Whimsical Landscape 3Whimsical Landscape 3

Prismacolors on pastel board   40 x 40 cm

Things haven’t been easy since my one-man show last month where I only sold 2 paintings. I have struggled to maintain any real momentum and that has strangely enough, seen the ‘birth’ of a less-serious series of paintings that can be classified as ‘whimsical’. One may even call them ‘happy’, ‘cheerful’, ‘naive’, ‘innocent’ etc, etc. I’m not sure where these paintings have come from. I suspect they are from my ‘vulnerable’ side, and are a last-ditched attempt at producing something that will acquire a red dot. maybe they are a product of my frustration and (at times) annoyance as to the ‘buying’ public’s attitude towards my work.

I got very close in the recent Tasmanian Art Awards with one of my ‘bricks’, a large abstract that I consider the best painting I’ve done since returning from the mainland after a year’s holiday. But (as has been the case before), I wasn’t close enough. Where did I go wrong? Is it worth pursuing the theme of abstraction that has been my ‘raison d’etre’ for the past 3 months? Is my (current) obsession a waste of time? Should I make more of an effort to make my art more ‘sellable’? So many questions, so few answers.

Next March will see me with another one-man show, this time at the Brave Gallery in Longford. What will I exhibit? It’s not a huge gallery, so 16 – 20 paintings will be enough. Abstract or realistic? Commercial or individual? What will I paint? Should I paint and instead, exhibit some of my new digital art? Reality or pipe-dream?

I’m looking at another substantial framing bill. Is it worth the money?

If I was true to my art, I would exhibit the series of abstracts that I have been working on lately. I find this series fascinating, but as I have only sold one to date, I fear that it will be an exhibition in a ‘foreign language’ to art patrons.

Aiming for a ‘sellable’ exhibition is just as dangerous. What if nobody likes my ‘realistic’ work? It can be too dear, even too cheap in people’s eyes. I have been criticised on more than one occasion because my art is (perceived as) too cheap!

I am seriously thinking of having an ‘ecclectic’ show, featuring a broad range of work from nearly 40 years of art. This would not be a retrospective show, but an overview of the range of art that I have covered over the past 4 decades.

Whatever I decide, I must do so within the next month or two.

Now back to the present…… maybe I should continue with some ‘happy art’ and see what happens.



About artkleko

artist, art curator, art teacher, art judge, art critic
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14 Responses to HAPPY DAYS?

  1. You have to be true to yourself – if you start painting to a perceived idea of what will sell, or what the public will like, you are asking for trouble, and you will not be satisfied with your work. Just do what satisfies and interests you. Framing is painful, one of the best things about painting on canvas is being able to exhibit stretched canvases, but works on paper have to be under glass unfortunately. There are some galleries that are happy to exhibit unframed works (which can look great pinned to a wall), and let the buyer bear the cost. And any unsold works are so much easier to store! Don’t despair, but do what you are passionate about!

    • artkleko says:

      Thanks Anna, there’s a lot of truth in what you say. One can only produce their best work when doing something that one really enjoys and identifies with.
      Who ever said art was easy! lol

  2. Oh Richard…what a lot of turmoil there!
    Personally, I love this looser work of yours, cheerful, happy, playful and I feel that it is very positive and as you say, may come from your vulnerable side, which is a good thing especially when you are not sure which way to go.
    I think the ecclectic idea showing your whole serious of work up to date is a good one in my opinion, as it shows the whole range of artistic creation within you and how it has led to the present day and I feel people will talk to you and let you know what they think at an exhibition like this so you will get some feedback 🙂
    The art world is so hard at times and I feel for you because I go through the same angst myself at times and feel like giving up too and framing is very expensive so I get very annoyed when I see my studio filling up with unsold work as well! 😦
    Hang on in there Richard and don’t despair – your work is beautiful.
    Looking forward to seeing more of your latest ‘happy’ art!! 🙂

    • artkleko says:

      Thank you Eileen. Your words give me great comfort and I know that I’m not alone in experiencing this type of situation.
      I need to be patient and just let things happen. 🙂

  3. Edna says:

    Commiserations Richard, I know how you feel. Who even knows who the buying public are these days when Tas is considered a ‘basket case’.
    Realism or abstraction? Who do you please : art prize judges or buyers? They are two different beings. The buying public are very unpredictable in their choices and don’t seem to buy art that we, as artists, would buy.
    I think that hyper-realism has the edge at the moment along with some surrealistic imagery. I like your whimsical Landscape No. 3 with its light touch and elements of your bricks and a touch of Fred Williams.
    Personally I think that anyone who has solo shows at the moment is brave because of the expense, time and no surety of selling.
    What about other ways of displaying your drawings – such as hanging them with mounts under heavy cello from clips with an ‘unframed’ and framed price?

    • artkleko says:

      You have given me much food for thought Edna. Your observations of the art market are true as are your observations of the Tas scene.
      I value your support and your opinions.

  4. Kate Bausch says:

    I say: Be true to your art and yourself and go with gusto at what excites you the most. Why go backwards? Go Forward….. always FORWARD!!

    On a side note… Don’t discount the low you feel after a big show. I didn’t expect it after my first big show (“My First 50 Years” last summer) and the deep sadness, combined with other issues, hit me like a ton of bricks. What I learned from that was that I MUST paint, every day, and for myself. That’s what we were put on this earth to do, Richard…. right? Paint what others don’t see, express ourselves through our art, right?

    Thanks for sharing your thought process with us. Sometimes I feel like the only one who struggles with this stuff.

    Peace and all good to you!

    Kate Bausch

  5. Mike Menius says:

    Your strength, and your heart’s passion, is the abstract work. Don’t go off track. Research the internet web competitions for abstract art and for “painting in all media.” Get your name established as as award winner. It takes time. That’s really what will make your art sell. Do you HAVE to use those expensive frames? Can’t you think of some way to mount your art, without buying a bunch of frames? all the best. Mike

    • artkleko says:

      Thanks Mike. It’s not the cost of framing (not that expensive) that worries me, it’s more a case of seeing myself as a failure (again) and letting the gallery down.
      When I decide what to exhibit next year, I’ll be careful to choose the ‘appropriate’ framing.

  6. Richard, as you know, I absolutely admire you and respect your art and talent. So many of us do. This turmoil will pass. The roller coaster goes on… I know that only too well… friends and lovers of your work will help you ……as you have lifted me many a time when I am at a flat spot. What I find interesting is that with all your recognition and success with your wonderful work you still experience the angst those of us newer to the art treadmillI often feel. Interesting…… I thought one day I would get over such thoughts, but maybe not.. I personally find that the more I worry about sales or recognition, the less I enjoy my art. In fact often I think I just want to do it and not worry about the marketing and the sales or competitions. But then things accumulate and I am not good at throwing them out.
    In my Sumi E workshops one of my favourite quotes is “the journey is paramount”… that is it for me. I love the dance of the brush, the merging of colours, the relaxation and meditation of the process. I love fluid media most and it is the journey that is exciting. But I do need to remind myself of that often as our Western thinking creeps in and other measures of value resurface. Keep the right brain dominating and i find we are better off in many respects. (easier said than done)
    An eclectic exhibition… you know I personally would love that but them I often go against the grain of the learned art world. It is more difficult to have it look cohesive/ neat/ contemporary but oh it would offer so much excitement, nourishment for the viewer and a whole education.
    I can however understand the galleries preferring the cohesive tidiness of a display of similar works.
    No “right” answer.

    • artkleko says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful words Evelyn.
      A week has passed and after a marketing meeting at Brave I have ‘moved on’, and I a lot clearer on where my art should be headed.
      All will be revealed in the fullness of time!

  7. Richard, I think you’re playing up these paintings wrong. I wouldn’t call them whimsical. To me they almost have a tribal feel to them. I would think in terms of marketing them that way.

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