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View Full Version : Portraiture - the mercenary way only?


Noble
02-20-2001, 12:09 AM
This is specific to portraiture, not general art biz so I'm putting it here:

I wonder about going the portrait way, like all forms of art I see many levels of "skill" out there and the good ones make me think I'm just wasting my time and should pack it up... and I haven't even started yet!

Of course the only subject that really interests me are people, so choosing portraiture isn't a business motivated decision.

If you go the portrait way, are you in essence shackled to commissions if you want to sell anything? I mean, people don't buy portraits of strangers very often do they?

I guess what I'm driving at is if I want to *sell* portrait style work, must I do commissions more often than not?

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Cheers,
Noble
http://artofnoble.com

campsart
02-20-2001, 12:24 AM
Originally posted by Noble:
This is specific to portraiture, not general art biz so I'm putting it here:

I wonder about going the portrait way, like all forms of art I see many levels of "skill" out there and the good ones make me think I'm just wasting my time and should pack it up... and I haven't even started yet!

Of course the only subject that really interests me are people, so choosing portraiture isn't a business motivated decision.

If you go the portrait way, are you in essence shackled to commissions if you want to sell anything? I mean, people don't buy portraits of strangers very often do they?

I guess what I'm driving at is if I want to *sell* portrait style work, must I do commissions more often than not?



Noble...I know exactly how you feel but don't give up and pack it up. Personally, for now, I want to stay away from commissions. I don't like the idea of painting subjects that I don't find inspiring just so I can make a buck. I have to be moved or inspired by what I'm doing or it means nothing at all. I just started trying out ebay and sold a couple of paintings that were "my" thing and that's just the way I would like to keep it for now. People have emailed me asking if I do commissions as a result of listing on ebay. I so far have stayed away from doing any. I don't want to get into a rut. If I were you, I would still do portraiture or figurative work that is you. Create images of people but create scenes that anyone would want without caring about whether or not they know the subject. Children in art seems to move well. Please do your own thing and don't worry about the skill level out there. You have your own place in the scheme of things. Go for it!



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"Art is a jealous mistress and if a man has a genius for painting, poetry, music, architecture or philosophy, he makes a bad husband and an ill provider."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1888), American essayist, critic, and philosopher.

glorius
02-20-2001, 12:32 AM
I'm right there with you. When you do a painting you undertake a huge load of work and time put into it. So for that reason I have to do something that really inspires me. To me that seems to be only people. I have no patience toiling over flowers or apples, inanimate objects. But people have a spark that is self-rewarding to capture. At any rate you have to be true to yourself. Paint what you want. If you are good (which you really are, I've seen your work here,) you can find an audience who will appreciate it. Good luck and let us know how it goes. I'm curious as to how it comes about being not just personally but also financially rewarding. Wish I could give you advice, but I'm up the same tree with you.

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I just draw what I see
GloriusDae

bruin70
02-20-2001, 02:07 AM
you're talking about "formal portrait commisions",,,and the answer is yes. but under the broad category of portraits, which means just painting people, you can paint anything you want.

i consider myself a portrait painter more than a figuretive painter, but i'm NOT a formal portrait painter ....{M}

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"it's alright to be judgmental,,,,,,,,if you have taste"...MILT

[This message has been edited by bruin70 (edited February 20, 2001).]

iyoung
02-20-2001, 10:47 AM
I don't know about the market where you are but here, people who buy paintings (other than the tourists who buy representational paintings of local scenes) buy what they think are good paintings. Some people think paintings with people in them are "too personal" (I've heard them characterize it this way) but figurative paintings sell just fine to other people, whether the figure is incidental or more prominent in the setting, as do paintings which you could call portraits so long as they are informal and of attractive subjects.
Speaking of informal - I've visited your site and you seem comfortable with figures in motion & foreshortening- it's possible to take commissions on your own terms, offering informal portraits or action portraits in settings (y'know, Mr. Doe in mid-swing on the 1st tee, or the kids out on the beach with strong sunlight effects )which can be fun and interesting. Sort of anti-portraits. I do this and it's created a nice niche for me.
Ilene

bbbilly1326
02-20-2001, 11:39 AM
I have done a number of portraits over the past 10 years, all of friends or colleagues. During this learning process, painting people who I know and makeing something which will mean something to them, inspired me in the painting. I've done probably 15 portraits, all of which took an amazing amount of work, because I'm never satisfied with less than an exact likeness, and my skill level was not high. Most of these painting took weeks to months to complete.
Now, I'm at a time where I've decided that portraits take too much of my time and effort, and I'm not doing anymore for the near future.
The message: Everyone has a different view of this area, depending on where we are in our development as artists.
Regards,


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Bill Carroll
Self-taught/all-ways learning
index.html (http://hamiltoncarroll.homestead.com)

artsyfartsy
02-21-2001, 07:28 PM
I had to respond to this post because I have felt the exact same way! I love to paint people so much that when I do a landscape or a still life I feel like I am holding something back. If you feel this way then paint what you feel. IF it sells great, if it doesn't .... still great because art is an expression of YOU and that alone is what great peices are made of. Portraiture by commision is a good way to pay the bills. But painting from your heart is what makes you an artist.

Noble
02-21-2001, 10:42 PM
Well, I'm glad to see so many responses that seem to resonate with how I feel, kinda universal it seems almost.

So, I guess I was confusing the idea of "formal" portraits with everything else. Good ideas from all who posted, thanks for all your perspectives...

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Cheers,
Noble
http://artofnoble.com

billyg
02-23-2001, 06:07 AM
Hey Noble,
In a local gallery here in Nelson NZ I came across two wonderful figure paintings which to me would come under portraiture.One oil and one watercolour.The watercolour one has a terrific technique its making and I found it really beautiful.I doubt if either was done as a commission, but done by the artist ( Don McCara )as a saleable piece which I wopuld think he had a great deal of satisfaction and fun doing. Two things I wish:- I wish I could buy them and I wish I had his skill.So there is joy in portraiture without being formal and painting someone whos face would crack a mirror.
Billyg

tammy
02-23-2001, 11:50 AM
One would think that folks only buy portraits of family and friend ei. commissions but think of all the folks who have bought "The Last Supper", "The farmer with his pitchfolk and his wife" Etc. All of those and many others have people in it, could be considered portraits, couldn't they?
Anyway worth doing is worth doing!
If you've seen my pathethic try at portraits, you'll know that even I had to try! I thought it worth trying so I think you may find that its worth doing too! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif
Good luck on any decision you make.

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Don't worry, its gonna be all right....
Tammy's Home for Artists (http://tammy.artistnation.com)

Suz
02-23-2001, 03:05 PM
Hi Nobel,
I went to your site and checked out the portraits. They are very good. However, I had the feeling that you slept with every one of the females.


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Suz.

Noble
02-23-2001, 03:16 PM
Originally posted by Suz:
Hi Nobel,
I went to your site and checked out the portraits. They are very good. However, I had the feeling that you slept with every one of the females.

Thanks (I think). I can assure you that's far from the truth. I don't know most of them, one is 94, and some don't even exist! Hmmm, an interesting perception.

For the record, I'm single, don't "date" for the most part and have only had long term relationships (some longer than others). Not really relevant to art biz but oh well!

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Cheers,
Noble
http://artofnoble.com

Suz
02-23-2001, 05:04 PM
I got the impression, because all of them are women and have the appearance of a "trohphy collection". I did exclude the very old lady. The graphite ones, look straight into the viewer's eye which is provokative and they are all very pretty in a sexy way.

Originally posted by Noble:
Not really relevant to art biz but oh well!
[/B]

I belive who you are and how you portray someone has a lot to do with art. It actually MAKES protraits art, otherwise why not take a snap shot?


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Suz.

Noble
02-23-2001, 06:11 PM
Originally posted by Suz:
I got the impression, because all of them are women and have the appearance of a "trohphy collection". I did exclude the
[snip]
I belive who you are and how you portray someone has a lot to do with art. It actually MAKES protraits art, otherwise why not take a snap shot?

k. Is this reply in some way support for why one can make money doing portraits without having to be comissioned to do them, or a segue(sp?) into another thread?

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Cheers,
Noble
http://artofnoble.com

LDianeJohnson
02-23-2001, 09:22 PM
Noble,

In response to your original post...

If you enjoy doing portraits and you have a passion for them, do them, whether or not you ever sell them (provided you have some other means of support).

It is AS you paint, and become more skilled that your style emerges and commissions will surely come your way. Especially if you do any marketing at all via word of mouth or advertising.

However, if you enjoy working with the figure, you can incorporate them into landscapes, interiors, etc. and market these whether or not you wish to do commissioned pieces. Since portraits are usually "to order", and most people do not purchase paintings of someone they don't know (unless particularly universal looking), figurative pieces are popular and sell.

Diane

Noble
02-24-2001, 11:41 AM
Originally posted by Artistry:
Noble,

In response to your original post...

If you enjoy doing portraits and you have a passion for them, do them, whether or not you ever sell them (provided you have some other means of support).
[snip]
pieces. Since portraits are usually "to order", and most people do not purchase paintings of someone they don't know (unless particularly universal looking), figurative pieces are popular and sell.

Diane
To the point. I think now I have enough perspective to go forth with some degree of light on the subject...

thanks you and to everyone for your responses, they were most helpful.

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Cheers,
Noble
http://artofnoble.com

Suz
02-24-2001, 02:34 PM
Originally posted by Noble:

k. Is this reply in some way support for why one can make money doing portraits without having to be comissioned to do them, or a segue(sp?) into another thread?


Nope, none what so ever, I am totally guilty of drifting.

Actually your question is interesting, I wonder if people buy portraits of people who they don't know. I don't know if I would want a stranger on my wall - don't think so.




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Suz.