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Kevin2417
11-18-2010, 01:12 AM
Hi everyone,

I was wondering how you all felt about artists who specialize in one specific theme (landscapes) vs someone who has more variety (landscapes, wildlife, figurative)? I seem to see a lot of variety these days but I am curious how the successful artist market themselves and also how clients view potential artists?

Thanks.

Kevin

Ruthie57
11-18-2010, 06:28 AM
Hi Kevin. Well, I'm not *yet* a successful artist and marketing is my big stumbling block, so I'll be interested in other's replies.

I for one do all sorts of subject matter. I find landscape the hardest so I do as much of it as I can. Other subjects are hard too but often more successful for me. I feel I would become bored and lose inspiration if I stuck to one subject. I'm happy at the moment to be a jack of all trades, master of none. One day I may decide to stick to one subject but who knows.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with sticking to one subject which inspires though. The only danger I think is getting into an artistic rut and maybe that showing in ones work. It's nice when people recognise an artist's style but I think it's sad when they recognise an artist because their work is all the same!

Colorix
11-18-2010, 09:07 AM
Hi Kevin, I'm like Ruthie, I want to be an allround artist. I do not want to be locked into one subject, everybody expecting all my paintings to look just like that. Some delight in painting only coffee-mugs, but it'd bore me to tears.

The choice is between style or subject. I've chosen 'style' and freedom of subject.

Having said that, I must admitt I've fallen in love with landscapes, when I set down to try to 'tame' them. They were my weakest point, as they bored me. And now I love them, go figure. Speaking of which, I don't do many figures these days either.

Fata_Morgana
11-18-2010, 09:34 AM
Hi Kevin, I'm a beginner myself (or rather a restarter :lol: ) but I have been reading a lot of advise on the internet and here on WC. The gallery owners seem to prefer painters with only one subject, because it is easier to assess of course, and series look very good at an exhibition.
Personally I would get bored if I stayed with only one type of subject. For each exhibition I think it would look good to have a theme, whether it is a subject, colour, size or something else. You could also have different subjects for different type of customers.
I also think that if you don't paint what you enjoy you won't achieve that little extra something in your art, and that what makes it sell.
So it's a balance act really, I think. Happy painting :thumbsup: //Yvonne

allydoodle
11-18-2010, 02:07 PM
Very interesting question. I started out doing portraits and still life, but now I paint landscapes as well. I've done commissions in still life, portraits and landscapes, and sold in all three genres. I recently had five paintings accepted into a gallery, three were landscapes, one was a still life, and one was a floral. I guess my style came through in all five, and the gallery owner said he liked the presentation they made, so hopefully being diversified won't hurt me. I am also currently working on three portrait commissions, so I'm sort of all over the place.

I think working in more than one area of interest is fine, so long as you take the time to do the very best work you can in each area. Many people have areas they are stronger in and are more comfortable doing, but enjoy doing it all. For me, it is important that my work be recognizable, not that it all looks the same, but it has that certain something that makes it mine. I know I can recognize a Mowry, a Handell or a McKinley when I see it, but they all don't look the same. I admire that level of workmanship. Harley Brown's portraits are all dynamic and different, yet recognizable. Bob Rohm does landscapes and figures, as well as Bill James. As you can see, some of these artists work only in landscapes or portraits, yet others of the same caliber are more diversified, and their work is immediately identifiable.

There doesn't seem to be any rules, other than to present the best work you can of whatever it is you are doing. If one genre is so obviously lacking in expertise than another (for example, if a person is proficient at portraits, but their landscapes are not of the same quality), I think you should avoid presenting that genre at galleries and art shows until you have sufficiently improved its quality. Keep at it until it is of the same caliber of your other work, then show it all together.

Interesting thread - thanks for asking. I'm definitely interested in what others have to say.

Colorix
11-18-2010, 02:39 PM
Sometimes an artist gets known for a certain type of work, but they also do other motives. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do think Harley Brown is known for his portraits of native americans, but he's done tons of other types of portraits.

I know *some* galleries demand this and that, but do the collectors want the same?

sketchZ1ol
11-18-2010, 04:25 PM
hello
a very open-ended two part question
but seems to lean to the second part
= what sells

but there is a more fundamental issue involved :
why do you paint/draw/weave/cook/build/whatever ?

the answer is as varied as fingerprints
and the trick is to find the words to convey a reply,
or a gesture, a look, or social interaction off-topic

at the same time have a bunch of finished work
ready to select/hang,
but, then again, if you think you can morph the conversation
into some paintings
go for it

just some thoughts ...

:} Ed

allydoodle
11-18-2010, 05:04 PM
Sometimes an artist gets known for a certain type of work, but they also do other motives. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do think Harley Brown is known for his portraits of native americans, but he's done tons of other types of portraits.

I know *some* galleries demand this and that, but do the collectors want the same?

I think you are right. Most of the work I've seen of his are of Native Americans, but I have seen some that were of a mixed range. I have not seen anything other than portraits, though. That doesn't mean he doesn't do other subject matter, maybe he does? I know he also does portraits in sculpture. I really do admire his work, I think his it is very dynamic.

I also wonder what the collectors want. Possibly what he is known for, Native Americans? Would other portraits be worth more, or less? I wouldn't know either.

Potoma
11-18-2010, 06:15 PM
I like to paint outside and that is primary. Honestly, the landscape is a bit secondary. Within that genre, though, there are other great things to emphasize: architecture, city scenes, clouds, big sky, close up foliage, night scenes, seascapes, places with or without people or animals, etc. So pigeonholing me as a landscape artist is pretty narrow. Instead, pigeonholing me as a plein artist is appropriately broad.

A year ago, I saw Richard McKinley choose a landscape of three seashore houses and give them the still life award. It's not always in the subject matter. It can be in the treatment.

Relating to the potential boredom Charlie spoke of, I am great at still lifes and I am not interested in them in the least. The story of my life is to do what challenges me the most.

Edit: the award was for still life, not portrait. Oops.

Colorix
11-18-2010, 06:33 PM
Relating to the potential boredom Charlie spoke of, I am great at still lifes and I am not interested in them in the least. The story of my life is to do what challenges me the most.

Oh dear... isn't it cool, in a way, that what you're great at is boring. I guess some of us (me too) need that challenge, to always stretch for what is just out of reach, and getting there, just to reach even further out.

Just because one *can* doesn't mean one *has to*.


My previous comment was short, allow an elaboration: Not all galleries demand series. But for those who do, some artists solve it by having a different gallery for each different class of motifs. The Landscape Gallery. The Still-life gallery, etc.

Potoma
11-18-2010, 06:47 PM
Charlie, I find that I treat landscape like still life sometimes. In my signature, the hay bales and the lily pads were both pretty still life-y.

Colorix
11-19-2010, 07:13 AM
Bonnie, that's how I see it too -- they are 'natural' still-lifes. Seems to me that:
- a still-life is a miniature landscape
- a landscape is a large still-life

- a portrait is a small landscape, with pools, caves, rifts, ridges, gentle hills and even grass!

- one can paint portraits of houses/trees/mountains... whatever.

All genres flow into each other, seamlessly. That is why galleries insisting on only one type of work are not so interesting, to me it seems they have missed the whole point!

sketchZ1ol
11-19-2010, 08:24 AM
hello
Bonnie, Charlie, Chris
a self-awareness of how/why you make your mark
is woven into any subject
and by the same token into how the gallery presents itself

i do wonder from time to time why anyone would spend
any money to buy a picture ...

:} Ed

allydoodle
11-19-2010, 09:19 AM
hello
Bonnie, Charlie, Chris
a self-awareness of how/why you make your mark
is woven into any subject
and by the same token into how the gallery presents itself

i do wonder from time to time why anyone would spend
any money to buy a picture ...

:} Ed

Yeah, if they heard us all talking "art" they probably would not be spending any money, they would be scratching their heads in confusion, saying "these people overthink the whole thing , it's not painted with spontaneous abandonment after all..................." :lol: (Let's not tell them :evil: ).

allydoodle
11-19-2010, 09:24 AM
Bonnie, that's how I see it too -- they are 'natural' still-lifes. Seems to me that:
- a still-life is a miniature landscape
- a landscape is a large still-life

- a portrait is a small landscape, with pools, caves, rifts, ridges, gentle hills and even grass!

- one can paint portraits of houses/trees/mountains... whatever.
I've always thought this same thing, which is why I continue to pursue all subject matter. My pastel teacher once said he thought still life was just a landscape, only we get to "move the trees, houses, lakes and mountains on the table before we paint it on the easel". Such power :evil: !



All genres flow into each other, seamlessly. That is why galleries insisting on only one type of work are not so interesting, to me it seems they have missed the whole point!
I agree - I would much rather hang my paintings in a gallery that is diversified - much more interesting.

mollerman
11-19-2010, 11:13 AM
What sells? That was the first question I asked myself. I think several of the smaller galleries are asking themselves the same question? I like the diversity of being able to jump from one subject or medium as I can easily get bogged down doing one particular subject or even working in pastels for so long. Right now I have to take a break so the skin on my fingers can recover! In the mean time I can do some pen and ink or drawings.

Phil Bates
11-21-2010, 07:04 PM
Hi Kevin,

Just my two cents here, I've never considered "landscapes" a specialty, it seems so broad with a lifetime of possibilities. However, categories within landscapes can become a theme like waterfalls, seascapes, barns, etc. I like to delve into themes and hang out for a while, then move on.

When the theme gets very narrow and the artist's work becomes predictable, I am concerned that "art" has become a highly skilled "craft". The learning has slowed down and a Xerox mentality sets in. (Richard McKinley has talked about this occasionally in his classes.)

Phil

Paula Ford
11-21-2010, 08:01 PM
Hi Kevin,

Just my two cents here, I've never considered "landscapes" a specialty, it seems so broad with a lifetime of possibilities. However, categories within landscapes can become a theme like waterfalls, seascapes, barns, etc. I like to delve into themes and hang out for a while, then move on.....


That's how I feel also. I only do landscapes, but that is such a broad term. I can easily see myself painting a different landscape every day for the rest of my life without seeing the same thing twice.

Colorix
11-22-2010, 06:45 AM
What sells? Whatever the collector fancies, whatever touches a string in their hearts. I just sold my mildest mistiest most neutral two-close-valued landscape *and* a plein air floral with high contrast (red-green complementary and value range 2 to 8) to the *same* person. Go figure.