Monday, March 29, 2010


Over the years I have observed many artists starting out trying to go straight into abstraction. A word of caution! Most (and I say most not all) artists will miserably fail at abstraction if they cannot draw or paint in the first instance. So I do recommend to all artists to learn some traditional basics at least before venturing out.

Art is, by definition of the word, something that is trained and is a skill that is learnt and developed. So learn it! Someone once said to me ".... to be 'top' you must T.O.P. Train , observe and practice..." I would go one step further and say, T.O.P.P. - Technique, Observe, Practice and have PASSION about what you draw or paint! If you observe good musicians or public speakers or anyone in fact that excels at what they do they have mastered those four aspects.

In this blog I'm hoping to help with some of that. I cannot pass on my passion of art - but it may rub off...
I am going to set up some basic things on Light Observation and Perspectives and a Business Mind to help those starting out.

For those interested more in the materials I use etc it's fairly simple. I use quality. See Materials below. I don't believe in short cutting. This I know goes against the culture of New Zealanders who have the  'She'll be right...' attitude or the 'string and wire make do' survival kit mentality. So many times I've walked into a gallery and seen what would have been a great piece of art or creative idea only to be hugely disappointed to find the workmanship or materials to be completely sub-standard.

For example: whatever you as an artist experiment with in your studio - is completely your business and is irrelevant to what happens outside. But, as you walk out of your studio into the public sector please don't give the public rubbish! Use acid free papers and boards! Use linen on your stretchers if you are charging $3000 or more for a painting. Don't use warehouse canvas and expect to get more than $150 for your work, (prices here are guidelnes but you get my drift). If you're using board to paint on don't use MDF/custom board - use hardboard or something stable not full of chemicals. If it is thin board make sure it doesnt warp, same for art stretchers - if they do throw them out or burn them in your log burner but don't, please don't, give them to a dealer to try and sell them. You only bring the gallery down in quality and yourself. What self respect can a tradesperson have if they work with inferior goods and are sloppy about their job? You are no different. You are offering a product to the public that has your name on it!
If you say 'But, my artwork isnt that good to charge high enough prices to cover the materials...' all I can then say is, don't paint to sell your work. Go back to T.O.P.P. anything under $3,000 is cheap in the artworld. This doesn't mean its not good quality, rather it simply means usually it's a smaller piece of work.

So price accordingly, and observe other prices in a good gallery. Don't look at your local cafe art as a guide. Go to a properly run and operated gallery. Don't think I'm blaming you artists completely - I believe having lived in England for some time and come back home to NZ that it is also as much a dealer problem as an artist problem. The dealers (if you are reading this....) need to learn to say to artists 'Thankyou for your efforts, the idea is good but your art or materials are not up to scratch for a professional gallery...' This happens in many U.K. galleries until you bring your quality upto scratch. Artists - don't see this as a bad thing! It's not - it's a good thing because it forces you to work harder and improve in your art, making you a better artist!

I don't profess to be an expert but just an artist with a lot of passion about the subject and someone who has had a measure of success.

The key to it all is enjoy it and work hard....
Watch this space....... :)

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