously consider you have some problem with your head. I was not considered as too talented in the segment of art, but did show some potential in math and science classes. Hence, the road was decided and I became a physics major.

I came here to do my Ph.D. and paid my tuition as a teaching assistant. As officially enrolled students, we were allowed to take classes of any kind in the University. I always liked to draw and paint so started to take the studio classes. It lit my eyes and kindled my soul. Now four years down the road, I cannot imagine one day without painting and drawing. I am a student of many workshops, and worship some of my teachers like teanagers worshiping rock stars. I am honored to talk with them, buying a small print if I could afford, and never thought my very existance would be threat to their thriving. Silly me, such one-sided love, looks like, if most accomplished artists do have what Mr. Tom said in mind, since I’ve just started to make some small sales locally. I did not charge high, not to break the market for better artists, just because I am still thrived at the joy that anyone would want to pay to buy some thing I draw or paint at all. I don’t consider myself an artist but just an art student, and would correct anyone would makes the mistake of calling me an “artist.” I do appreciate the really beautiful art, oil by Richard Schmid and watercolor by Wyeth make me coming to my tears. Looking up to creations from people orders of magnitude higher than me in the art world make me humble, but also keeps me going.

Yet I cannot be angry any more at Mr. Tom. I took a 7% paycut this year, due to the bad economy, and am currently severely doubting why the state tax of California is so high. I don’t have house, any pay half of my salary on renting a one-bedroom and paying monthly for a much needed car. I understand the stress of raising a family in this economy, since even as a single I can hardly making the ends meet. I suppose I would never dream of having kids, since I don’t have the ability to afford having one, economically, even as a trained professional. If a bachelor’s degree holder is now competing with me for half of the salary and took my job, I will probably seriously considering murder. And his anger is just as reasonable or sad as this one. — It is sad that we don’t live in a society that everyone can just do what they really love and not the chores of life. You just have to take what you get most of the time, and occasionally, complain.

Everyone becomes angry sometimes, and whining to their friends and relatives. Mr. Tom just accidentally chose the wrong audience, since most of the people reading Robert’s letters are probably poorer than him, or less sophisticated in art trainings, or self-taught, etc., etc.

He is angry, and everyone subconciously directs their anger toward potential competitors — in wal street, in main street, and in ivory towers alike. Investment bankers detest their colleagues, scientists keep results from being shared by their peers, and artists complaining about amatuer painters. I felt being used and insulted by the thought of my teachers hating me — after all, I am paying for those workshops and buying those prints, but I also know if I am in the state that I feel someone elses’ direct existence is threatening my share of the pie, I will complain and detest as well, most likely. Maybe someone better than me won’t, but I probably will. It is just, I am on the opposite of the river now, so I detest Mr. Tom’s detests.

This is the world of freedom, at least we want to believe it is — everyone is entitled to learn, paint, sell, complain, detest, and hold one’s own opinion. All the words in the dictionary of the world would not be able to persuade Mr. Tom to shift his anger on amatuer painters (most likely), and he is entitled to express it, as secretly or openly as he want.

And unfortunately, a lot of people will detest his anger and complaints, — they are entitled to it too.

But I cannot be angry any more. The world is so much more than black and white. Making art is satisfying, but making a living is important too. I’m sure if Van Gogh had a choice, he would not choose to die in poverty and become famous afterwards. He would much rather painting and loving the painted images, but being able to trade them for some bread too. Making art for a living is a luxury to someone, but making a comfortable living in a second career and enjoy painting for oneself maybe a luxury for an artist as well. Dark side of the moon, you just cannot see it from where you are. Your neighbour’s bowl of rice always looks bigger. Also, at some other part of the world, maybe Skip Whitcomb or Scott Christensen is looking at Tom Lockhart’s webpage, and thinking, “It is middle-ranged artists like this that sells their art for $4000 a piece, that took my potential market and made it impossible to sell mine for $8000 — Gee, it is difficult to make ends meet in this world!!!” Who knows?!

This is indeed, America, a beautiful, crazy, crazy beautiful new world…

From: Susan Warner — Apr 17, 2009

Tom, it’s amazing that you have cleverly turned this forum into your own personal “chat room”. WHERE do the qualifications to judge all of the “rest” of us appear? How do you have the absolute ‘chutzpach’ to criticize people who are truly creating, as ART is meant to BE?

The definition of ” Artist” is as follows : ‘ A person who works in, or is skilled in the techniques of any of the fine arts, especially painting, drawing, sculpture etc. ‘…..’A person who does anything very well with imagination and a feeling for form, effect, etc’ : from Websters New Word Dictionary.

And as for the MONEY…..Many of us have had to work at ‘real’ jobs, all the while knowing that if we had the opportunity to apply ourselves full time to what we really love, we might have reached the lofty pinnacles of success that you take so lightly.

So is it “let them eat cake?” You might want to take a look at your own work, and ask yourself where YOUR creativity went.

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 17, 2009

Dear Susan, You think too highly of me. Who’s judging who Susan?


From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 17, 2009

Hello E Outsider, Nice comment,

Scott and Skip are fine Artists. I have great respect for them and their Art. I will Let them think of my art what they want, if they want, it’s THEIR Parogative.


From: Dawn Blair — Apr 17, 2009

While I was out this afternoon on a very long drive, I realized that some of the things in my earlier post may have been a bit strong. Tom, I’m glad you took it well and admired my “spunk.” I barely had time to read the post you sent before mine posted – we were probably both writing at the same time.

I went back and reread what you were saying with the new thought of you being concerned about uninformed collectors. Knowing that you were looking for advice, I’ll put in my two cents. As artists, we want our art to carry value, to be an investment – or this is what we should want because art is one asset that will actual grow in monetary value if an artist has a good career. And that’s a pretty big IF. We live in too much of a pop culture. Harry Potter was popular a couple years ago, today it’s Twilight, and I’m sure there’s another star on the horizon. What has value one day might not the next. The question becomes: how does an artist last?

Once this question has been reached, the artist has only two choices: make art that pays the credit card bill each month or make art that speaks so deeply to universal truths that it lasts forever and starve while doing so.

Educated art collectors are a small portion of the population. The truth here is that there are many people on the planet and each buys what they like. No one buys himself food he doesn’t like to eat. No one should buy art he don’t want hanging on his walls. If you want to create art for the educated art collector, please do so but realize how you’re limiting yourself and thus your potential income. If you create for everyone with a multiple revenue stream model, your audience is unlimited. I can feel the galleries already looking down their noses at me (I’m hoping I’m not dashing my dream of being a gallery artist right here), but this is where we’re at in today’s society. Anyone can get on the net and buy something. If your art is only shown in a gallery, you’re missing sales. If the gallery isn’t on the Internet, they and their artists are missing sales. I heard an artist say not to long ago that she likes to create something for every purse. I think it’s broaded her market.

Now, yes the “downside” is that anyone can set up a website in 20 minutes or sell on eBay. Quality won’t always win out here. You’re dealing with the mass public who’s buying on a whim. The flipside to this is that buying art can be addictive. Look at the ACEO movement. People start out with the smaller works and move to larger ones. Or someone bought a huge painting she liked and decided she wanted to become an educated art collector and goes out to learn more. I’ve seen both happen.

Tough economic times aside, if a collector doesn’t have the funds to buy a work, then they shouldn’t. I understand your concern that galleries are forcing sales of lesser works just to make the sale. I can’t speak to that because I’m not there yet, but I would hope that a gallery only picks up quality work from artist’s they believe in to begin with. Okay, so they can’t sell the 2 million dollar Monet, but hopefully they can sell the 2 thousand dollar Tom Lockhart. Did them selling the Monet help you out to support your family or did them pushing your work in this example help you out? I always worry about gallerys that push work from the “old masters.” I’d worry about a gallery that had to have that kind of “quality” from an artist. I want a gallery that sells my work, that guides people to the right painting for them, that eases the collectors into the purchase so they don’t have buyer’s remorse afterwards but rather look forward to seeing more of my art. I guess I’d have to make sure that a gallery’s artwork and philosophy alined with my own before I would even consider letting them sell my art. To me, this is the only way to make sure that the collector is part of the equation instead of subtracted from it.

With all that said, it’s my job as an artist to remember that what I’m creating is someone else’s investment. Whenever I make a sale, it’s akin to someone investing in my art career. I must keep growing and learning. I must keep broadening my horizon and doing my best. Is every piece going to live up to my expectations every time? No. It’s impossible. There are always works of lesser quality from any artist. It just has to be the best I could do with it at the time – again, part of the learning experience. I have to keep pushing forward. I have to suceed so that my collectors can have a return on their investment. After all, that’s only fair.

I’m sorry that was so long – more came out than I imagined it would.

Gregg H – I looked at your website and I think your portraits are superb! Keep up the awesome work and stay with it. You’re very talented.

From: SiennaBay — Apr 17, 2009

Personally, I think artists give too much thought to this kind of stuff. Create, enjoy, do your best, be careful with your money, forget the “so-called” competition and that’s that.

From: Bob — Apr 17, 2009

Many critics and historians agree that architecture is the ‘ mother of all arts ‘. During the eight years of University and internship that’s required to be registered as an architect in Ontario, considerable time is spent studying all aspects of fine art. As an architect, I make my living drawing and rendering designs in a number of mediums. How do you do at constructing a three-point perspective? How vain and arrogant to suggest that what I do is ‘ cheap, crappy work from uneducated artists ‘. You know not whereof you speak.

From: Robert — Apr 18, 2009
From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 18, 2009

Hello Bob,

I think you need to go back and read the original letter. I never said Architects were cheap crappy artists, you took that out of context. You only read into it what you want. And Robert, I have had several jobs before I chose to paint full time. I think you are only reading Robert Genn’s Title (of the letter), (which by the way he titled not me). I am not unhappy or dissatisfied, I am concerned about where the art market may be heading and with the rising costs of everything (even someone who has made a good living at it is finding it harder to make ends meet). It only stands to reason that If we don’t at least try to make sure that we have shows and competitions of the highest quality we are not going to have much for any of us to aspire to, including myself.. And yes there is always room for improvement. And believe me, if I wasn’t happy with being an artist (painter) I would quit. I wrote my letter with an emotional feeling and I can certainly see most of you have as well. Let the waters settle and take another look at things. I love what Sienna Bay said, Go back and read hers. She’s the most perseptive of all of us.

Thank you,


From: Robert Long — Apr 18, 2009

Tom. OK, I accept your comment and agree, Sienna’s words were nice, but you chose a fairly incendiary statement by saying: “There are constantly retired lawyers, doctors, architects, dentists and other professionals who decide to become painters. They put their work in galleries and sell to the unsophisticated, taking sales away from deserving, serious artists. ” Einstein was a patent office clerk. No doubt the full-time, hard-working, professional physicists of the time got out of joint over his foray into their world. I am just saying, when we are not satisfied, my own experience is to start looking more inwardly than out. But I gotta say, I give you credit for the heat you are taking. If nothing else, this is one lively post!

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 18, 2009

Amen!!! Robert

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 18, 2009

I think, Robert, the reason I made the comment about the Dr’s, Lawyers, Dentists, etc. was that they choose to paint after they’ve made a living at something else. There is nothing wrong with that (believe me), but, they have an income to begin painting with. I didn’t and many other artists didn’t as well. I started out with 0 nothing and built my career. Because I was willing and somewhat crazy to try something I loved regardless. I didn’t know what I was doing, I just did it. I didn’t have a retired income. If it were the case, with many, that they just become artists without regard for where the money was going to come from, they would probably not have made it. I am fortunate to have been able to do that. It just seems interesting to me that when certain professionals retire they don’t want to be Truck Drivers, or Prison Guards or Maintainance Workers or even Bus Boys, they all want to be artists because they see it as relaxing, and fun and easy to make a few quick bucks. Also, they NOW discover that they have found their creative side because they can relax.

Do you understand now what I was trying to say?

Thank you,


From: Gregg H — Apr 18, 2009

Thanks Dawn Blair for your kind words! I will look you up as well! Drop me a link from my contact page!

All the best,


From: Isabel Benson — Apr 18, 2009

Stop worrying about the so called “unsophisticated” art buyer. If it is really ART then it will survive on its own. Check back 300 years from now and see how many sophisticated efforts are still around. Just be happy if someone else gets pleasure from your effort.

From: CT Cumins — Apr 18, 2009


I think you did a very poor job of answering this artist’s letter. You are on the fence and I think you have to choose a side for once and all. The answer should not be anyone can come and play because not everyone that can afford art supplies is an artist. You should have a higher standard for what an artist is. Its a person passionate about art from the day they were a young child and they think it, dream it and their life revolves around it. You have to me done a serious injustice to a very serious question put to you and personally I feel you were rather cavalier about the answer.

From: Cynthia Wilhelm — Apr 18, 2009

Hi Tom,

Regarding your comment about “certain professionals” retiring, I thought you might like to know about this man:

Several years ago, I went to an orthopedic doctor to have him check my injured shoulder. He was a great doctor, with a Sherlock Holmes attitude toward solving the puzzle of how exactly I must have fallen when I tried to do a ski jump and did not know how to land (what was I thinking?!). Well, this talented physician retired a couple years ago… I heard from someone who knew him that he moved to Key West, Florida, and is pursuing a life-long dream of driving a taxi. The thought of it makes me smile. He’s the kind of person that would bring excellence to anything he does, as I imagine are many who have written here.

From: Robert Long — Apr 18, 2009

CT. I don’t know quite what to make of your comment, namely that an artist is a “person passionate about art from the day they were a young child and they think it, dream it and their life revolves around it.” Does that mean they still qualify if their art has no artistic merit? That if you are single-mindedly devoted to it full-time, you are an artist? Does not the work itself have to stand up to certain standards or critical evaluation? On the other hand, Leonardo did many other things in life, including significant accomplishments in science and engineering. He produced only a handful of paintings. Gauguin was a banker before a painter. Do we kick these fellows out as artists? That is going to come as a shock to a lot of people!

From: Robert Long — Apr 18, 2009

Tom. In whatever manner someone arrives at producing art should not bear on whether they are legitimate or entitled to succeed. The years spent in other jobs or studying in other professions are part of creating the whole person. Art is personal expression. Like any inventive endeavor, at its very best, art synthesizes the artist’s feelings, observations, knowledge and sense of utility into something others want, need or by which they are moved. Put another way, look at the current excitement over Susan Boyle, the singer from the UK. Is she somehow disingenuous by not having struggled as a musician? Because she is in a more “relaxed” place in life should in no way constitute criteria for whether she is entitled to pursue her singing seriously and find success. Many artists (eg Gustave Caillebotte, Paul Gauguin) were in other professions before they actively pursued art. We all make choices and respond (or not) to opportunity on life’s path. No one should be faulted for how they come to achieve success, however they define it in their life.

From: Brigitte Nowak — Apr 18, 2009

I guess I’m one of those retired folk about whom Mr. Lockhart was complaining. I took early retirement five years ago, in order to paint, and now my work is in several galleries. My sales are not in Mr. Lockhart’s league, but have been increasing annually.

On the other hand, I’ve been painting for more than 50 years; I’ve shown in juried shows across North America for the past twenty-five years, had several solo shows before I retired, and have won multiple awards. I also have a fine arts degree. My parents dissuaded me from a career in art for economic reasons, probably not a bad decision, as I continue to learn, and hopefully improve. Painting because I want to is a privilege, and my meagre pension at least covers the basics.

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 18, 2009

To Brigette and Robert,

Touche!! I am glad for your possitive responses. This whole event I’ve been involved in the past few days has been enlightening to say the least. If nothing else we have ALL responded with Passion over something dear to us. AND THAT IS ART!!!

Thank you

From: Pamela Haddock — Apr 18, 2009
From: Kellam Brown — Apr 18, 2009

I have trouble imagining a mature artist whining about competition from “amateurs” as you do. It’s the nature of the game – it’s a craft, not a licensed profession; no one gets an overall exclusive contract or any guarantees. For every retired lawyer, doctor, architect and dentist who yearns for years to produce art and finally meets with some success there are hundreds of art school graduates who are selling shoes, fixing plumbing, mowing lawns and wishing they had the resources and intellect to succeed at law, medicine, etc. They envy your success about which you complain.

So you decide to attack the nature of the art buying public and seem to expect that there should be some sort of regulating agency to rule over the sale of art. That’s been done – by the Nazis and Soviets. If you want to complain about free competition and expression, you’re in the wrong century and place to get much of an audience.

From: Valerie Key — Apr 18, 2009

Did it ever occur to this fellow that maybe all us lawyers, dentists, professionals, etc. are really artists just waiting to retire so we can be what we were meant to be? Yes, right now we’re amateurs, but we have to start somewhere. I am still working at a job I need to support myself, while I take night classes and learn everything I can so that the day I can retire I can practise art full time. Yeah, maybe I’m not as good as someone who gets to do this full time, but I will be some day!

From: Suzanne Jensen — Apr 18, 2009
From: Gregg H — Apr 18, 2009
From: Jacqueline Satterlee — Apr 18, 2009

It seems to me that Mr. Lockhart is doing very well. We all have to pay the same fees, and some of us don’t sell anything, not because the work is not good, but because of where one lives and what the people in the area can afford. I was very pleased to sell a painting for $40 the other day, and it was the first one in two years…. Although Mr. Lockhart’s work is nice I don’t think it is any better than that of many artists who had to wait until their retirement to do what they love. I find his remarks very snobbish and insensitive.

From: Helen Opie — Apr 18, 2009
From: Valerie Reed — Apr 18, 2009

Who does this man think he is? People have freedom to buy what they wish in this country. I understand being frustrated or discouraged … but to blame “the public.” I’ll bet that he economizes is areas of his life where a service or product provider could say, “how does that Tom Lockhart have such nerve …. to do what he wants with his money!!”

From: Denise Tamayo — Apr 18, 2009

Hello Robert,

It always comes back to connecting with the present, the presence, to what is.

In my various studies of religion, art and special education, it always comes back to that.

And every night and every morning I thank the universe for the energy that runs thoughout everything.

Thanks to you too.

From: Bruce Heming — Apr 18, 2009

Dear Robert, I am one of the “retired lawyers, doctors, architects, dentists or other professionals who decide to become painters.” The first paragraph got my blood boiling a bit when Tom wrote that he feels that we produce cheap crappy paintings. The second paragraph got me feeling better as this does not seem to be your point of view and it certainly is not mine.

I do have a comment that the good professional painters have a ready sale for their original paintings and also a good market for their prints. I do not have anything against their marketing but always wonder why the public would prefer to get a numbered copy of one of these paintings for approximately $3000 to $7000 when if they were to look at new artists work they could get a beautiful original work of art for either the same price or less. It would seem that most of the galleries around Calgary prefer to market prints and rarely carry original work. I feel that it is these art stores who have created a market for these prints and find they can make more money by selling prints as the average consumer of art is unable to pay $50,000 to $200,000 for the original. This leaves the new comer with a very difficult time breaking into the market place.

From: Gail Caduff-Nash — Apr 18, 2009
From: Larry Proteau — Apr 18, 2009

If you can earn $75,000 a year or more, you are doing much better than the average artist. It is true that many amateurs manage to get their work into mediocre galleries, but the people who buy cheap work will never buy good work no matter what. So you don’t really lose sales to amateurs. You sell to a more sophisticated market. And this market has been adversely affected by the recession, as have most people.

From: wiglebot — Apr 18, 2009

Tom was honest, so I will be.

At First I was thinking Tom should join the CAW or UAW.

Then I was thinking he has a point and it is true that the best sales people sell themselves to galleries and customers. While, many of the agreed upon “best artist (and musician)” are seen as esoteric.

Then as a consumer, I get tired of all this hostility toward me lately. My ISP, Telephone company, Cell Phone company, Bank, Airlines all treat me like a child and punish me with hidden rules, fees and a bad attitude. And Tom seems a bit hostile toward potential customers even though I agree with him.

I sure like Tom’s work and there is nothing wrong with having contradictions about such issues.

From: Gregg H — Apr 18, 2009

Gail, It is the economy. No art is selling

From: Gregg H — Apr 18, 2009


I called my personal banker a week ago Thursday to have him transfer funds from savings to checking. Yesterday, I spent an hour at the bank arguing about eight overdraft charges which amount to 240.00 that the bank stole from me because my transfer never happened.

I think that ETHICS should be taught in every class from K to college.

Our country has lost it’s honesty, it’s integrity. Tom is just sounding off to a much bigger problem. People are worried about their futures. Whether you are an artist who’s sole income is from painting, or a car salesman. Times are tough. Tom needs understanding – 75K or 30K people are worried.

From: Gregg H — Apr 18, 2009
From: Sharon Schwenk — Apr 19, 2009
From: Gregg H — Apr 19, 2009

I am struggling as well. I have been for years. Art is not any easy business, especially in a weak economy. This subject interests me.

I see a lot of anger in the words of writers that Tom has no right to complain. Tom is just wondering when the next sale will come. Having a great life & a good income isn’t a guarantee in this fragile world. Tom is feeling it, as many of us are.

From: Dianne G — Apr 19, 2009

Back to the task at hand — “I can’t understand why the public insists on buying cheap, crappy art.” People buy what they can afford. I’ve observed people oooo-ing and ahhh-ing over a beautiful work and blanch at the price tag. Yet the urge to want to have something is strong so they will then proceed to another piece that is easier on their pocketbook. Art is in the eye of the beholder.

From: Laurie L — Apr 19, 2009

Why the public insist on buying cheap, crappy art? I see this as an opportunity to educate potential art collectors.

When the price tag is a little bit too rich, at this point, someone (the artist or the gallery) should step in and take the opportunity to educate the potential collector: craftmanship, quality, experience, size matters.

Then if price is really an issue, suggest that they start small and/or start with a lesser-known with a similar style, and save up for the larger piece. Or arrange some sort of a layaway plan.

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 19, 2009
From: wini — Apr 19, 2009

The art world is crowded @ the bottom. But, there’s LOTS of room @ the top. ALWAYS room for truly good work.

From: Alan — Apr 20, 2009

I showed TL’s pictures to a co-worker who said, “I can’t believe he earns that much money making such dreck! The state of the art market these days!” She went on to decry the lack of taste among the art consuming public.

From: Chris Everest — Apr 20, 2009

Chill dudes.

From: Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki — Apr 20, 2009

I am a professional with income and at the same time I am an emerging artist. I am thankful to Tom for opening my eyes about the attitudes and feelings that I may encounter in the art world by those who got there before me. The reality is what it is, weather we like it or not, and it’s better to be informed and prepared than oblivious. Actually, I have already experienced resentments from my teachers because I did not make the same sacrifices as them. That angered me at times, but looking back I have to forgive them because they thought me so much and they had no way of knowing what is in my heart and in my future.

It is also a fact that buyers buy what they like, and education and reputation of the artist is not a guarantee for a sale. There was a report on the news last night about the sale of a Tom Thomson piece at an auction (a rare occurrence). Estimates were running up to 1.75 million dollars. The piece actually got only one bid and for $350,000. One collector commented that the painting is small and not very colorful. It looked beautiful to me, but the collector’s opinions matter when we talk about sales.

From: John Ferrie — Apr 20, 2009

Dear Robert,

This artist isn’t dissatisfied, he is in-petulant! It is like having to listen to people who claim to never be wrong.

They have done everything “right” so therefore they should be a success. The sad thing is, you have to sit and listen to how perfect these people claim to be after their apple cart has turned over and they are sitting there wondering “what happened?”

If you want fame and fortune pal, go sell real estate!

Predicting the taste meter in the art world is harder than predicting the weather. And look how many pieces of equipment is used for that!

The art world is about passion and heart, not about mathematics or waiting patiently on your laurels on old work for your moment in the spotlight.

We do this because no matter what happens in our lives, being an artist is what defines us. We actually get excited going to the art supply store and thinking of all those paintings trapped inside those tubes of paint. We are speechless in front of an artist’s work we admire. We know that working beyond what we already know is what makes us creative and that the best work of our lives is always ahead of us.

Maybe this Mr Lockhart needs to rethink his attitude…Or maybe his work is just not that good.

From: Ralph Legros — Apr 21, 2009

Don’t worry be happy !

From: Marsha Hamby Savage — Apr 21, 2009

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all the diverse opinions by all the different levels of artists here. I do love that Robert creates something for us all to give good thought to.

I think Tom does paint quite well. There will be people that don’t like his work, and people that do. That is what makes the world go around. I also understand his worry about what will happen in the future. We cannot know. We have to plan for alternatives — the good opportunities, and the bad.

I think Tom might have chosen his words a little more carefully, but then Robert might not have chosen to use his letter to create all this wonderful dialog. I also know there were some words that people decided to say that were really just other angry people. I agree with several that said they really try not to let anger and all the bad happenings in the world color their day (my words, but what I got out of what they said).

So, take the good from what Tom has told us and make it your own. Learn from what he has gone through and hopefully we will maybe know what he did to help himself that we can learn from.

From: Kas — Apr 21, 2009

What a blowhard. The thing about retired doctors, lawyers and such is that maybe they realized they had to make a living first and put off what their real love was to better their own situation. It is about balance. We have families, children to raise, feed, educate and put off our true desires to unselfishly advance others. The difference with people who are now getting to do what they have always dreamed of is that they at least have been able to finally satisfy a goal that they had always wanted to live but life got in the way. I am a retired nurse and I too have always been a closet artist but have been unable until now to pursue that which I always thought was my real calling. Don’t know if I will ever achieve Lockhart’s self acclaim but if eventually someone sees merit in my work I will not refuse the money and refer that admirer to Lockhart so that some more “deserving” professional artist can have it. He obviously is a very selfish, narcissitic individual whose ideologies look much like the university professors whose snobbery is something even he despises.

From: Ken Rogers — Apr 21, 2009

Dear Robert

This is my second try to voice my opinion I got left out for some reason.

In response to Tom Lockhart’s comments re “a dissatisfied artist,” my first reaction was ‘what a display of an arrogant attitude in motion.’ Wow. Tom, to do what you love and trained to do and earn between $75,000 and $100,000 US per year with a great number of tax write-offs that many other professions cannot take advantage of, you are indeed doing very well.

I am not going to turn this into an attack on what you have put out there but simply state that for you to say that uneducated people are not sophisticated enough to know what they want hanging in their home is a real put down and that may be why they buy art from recently retired people or beginning artists who are painting with fresh eyes, even though their work may not incorporate all the elements and rules of the artists that have trained at the finest art schools of the land. However, their work resonates with people who buy it and can afford it. It is also a fresh look at the world and obviously communicating to them ­- it may be speaking to them like the cave art of early man who communicated with their early earth traveling companions. It conveyed to them a respect for the animals that provided food and clothing that allowed them to survive, not unlike the respect for later patrons of art that allows some artists to live comfortable lives.

Today a recent survey confirms that many talented artists do not earn a survivable wage but still keep on painting and working at other jobs to survive and get their art out there. It is just the economics of the profession and not a statement that their work is inferior. To suggest that people have to be educated on what to buy and what not to buy, what is good and what is “cheap, crappy art from poorly educated artists,” conveys to me that art snobs are art snobs and this attitude does a great disservice to all artists. It is perhaps partly because of this that the world of art is changing and people are voting with their hard earned cash for art that they choose because they like it and not art that someone else tells them to choose.

Ken Rogers

Recently retired but aspiring artist

Sunshine Coast

From: Susan — Apr 21, 2009

This has been a very interesting discussion. Mr. Lockhart I wish you well and send you best wishes for improved health. I understand that your original letter was asking an expert for advice. I hope that you will be able to use your own creativity to come up with some solutions. Look at the beautiful work Matisse did when he could no longer hold a brush and was “reduced” to making paper cutouts.

I’m a retiree who has turned to art as a hobby. I have no plans to sell my work — rather I’m helping the US economy by buying supplies, including art videos! We are all hurting in this economy and because of our overly expensive US healthcare system. Although I currently have a pension and health insurance, there is a good chance the insurance will be canceled next January and now the state of California is even considering cutting our pensions.

From: Ken Rogers — Apr 21, 2009

After venting I took a look at your web page Tom and I love your paintings you are indeed very talented and your work reflects a respect for the beauty in our world. It would be better for your health and well being I am sure if you just reconnected with what inspired you to capture so much beauty in the first place. I strongly believe in the statement “do what you love and the money will follow.” Good luck with your health.


Sunshine Coast

From: Vyvyan — Apr 21, 2009

Robert, I would like to know why I received your letter at approx. 9:00 p.m. on the 20th of April, and most of the comments were generated on the 16th, 17th and 18th. Why don’t I get it when everyone else does? Often I would like to make a comment, but by the time I receive it, it’s old news. Can I go to your website and read it ahead of time??? What’s the secret here? I look forward to reading your letters and the comments they generate but I perpetually feel like I’m missing something. Thank you.

From: Vyvyan — Apr 21, 2009

I sure hope I didn’t come off as sounding snivelly, but I feel like the perpetual late bird! I really do enjoy and look forward to your letters, thanks!

From: Susan in New Mexico — Apr 21, 2009

Dear Tom,

Consider yourself lucky and successful that You can support yourself and your family. If I had to live on my art proceeds, I would be living in a car…..a very old car!

Personally, I think that Robert is having fun with us! Just stir these guys up a bit…things have been somewhat boring lately. He certainly did stir things up!

Whatever age a person discovers the magic of making art, it is the journey that matters. If the public likes this work and buys it, that is a lovely bonus and a surprise. Whenever I make a good sale, I try to spread it around a bit and make a purchase of another painter’s work. I do not have to rely on these sales to survive and I understand the responsibility of the head of the household to produce. It must be daunting. I wish you the best of luck and I am sure that you are sorry that you exposed yourself to all this.

Take care and remember, “mum’s the word”.

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 21, 2009

Hey Susan,

How nice to hear something like this. I have been where you’ve been. I started out very meagerly as well. It is tough, but if we didn’t love it we would not be doing it. I sympathize with you and wish you all the best. You will get there believe me. I am just concerned about these economic times. Art is a luxury to most.

I know personally artists who are more succesful than myself and their works sell for much more. They are hurting too. Maybe instead of so much anger towards me and my success (as of late) we could help each other out as to what we all should do or where this may be headed. I read some really interesting and much more light hearted comments earlier. I think I’m going to take several peoples advice and retire to become a starving Brain Surgeon (just joking). Let’s all lighten up OK?

As the fellow earlier said Let’s Chill out!



From: C Williams — Apr 21, 2009

This is a typical case of hoof & mouth disease. Haven’t we all been there? I know I have, many times. I’ve learned over the years (I’m much older than Tom), that I have to let some time go by after the “heat of the moment”, or re-read what I have written several times in the course of the day to realize it is not conveying what I truly want to say. I’m sure Tom would not insult the very people he is teaching and earning part of his living from.

In my eyes I am a good artist, not a great one. I often walk into a gallery or museum and wonder why a certain painting was chosen to hang and think it yet the person with me might love it. Just as some love my work and others don’t. It’s all a matter of personal preference.

I have been an artist all of my life. My mother lovingly kept my drawings from about age 5 up. Unfortunately she could not keep the ones I drew on the walls & in books. Due to family circumstances I could not go to art school and had to work, so I am one of those off again, on again artists, but truly consider myself and my occupation to be an artist and no-one can change that.

From: Peter Brown — Apr 21, 2009

Am I the only person here that thinks Mr. Lockhart’s paintings are rather tepidly sentimental, gratuitous, facile, completely predictable, and rather trite? It is almost as if he has missed 150 years of art history. He certainly missed Cezanne. I do not understand what he was complaining about in his letter, but I also fail to see what he is trying to say with his paintings?

Is he trying to beautify nature? How would you characterize Mr. Lockhart’s paintings? They are not realism. They are not really impressionistic. If anything one might call the paintings stylized, overly romantic and overly idealized. If Mr. Lockhart were to take my painting workshop, I would suggest that he take a single chance, like one unexpected color, a dead or fallen tree, or maybe just something that isn’t a tired cliche? I would say, take your great talent and show me something that I have never seen before! I would say make a metaphor, tell a story, paint a forest that has been clear-cut.

From: Leonidas — Apr 21, 2009

There is nothing unusual about grouchy attitude of T.Lockhart.

Unfortunately, on larger scale there is NO room for all, as some artists naively posted here. The art field is indeed contaminated by low-level no-good bunglers, who mostly pre-occupied with their own self-expression decease, whereas they don’t contribute much of anything to art, beauty or aesthetics, or culture in general, or even community (except for those deplorable insignificant bits of own narrow artistic “achievements”), and who draw too much attention and resoures to themselves, thus depriving both public and well… more deserving artists (from standpoint of unhindered meritocracy).

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 21, 2009

Hello Leonidas, Ha, I’m not grouchy man, thanks anyway.

Hello Peter, I would like to say to you, You may not like my work. I don’t all the time either. But I will tell you, I’ve learned a lot from this discussion forum and If I come out a better painter IE: Artist, then I’ve gained something. I cannot make nature more beautiful. I just like painting light, atomosphere, studying value and how it relates and try to design a pleasing image. There is enough strife and ugliness in the world.

Some artist wish to embrace many isms, I have many heroes past and present. Johannes Vermeer, Titian, Van Gogh, Willard Metcalf, Yves Tanguy, and Andrew Wyeth just to mention a few.

Cezanne was not one. My opinion that’s all. I’d have to see your work inorder to determine what you may have to offer me. Thanks for the offer though,

Good luck with your art.


From: Comments moderator — Apr 21, 2009
From: Gentlehawk James — Apr 21, 2009

Hey Tom, This discussion is wonderful, look at all the feelings that are being expressed….you have created a “GIFT” by stirring up a pot! It’s really wonderful for all of us to share, negative or positive. I thank you for this gift. Namaste……Create a good’un!

From: Ivan Kelly, Toledo, OR — Apr 21, 2009


I’m thinking that you are voicing the frustrations of many artists at this time.

Your ”crime ” is probably in mentioning the 75,000 or more annually although I am sure that minus expenses you are left with much less and Colorado is likely not a cheap state to live in.

Most artists do not earn anywhere near that so many will be envious and try to tear you down and belittle your work. Add to that some believe that you are prostituting yourself when you try to sell your ”art ”.

I believe you work hard to earn that income and I commend you for that kind of work ethic.

I knew Robert Lougheed and he said that during recessions we should keep painting and produce fine work for buyers when they are ready again. Still we must acknowledge that little is the same as it was 30 years ago but what else can we do. We either keep on or quit and an option. Lougheed would’nt have quit. Painting was his total enjoyment and life.

From: Maxine E — Apr 21, 2009

Dear Tom, I am created as a unique, unrepeatable expression of an unlimited God. In his/her image. It is as natural as breathing for us to want to create because of our own creation, and the ultimate creation we live in. Exclusivity is everywhere! I am from a little town in Milton WA, presently engaged in an 8 week watercolor class for seniors, beginning watercolor. I look forward to it so much, Our teacher Harry is an accomplished artist who is choosing to be the change he wants to see in the world, by sharing his love and expertise. By lifting us up! by showing us we can create something nice. I so look forward to his class its only once a week, I don’t think Harry will get rich off us! I don’t think I will become poor by paying his fees. I will be buying some art supplies, supporting the economy, keeping balance in my life. Making some new and enduring friendships and isn’t that what community is all about. I may even be able to share what I learned by teaching the children I teach at church some of these techniques. Lifting one another, lifting spreading joy,.

When I return home, one may say, thats good mom, another may say, what a waste of time and resources! But I chose this from of joy, and nothing can take that away from me.

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 21, 2009

God Bless You Maxine,

Kudos, Ivan. Lougheed was a teacher as fine as he was a painter.

Thanks. Tom

From: Gregg H — Apr 21, 2009

Tom, can I ask you, did you really mean the horrible art that is hanging in some city galleries when you said cheap? Was it the absolute bilge that some are calling art? The other day I saw some lovely poorly drawn images of central american men strangling peasant women with piano wire. By the way, there were several painted by this artist in the same sick theme.

The sophisticates in my neck of the woods are awful. They think they are edgy, and get the money for their garbage, but who advises to hang this bilge on their walls?

Gregg H.


From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 21, 2009

Hello Greg, I can’t even go there. I don’t know what to think. What some people think is creative and edgy might just be that. I am from the tilt that I enjoy art that brings joy to me. I don’t need violence or creepyness or ugly to call it an art form. Others may. I was raised to recognize the Glory of God’s wonderful earth and creatures and if it manifests itself in my art then so be it. If someone else chooses to show images of death & destruction and vile and nasty then I can’t stop them nor can I help them.. Art is to provoke the senses and if some choose to do it this way who am I to determine their destiny as a translator of the image they’ve created. Look at the history of art. It was the cave man first then the hyroglyphics, then the art for the church, then aristocracy, then the common man and then the revolution in the arts. The break away from the academic training. And now here we are the age of What? Find yourself in your art and you will find your audience.


From: Sandy — Apr 21, 2009

Tom, is this letter printed by Robert on the 17th, (which has generated such a plethora of comments) the same letter/comment made by you on April 4th in response to Robert’s letter about artist incomes, which generated no response?

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 21, 2009

Hi Sandy, Don’t know, I just wrote to Robert expressing some concerns, Why?


From: Leonidas — Apr 22, 2009

It still would be nice if we had situation when real, powerful, professionally-made and quality art would force out all cheap daub and ugly botch made by wannabies and amateurs – from entire art scene.

Especially art of those who were exalted high (as trendy fad) by incompetent modern art critics and curators for appealing nowness of their “art” and who occupy a way too many undeserved positions in the art field at these days…

From: Anonymous — Apr 22, 2009

This is nothing short of a feeding frenzy in which you started, Mr. Genn. Although Mr. Lockhart opened the door for this, it was your comments and devout followers that projected this beyond the point trying to be established. One follows the other.

Shame on you.

From: Sandy — Apr 22, 2009

Tom, you asked why? If you recall Robert’s letter of 4/3/09 re ‘Income Shock’, he was quoting a Canadian study…$20,000 average annual income for artists, and the implication was that most artists only worked 26-27 hours a week. The response was great, especially from female artists. Your letter was under comments 4/4, wherein you mentioned working 50-65 hrs a week, etc. At no time reading this letter did I think you were “whining”, but stating facts that pertained to you and many artists. Therefore I was surprised to read the almost identical letter on the 17th but put in a different perspective – that is of a dissatisfied artist. I was a bit disappointed on how Robert portrayed it – it didn’t seem fair to print it without the reference to the “Income Shock” disccussion – sort of taken out of context, if you know what I mean.

From: Yves — Apr 23, 2009

I am an engineer and make a very comfortable living. In my free time I like to paint and study art. Among the old masters I absolutely adore Tintoretto, Velasquez, Titian, Chardin, Constable. Among the living artists I really like Julian Schnabel and Neo Rauch. I did not start showing my paintings in galleries yet. But I will eventually, when I feel that my art is good enough. I think there is no point in showing mediocre art to the world. For now I paint only for myself. I have no intentions of selling. Eventually all mediocre art will be forgotten. And by mediocre art I mean all art that does not transcend the Zeitgeist of our times. The value judgment of esthetics is arbitrary and is not nearly enough for a work of art to withstand time.

From: Gregg H — Apr 23, 2009


It still would be nice if we had situation when real, powerful, professionally-made and quality art would force out all cheap daub and ugly botch made by wannabies and amateurs – from entire art scene.

Especially art of those who were exalted high (as trendy fad) by incompetent modern art critics and curators for appealing nowness of their “art” and who occupy a way too many undeserved positions in the art field at these days…

You are right on the money. Art history is a fascinating subject and the reason all this twaddle is being sold is that political agenda’s can’t see fit to be professional at art. Picasso was a communist.

Read the truth. All this pap is a way of making easy money. God forbid someone trying to imitate mature with a mature artist’s voice.

You are right on!

From: Tom Lockhart — Apr 23, 2009

Dear Sandy, I do know what you mean. I think things have calmed down quite a bit. So I will let it go at that. It has been a very interesting discussion.

I am glad you see things as I did. I felt it was taken out of context. You were correct, It was in reference to the Art Shock letter. I was definitely fuel for the fire as to speak.

Hello Yves, I think you get what I was concerned about. I remember being in The SOHO District of New York back in ’99 I went to do a show at the Forbes Magazine gallery and I went to several galleries in the District. However one gallery in particular I won’t forget. It was a garage door basically opened to the public to walk in. On the wall was an exhibit of work that was garbage bags with food and grease and whatever all over the bags. The paper sacks had scribble and some poorly drawn stuff on them and they were placed under plastic boxes and were selling for hundreds of dollars. Now if this is art then it puzzles me. Thank you for your comments.

Tom L.

From: Beth Christensen — Apr 25, 2009

I was questioning the usefulness of your choice of topic, Robert, when I read Tom’s complaint letter but it seems to have triggered a truly fascinating discussion about what exactly constitutes art, how factors like money, popular culture, quality of work, public opinion and the current economy affect us as artists. No answers, but plenty to think about. My daughter works with a very edgy non-profit gallery in NYC, where things similar to the greasy food bags are often on display as well as some other even more disturbing items and I have learned to enjoy this as well and to see its place in the whole art scheme of things. I find an open mind and a sense of humor to be paramount for art appreciation!

Also, I appreciate your comments on my first “showing” of my work online in my earlier post, Gwen Fox!

From: Sharon Margret — Apr 25, 2009

This is in response to Tom Lockart’s letter of April 17th remarking on the public buying cheap, crappy art from poorly educated artists who are taking sales away from deserving ‘serious artists’.

I attended an art show last year on Southern Vancouver Island where ‘serious artists’ works were displayed. After spending some time checking out the artwork, I thought to myself, “most of the art here is beautifully mounted and very professional looking but nothing here really speaks to me.” At just that moment, two women walked past me and one said to the other almost verbatim what I had just been thinking..

My point is, “If you don’t have what the public wants, sales ain’t gonna happen!

I personally love children’s art. It is so pure and uncontrived and so-oo-o imaginative.

My personal goal is to capture the freedom, the innocence, the honesty and the imagination of the child in my artwork.

From: John Boeckeler — Apr 26, 2009

Good points, Sharon Margret. I’m sure we’ve all seen boring and lifeless work by serious professional artists. Some of them churn out the same work, same subjects, done in the same manner, year after year. Good craft and technique, but no vitality, nothing that engages the viewer.

Every year the Center for Maine Contemporary Art shows the work of children in the local schools, elementary through high school. I especially like the work of the youngest children. It’s interesting to see how craft and technique improve as the children get older but other qualities are lost.

From: Roger Thomas NZ — Apr 27, 2009

I say good on you Tom for displaying your feelings. All comments here have been enlightening and encouraging to know now the world over we as artists are struggling but fighting our way through the toughest time probably since the depression. Its easy to sit in your little corner of the world and wonder what the hell is happening and to read these posts has been enlightening and encouraging to say the least. Stand tall artists, we have got a lot to offer, maybe not just too much right now, but it will come back!

From: scott — Nov 24, 2009

Capatalism always does this to everything it touches, part of the territory! The upside is that true artist are not interested in the score, only the prize! Used to be that way in football, Baseball,

or inRembrandt’s day. I’m sure it just feels in different degree’s!

From: Claudia — Dec 08, 2009

Mr. Lockhart, you are an art snob. I volunteered my time to the arts and as well, I was on the executive of an artist group for 4 years. I left it all behind after seven years. Why?…because I got fed up with the “Art Contol Squad.” People like Mr. Lockhart seem to feel they had a right to impose “their rules” on others because they feel “their art” is superior. Mr. Lockhart, although you can paint, I have seen far superior work by what you would call “uneducated” artists”. Landscapes are a dime a dozen and can be boring. What’s amazing, is the income you earn and yet complain about. Your thinking is a throw-back to the 19th century when only the upperclass could attend art school. Mr. Lockhart, if you want to earn more money, you should have done your homework before deciding to choose “art” as a profession to earn a living. One more thing, just how much income is enough for you? I work a 40 hour week as an accounting clerk and after taxes I earn about $32 thousand a year. If I were to earn what you make plus be able to make a living pursuing my passion of painting, I would certainly count my blessings and more!

From: Tom Lockhart — Dec 13, 2009

In Reply to your comment Claudia,

First of all I am not nor have I considered myself to be an art snob. You obviously are passionate about your feelings toward my art and my remarks. I never said I was dissatisfied with my income from my art. Robert Genn wrote that comment. I realize you may think landscape art is a dime a dozen OK? Big deal, so are abstracts and other genres. I have yet to see anyone break the art barrier lately with anything groundbreaking. I have always considered myself very fortunate to be able to make the money from my work as I have. If my work was soooo boring I might not as done as well as I did. My intial letter wasw written in response to a letter transposed from Robert on the currnet state of artists making a very meger living. Relying upon grants and working mostly part time while working another job. No one taking their craft seriously enough to make it full time. I took exception to that. I was also concerned about the changing and declining sales by many artists including myself. I have taught myself from the ground up. I went to college to learn art and gain a degree in the Fine Arts. I was one of the most expensive disasters in education I could imagine. I along with many floundered at the liberal approach to teaching art. I worked very hard as best I could to make it as an artist. Regardless of what you tbhink, ( I chse my area because it intersted me and I like it, PERIOD!). I have survived cancer and 18 surgical proceedures and am recovering from a total knee replacement. And yet I still try to gert at the easle and paint. I have supported and wife and family for 24 years with my paintings. When you have walked a mile in my shoes then you have the right to criticize me.

Thank you. and good luck with your art

From: LaSaga — Jul 30, 2010

You cannot become a doctor, dentist, carpenter, or even an artist, etc simply because you are interested in the profession. You have to pay your dues ,train and learn through experience to take on such a job. All I’m saying is that anyone just cannot waltz in and become an artist. It takes years.

From: Livisart — Sep 24, 2010

WOW Everyones taste is different.

I guess I wouldn’t stand a chance then if Tom was judging my art being one of the inferior self taught.

So if someone were to pay a lot of money for one of my paintings that would make it jump from being bad work to accepted work ?

Then if I so wished I could look down on other artists who are not making as much money.

I thought you are not famous in the art world until after you have died.

So every one of us could yet be a famous artist just waiting to be discovered.

Why pre judge.

Pretty long wait though !

From: AtomicZ… — Feb 12, 2011

You are not your art and your art is not you… this is left to the eye of the beholder! peace

From: Kelly Leichert — Sep 13, 2011

I equate art with religion. Once I was on a church board and we had a pastor with a Doctorate in Religious Studies who served full time and had a family. He was paid in accord with professional people in the community and with the awareness that he had a family to support.

Many other people in the congregation were deeply devoted but chose to use their time and abilities as a service or calling without pay.

For me, one may become chronically resentful or depressed if they do not make the primary decision of: I am a professional artist and am intending to make my livelyhood from this or I am called to be an artist and will find a way and means to practice artmaking even if it is not my full time work. One is a profession the other a vocation.

What I have experienced, and seem to hear in this discussion, is the desire to have it all. If you want to make a living at art be prepared to do business and deal with market forces. If you are interested primarily in art as a way of life don’t expect or demand the society to provide you with an income for your devotion. I believe both choices are valid – but the choice must be made in order to preserve one’s piece of mind.

From: Kelly Leichert — Sep 13, 2011

A post script to my previous comment:

I chose art as a way of life. My modest technical skill and disinterest in the art business determined this. Despite this my psychic energy and devotion is to art (painting and drawing, art history) My profession is architectural drafting. Although I do not make money at painting, it helps my work and my dayly living as I apply what I learn from it to all aspects of my life. Most everything from housework, cooking to my drafting use the methodogies and insights which have come from being a dedicated painter. Moreover it brings joy and purpose to me. It affects my standard of living but that is my choice.

From: Tom Lockhart — Oct 25, 2011

I stumbled across this article again on Google. I would LIKE TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT once and for ALL. I am not a dissatisfied ARTIST, ROBERT GENN chose to use those words, I did not, (I repeat) I did not. SO please cut me a break. I was responding to a letter written by someone from a University in Canada relating to the poor working habits of artists and their lack of production time in relationship to their income. PERIOD. I love what I do and wouldn’t want to do anything else.



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