Thursday, October 25, 2007

My First Painting Sale

I'm a newbie at painting on canvas. For several years I collaborated with Wild Bill Tick Tock on painted wood constructions. We called them story doors and they were a hit. I also tried my hand at painting pots. They did well too. But Bennie kept saying, "Hey, you have a way with color. I'll bet you could do some nice work on canvas." And yes, I'd been privately tempted. So in the spring of 2005 I got together a rather small body of work and with great trepidation, hung half a dozen paintings at our gallery. For a couple of weeks, nothing happened. People walked right by. My paintings were invisible.

Then one day a man strolled in. He was one of those quiet people, the kind who takes his time and looks at everything in the gallery quite seriously. I sat at the desk, hesitant to disturb his looking, wondering which artist he might take interest in. Would it be one of Albert's skyscapes that caught his fancy? Maybe one of Laura's jaw-dropping realist paintings? Could it be a Wild Bill Tick Tock or a light-suffused interior by Mimi? When he turned around and said very casually, "Tell me about this San Merideth," I was stunned.

I got up and began babbling like an idiot. Now, when it comes to those other artists, I have spiels--they're sincere spiels, but they're rather practiced deliveries, polished from years--count my gray hairs--of experience selling art. I didn't know what to say about my own paintings. So he did it for me. "Would you consider a little better price were I to take three?" I liked what he had to say! He just wanted a modest courtesy discount for a multiple purchase and I was happy to oblige. Turned out he was an architect with a prestigious firm in Dallas--he didn't brag on himself like this--I googled him after he left--and he wanted my paintings for his very own home!

The paintings each measured 24 inches by 24 inches and their titles, from left to right, are "Irresistible Impulse," "Primal Identity," and "Messages from Undersea." (Now that the images are loaded, they're overlapping, at least on my browser, but they can be enlarged individually.) As someone once remarked, "You have to come up with catchy titles after you paint them." You don't really have to, but titles seem to serve as doors into paintings. Many people find abstract imagery inaccessible, and titles sometimes provide an entryway of sorts.

I've been lucky since that time. I've sent my paintings to L.A. and Seattle and New Orleans and Miami and Omaha, among a bunch of other places. (I have a map in my head and enjoy picturing my art on the walls in various locales. It's a spirit-booster on dark days.) They've been purchased by cardiologists and particle physicists and actuarial consultants. Twice they've been purchased by employees of art museums. I've been especially flattered when someone has elected to add a second and third painting down the way, after beginning with one. In these cases, I think: Yes, they enjoy my art enough to want more. Then my Shadow, the Doubting One, says: No, they're hoping to replace that disappointing one with something else. That's when I bribe my shadow with tickets to Cleveland. I figure if I can get my doubting, shadowy self far enough away, I might get some painting done.


murat11 said...

I really dig the middle piece ("Primal Identity", is it?). That orange/apricot color is another color that lights me up, but I also dig the scraping that goes on (or what looks like scraping), and, and, and...As I'm writing this, I'm slipping back and forth between the comment box and the painting. I'm going to shut up soon and just go back to looking at the painting.

Well, we were so close. Tina, son Walden, and I blew into Santa Fe just this past July, to visit Georgia's big digs. It was the first time I'd visited Santa Fe and thought, hmm, why have I been so down on this place on previous visits? It just felt wonderful being there, but we were hellbent on getting on to Sedona. Some day we'll be back, and first on the list will be your gallery.

Love Wild Bill's whimsy, too. We'll definitely have to talk.

Peace. Keep your shadow self close by: she's probably the awesome scrape artist.

self taught artist said...

wow, I've only had one person buy more of my art and I never would have thought they wanted to replace what they had already gotten. you goofball.
congrats, i had no idea you were still so new at canvas painting. how exciting, you have so much so look forward to if you choose. maybe sometime you will post some of the paintings you described from earlier times. I am intrigued.

San said...

Murat, I'm not surprised that you like that one the best, what with your fondness for scraping. Yes, it is frantically scraped. When prospective buyers view my portfolio of sold paintings, pretty often they'll comment on that one. It seems to appeal to many.

I look forward to you and your family visiting Santa Fe again. We will have to get together. That would be great!

Don't be concerned that The Shadow will stay in Cleveland. She actually has grown fond of The City Different.

San said...

Paula--that's the only time I've enjoyed being called "you goofball." Thanks, I needed that.

Seriously, I really appreciate your encouragement. It means much. Back at ya!

Anonymous said...

I'm smiling at this post. Now, that's the kind of story I like to read.

You do have a great sense of color.

I sold one to a fellow blogger last May/June. It went over to the UK. Really thrilled me! I wasn't even ready to sell, in fact I am just building up a body of work. I just re-started painting last April/March.

San said...

Thanks, Chewy. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

That's a great sign, selling one of yours already. It, as they say, "validates" the urge to make art.

self taught artist said...

glad you didn't take offense, i meant that goofball as an endearing term. It's cool that you have a gallery, are an artist and still get something from goofballs like me commenting. :)

dianeclancy said...

This is a great story!! I read your comment at Lisa's.

~ Diane Clancy

b2 said...

Send that doubting Shadow bitch to Greenland for a year or so, or Lapland or Saturn. Yeah, maybe that's far enough! She knows NOTHING. I am so very proud of you and inspired by your artful journey. Keep on keeping on, one foot in front of the other. Oh, and that tick tock guy you picked up along the way turned out to be OK, too--I like his spirit.

Lee said...

San, I totally identify with how you feel about your paintings selling. It is always so delightful to have your work being appreciated but we always wonder, "Just what brought them to like this?" Congratulations on that first sale. It was surely a reaffirming experience. (g) May you have many, many more!

I like Messages from Under the Sea best of these three. The gold between the blues and mixed in with the orange attracts me and makes me think the title is apt...hidden treasures.


San said...

No offense taken, Paula. You sweet goofball, you.

San said...

Diane, thanks for stopping by! I'll be sure to return the visit.

San said...

b2, you are a treasure of a friend. Always the encourager. One-way ticket to Saturn dutifully purchased.

San said...

Lee, the "hidden treasures" angle is good! I believe we are always trying to get at that valuable stuff that is hidden within or underneath. What you are accomplishing in your teaching career, changing kids' lives, is such a good example.