Last week my wife Val and I went to visit Shirley and Rod at their gallery in Scottsdale, a lovely town in Northeast Tasmania. I took with me 4 paintings that will be part of an exhibition there in June. It was great to catch up with them after 12 months away.

I got to have a chat with Shirley and she wanted to know when I would be holding an exhibition in the gallery. I’ve been keen for some time to have one there, but the time has never been “right”.

The problem is that my paintings aren’t big sellers. I seem to do well when it comes to art prizes, but not so well when it comes to big sales. Why is this so?

One could come up with a host of reasons from my preference for coloured pencils to the hard-edged nature of my technique. But the real reason has stared me in the face for a number of years: I don’t paint what the majority of the buying public like. I paint what I like, the way I like and when I like.

This is not good economics! If I relied on my art for my income I would be a lot thinner than I am at present!

It’s a dilemma that a lot of artists face; does one paint for one’s self or paint what sells? Some artists have the ability to sell everything they paint, and good luck to them. Alas, mine situation is not that rosy. The solution?

Since I returned from my “gap year” holiday I have decided to concentrate on trying to win some art prizes. I don’t know where or when, but I have a plan and it starts now!

What I paint for my exhibition at Scottsdale later next year is a problem that I will have to ponder carefully. My immediate concern is will I sell any paintings at my exhibition next year? To be honest, I fear that although the work will look vibrant and I hope rouse the imagination, there will be few, if any red dots. I’m not being pessimistic, just a realist.

I am who I am, and I want my art to reflect that, but it’s hard in a market where photographic-like art sells well.

Today’s photo is of the early stages of a painting that is the third in a series that I am doing featuring the lounge room in the old shearers’ quarters at the historic farming property, Cheshunt, in Tasmania.

Silence pervades, as the morning sun pierces the window, revealing a single mug on a dusty wooden table. Where has everyone gone?

More to come.


About artkleko

artist, art curator, art teacher, art judge, art critic
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12 Responses to ART PRIZES

  1. Dianne Gruber says:

    We have the opposite here in the States, I have heard it said many times: If I wanted realistic art I would take a picture. Richard even though I love realistic or even photo-realistic art, what you do really speaks to me. I must admit that I am looking forward to seeing the single cup on the table.

    • artkleko says:

      The price one pays for the place one lives in, Dianne! Thank you for commenting. I would like to hear more about art and attitudes in the US.

      • Dianne Gruber says:

        It truly depends on where you live as to what would sell and how much it would sell for. We have a gallery in our town and what mostly sell is American Western painting. In Dallas, Texas, which is about 80 miles from us, sells many different styles. I think that your beautiful art would be very welcomed and appreciated there.

      • artkleko says:

        I would love to do a residency there, Dianne. Who do I contact for funding?

  2. Edna says:

    Richard, Sad to say that painting and art in general is as much about fad and fashion as it is about good art. The freedom to be who you are in your work is the price artists often pay but they keep on working as you do because they have an inner integrity. To paint or make art that sells is more a commercial decision than an artistic one and often leads to a short successful career built on a reliable format. I’ve considered the question of what sells and what doesn’t at so many exhibitions I’ve been to and I’m still surprised at the choices buyers make.

    • artkleko says:

      I agree with your comments, Edna. Maybe we all need our own PR person to convince people to look beyond the commercial aspects of art …

  3. I think medium is a big thing when it comes to attitudes. Oil and watercolours rate very highly but I think pastels, pencil and colour pencil somehow have less “credibility” for want of a better word. I must admit that I have bias to medium. I know I am a bit dismissive of watercolours and I dislike acrylic with a passion though I am told modern acrylic mediums are vastly improved now. I have another friend who paints what he wants rather than what would sell. His work is not retail-friendly or commercial but he hasn’t really understood this connection yet and I hate to see his disappointment over and over again and all the money spent. Sometimes I feel it is a bit over indulgent to constantly spend money creating works that will never sell. I feel like screaming at him sometimes “for goodness sake will you just do a couple of Tas-landscape-tourist-friendly paintings” to at least negate the outgoing costs.

    • artkleko says:

      I see you point, Tanya, and understand your frustration with your friend. Maybe he is like me and tries to be as honest with his art as he can. Unfortunately there is often a price to pay, but we feel good inside!

  4. Dianne Gruber says:

    Richard, I am not sure how to finance a residency here in the States but you are certainly free to stay with us and use my studio.

  5. Glenda says:

    A very good article Richard. My experience has been similar – at exhibitions the photographic realistic paintings are the ones selling – not the more imaginative! Its a pity the imagination and creativity is not recognised by more people.

    • artkleko says:

      Thank you, Glenda, for your comments. There is a reason why imagination is not ‘popular’ and I shall write a post on this subject. Thank you for inspiring me!

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