The winner effect

Dear Artist, In good times and bad it looks like 10% of the galleries do 90% of the business. Similarly, 10% of the artists sell 90% of the art. With the number of folks taking up painting these days and the volume of artists graduating from art schools, this figure may be closer to 1%. In comparison to some other professions, it’s pretty depressing. Mind you, there are not a lot of amateur gynecologists hanging up their shingles and offering their services. Recent studies have indicated what biologists and sociologists are calling “the winner effect.” This is where those who do well tend to continue to do well. It’s along the lines of “nothing succeeds like success.” In studies by John Coates of Cambridge University, stockbrokers and investment dealers were examined. It seems that brokers who did well with their clients’ portfolios tended to continue to do better than the average. While active, committed traders with strong track records did the best job, there was also evidence of high testosterone levels. In other studies, testosterone seemed to provide “winning streaks” that often occurred about ten in the morning. Funnily, I’ve always noted this is a hot hour for my painting, but I never thought to connect it with hormones. Of further interest, male brokers took more risks and traded more often than their female associates. It was also the men who got into the most trouble — witness infamous stock traders like Bernie Madoff and the London Whale. As well as further courage being generated after periods of successful trading, men became the most daring after having had a string of losses. Heeding this last observation, some big firms are temporarily suspending brokers’ licenses after they sustain 3% in losses. Another interesting finding in these studies was that women brokers did just as well for their clients as male brokers. They also traded less often and were apparently more cautious and thoughtful. Women brokers didn’t appear to have those knee-jerk reactions that some researchers think are spurred by testosterone. Women were also more inclined to take advice from advisors and experts. I’m not sure, but I don’t think there are any female felons in the investment world. I may be naïve and gravely limited in my research, but I also know of no female felons in the art world. Best regards, Robert PS: “In men coming off a winning streak, there’s an endocrine system on fire.” (John Coates) Esoterica: Rana Foroohar in Time magazine recently noted, “Animals that win one fight are more likely to win another, as the winner enjoys higher testosterone levels, which provide an edge in subsequent battles.” She must be talking about alpha males. Do women artists benefit from similar endocrine blasts? I don’t think so. Most women artists I know are cautious, thoughtful, open-minded, deeply sensitive and gentle souls, eager only to steadily fulfill their artistic vision. Big success and mass bamboozlement are seldom priorities. Bite me if I’m wrong.   Bad ladies by Raymond St. Arnaud, Victoria, BC, Canada  

original painting
by Raymond St. Arnaud

Sorry, but there are female felons in the investment world. Carolann Steinhoff has been called to the carpet several times. We, through my wife’s investments, have suffered financially from her actions. Carolann’s investment philosophy was to put the client’s money into funds with the highest trailer fees. She had the ability to assuage all your doubts when you sat across her desk. You would leave and wonder what happened to the questions I had about those trades that we never initiated or confirmed. We also encountered a female vendor of insurance that was also promoting investment in out of province real estate that eventually blew up in the investor’s face. We heard she eventually lost her insurance and real estate licence. We also encountered a female broker who quit, rather than sell some of the product management wanted her to push onto her clients. It may be the lack of female felons on the horizon is more a reflection of the gender bias of the investment business in the past. As we move to gender equality, your craving for female felons may be satiated. There are 3 comments for Bad ladies by Raymond St. Arnaud
From: Jan Ross — Jun 14, 2013

Beautiful painting, Raymond! Is it a watercolor? Regardless, it’s sure a beauty!

From: Anonymous — Jun 15, 2013

We have also been the victim of female felon but I think she might also have been taken in by the virtual pyramid scheme which was sold to us as a low risk investment. We lost most of our life savings and now at 81 and 76 we suffer and she goes scot free. No justice in this world. And of course if something sounds too good to be true beware

From: Roberts Howard — Jun 23, 2013

That’s it? You start with talking about artists success or, lack thereof. That was the bait. Then you switch to stock brokers and which gender does better selling stocks and bonds. So what’s the take-away message for artists?

  Bias against female artists by Ingrid Mueller, Toronto, ON, Canada  

sculpture, 30 feet tall
by Louise Bourgeois

Like many other industries, the art business is extremely gender biased. An interesting article in the Economist The price of being female quotes some frightening statistics that transcend bias to flagrant prejudice. The numbers made this obvious. In a recent auction by Christie’s, of post-war and contemporary art, the number of works by women was well outnumbered by works by men by a ratio of five-to-one. A recent Sotheby’s sale had a ratio of eleven–to-one. Not only do women command less attention, but their work is valued at a much lower price than that of men. The aforementioned Christie’s sale, the work of women amounted to less than 5% of the total proceeds. Historically speaking, the most expensive post-war female artist, Louise Bourgeois, received $10,722,500 for her sculpture, Spider, while the Mark Rothko paintings, Orange, Red, Yellow, received $86,882,496. The question is, why this huge discrepancy in the recognition of female artists and the valuation of their art? Perhaps men are better self-promoters. I would like to think that rampant misogyny is not the only judge of art. Let us hope the mindset of art collectors will change. Perhaps with the advent of more women investing, the art world will come to its senses. So, Robert, I won’t bite you, because you are only half wrong. I’ll just give you a smack! There are 2 comments for Bias against female artists by Ingrid Mueller
From: Jackie Knott — Jun 14, 2013

The anomalies in Wall Street have investors searching for less volatile places to put their money. Collecting art can be relatively dependable for the high end investor, compared to some of the radical swings we’ve seen in recent history. The worst risk is forgery rather than the value of a great work declining. Auction house prices for recognizable male names continue to soar. I predict as those figures continue to rise and less is available investors will look back at their women contemporaries and buy them.

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Jun 17, 2013

I hate to break it to you- Ingrid- but the only people who will ever change this reality is you women- yourselves. No male will give you what you think you deserve. You have to earn it- and take it — and stand up to everybody in order to get it. And if you can’t do that because you are a female- give up now.

  Please return to yourself by Nancy Schempp, Bristol, RI, USA  

Shenandoah video
videography by Sam Kaczur

What does testosterone have to do with inspiration and the joy of soul? I hope you didn’t stay in China too long! Your beautiful Shenandoah video didn’t come from any hormone or beefed up testosterone. I deleted this email but then decided to respond, honestly, with due respect and no offense intended… You may have noticed that in China there isn’t any 1% (except perhaps for the malcontents) or 10%. They are 100%, or 99%, all of them clones of the great one (notice the small g). Their society is mesmerized into thinking everything is measured by numbers, obedience to the rules, and the dishonesty of high-jacking everything in sight and making it their own, so to speak. I hope you won’t be finding your art work on sale in Shanghai with a Chinese name on the bottom. (I will admit that some of their art work has a whimsical beauty that comes from a longing to be free in their soul…). I do see the humor in your letter today, and also do respect the credit you give to women, but I also see something in your thought that hasn’t been there. I hope you return to yourself soon; you are too valuable to lose. There are 4 comments for Please return to yourself by Nancy Schempp
From: IRVANE — Jun 14, 2013

I applaud your comments, Nancy!

From: Patsy, Northern Ireland — Jun 14, 2013

I don’t think you have anything to worry about, Nancy. I wouldn’t presume to say anything about Robert’s testosterone levels, but his mischief levels are very high! A little prod here, a poke there, a bit of gentle stirring, and he sits back to see what the responses are. ;-)

From: Dick Butler — Jun 14, 2013
From: Liz Reday — Jun 22, 2013

There are millions of Chinese people, all of them different and unique. Where I live we have lots of very very hard working Chinese, and if we all worked as hard and put as much effort into our studies at school and our painting, we would all be better off. I don’t think we can generalize about such a large segment of the population. Also, I’ve met a few felonious female art dealers too!

  Enter through your fear
by Laurel Adams, Danville, KY, USA  

original painting
by Laurel Adams

I guess a lot hinges on one’s definitions of “winner” and “success.” Similarly, where is one looking on the “art” scale?… There is a whole lot of “stuff” between “Fine Art” and “art.” Is it a coincidence that “art” is nestled in “heart”? Author Antoine de Saint Exupery wrote, “It is only through the eyes of the heart that one sees rightly. All that is essential is invisible to the naked eye.” I have been engaged in creatively “seeing” deeply and seeking to capture the magic even before I learned the label, artist. While great Art will always be born and widely discerned, it remains often inadequately compensated by the world because it is a spiritual gift! Who pays the Artist for the sunrises and sunsets, much less the artist who seeks to re-master it? The current masses’ paradigm is influenced to culturally seek media vs. human engagement and accept mediocrity in all manner of socioeconomic, political, lifestyle and financial choices… and, there is a constant eye squarely focused on the disposable, reproducible, computer-generated, super-sized $19.99 bargain. Where does Art currently reside on the priority of popular choice? My feminine perspective led my career to sound financial lifestyle choices before indulging in the soul choices born of classical mixed media training. While not every artists’ venue, I offer it without regret for I have tasted many shades of winning and success on both paths and, on backward glancing, all of my life’s weavings has been streaked with the golden light of art (in speech, in negotiation, in home design, in cuisine, in entertainment, in marriage etc.). I encourage anyone who struggles in the Arts… face squarely and boldly enter thru your fear… all is made well in the end. BE who you are aesthetically… in every aspect of your life… and others’ lives. It is about Being more than what manner I am Doing that has earned me the label, artist. There is 1 comment for Enter through your fear by Laurel Adams
From: Terrie Christian — Jun 14, 2013

I love what you say here Laurel, to BE who you are aesthetically…in every aspect of life! Be AUTHENTIC! Beautiful painting too.

  Never too late to start winning by John DeCuir, La Crescenta, CA, USA   I am reminded of the life of William “Bill” Traylor (April 1, 1854 — October 23, 1949) who was  a  self-taught artist born into slavery on a plantation in Alabama. In 1939, at age eighty-five, he moved to Montgomery where he slept in the back room of a funeral home and also in a shoemaker’s shop. During the day, he sat on the sidewalk and drew images of the people he saw on the street and remembered scenes from life on the farm, hanging his works on the fence behind him. A good thought for the day might be the following snippets from “IF” by Rudyard Kipling :

William Bill Traylor
with a few of his paintings

If you can dream — and not make dreams your master; If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim, If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same: …. Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son! There are 2 comments for Never too late to start winning by John DeCuir
From: Don Cadoret — Jun 14, 2013
From: Susan Kellogg — Jun 14, 2013
  Myths of investing by John Clemens, North Augusta, SC, USA  

“Random Walk Down Wall Street”
by Burton Gordon Malkiel

The idea that brokers who do well continue to do well just ain’t true, nor is it sound investment advice to share with a neophyte. I have not reviewed John Coates studies but people who have chased winning fund managers and portfolio managers for decades always lose in the end. Just ask Vanguard and Fidelity. The book, Random Walk Down Wall Street explains why. I would even suggest that artists are particularly naive and easily taken for granted and may be tempted to assume this is a winning investment philosophy/ strategy when it is just the opposite. Men with high testosterone levels do tend to take more risk and it almost always burns them in the end, whether we are talking about Wall Street or flying jet fighters. Winning portfolios tend to be the opposite: average and well balanced with only a moderate measure of risk. In fact it has been shown that women tend to structure portfolios better than men. Go figure.   What is a ‘real artist’? by Annette Cargill, Troy, OH, USA  

acrylic painting
by Annette Cargill

“With the number of folks taking up painting these days and the volume of artists graduating from artschools, this figure may be closer to 1%. In comparison to some other professions, it’s pretty depressing. Mind you, there are not a lot of amateur gynecologists hanging up their shingles and offering their services.” The above comment makes me defensive… probably my problem not yours, but who are these amateur artists? And correct me if I am wrong, but haven’t we all been amateurs at some point? And what is wrong with an amateur painter trying to sell paintings? It starts to sound like sour grapes to me. If the competition is intense, is that a problem? Don’t you want to be able to pick your own “best” gynecologist? Not you specifically, obviously. But you seem to be suggesting that there are certain qualifications that you are espousing in a “real artist.” Could you please elaborate so I can know if I am one or not. For instance, do I need a BFA? Can’t think of a single famous painter that had one, but there probably is. But I can certainly think of many who didn’t. I gave up the interest in a BFA awhile back because it would be wasting time I could be painting. And being 65 I don’t have time to spare. I have learned more in the 10 years I have been “in studio”, on my own for the most part, than I did in either of my degrees. Do you have a BFA? I couldn’t find any mention and obviously you are an accomplished artist. I decided to think of my list of qualifications for a Real Artist to compare it to yours when I get it: 1. Loves the work (as opposed to only the product) and does the work, which are really two different things. 2. Thinks about his/her work seriously and has a personal focus/direction in mind. 3. Responds to his/her life directly or indirectly in his/her work. 4. Grows, develops, and deepens the understanding of his /her work. Not much of a list but I think that list could cover amateurs and serious artists, realism, abstraction, expressionism, pop artists, cubists, sellers and non-sellers, BFAs and “unschooled” or self-taught. I think there are many kinds of intelligences and they do not all fit in the same category, are not better or worse than any others, and are not necessarily all developed in a BFA program. Some are, some not. As an artist I appreciate any effort by an artist to grow and develop his trade, talent, etc. I respond personally more to art in the same genre as mine but not always. It is the way my mind works. That doesn’t make it better or worse art. As an art teacher for 25 years I was always promoting that everyone has talent of some kind as an artist. It is a very inclusive pursuit. I would hope we could all enjoy making art and making it a part of our lives. (RG note) Thanks, Annette, and all the others who bit me. I love your list. I don’t have a BFA. People have a right to buy art from anyone at any time. And, no kidding, that includes art by monkeys, elephants, horses, fleas, etc. There are 3 comments for What is a ‘real artist’? by Annette Cargill
From: Duane Pollock — Jun 14, 2013
From: Anonymous — Jun 14, 2013

Nice painting!

From: Liz Reday — Jun 22, 2013

I love Peter Doig!

  Photographing in a gallery by Anna Schoolderman, New Zealand  

original painting
by Anna Schoolderman

I recently attended an art show and was amazed to observe someone taking photos of some of the works. Upon approaching the authorities and pointing out that they had signs forbidding the photographing of art works, I was informed that the photographer was part of a group interested in purchasing a wedding gift. As not all of the group could attend the exhibition, she was photographing potential paintings so they could come to a consensus on the purchase. I was extremely disgruntled with this response since the various artists represented had not given their consent. What are your thoughts on this? (RG note) Thanks, Anna. This is a completely legitimate system for showing a selection of art to unavailable buyers.   Artist bares all by John Giesecke, Atlanta, GA, USA  

original painting
by John Giesecke

Studying for a Fine Arts degree, I’ve taken the mandatory Life Drawing classes and wondered what it is like to model for a class. In an informal poll I’ve learned this crosses the mind of most newbies. In Mexico where I was taking classes at the Instituto in San Miguel, we had the inevitable experience of a model “no show.” The instructor, Keith Keller, and I had become friends and over a few beers I had jokingly told him to call on me if this happened. He did. The class was mainly locals ranging in ages from 18 to over 70. I was away from home and surrounded by about 30 students I thought I’d never see after the trip. On the stand I took off the provided robe as an elderly woman sat and pulled her chair close enough to touch my feet. I looked down to see an elegant woman who was the spit and image of my Granny, who had died several years before. I never expected to be revealed to my Granny this way and I could not get the feeling (it was her) out of my mind. She was my most important mentor and taught me if one decides to do something, give it your all. She just stared awhile as I went through a dozen gestures I’d enjoyed drawing and then she began to draw. There is 1 comment for Artist bares all by John Giesecke
From: Sylvia — Jun 14, 2013

Perhaps you reminded her of her grandson . . .


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for The winner effect

From: ReneW — Jun 10, 2013

As I age, my testosterone has gone down considerably. Does that mean that I am a loser? Or am I getting closer to my femanine side?

From: John Ferrie — Jun 10, 2013

Dear Robert, Today, while I am reading your letter, I am working on my excel spread sheet from my last show. I am an independent artist who not only paints, but markets, promotes, shows and sells my own work. So, maybe I am the exception, because I just tallied up that 90% of my last collection sold. That is not including the several commissions that came from my exhibition as well. Being an artist is not about a contract for fame and fortune that mysteriously arrives at our door (delivered by a stork if it did). We do our work because there is something that drives us to communicate through paint. We also do it because we love it. It is our “raison d’être”. Ill go you one further on your stats and deets Robert and that is look into who gets grant money from the Canada Council. That is more like .001% of the artists get 100% of the money…and that amount has been cut by 85% in the last decade. I am not entirely sure about being a “winner” ( and all I can think about is Charlie Sheen with that reference). But I know I am a success because I do what I love and I do it everyday! And my testosterone kicks in AFTER I have had my morning coffee and bagel and I have checked facebook, email and the daily interest rate on my RRSP…Then again, maybe that is just me. John Ferrie

From: Mike Barr — Jun 10, 2013

Robert, I think there are new figures. How about, 0.05% of artists can get representation at a gallery. How about, more than 50% of galleries closing down through lack of sales. The main problem is though that we are really slow to realize that art is not worth what it was a just a few years ago. Artists need to lower their prices or perish. The days of pushing up prices regularly and never lowering them belong to a slither of well-established artists and not to the rest of us. I have just lowered my prices by half and have begun selling again. I know lots of ‘full-time’ artists who wouldn’t sell $10,000 in a year – and only one who could be called a bread-winner. The real winners are artists who can see the writing on the wall and act accordingly and go against the long-held belief that prices should never go down. Male or female, that is going to take some guts!

From: Rick Rotante — Jun 10, 2013

There is much more to this than meets the eye. Studies have a tendency to be skewed toward the end game researchers are looking for. When someone wins, in any profession, there is a snowball effect surrounding the “winner’. Those satellite people who can and do benefit when joining forces with the “winner”, tend to support the “winner” even though the quality or substance of the work may be mediocre or even a by-product of the win, which in turn increases the “winning effect”. Humans have a tendency to “run with the pack” and if someone’s claim “hits a vain of gold”, everyone around him/her will latch on hoping some of this good fortune will rub off on them or some of the winnings will fall their way. The problem with this thinking, as I see it, is that the product itself isn’t important, it’s the winning that matters more. This explains, for me, the 10% of artists doing 90% of the sales. What is unfortunate is the 90% of artists may deserve to win, but don’t get the peripheral support needed to maintain a win and many fall by the wayside. Before the economy took a nose dive my sales were brisk and on the upswing. Since the slowdown, my sales have plummeted even with support from galleries. Until and unless someone of note buys my work and there is attention paid to it, I remain a winner, in my own mind.

From: Kaus — Jun 11, 2013

I think galleries have lost their individuality and courage to stand behind artists who are unknown and yet talented. To stand behind those artists who refuse to paint the same style, genre, that has been painted by past artists- over and over again. Seems the love of the unique has been replaced with love of money. It is risky for a gallery to step outside the norm and to represent an artist that might not be selling yet, but if the gallery truly has an understanding or eye for art, then the risk becomes much less. I believe many gallery owners have little background in art. Personally, I see the same styles done over and over, with the same articles written about the same famous artists over and over. These galleries, critic reviews and art magazines have become mind numbingly boring, in my humble opinion. I love and admire most of the great artists of the past, but cant we move on now and find some new greats, more than one or two ?

From: JT Harding — Jun 11, 2013
From: Susan A. Warner — Jun 11, 2013

So far all of the comments on this have been from Males. Robert, I have to smile at your references regarding the Testosterone ‘peak’ or peaks dependent on your age of course. Reluctantly I agree that the competitive edge and risk taking are usually male dominated. It can be a stretch to continually enter competitions and experience rejection and then questioning your style and motivation for the whole thing. A friend and I just discussed this very subject after recently being “declined” from a five state competition. Not really expecting to make it but being disappointed not to. I believe you have to jump back into the fray and HOPE that your work will be appreciated and WIN something. Wanting to WIN is definitely not limited to males. I believe that having the ‘guts’ to keep trying is learned in Females and inherent in males. As you stated: “Most women artists I know are cautious, thoughtful, open-minded, deeply sensitive and gentle souls, eager only to steadily fulfill their artistic vision. Big success and mass bamboozlement are seldom priorities. Bite me if I’m wrong. ” Consider yourself “Bitten”.

From: C.Wensman — Jun 11, 2013

The females with hi testosterone are in politics. (see M. Bachman)

From: Sharon Wolff — Jun 11, 2013

Again you’ve hit the bull’s eye! Again I want to share your words and send it to the world I live in here in Colorado. Few get it. When can you come visit our art community and share your knowledge? It’s time to shake up this “old school” thinking.

From: Rose-Marie Goodwin — Jun 11, 2013

Again, thank you Robert for what you do for the art world of producers, as ever increasing in numbers as it may be. I finally found an optimum formula for myself, and a woman I am, (and not so young a one at that, as I am precluded for the under 35 international categories): Get up. Go biking all over the streets of Vancouver – a different route every day. Go sit at the Bayshore in the morning sun at Starbucks no later than 7:45. Drive directly to my studio for an 9:00 start. Paint by 10. Go home at 2:00 and ‘put my face on’…. and take on the day…. I am way more creative, productive, and spirited.

From: Linda Wharton — Jun 11, 2013

Okay, I’ll bite. Regarding winning a second fight; couldn’t it be just as plausible that the being who won the first fight might have acquired a bit more experience regarding certain details about how to win, you know, “like” wisdom, perhaps about technique or weak spots or something. This may not necessarily apply to art contests though.

From: Jan Macfarlane — Jun 11, 2013

Chomp, chomp, chomp…

From: Susan Marx — Jun 11, 2013

One percent of artists selling is a rather depressing statistic. But we painters derive much more from painting than money. Some of us, like, me, cannot not paint. Painting is in our blood.

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Jun 11, 2013

Ah- the never-ending male/female debate continues… And I still don’t fit into it at all… because I’m driven- to create- produce- manifest my vision and deliver on the opportunities that I make and also those that come my way from the Universe- while being thoughtful- open-minded and deeply sensitive. But I can deliver outrage to somebody who deserves it- while also being a gentle soul where necessary. I am however not overly cautious- in the sense that folks who are afraid of living/dying are cautious- but that’s also because I’m always paying attention to everything going on around me- so literal caution is second nature because I’m not constantly second-guessing myself. Damn. I must be both… and frankly- better for it. Artistic success is necessary in order to remain motivated to produce. And really- if you can’t get into a juried show after trying many times- you really should look at your work- and yourself in the mirror of your work- to figure out what needs to be improved. If you think nothing needs to be improved and you still can’t get in- you’re fooling yourself- male or female. But monetary success- for all of us who do not have traditional gallery representation- because our work isn’t traditional- comes from self-promotion. And the only problem with self-promotion is that self-promoters are usually judged as arrogant by people who have no balls- male or female. Hmmm… testosterone again… In the end- winning is completely personal. And art is rarely a team sport.

From: Anne Smith — Jun 11, 2013

Perhaps I should take some testosterone and let you know!

From: Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki — Jun 11, 2013

The letter reads as a part of research funded by the conservative party. Yes, everyone appears to love a winner, but nevertheless roots for the underdog. And no, women can be just as silly or as clever as men despite a different hormone recipe. Our hormones have their own quirks, which have been examined and discussed ad nauseam. You must have had some bad seafood when you put all this together Robert. I hope you get better soon.

From: Sky Pape — Jun 11, 2013

I enjoy receiving your newsletter, the subjects of which often prompt conversations in my head, musings, and even the occasional chortle. While I’d like to think my gender is less prone to violent crime, I am not entirely convinced that there aren’t felonious females in our field. Off the top of my head, I can think of a couple art-world ladies whose actions have landed themselves in some deep muck: Glafira Rosales and Ann Friedman (re: Knoedler Gallery), and Leigh Morse (Gallery Director for Salander O’Reilly).

From: Edna V. Hildebrandt — Jun 11, 2013

It is not only the monetary returns that keep me painting. I am inspired to do it because I can and it fulfills my life long dream to concentrate on it. It would be great if I can also be rewarded if I can sell some. I am already a winner just being because I can. Just looking at my art coming to life on canvas makes me a winner.

From: Becky Green — Jun 11, 2013

‘Bite me if I’m wrong’ lol. You were spot On!

From: Delmar Pettimar — Jun 11, 2013

“mass bamboozlement are seldom priorities. Bite me if I’m wrong.” What about Bev Doolittle with her “extremely limited print editions of 72,000?”

From: H Margret — Jun 11, 2013

Art in America ads & stories and big sales? Making rewarding work that can’t crack the glass ceiling and still continuing? Or something in between? The art world’s highest levels are VERY controlled. Notice how few really new visions are seen there, until the artist is dead. In Santa Fe, there are Native American women artists who do extremely well.There are also women succeeding in other venues of work. Judy Chicago, although none of her ceramic team players are noted in her headlining, is extremely ambitious.

From: Claudia Roulier — Jun 11, 2013

Uhmm I’m pretty competitive and definitely female……

From: Lois Teicher — Jun 11, 2013

You are wrong about women artists. I for one, am extremely competitive, especially if it means beating the boys. The outside world is still sexists and the road blocks are still enormously thick.

From: Robin Avery — Jun 11, 2013

Ya missed on this one. The big cheater about five years ago in the AWS show who used photos instead of painting was a Canadian woman!!

From: Kathleen Kelly — Jun 11, 2013

Also called “the Matthew Effect”, I guess from the gospel. I think you are in dicey territory for us women. My unfounded opinion is that men are more interested in success and in making money. Women, this woman anyway, wants to delve deeply into art and make good stuff.

From: Gail Andrew — Jun 11, 2013
From: Dolores — Jun 11, 2013

I’m biting you Robert, not because you’re that wrong, but just because I feel like biting you.

From: Jan Thielemann — Jun 11, 2013

I belonged to a woman’s investment group. The broker we used also had men’s investment groups. The women did better – because–they are used to shopping and know how to look for a bargain.

From: Jackie Knott — Jun 11, 2013

I’ve known a few stockbrokers and investment bankers and some of those guys would sell their mothers for a buck or two; not the ones I would look to as “winners.” No, I look at those who commit their talent and abilities toward the common good regardless of compensation. Sure, we pay our firemen, police, and medical help, but many give up lucrative careers in other industries to serve. Our art should fall into a comparable mindset. A balance sheet is not the only component of “winner.” These days, success is not the same as capable. Neither does service demand testosterone so can we please dispense with the male/female comparison? It is tiresome. I am a passionate devotee of the day job. If you can make art full time and support your lifestyle, I’m happy for you. Those of us who embarked on multiple careers, how does that make us less a winner? I can’t really follow the analogy because I deeply feel I’ve won several times over because I contributed. Yes, winning begets winning. But only because percentages mean nothing against hard work, commitment, excellence, and dismissal of whatever anyone else categorizes as “winning.”

From: Monika Smith — Jun 12, 2013

Artists as a generic group aren’t business oriented, nor do professional art associations include mandates that include professional licensing, upgrading or insurance. Anyone can be an artist. With no proof whatsoever. So, the comparison shouldn’t be to doctors, but at best, photographers (or professional musicians) the design side of ‘cultural’ workers who can make a living. I do find the idea that women don’t have larceny or even murder in their hearts very funny. Or that they won’t take risks, good or bad. What we do have in our Western culture is leisure time. Vast quantities of it that we can chose to do whatever we want. If we’re pursuing a muse or cataloguing birds, it’s only through our wealth and time in this culture that we can do it. What other cultures today allow this? What cultures in the past allowed people to paint, make music, create amazing gardens without having to worry about where the next meal came from? I’m very grateful for the time I live in to let me do what I really want to do. And, I’m enough of an entrepreneur with business-like outlook, another gift of our times, to make change. We have no limits but what we impose on ourselves. Cheers!

From: Luigi Lannes — Jun 12, 2013

People without apprenticeship or a track record in dentistry should not expect to be paid for their root canals.

From: Valerie Norberry VanOrden — Jun 12, 2013

The winner effect, 10:00 a.m., lots of testosterone, bite you if you’re wrong. So what are our estrogen affected artists left with? The whiner effect! As for gynecologists hanging shingles, there are midwives out there who do a pretty good business from their SUV’s for the Amish and other homesteading women, ever considered them? They’re not M.D.’s.

From: Sandra — Jun 12, 2013
From: Elaine Echels — Jun 12, 2013

I don’t reply much but I truly enjoy your letters! They are informative and fun! I hope that I can be counted in the 10% but I doubt it. I do a lot of commission work but mostly for friends who don’t really know art well! (some do though!)

From: Paula Ballo — Jun 12, 2013

You are right about women. I now accept that I am content to carry on with my work. Also, it’s important that I accept the challenges of aging and take care of myself and the people close to me. I so thank you for your dedication to your letters… It always arrives for me when I most need to be reminded.

From: Deborah Nickloy — Jun 13, 2013
From: Les Radha — Jun 13, 2013

In the natural evolution of mankind, women are becoming more risk taking. Whether this is the result of increasing testosterone or not, I don’t know. But they are definitely taking a significant and growing place in business and the arts. Certainly they are not the weak and shrinking violets of yesteryear–or being dragged around by the hair anymore. No sir.

From: Anuj Somany (India) — Jun 13, 2013

Not everything is understood the way it is presented and not everyone presents the way it is understood.

From: Henry Hewlett — Jun 13, 2013

For an artist, Mr Genn has remarkable perception and understanding of human nature. One of the greatest areas where testosterone plays out in both men and women is in politics. Somehow, after winning (or losing) a few elections, glands must kick in and poor decisions are made. Ideals mark the beginning candidacies of mayors, premiers, senators and even Prime Ministers, but somewhere down the line hubris rears its ugly head. This failure in human nature has led to not only bad government, but to wars. I’ll keep subscribing to see if the artist has any solutions to offer for the condition.

From: Russ Hogger — Jun 13, 2013

It doesn’t matter whether you are a winner or a loser, just be the artist you’ve always wanted to be.

From: Sherry Chanin CSPWC ASA — Jun 14, 2013

I agree with you about female artists being more gentle and sensitive. Damn it. If only you could sell doses of testosterone in drug stores, you’d make a killing. It’s true that nothing succeeds like success. May I reverse that and say that this mindset applies to artists as well. As the biggest criticizer of my own work, I withheld showing my work or taking chances with galleries, juried shows, etc. In an act of desperation, I told myself to “pee or get off the pot”. That was last year. Since then, to my shock, surprise and delight, I was accepted for membership into the CPSWC (Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolor), the ASA (Alberta Society of Artists), and been accepted into eight juried exhibitions around Alberta. Now I’m wondering why I waited so long. The feedback has been tremendous and has boosted my confidence so now I am expanding my comfort zone even further. Yes, it is true. Nothing succeeds like success!

From: Jan Ross — Jun 14, 2013

As a female artist who recently received the ‘Juror’s Choice Award’ and the ‘People’s Choice Award’ in the same juried competition, I have to say from my perspective anyone receiving an ‘Attaboy’ for his/her artistic endeavor feels compulsed to push oneself to a higher level. This, not only for the artist’s personal satisfaction, but also recognition by the public and accomplished jurors, who may not have the opportunity to view one’s efforts should the artist’s work not venture beyond the studio. For a few moments, “Everybody loves a winner.” We all enjoy a little love, don’t we?

From: anon — Jun 14, 2013

Not everyone loves a winner. After a sellout show, a friend said to me – I am sure this will never happen to you again.

From: Rick Rotante — Jun 15, 2013

After reading the many comments by some contributors I can’t help but be amazed at the (still present) anger and vilification brewing in the hearts of people with regards to the sexes. We need to move on and get along. One comment made about testosterone and the claws come out and the short hairs go up. Robert’s comment was made about studies by others where the hormone was concerned. AND, testosterone can be found in men as well as women. It acts on both sexes equally. But beside this point, we need to get over the hostility and name calling and grow up. Here is a news flash for those living in caves. WOMEN CAN BE BAD TOO! Women are capable of evil equal to men. They just go about it differently that’s all. Testosterone is here to stay, in both sexes. Live with it. Use it to be better We can find evil everywhere we look; in men and in women; but we can’t spend our life in that kind of mind set and create work worthy of being called Art. We need to look for the good in people and strive to be better ourselves. MOVE ON FOLKS!

     Featured Workshop: Donald Jurney 061413_robert-genn Donald Jurney workshops Held in England: in the Cotswolds!   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order.      woa

Blue abstract

acrylic on wood panel, 30 x 30 inches by Sue Ennis, 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 Leigh Sparks of Santa Barbara, CA, USA, who wrote, “Martha Stewart, interior artist and investor, didn’t have enough testosterone or good old boy connections and she was sentenced to prison.” And also Lynette Sheppard of Hoolehua, HI, USA who wrote, “My husband, Dewitt Jones, always says that he hopes women start running the world in his lifetime.” And also Lois Fox who wrote, “I take exception to the idea that felony including art felony is caused by testosterone. We have examples of unscrupulous politicians of all sexes. Human nature appears to trump gender. Testosterone like estrogen is a powerful force and either can be used for good or ill.” And also H Margret of Santa Fe, NM, USA, who wrote, “Big success not motivating for most women artists? How is big success defined? Ambition is considered so much less attractive in women, though, so admitting it is a real Catch 22. Consider yourself bitten.” (RG note) Thanks, H Margret. I have sustained lesions to most of my torso, arms legs and neck. Doc says I’ll be okay in a few hours.    

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

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