Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Creative Process - Keep working in trying times

Peace by J. Binford-Bell

In these trying economic times artists are extremely hard hit. We are all cutting way back on the expensive shows we partake in and galleries that represented us are folding. There is little to no room in the budget for $1500 a page ad in the more elite collector magazines. Barely enough money to pay dues to professional organizations that allow the artist access to call for entries, free group advertising, and validation with the IRS.

I was chatting this morning with another artist with cash flow issues. We were debating what exhibits to enter. The gut reaction is none. They cost bucks. Not just jury fees but preparing your art to display if you get in. With photography which is really free after the camera there is printing and matting and framing your photographic gem. Thankfully I do my own matting and framing but frames cost. Printing, even if you do your own, is not cheap.

And so begins recycling. I have rummage through the stored watercolors from my on paper era and decided to remove and archive the watercolors and reuse the frames for photographs I am entering in two shows. In some cases this will mean smaller prints. But that saves money on printing costs and mat board. The goal is to get your work before the widest range of people at the lowest cost to self. With photography if a patron really likes the image it can be enlarged to suit them.

With painting too frames can be taken off work that is being archived in your storage room and used on new pieces. And the advantage of stretching your own canvas is that stretcher bars can be reused once the painting is taken off them. I am doing that with several works at the moment. Not every painting is a masterpiece though all of them are a step in the progress of an artist. And lugging them around to shows took its toll on a couple pieces. I am saving the canvas removed from the bars and in some instances cutting out sections to use in a collage. Recycling? Could I make a whole wall mural this way?

No, I don't ordinarily do collage but artists have to do. It is who we are. I see the collage as an exercise to channel new directions into my paintings. And it is keeping me out of trouble and making space in the storage room.

I am also looking at taking better advantage of my studio. Running a winter Cabin Fever Special on art lessons with a friend. And while dropping fairs have centered more of the advertising I can afford around promoting the studio venue. In these trying times I don't see myself as seeking out a new gallery to just have it fail with my art locked inside. My studio allows me to display my paintings and my photographs and the jewelry I make and provides a space to entertain patrons and give lessons. Art magazines are touting the "Trunk show" approach to promotion and a studio is perfect for that. And its passive solar design is proving a real blessing with heating bills. And my usual winter depression.

Yesterday it occurred to me that we are back at the time of the Impressionists that lived in drafty lofts in Paris and even painted on cardboard if that was all the world offered up. Collectors might want to visit more studios in search of that gem to add to their walls at very reasonable prices.


  1. and there are great recycled pieces of work! times of crisis makes people think more and might bring much more creativity out of everyone...

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I appreciate all kind comments on my art and poetry.