Art Appreciation

All posts in the Art Appreciation category

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF A CRITIQUE

Published April 6, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

For many of us, giving our work over to an individual or a group to be analyzed is scary, but so much can be learned by having someone not intimately connected to you evaluate your work. An unavoidable truth in the art world is that all through your career all kinds of people are going to say all kinds of stuff about your art. Some of them will even tell you to your face. Others may write about it, post about it or gossip behind your back. An artist not only has to learn how to handle this nonstop blitz of feedback, comments, and criticisms, but also how to gage and respond to what is said, and most importantly, how to not take what is said personally. To get the most out of a critique, it is important to decide Before submitting your work to a critique, what you really hope to gain from it. This is where some honest personal soul-searching can be useful. Most of us always try very hard to create the very best art we can. We put the total sum of our skill into every painting or sculpture. Unfortunately, when we ask, “how do you like it” we do usually hope for an endorsement of our efforts instead of an evaluation of what is technically wrong. Evaluate the person doing the critique. An important determination you need to make about responses to your art is whether a comment is based on the individual’s personal tastes or is instead based more on their overall knowledge and understanding of the type of art you create.

Decide what you like about your painting before asking for criticism or reviewing a critique. The better you know what it is you like or dislike about your work beforereceiving criticism, the better you will be able to evaluate what is being said. Listen to what is said, make sure it applies, and then ask yourself: “would it be better changed, or do I like it just the way it is?” Don’t get defensive! Remember; a critique doesn’t have to become an argument to win the critic over to your side.

Seek the opinions of your peers whenever possible. The more respect you have for the critic, the easier it is to accept the evaluation by him or her. It helps also if you attempt to understand his or her biases. We all have them. Some of us are technical sticklers and others like to see the breaking of rules.

Don’t discredit positive feedback. Because we often feel guilty at accepting praise, It is often easier for us to accept negative criticism than praise.

Painting The Familiar

Published March 30, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

When selecting what to paint or write, we all have familiar subjects or places we return to time after time. For me, when paging through my reference photos to paint a landscape, I inevitably return to a scene with water because I find water movement visually interesting. Perhaps this is why I find my own still life paintings so uninspiring, although I do often admire those done by my friends.

When painting do you revisit a favorite subject many times? I know that I do, despite having heard critics ask, “Why does he/she always paint the same thing” about myself or other artists. I take issue with the idea that painting the familiar will mean you are creating a clone of a prior work since I believe that even if you are attempting to re-paint a scene or subject that you have painted in the past, the painting will be different. you are not the same person you were when you previously rendered this subject so why should your art be the same? it is true that as artists we have the need to stretch our boundaries by working with materials and subjects we are relatively unfamiliar with, our life experiences and what we have learned will shape our work even if we are painting a familiar subject. If you returned to the scene of a previous work and painted the same scene would it be the same?

In my experience, the 2nd painting never comes out the same as the 1stone. For one thing, I have learned new techniques, and grown in my artistic abilities. For instance, I did two paintings, “Hunting The Levee” in 2002 and “A Man And His Dogs” in 2003. Essentially they are the same scene, taken from a single reference photo. However, in the 2ndpainting, I felt much freer to play with the tableau and add and subtract elements from the photo. So yes, I feel that returning “to the scene of the crime” as it were can be valuable to an artist.

 

Donating Art

Published March 2, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

The phone rings, and some well-meaning fundraiser on the other end wants you to donate a work of art to their charity auction. Usually this goodhearted fundraiser will promise you a tax deduction, great exposure, enhanced publicity, and public exposure if you agree; sadly, most volunteer fundraisers don’t know what they are talking about as far as the actual benefits to you as an artist. Should you do it? This really depends on several things; how much do you support the cause itself? Are the benefits going to out-weigh the costs?

Well lets deal with the tax deduction benefit first. It’s not great.Generally speaking, you as the artist are allowed to deduct only the cost of creation (materials, etc.) unless you have had an appraisal done by a qualified art expert. This is no problem if you are a big name artist whose art is going to bring in thousands of dollars to the charity because the charity will usually have the art appraised by their expert, which you can then attach to your taxes. However, if you are donating to your child’s school, your church, local hospital, etc. chances are the charity is not going to pay for this appraisal because they can’t afford it. Sometimes the charity is worthwhile (in fact most of the time), but unless they follow my rules for donation, what they are really doing is training whoever comes to their event to devalue my art and disrespect me as an artist. This may sound really harsh but it has been proven to be true.

The next two items typically promoted by fundraisers are “enhanced publicity and public exposure” which sounds really good, but what exactly are they actually talking about? A line in the auction catalog and announcing your name when they bring up your art? Please. Remember that most of the fundraisers who do telephone contacts are volunteers with no actual experience in the field. In other words they really have no idea what they are talking about. Enhanced publicity shouldmean your name in the newspaper, on the radio or on the charity’s Facebook page with a link to your website. Public exposure shouldmean that instead of just pointing to your art and asking for bids, the auctioneer talks about you, what awards you’ve won, how good the art is, etc. to encourage the audience to bid higher. He or she should also mention your web site, and the brochures advertising you as an artist, which should have been available when the bidders were doing the walk-through.

Predictably, at most of these charity events, they practically give away the art because the bidders are not art collectors, they are there to support the charity and are looking for two things—something they can afford to bid on to satisfy their tax deduction and to support the charity. A lot of them might be even comparing your fine art to canvas prints they can get at a department store! Auctioning your art for much less than you normally sell for undermines the art market in general, and makes it seem as if the artist (you!)didn’t deserve therealselling price. Another negative side effect is to encourage your regular collectors and potential buyers to wait for events like this to buy your art cheaper than they could if they purchased it directly from you.

The “public exposure”thing is problematical; unless the auctioneer makes a really big deal about your art business and how valuable your work is, everyone present is likely to still think you have a nice hobby. I was once asked by my church to design a poster/logo for a women’s retreat. When the event coordinators husband saw it he remarked to her that it looked like a “real” artist had done it. I find that no matter how good the art I donate to their event is, my circle of acquaintances in my church, my children’s school and my family almost all still believe that my art is a hobby, so I don’t donate unless the charity agrees to the following ground rules:

  • I set a minimum price for original art. If it doesn’t sell, I get it back. This is absolutely essential because unless you have an appraisal from a respectable appraiser attached to the art; all that you can take off on your taxes is the cost of material used to create the art.
  • I qualify the event by making sure there will be folks there who can actually afford to purchase the art (this means getting actual names of who will be attending or at least who has been invited), and that the event will be well publicized: this means actual ads on TV, Internet, and Radio, hopefully with a mention of the art you are donating.

Once charities learned I stuck to these rules, I found that the requests dropped off dramatically. This doesn’t mean that I am wholly against art donations; I dodonate my art to worthwhile charities, but I find that it usually pays better tax deduction-wise to donate a good quality print than the original. If you donate a print, you can deduct the entire printing cost, framing and matting which is a much better deal for tax purposes. To sweeten the pot for prospective buyers, I do always sign prints that I donate, and make sure I tape information about myself, my website and the art to the back of the print.
Good Luck

Gail

I AM AN ARTIST/WRITER SO WHY WOULD I NEED A LAWYER?

Published February 23, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

It seems never to occur to most writers and artists (with some notable exceptions) to have a lawyer look over the contract their agent, publishing house, new Gallery or licensing company wants them to sign. Why not? Well, a couple of reasons might be that the artist is just so thrilled to have an actual walk-in gallery or licensing firm offering to display or sell their work that the artist overlooks making sure their rights are protected, or that the artist simply can’t afford to hire an attorney.

There are several types of contracts an artist might be involved with.

A contract commissioning a piece of art.

A consignment contract with a gallery to sell your work,

A licensing agreement to sell prints, cards or commission work to be translated into other art forms (plates, tiles, textiles, etc.).

An agreement with an agent to sell or advertise your work.

An agreement with a venue (non-gallery) to display or sell your art.

Booth rental space at an event.

When are the times when you should have someone with legal experience take a look at what you are signing? Well, if you can afford it, anytime you want to be paid for your work, but if you are a starving artist, can you afford a $60/hour retainer? Probably not, however you dohave some other options. If you ever find yourself in need of legal representation, you can try Lawyers for the Arts. Most states have either a volunteer lawyers for the arts organization or regular lawyers for the arts who if you ask for it will sometimes give you a bro bono consultation to see want you need.

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts(VLA) is both a generic term for a number of legal service organizations located throughout the country. It is also the proper nameof an organization in New York City, Founded in 1969. That organization is the oldest VLA in the United States. Many states also have their own non-profit organizations: In California, Bay AreaLawyers for the Arts (BALA) was founded in 1971. When BALA expanded to Southern Californiajoining with Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts–Los Angeles, it was renamed California Lawyers for the Arts. There are more than 30 VLA programs spread around the states. Lawyers for the arts is not a single organization, but a network joined by similar vocations providing a range of free or low-cost legal services and educational programs to tackle the needs of artists and arts associations for all genres of art and artists

Each organization functions independently. Most of them are nonprofits but some are affiliated with arts councils, arts service organizations, bar associationsor business for the arts programs.

Several of the platforms include

  • Legal services through referrals and sometimes on-site consultations;
  • Some host legal clinics; alternative dispute resolution including mediation and arbitration;
  • accounting services;
  • Law studentinternships who are usually a lot less expensive to use and can overlook contracts;
  • Educational programs on topics like contracts, copyright, estate planning, taxes and nonprofit incorporation;
  • Most of them also carry publications on a broad range of issues.

In CALIFORNIA, if you are looking for an attorney, you can also go to: http://www.CaliforniaAttorneyReferral.com,or you can try someone from the list below:

Please keep in mind that some of the address and phone numbers may have changed. Since I have never used any of these firms, I have no idea of their quality, fees or abilities.

Even if you don’t see the need to have legal advice on every little thing, there are some issues you need to make sure are covered in any contract you enter into.

  • If this is a commission sale, when is to be completed and how soon afterwards are you paid?
  • Is the Gallery or Agent requiring exclusive rights?
  • When are payments due from consignment sales?
  • How long does the consignment last?
  • If there is a reception who pays for it?
  • Who hangs the art?
  • If the hanging causes damage who pays for the repairs?
  • If the gallery or venue goes out of business make sure your art cannot be considered part of the gallery assets or they could be sold to pay business debts in which case you won’t receive any payment for your work.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is for general information purposes only; it is not intended to be tax or legal advice. Each situation is specific; consult your CPA or attorney to discuss your specific business questions.

 

DO I NEED INSURANCE?

Published February 16, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

If you have a professional studio or gallery outside your home you probably will need additional coverage for fire and theft for that space. If you have events (open gallery nights, art shows, classes, etc.) then you will probably also need liability insurance to cover anyone attending events there. You should discuss the amount of coverage you will need with your insurance carrier.

DO I NEED ADDITIONAL COVERAGE IF I AM WORKING OUT OF MY HOME? 

The answer to that is maybe. Unless your homeowners insurance has an exclusion forbidding you to work out of your home, you probably are covered for fire and theft since the art you create can be considered personal property. If you need to make a claim, the carrier will require documentation. That is why it is important to keep good records of what you painted. You should consult your insurance carrier as to how much they will cover for each art piece. Don’t make assumptions and get stuff in writing!

HOW DO YOU FIND AFFORDABLE ART INSURANCE COVERAGE?

Your regular carrier might not have contacts in this area; However, Local art groups have to carry event insurance for their art shows. Get in touch with them and ask for a referral to their insurance carrier. The carrier they are using may be a lot less expensive than someone unfamiliar with this type of coverage.

QUESTIONS TO ASK THE CARRIER

What protection do I as a vendor need for my art and my possessions?  What protection do I need if someone is hurt within my stall? What protection does the venue carry for fire, theft, personal liability? What about fire or other damage caused by an accident in another person’s booth that then adversely affects mine? Ask all the “what if” questions you can think of and then make your own determination about participating. Also, check into whether there is an insurance contract and what the terms of the contract may be before signing and have your own insurance agent look it over first as well as an attorney if there are things you don’t understand. Never assume, always ask for clarifications and get them in writing.

If you are displaying your art someplace like a restaurant, gallery or other space, most likely you will need to make arrangements with the owner regarding theft or damage to your art. My carrier won’t cover my art outside my home unless I want to pay big bucks, which I can’t afford. A lot of art shows carry riders to this effect also.

INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR BOOTH EVENTS:

Questions concerning the actual amount and type of insurance you might need for a booth event (art fair, etc.) cannot be answered by anyone other than your insurance carrier. At a minimum you probably want some sort of theft and personal liability coverage but I don’t have any knowledge of what California requires or recommends. The venue holding the event may have requirements for coverage also; they may want a rider from your company naming them as an additional insured for the day of the event. Whatever their requirements are—get it in writing!

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

Published January 12, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Resolution 1—Improve myself and my art by joining one or more of the local art groups

Resolution 2–Take Advantage of the opportunities offered by these groups to improve my skills

Resolution 3—Become an active member of each group I join

Resolution 4— Remember that it is time to pay my yearly dues!

2019 is coming sooner than you think! It is the time of year when many of us take time to look back to study how we can improve on what we accomplished (or didn’t accomplish!). Ask yourself these questions: Did I carry out last year’s New Year’s Resolutions? What can I do to better achieve the goals I set?

If you don’t feel you quite made it to your goals, don’t be discouraged. Most of us fall off the wagon many times before we arrive at where we want to be both professionally and personally. Start over in 2019. You can still become the artist or writer you want to be, in the local community and the world at large.

Self-improvement goals don’t come without some personal cost in our time and effort. We must have viable, flourishing local communities to nurture our progress for us to grow. In the Fresno/Clovis area alone we have at least five such local groups, in the Fresno/Clovis area, and I can think of at least seven within driving distance of these cities! Sadly, low contributions by members to leadership in the individual groups has caused dwindling membership and has caused cut backs on some of the groups activities. Fewer members are stepping up and maintaining our local community.  If you want to stop the drain of this precious resource, get off your backside and stop sitting on the sidelines! Go out and actively look for an art or writing group that meets your needs. When you find that group, look around and see how you can contribute to its healthy growth. If you are already a member of a group, make it one of your New Year’s Resolutions to become a more active member.

Joining a local art/writing group can be rewarding both personally and professionally. Why is it so important to associate with other artists and writers? Well, although you can create work in a vacuum, if your work is never evaluated by your peers, you will get stuck echoing the same type of art or writing at the same skill level forever. Peer groups challenge us to stretch our skills, reach for new goals and generally provide support when we are feeling down. It is important to seek out those who are Sympatico with our ideals and feelings about our Work. Local groups can be irreplaceable in support in this area. Let’s face it, while our friends and family members may oohand ahhover our work, they really can’t provide an informed opinion about it. In addition, most of us may suspect they are praising our work because they love us, and notbecause they truly love our work or are really interested in what we are doing with it.

Not all groups are the same. Different groups may offer you alternative types of support. All of these groups can have valuable insights into improving our work. So stop sitting around waiting for someone else to step up, and make it yourmission to get involved! If you want to learn more about these groups, many of them have websites where you can take a first look at them from the comfort of your computer screen. Once you decide on a group, commit yourself to actually attend at least 3 meetings of each group to meet your fellow artists. For myself, I actually belong to several of them and I get something valuable from each group!

 

Alliance of California Artists www.allianceofcaliforniaartists.com

Art Demonstrations at the general meetings

Workshops

Art Sale in April

Juried Shows throughout the year

Membership Gallery

Clovis Art Guild www.clovisartguild.com

Art Demonstrations and mini-workshops at the general meetings

Membership Gallery

Workshops

Fall Art Show (NOVEMBER)

Old West & Rodeo Art Show (APRIL)

Miniature Art Show (JULY)

Madera County Arts Council www.maderaarts.org

Celebrate Agriculture With the Artist –    Exhibit and competition

Circle Art Gallery

Society of Western Artists (local chapter) https://www.facebook.com/pages/Society-of-Western-Artists-San-Joaquin-Valley-Chapter/223715287698387

Art Shows

Meetings & Demonstrations locally and at the San Francisco chapter

Sierra Art Trails http://www.sierraarttrails.org/

Exhibits:

Pathways

Sierra Art Trails

Our Wild Lands

Water, Source of Life

Going Deeper, Reaching Out

Yosemite Western Artists www.yosemitewesternartists.org

Art Demonstrations at the general meetings

Rotating exhibits at satellite locations

Annual Tri-County Competition and Exhibition

Sierra Art Trails

Plein Air & photography outings

 

 

IS ART CENSORSHIP REAL?

Published July 30, 2018 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Do we apply a double standard in censoring Art? Is there a difference between a Rubens classical painting and Playboy? Most of us think so. Yet some of Ruben’s art is probably more graphic than a Playboy centerfold and his Rape of the Daughters certainly shows violence toward women. Nevertheless, most museums and libraries would have no hesitation in displaying it in a public venue. What then makes the old masters art different from artists who create in the here and now? Should paintings showing nudity, graphic violence like rape, sexual themes or nude statues be shown in a public setting such as a Library, Mall or even an art show at which children are welcomed?

Does it make a difference who is going to be looking at or reading controversial material? Yes, it does. Just as a person isn’t allowed to scream “fire!” in a crowded area for fear of causing panic, as a society we will always need to make judgments as to what is appropriate for our public libraries and other non-profits to display and spend their money on. And yes, in the past governments havebeen very heavy handed on what was considered appropriate.  On that subject, the right of Private adult individuals to decide what they will read and see must always be defended. The internet has virtually ensured that the freedom to view and read whatever we want will be protected; As long as it exists, artists and book publishers will be permitted to sell these items (in the appropriate venues), and I don’t think we need to be too worried about government imposed censorship.

Public galleries and non-profits have also felt the bite of censorship because of shrinking donations; private and for-profit galleries and bookstores are also under pressure not to carry controversial materials. A mom shopping with her 10 year old simply isn’t going to make a purchase in a gallery or art show that carries nudes because she isn’t likely to take her child into that gallery or to that art show in the first place.

As a visual artist who sets up art displays in public places, I am very aware of our American society’s standards of what is considered acceptable for public consumption. All societies have these standards of behavior and yes, the standards do evolve with society. 60 years ago, Tarzan of the Apes was considered too sexy for the libraries! What is acceptable in Europe is quite different than what is acceptable in America also. American standards are usually much more conservative than those prevalent in Europe. In this financially strapped time, Libraries and other non-profits and public venues are very dependent on donations. Let’s face it; donors are simply not going to come out and see or purchase art or books they don’t like and they won’t give money to organizations that support these things.

As to exactly why we think a painting over 100 years old is less controversial than one painted this year, well, all I can say is that history seems to cover a multitude of sins.

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