A shrinking violet?

Dear Artist, Yesterday, Dr. Anikó Boda of Budapest, Hungary wrote, “People are astonished when I tell them I don’t sell my paintings. As an expressionist, they are my deepest feelings embedded in paint (Sometimes I cry while painting). How could I ask money for them? My paintings are my children. Besides, I don’t need the income. My first solo show is coming in December. I’m embarrassed to talk about selling. I’ve never been interested in galleries or art-marketing. I don’t even have a business card. But I hate the look on people’s faces (astonishment, suspicion, pity) when I tell them. Do I need to sell for money just to be taken seriously?” Thanks, Anikó. For those of us who have made a life in art, exchanging our work for the hard-earned cash of others is part of the fun. Selling completes the circle and makes it possible for us to continue our work, put the kids through university and buy classic cars. Sorry, but like Picasso, Fragonard and Michelangelo, public validation by greens is important. Van Gogh would have hung in there longer if he’d sold just one little oil. There are several things you can do. You might put outrageously high prices on them, take the chance of not selling (which is what you say you want) and if you happen to, give the money to your favorite charity. The second is to put outrageously low prices on them, get a reputation for having sellout shows, and give what little money you get to your favourite charity. Another is to earmark a few as gifts to individuals or museums you think outrageously worthy, and put NFS on the rest. That way, every work is already taken. Incidentally, people covet what they can’t have, and if your work is spectacular it will make them crazy. The fly in the ointment in any of these games is your gallery or the institution presenting you. Do they need a commission to keep going? Or are they in it for prestige, noble sharing, or because they think it’s about time? You need to know your gallery’s true motivation — and your own. It’s unfortunate, but we are living at a time when most people need to know the price of things. Putting a price on your work may be the price you have to pay for being taken seriously. Best regards, Robert PS: “Despite my extremely modest prices, dealers and art lovers are turning their backs on me. It is very depressing to see the lack of interest shown in an art object which has no market value.” (Claude Monet) Esoterica: Then we have the case of Maqbool Fida Husain — the “Picasso of India.” A dashing, poetic, eccentric figure in impeccably tailored suits, he went barefoot brandishing a paintbrush-cane. Painting mostly in hotels, he always paid generously for the cleanup. He self-promoted, drove a hard deal, created his own art museums and collected a mass of classic cars. With every stunt he doubled his prices — his last oil going for about two million dollars. “I painted her there in Connaught Square, sitting on a horse. People were hanging off the trees! They had to call the police!” (Maqbool Fida Husain)   A self-absorbed conversation? by Brenda Wright, Perth, ON, Canada  

“Blue Water Jug”
watercolour painting
by Brenda Wright

It makes me wonder why this artist would contact you at all. She says she’s an ‘expressionist’ but does not want to sell her pieces, so why show them? What is the point? Why would she have a ‘solo show’ if her paintings are exclusively her own? I suggest she keep it ‘solo’… lock the doors and appreciate her own work, alone. Her expression is most likely a self-absorbed conversation anyway (I note she did not send any photos of her work).   There is 1 comment for A self-absorbed conversation? by Brenda Wright
From: Ron — Nov 16, 2011

I think you have nailed her,Brenda….

  True artists paint from feelings by Terrie Christian, Plymouth, MN, USA  

“Aqueous Territory”
watercolour paintikng
by Terrie Christian

I would like to tell Dr. Boda that a balance can be reached. All my life I have defined myself as an artist and actually chose not to make it my vocation. I too became a healer with a degree in pharmacy. Many have said that I should sell my art and a few times I have. What became really apparent to me is that I was making art for a different reason and my own need was actually not to make it a business. Many artists I know find the business end of it distressing and wish they did not have to make a living that way. I do love to share my art and mostly give it away, but I also enter shows. Sometimes I list the paintings for sale and other times not. Once, a painting that was not for sale was desired by a visitor to the gallery. My husband’s job had just been outsourced overseas and I thought it would be good to have a sale. I had listed the painting’s value for insurance purposes, and decided to raise the price to cover the cost that the gallery would make. The buyer decided not to buy. I was so relieved. That painting is in my living room and is a spirit painting for me. We should not bow to the pressure of others or think ourselves not viable artists because we do not fit a mold. Painting from feelings as described by Dr. Boda makes the true artist. Sometimes those who sell have to sell out to their market and lose their creative self. Even so, we are all artists!   Don’t lock it up! by Alexi Blackwell  

“Key to My Heart”
handmade custom jewelry
by Alexi Blackwell

I don’t think that you necessarily need to sell your paintings to be taken seriously, however I believe you should. When I create a painting, I feel I’ve given birth to something that has a life of its own. My paintings deserve a happy life hanging in the home of someone who has found my art and it spoke to them. Art has an appeal like a relationship with a person. Some you think are ugly, but then that special one comes along and becomes so attractive to you that you just have to marry it and take it home! Denying your work the life it deserves is a bit like child abuse… you should never give birth to a child, lock it in a dark closet and forget about it! It deserves to live in the sunshine of a happy home! There are 4 comments for Don’t lock it up! by Alexi Blackwell
From: Myrna — Nov 15, 2011

I like your attitude, very good

From: tatjana — Nov 15, 2011

Wow, your words got to me. I sometimes have horrible nightmares where I “remember” that I have a pet or a child that I forgot about and it has not been fed or attended to for years. I wonder if that nightmare relates to some forms of my art that I have neglected.

From: Dorenda — Nov 17, 2011

tatjana…I have that same dream all the time…we need to find out what it means :)

From: Penny Collins — Nov 27, 2011

“My paintings deserve a happy life hanging in the home of someone who has found my art and it spoke to them.” And if the artist that created the painting loves it and hangs it in their own home, then surely that is equally as good. “Denying your work the life it deserves is a bit like child abuse… you should never give birth to a child, lock it in a dark closet and forget about it! It deserves to live in the sunshine of a happy home!” Again, just because the artist is not selling their art to someone else, does not mean they are keeping it in the closet! And if there is not enough wall space for one’s own art, it’s a great pleasure to give the art to loved ones.

  Let your work nourish others by Bill Skuce, Sooke, BC, Canada  

original painting
by Bill Skuce

The concept of one’s paintings being as one’s children has some merit. Certainly there is a high level of attachment to one’s children. A parent makes many sacrifices for her/his child while raising it but, as most parents know, the time comes when the child needs, in a sense, to be set free by parents in order to fulfill his/her own life. Letting one’s art go for a fair price is making that break; part of the process is the mutually agreed upon price. In keeping with the analogy, the artist may even say, in jest, “I reserve visiting privileges,” suggesting, possibly, an on-going friendship with the new owner. Another freeing concept is the one of the dung beetle. The “food” of the painter is the process; he doesn’t feed on the painting… but others do. In a room full of paintings, an individual is drawn to one painting he/she must have. Why? Because he is nourished by it. In the case of the dung beetle, the elephant does the processing and its dung is the only nourishment of the dung beetle. Without taking this to a level that literal interpretation would offend, the lesson is that artists, beyond a point, really do not need to keep all their paintings. Ms. Boda of Budapest may find it a helpful notion to suppose that someone who acquires one of her expressionist paintings may find joy in living with it and be nourished while enjoying it.   Not a shrinking violet by Diane Voyentzie, CT, USA  

oil painting
by Diane Voyentzie

We returned from Budapest, two days ago. I had never been there, and was astonished at the beauty. It is a messy, wonderful, crazy city that everyone ran over — Genghis Kahn, Attila the Hun, the Nazis, the Russians, gypsies… The art museum is one of the best in Europe… the churches, the gorgeous synagogue that was rebuilt… however, after WWll it was under communist rule until 1989. The last Russian left in 1991. The torture that went on under that regime was horrifying. We went to the Russian headquarters, which is called the House of Terror. The thousands that were killed in 1956-1958 — because they did not follow the communist doctrine or were religious — were well documented. It was so difficult to watch, but so important. There were films of people talking about the hopelessness of life during the war and then after, when the Russians took over. The cells two stories below the headquarters, which was right on the beautiful main street, was beyond description — horrific… small dark cells, no toilet facilities, no windows, and water on the floor. Torture cells… I can understand Dr. Aniko Bodo’s feeling about selling her work. She said it was emotional to paint and sometimes she even cried. People that lived under that despicable time in history and also lived with the communist ethic did not strive too much beyond just staying alive. Painting or creative outlets of any kind were luxuries. We, in this country, especially people who were born after 1950, cannot even imagine the atrocities that were perpetrated on the people who were under the Nazis and then the Russians. Shrinking violets they are not. There are 2 comments for Not a shrinking violet by Diane Voyentzie
From: Leah — Nov 15, 2011

Sadly, you only have to cross a border to get to a museum that records atrocities inflicted by the victim country. This is true all over the world. Lot of reasons to cry and make art.

From: gail caduff-nash — Nov 16, 2011

Reading your note, I was reminded that art is used as therapy – and, in fact, much like our dreams, actually helps us survive life. It helps the brain make some sense of things and try to keep going. Thanks for the thoughts.

  Sell them before your studio burns down by Laura Leiden  

“Magenta nude”
watercolour painting, 22.5 x 30 inches
by Laura Leiden

I felt the exact same way as Dr. Boda when I started my last series of acrylic mixed-media paintings called Windows of the Soul. I was a bit horrified by the idea of selling my “children” for a few hundred dollars and the buyers would have my children for the rest of their lives and the money would be gone in a weekend. I, too, didn’t “need” the money, though I was a self-supporting commercial artist at the time. Money was not my motivation for creating and I resented that everyone I met, especially other artists, would ask if I had sold any. Then I met an artist friend who had felt the same way. Her house burned down and she had such regret that she hadn’t sold or even given away any of her paintings. They were all gone. That was a turning point for me. So I figured out a price that I was willing to release my paintings for and had some wonderful success. I hope this is a help to Dr. Boda. There are 2 comments for Sell them before your studio burns down by Laura Leiden
From: Pat Frank — Nov 17, 2011

You brought up a very good reason to let your work go. I have an artist friend who also lost most of his work due to a studio fire. Now, the only early work that exists is in the hands of collectors or in his house. Sure keep the ones you want to keep, but let the other go – after all, storage might end up being a problem if you are prolific.

From: Penny Collins — Nov 27, 2011

I was with you until “Her house burned down and she had such regret that she hadn’t sold or even given away any of her paintings. They were all gone.” By that logic, an art collector should not collect art in case their house burns down… or I should not own any material items such as a couch, bed or computer in case my house burns down… To me, my artworks are some of my most treasured possessions. I am my own collector!

  NFS wins the customers by Kurt Jacobson, Anchorage, AK, USA  

“Valley Farm”
oil painting, 11 x 14 inches
by Kurt Jacobson

I had a classic example of “they will covet what they can’t have.” In my first show I did not have a lot of works to show since I was just starting out, so I brought a pastel painting I had done that was a emotional piece for me and I would never sell it (still on our wall). I only sold one print at that show. But a customer came into my booth and asked why I had a NFS on the pastel nude painting. I explained its meaning to me and its inspiration for me to continue to paint. He then began to offer me incredible amount of cash (at that time in my career ) for it. When I kept telling him it was not for sale, he just got more determined to have it. I did not sell it. I learned a lesson, though, on human psychology in pricing. And also, if it is really a painting you want to keep, don’t take it to the show. That was 15 years ago. This summer I did an open air show and brought a large oil painting that I had submitted to OPA show and was waiting to hear from them, so again I had a NFS on it. Again I had more interest in it than most of the others there. There are 2 comments for NFS wins the customers by Kurt Jacobson
From: ralph — Nov 15, 2011

This reminds me of the story of a fellow who,as do many of us in suburbia,put unwanted items at his curb with a’FREE’ sticker attached.A refrigerator ,in good working condition,had not moved after several days. The fellow then attached another sticker: ‘$50.00’. It disappeared overnight.

From: Anonymous — Nov 15, 2011

On several occasions I had “clients” wanting to buy the NFS paintings. When I offered other paintings or a comission, they never pursued. Some people just thrive in a conversation where they come across as serious collectors, but they never buy anything. Don’t waste your time with such characters.

  Private therapy or blind emotion? by Robin Shillcock, Groningen, Netherlands  

“Owl box #14, Hula Valley, Israel”
watercolour painting
by Robin Shillcock

The good thing concerning Dr. Boda is that she is prepared to share work with others in an upcoming exhibition. Art needs to be seen to be appreciated. I fear for the Dr.’s children though, because children, just like paintings, need to be let free at a certain point in time. I congratulate artists who don’t need to sell their work to feed mouths. They are free to do what they want, ask any price they want, exhibit where they want. They are free of hassles lesser gods have to contend with. On the other hand, even they, if they have taken on art as a career, have to sit down and do some serious planning, e.g. where do I show my work? How do I reach the public? You passed on a mixed message from Dr. Boda: there’s ambition (hating the reaction of people when they hear the Dr. doesn’t sell), but on the other hand it appears her art is also a kind of therapy (The Dr. cries while painting. Does the Dr. paint while laughing?). If a therapy, that could suffice. No need to show, no need to sell, just do the brushwork and keep mum about it. Why bother other people with one’s private therapeutic bounding? But then, all is possible in art. Of course, there has to be passion in the act of painting, but I wonder what happens to the act if the artist is blinded by emotion? My experience is that little good comes from it. But then I’m an inveterate realist.   Hidden emotion by Dr. Boda Aniko, Godollo, Hungary   Thank you for your very quick answer. I live in a little university town called Godollo 30 km from the capital Budapest. Before attending the Fine Arts Academy there, I studied in the Art Students League, NYC with Costa Vavagiakis, Frank Mason and Leonid Gervitz, and in the School of Visual Arts with Marvin Mattelson. Right now I have no pictures of my paintings, since I’ve never been interested in showing my work publicly or marketing. I’ve never wanted to waste my time with photos. My pieces are in the storage room of the Municipiality waiting to be hung for the show, so I don’t think I can take pictures of them for weeks. Sorry, I know if I’m not on the Internet, I basically do not exist, but this fact has never disturbed me (According to my husband, I should have lived 100 years ago). The show was not my idea either, so funny if people learn about your passion for painting, they automatically suppose you paint for showing the paintings. I make paintings from exactly the opposite reason, to express those emotions I normally cannot show (In other words, painting is my psychotherapy. I need to work creatively to stay mentally healthy. After a couple of days of creative abstinence, like family holidays, I truly feel and behave awful.) I think we all know that the exhibition is only a byproduct of the creative process, just like homepages, juried shows and stuff like that. Being well-known or seemingly successful is temporary. Painters being loved today were forgotten yesterday and vice versa. I read somewhere, if you were left alone on a deserted island and you still painted, knowing nobody will ever see your work, then you are a ‘real’ artist. If such a person really exists. There are 5 comments for Hidden emotion by Dr. Boda Aniko
From: Anonymous — Nov 15, 2011

I was wondering what will happen to all the paintings that you create during your life time. If you are not selling them it is possible you could give them away as gifts. Unless you or other artists who do not sell their work have a massive studio to work and store paintings in there is the problem of what to do with all the paintings. It is possible to paint over them. But if artists who do not sell have to distroy their art in order to make room in their studio surely it is better to have sold the work and give others some happiness. I paint to share my visions with others. Selling paintings for me is very inspiring.

From: Sharon Cory — Nov 15, 2011

Good to hear your answer to some of the seeming criticism. When you paint from such an emotional place and then show the efforts of that work, it’s like standing naked in a room full of people, with all your weaknesses and faults open to their view. It’s only the first time that’s difficult. After a while you develop “rhino skin” and it’s not the criticism you hear but the joy you’ve brought to others.

From: Anonymous — Nov 15, 2011

That’s a good comparison – my question is – why would anyone be interested in seeing a naked artist in a room?

From: Janet M — Nov 15, 2011
From: Anonymous — Nov 20, 2011

I don’t agree that a ‘real artist’ is the one who would paint if alone on a desert island. We are social creatures, even the hermit. The person alone on the desert island has nothing to clarify, even to himself. Talking to oneself, for oneself, when there will never be another human being to avoid or notice is impossible, ridiculous. Talking to oneself (painting) when it is a haven from other people is a much more likely situation. People who write when they are alone (an explorer dying in the Antarctic, for example) are always visualizing the future recipient, always trying to make clear and record what happened to them and how they care about their adventure mates and families. Well, that’s how it all looks to me at the moment. I doubt that I would paint if I were completely alone and I don’t doubt that I am an artist. I M I G H T weave a mat or dye a cloth if I had that luxury …


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for A shrinking violet?

From: Mary M — Nov 11, 2011

I greatly appreciate how much you reveal of your deepest nature and the struggle you are having about selling your work. It made me wonder about these things: To be an artist in Human Life seems to me the ultimate earthly experience. Whether we need outside acknowledgment of our art is a personal matter. Whether we sell or need to sell our art is another personal matter. Perhaps for those no able to express themselves, not considering themselves an artist able to communicate the deepest part of themselves, having a piece of art, of someone else’s expression, is the next best thing as it resonates to the unspoken artist in themselves. Then for that reason, perhaps to show our art in galleries or presentations without selling them, without offering them to others to have, is a little like putting a carrot in front of a goat so that we get where we want to go, but the goat never gets a taste of the enticing morsel in front of it. Perhaps.

From: Julie Trail — Nov 11, 2011

Pricing is an eternal bugaboo to an artist! If the work is good, an outrageously high price confirms its worth to viewers, many of whom need the validation of their own taste by seeing a high price. But the marketplace can’t always bear a high price. Depends on your neighborhood, where you are showing the work, the clientele. So I go for moderate prices and do a surprise sale once a year… “all matted pieces $100” or something like that, and out the door they fly! And don’t forget that by selling your work, you are given permission to keep improving on your skills and painting better and better things!! In fact, by buying your paintings, your fans, friends and collectors are asking you to continue painting!!

From: marj vetter — Nov 11, 2011

Thanks Robert for featuring Mr. Topaz, he was my late sisters cat, lives with her husband now. Also, forgot to tell Sarah, I’ve moved to Olds, Alberta….thanks again….marj v

From: John Ferrie — Nov 11, 2011

Dear Robert, I was visiting Salt Spring Island, one of the gulf islands between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. The island is beautiful, picturesque and teaming with artists. On Saturday morning, all of the artists come into town, set up make shift tables and show their latest pottery, macrame, paintings, jams and chutneys. There are some absolute gems among the predictable bowls and coffee mugs. A was chatting with this lovely woman who was an artist. I asked her where her work was. She was so shy and polite and shook her head saying she wasn’t ready to show her works yet. Being as bold as brass, I got myself invited to her studio to see her paintings. Her studio was right on the water and was a smaller replica of her gingerbread cottage she called her home. The studio was an artists dream, teaming with light and set up perfectly for painting. From floor to the cantelever ceiling were hundreds and hundreds of her exquisite paintings. Nature was her theme and they really were lovely paintings. Being the marketing and promotions guru, I peppered her about exhibiting her works. She was so sweet and just said “I need to be better first”. So, not everyone is geared for the success mode we apply to artists about being rich and famous and selling our works. But to sit here on this drizzly day and read about an artist who refers to their paintings as “children” and they cry when they paint, it is all I can do to keep my eyes from rolling in the back of my head. Cry at funerals, a break up, a sad movie or watching the devastation of a Tsunami. But to say that their own paintings bring them to tears is nothing short of arrogant… John Ferrie

From: Marilyn Kousoulas — Nov 11, 2011

I am wondering why Dr. Boda would bother putting the personal, prized paintings in an art show if not to exhibit and sell? The doctor needs to not show the art and be content with the personal accomplishment. End of heartache that someone might want to buy.

From: Gail Caduff-Nash — Nov 11, 2011

I think Robert’s letter is misnamed. Dr. Boda doesn’t sound like a shrinking violet to me, but instead an artist of great integrity and principle. She wants to show her messages of personal insight, but doesn’t feel the need to sell them. I understand this and applaud it. I have a collection of my things that are not for sale. They are my ‘personal’ pieces. I have done many others that have sold and I wasn’t being much of a salesman then either. And I have painted some that were commissioned – personal requests. I like doing both those that are ‘marketable’ and those that are mine. Mine. As in not yours and not likely to become yours any day soon. They may be good or bad, I don’t care. They are like children and if I make a gift of one, I know I’ve put it into a good home where it will do well for years to come. This is a perfectly sensible attitude, I think. Kudos, Doctor.

From: doris — Nov 11, 2011

Only children hate to sell their artwork! I almost fell off my chair! Why does this woman paint and then agree to show with this attitude? As always Robert, you gave her options..bless you.

From: Anonymous — Nov 12, 2011

ahh yes..then there is assumptions and gossip…and so call experts…rub …for self benefit and those saying I never want to end up like that. : ) Market Market Market : ) Really the GRAND NAME of the game. Step back to step forward.

From: Angela Treat Lyon — Nov 12, 2011

Something most of us don’t think about: when we get something from someone, especially if we consider it of high value to ourselves, we need to complete the circle of reciprocation. If you give me a thousand bucks, a beautiful painting, a new car, whatever, I’m going to feel obligated. Paying you in dollars, trade, energy, whatever, releases me from the obligation I feel, and allows me to think I have contributed to your well-being in a significant way. The thinking “it’s better to give than receive” is a mathematical impossibility – if it’s better to give, who’s doing the receiving??? Seems to me we artists would be better off thinking it’s OK to receive dollars (or whatever) for the work, talent, time and energy we spend in learning our trade, practicing, creating, marketing and making sure people see what we produce –

From: Dianna Williams — Nov 12, 2011

After reading all of your great information…….WHY would any artists not subscribe to your informative site?

From: Catherine Stock — Nov 12, 2011

I can easily understand Dr Boda’s distaste of engaging with the contemporary art market and was a little surprised at your persisting that she put price tags on her work. I think it’s enough that she presents her work to the public in a show. Good on her.

From: Kay Carter Shumway — Nov 12, 2011

I come from a family of artists though I am not a painter but a fiber artist, weaving, and knitting, spinning my own yarns. I love reading your twice-weekly letter. Thank you so much for many of your insights and inspirations. You write very well. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience.

From: Carol Morrison — Nov 12, 2011
From: Casey Craig — Nov 12, 2011

Every artist needs to decide for themselves what they want to do with the fruits of their labor. I know artists who paint for the pure enjoyment of it and are not interested in gallery representation and rarely even exhibit their work and this fulfills them completely. I guess my questions are: If Dr. Boda doesn’t care about galleries and art-marketing, is painting just for herself, and doesn’t need the income, why is she having a solo show and why does she care who takes her seriously? She should be content, sounds like she has it pretty good. Though, like you, I enjoy finding new homes for my work.

From: Dreamwalker — Nov 12, 2011

I have an oil called “When All that’s Left is the Vessel”. It is powerful! A woman came onto my house and gasped her desire. I said it was not for sale. She huffed, “Everyone and everything has its price.” I replied “Okay, let’s say 100,000.00.” I still have the painting …and the price!

From: Diane Campion — Nov 12, 2011

Yep, “Your work is beautiful” is nice, but it only goes so far. This pricing thing is very tricky. I would rather not do it and leave it up to someone else.

From: Lynn MacIntyre — Nov 12, 2011

My question to her is ‘why have a show, then?’ If this is a private journey, it should be private. Otherwise, she is taking advantage of the gallery showing her work. I am surprised that they would take her on. I speak as a member of a cooperative gallery and I know the expenses involved. I like your suggestion of charitable sales for her.

From: Valerie McCaffrey — Nov 12, 2011
From: Clarita Ricketts — Nov 12, 2011

I wonder how many others do not sell? We just don’t tell.

From: Jose DeLaRosa — Nov 12, 2011

If she truly doesn’t want to sell her originals, sell giclees of the paintings.

From: Rose Marie Lucci — Nov 12, 2011

I had a friend who is an architect and did found sculptures for his own benefit he had what he called a Vanity Show with a friend. They only displayed their work at an off the wall type of gallery so that people could come and view it but it was not for sale. Who’d a thunk it? Certainly I would love to be able to sell my art and have had shared and solo shows but that has not happened too often. But often enough so that I keep painting. I am exploring the online selling but am very suspicious about many online galleries who have contacted me via email. One wants to know about actual sales before putting your work and paying the fee to be listed.

From: Irma Sultanian — Nov 12, 2011

Dr. Aniko Boda’s story interested me, and I would love to see a sample of the paintings because I also paint and put my heart and soul in it. When I finish I have a hard time departing from it, but as time goes by, I look back at my past works, and wonder what made me be so possessive about them. We change, we grow, we improve, all is reflected in our art. Now, I am learning to let go.

From: Betty Covington — Nov 12, 2011

I guess you could also call me a shrinking violet. I’ve started to paint in 2004 in oils and I’m mostly self taught with the exception of taking an oil painting class in 2004 at the age of 75 and I’m on my 67th painting since 2004. I too sometimes cry when I’m painting a picture and I have to laugh as I’m painting it because I like what I’m painting. I think every painter loves to show and tell, and I guess I’m no exception.

From: Carole Lees — Nov 12, 2011

There’s no better feeling than selling a painting, it’s a validation that you have touched another soul.

From: Rick Rotante — Nov 12, 2011

I’m happy Dr. Anikó Boda doesn’t need the money. Unfortunately, there is no other way to put a value on anything without offering it for a price. I’ve given away some works in my altruistic days only to find the owner didn’t realize its worth and subsequently would give it to someone else or not see the piece as art. It was from that point onward that no matter how small the price, there is always a price. The old adage of “if you got it for nothing, it’s probably worth nothing.” is how the world sees value. It also goes hand in hand with believing in self worth. If the artist isn’t interested pricing it, it probably isn’t worth anything to anyone else.

From: Jeanne Long — Nov 12, 2011
From: Gavin Logan — Nov 12, 2011

Those who do not sell or put a ridiculously low price on things, put on display their personal feelings of worthlessness, insult art in the eyes of the general public, and make it more difficult for serious, career artists to make a living.

From: Metin Yasarturk — Nov 13, 2011

Robert you are real art lover,every time I am reading your letter but Ihave a little english, but ı can understand a littlebit what you mean–some sentence about great artists says are wonderful, from turkey/izmir, goodbye for now.

From: N K Singh — Nov 13, 2011

The lady is living in an ivory tower.

From: Nina Allen Freeman — Nov 14, 2011

I don’t understand the point of Dr. Boda’s exhibition of her paintings if not to sell them. So she hangs them out in public for a while then puts them back in a closet. What is she trying to accomplish? Maybe she is unsure of her reception and really wants to sell in the future? I have a friend who is a wonderful painter who never shows or sells and no matter how much I encourage her, she refuses to do it. Her work is a private thing for herself only and I respect that. But, why would someone go halfway; have a big solo show, no sales, then take it all away? What is her motivation, and what is the motivation of the gallery or whoever is sponsoring her?

From: James F Buckley — Nov 14, 2011

Like a lot of us, she may know in her heart that her work is not worth buying.

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Nov 14, 2011

Thank you Gavin Logan. We live in a world that assumes no artist is or even can make money and create a financially successful career by making art. It does happen all the time, but most folks don’t even think it can happen. The problem is that most artists think the same way. And then there’s the bullsh*t around putting a price on art that comes from the soul- how could we price that? If it’s any good it comes from the soul. Yet it’s still a product. It ISN’T your children. Yet it is your creation. But as a creation physically manifested into the world it still has value. To discount it’s potential value because you haven’t grown up enough to figure all this out- defeats all of us. So Dr. Boda- it is you who need to take yourself seriously- first of all.

From: Myrta — Nov 14, 2011

This is a very European attitude and I think that the ultimate motivation is to create an image intended to eventually boost the works (or the artist in some way) to sell for outrageous prices. In Europe, image is everything – a necessity. In Europe no art sells if it’s made by a part time artist, or a second career artist. Over there the quality of art cannot carry itself to the art market. It’s a cultural thing and it’s all about strategy. I am guessing that “Dr.” stands for PhD in fine arts and has to be used at all times, even in letters to friends.

From: Pippa — Nov 14, 2011

…I can already see articles in media announcing “the artist who paints in tears and will not sell for any price…” …one can sell themselves in many ways…

From: Susan Holland — Nov 14, 2011

I am one who parts with my work with sadness, but loving the money, and even more, the incentive to keep working and making more and better art. However, I have to say to Dr. Boda, that I find my favorite paintings standing un-looked-at in small storage areas– (I paint big) and un-enjoyed by me or any others. Over some sixty years of hanging on to certain works, they have accumulated. Doris commented: “Only children hate to sell their artwork.” The child in me has learned something in the past three years. I fell into a sideline because someone offered me “seconds” to put back on the market as re-works. These are, in a sense, “adopted children”, and I find them easy to sell and share. It doesn’t make me feel bad to put a price on them. They are rescued goods and I have loved them into beauty. They deserve to march out there and make themselves a boon to someone’s eye. This freedom has freed up that shrinking violet element that tries to hoard the “good ones” that I love too much to want to sell. Now I want people to have them! (Robert, I’ll get my site up sometime this winter!) Susan

From: Mike Barr — Nov 14, 2011

I love painting. I love people looking and discussing them. I love selling them – for me it completes and fulfills the work.

From: Susan Holland — Nov 14, 2011

(By the way, the “re-works” in the above post are NOT reworked paintings by other, but wood products aimed at a decor market.) I would not like to rework another person’s painting.

From: Angela Treat Lyon — Nov 15, 2011

Something most of us don’t think about: when we get something from someone, especially if we consider it of high value to ourselves, we need to complete the circle of reciprocation. If you give me a thousand bucks, a beautiful painting, a new car, whatever, I’m going to feel obligated. Paying you in dollars, trade, energy, whatever, releases me from the obligation I feel, and allows me to think I have contributed to your well-being in a significant way. The thinking “it’s better to give than receive” is a mathematical impossibility – if it’s better to give, who’s doing the receiving??? Seems to me we artists would be better off thinking it’s OK to receive dollars (or whatever) for the work, talent, time and energy we spend in learning our trade, practicing, creating, marketing and making sure people see what we produce – aloha, Angela -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- Angela Treat Lyon http://Lyon-Art.com

From: cecilia — Nov 15, 2011

Many of these comments surprise me. Can it truly be so easy to earn an income solely from making art as these comments imply? If so, can you let the rest of us in on the secret? But seriously, the path to “making it” as an artist is so difficult, so uncertain, so lacking in any guarantee of success I can’t begin to fathom why anyone would do it if not for themselves. Further, I don’t see how art worth making can happen without the deep passion that says “no matter what, I must make art.” If you can make a living and still make art that you feel is worth making, that is wonderful….you should count yourself lucky. But don’t judge those (like Dr Boda Aniko) who, for any number of reasons, choose to make art that we don’t (or can’t) show or sell.

From: Iskra Johnson — Nov 15, 2011

I have read through all the comments and am puzzled at the tone of mockery and assumptions of hubris or grandiosity some are making about the painter. To say that one cries when one paints is to me a statement about the depth of the process and level of engagement, and not a sign of arrogance. This person is very true to her interior life, and the paintings are a physical manifestation of process first, and a “product” second. The marketplace is only one piece of artmaking. Being part of a cultural conversation is the other part. When I go to a museum none of that work is for sale, although it usually has been purchased at some point. But there are no pricetags, and I am free to have an experience of the work simply for what it is. When we say something is “priceless” that is usually not a derogatory term:). http://www.iskrafineart.com

From: Dog — Nov 15, 2011

What do you call 100 paintings of cats at the bottom of a lake? … a very good start! Woof !

From: Michele Bottaro — Nov 15, 2011

I’d been a gift industry product designer for many years and always felt I was betraying my talent, losing touch with my soul in order to please the market and survive the corporate art directors and salespeople. I fed myself, but my soul ached to be acknowledged. After the company’s bankruptcy I entered an intense university fine art program at age 43, and although I earned highest honors and top grades, I came out depressed, depleted and confused about what I had been through and why. My paintings were innovative and exciting to paint; I’d expected to bound forth like a race horse from the gate to carry the “conversation” forward with the famous artists of the past and present. Instead I plummeted, frozen, unable to paint without forcing myself, discouraged and overwhelmed by the idea of competing at an international level as the instructors encouraged us. I was then age 48, surrounded by young people beginning their lives; my best years were used up and I felt I aught to step aside. Now I know that the education itself gave me far more than the lessons in painting. Creatively, I can do whatever I like. It’s comforting to know that my talent remains with me, no matter how I use it. Paintings are relics of artists’ acts of creation. Staring at ones paintings too long just wastes the artist’s time, like washing the clothes go ’round at the laundromat.

From: Annette Wolfstein-Joseph — Nov 15, 2011

You make a lot of sense, but I disagree with the idea of putting low prices on one’s work for any reason. Doing so displays a lack of confidence in one’s work, and many people equate price with value, so they dismiss the work as being of little worth. I know artists who have put low prices on their work hoping to sell more and I’ve never known it to work, but to have long-term negative effects.

From: Wilma Irwin — Nov 15, 2011

I am an elderly woman who began painting for the first time about five years ago and I am still very much a novice. I am surprised to have sold a few paintings already not, at high prices but still the money helps me buy new supplies. I also have donated at least five of my paintings to charities for cancer and to feed hungry people. I do not have a high level of income so I find donating paintings is such a satisfying way of giving something to help others. I would never be able to donate the amount of money in cash. I understand perfectly well how you feel about letting your paintings go. When, however, you donate to others who care enough to contribute money to charity, you are sharing a part of yourself to other very special people. I do understand your feelings perfectly well.

From: Anne T. Nielsen — Nov 15, 2011

I had some very wise advice from a dear friend who happens to be one of the best painters that I have ever met personally. “Don’t fall in love with your work. Fall in love with the doing of he work.” I have used that as my personal moto. Some of my work is. Very expressionistic some very traditional. I have emotion when I paint each and every one. I keep a photographic image of every painting. I can still connect with every painting, without actually owning it. It is my personal memory. I can connect with the emotion because it came from me. No one can own that but me. It has freed me from painter’s block. I have more creative ideas than I will ever have time to paint in my lifetime. I have only a few paintings that I feel I want to keep but it is from a sense of joy at experiencing the emotion rather than the need to own the thing itself, that is important. I actually can disconnect from the physical painting. I look at each work as an opportunity to learn something new. The painting can be destroyed, sold, copied, or stolen, but the knowledge, and the joy of the actual doing are mine… All mine. No one can take that from me.

From: Damar Minyak — Nov 16, 2011

Wow ! The judgmental arrogance of some of these comments is inappropriate, from a supposedly creative community. Hang in there, Dr Boda, and stick to your own value system. I, too, am a non selling painter, and multi media artist. The consideration that art has no intrinsic value, without an applied monitory significance is an absurdity of the raunchiest order. Something born out of the “commercialization” of the Temples Of High Culture (museums). I have a friend, who is one of the most successful contemporary sculptors in north America. He recently told me that creating art for one’s self is a luxury. Well, maybe it is. But why must everything be “for sale” ? (And, it’s one luxury I can afford to indulge.) I have recently begun to explore the option of offering prints of some of my pieces. This, in some way might become a workable compromise. Prints offer the opportunity for more than one “owner” to possess something appreciable. And, I might continue to retain those bits of myself that remain so important to me. And, by the way — what’s the difference between an artist keeping the work in his or her own possession, and some “purchaser” doing the very same thing? I see none. But for the purchaser’s allowed group of viewers, it remains unattainable to the rest of us. For those who insist art must be “just another product”, you are welcome to your value system. Please allow those of us, like Dr Boda and myself, the option of our own values. Ours does not negate yours, nor does yours imply irrelevance to those of us who decide not to pursue the monitory validation. All my life, I have wanted to paint. I kept putting that aside, as life kept getting in the way. And I felt intimidated by the persons I met along the way, who were already “successful” as artists. A few years ago, I survived a medical death sentence, and that opportunity spurred me into finally acting upon my lifelong ambition. Now, in my sixties, I can finally call myself “a painter”. And, I don’t need someone else’s wallet or credit card to justify that ambition. All my life, I have remembered something I found in a book by the photographer, David Douglas Duncan. He wrote that anyone who feels the slightest spark of creativity is duty bound to keep that spark alive, to nourish it, until such time as he might add his own contribution, no matter how small, to the cultural heritage of the human race. And, for those who must continue to ask that irrelevant question, “why create, if you’re not willing to sell ?”, my reply continues to be “A sparrow sings, because he has a song.” ~Damar Minyak. (I’m a painter.)

From: Sylvia — Nov 16, 2011

A note to Iskra Johnson: thank you for expressing what I was thinking as I read the comments. It seems to me that many painters have never experienced getting in touch with their deeper emotions through the painting process, hence their callous remarks in response to Dr. Boda. I have bookmarked your website as a source of future inspiration: thanks for your words and images.

From: Lili Dreyfus — Nov 18, 2011

Give them away. If you love them, let them go.

From: Damar Minyak — Nov 19, 2011

Why can’t we just be allowed to keep them for ourselves ????? I enjoy seeing them looking through my several hundred panels, so far. Remembering what each means to me, etc. My own private museum — of, by, for myself. The rest of the world can see them, if and when I decide — if ever. Or after I’m gone, if my heirs so decide. I also enjoy knowing there are others out there, like Dr Boda. And, while we’re at it, why don’t we decide it’s only art, if it looks just like all the other “art” taught in “art class” ???? ~ Damar Minyak (I’m a painter.)

From: Dolores Jordan — Nov 19, 2011

I don’t think that selling your work is necessarily the “price you pay for taking your work seriously” if this is true we would not have the need for Nobel prizes. Money does corrupt! I would hate to think the good doctor would not feel the same way about practicing the ART of medicine as she does about selling her paintings.There are some things that money cannot buy and I’m happy she has earned the freedom to really have what the rest of us will never have, real freedom. Having an exhibition, sharing her work, and having a really fun party without any concern that selling her work determines if she is successful or not, is truly freeing. The rest of us would have to be satisfied with whatever number the cash register rings up. VanGogh and Monet probably couldn’t even imagine themselves to be so fortunate as to be in her position, because they needed the money so badly. Is making a living more important than making a life? Is there a difference and if so how do we continue to go about making art in spite of the fact we will never be able to make a living at it? To the good doctor I say, “you go girl” you have it all! Good for you! You have a wonderful excuse to have a party. Just party, and celebrate, and share your work and that is all. If your party is not better than money than I don’t know what is. There are many things that are much more serious than making money.

From: Damar Minyak — Dec 22, 2011

Just checking back, to see if anyone in this erudite community caught, and commented upon my (intentional) malapropism. Did it twice, just to bait you… (monitory, for monetary)… Or, perhaps, you were all just too courteous to mention it ???? What’s life without a little fun ??? ~DM

From: Kelly Leichert — Nov 15, 2012

If one does not want to be in the market but wants the work appreciated, give it away – to friends, to institutions, to charity auctions – everybody wins: You can be humble and proud; you can participate and withdraw; you can give and take; you can be in the system yet outside it. It challenges the consumer system yet does not form an elite.

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oil painting 16 x 20 inches Marj Vetter, Three Hills, AB, Canada

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