I had a very special order from my website http://www.paulgrecianphoto.com recently. A customer who purchased a framed piece titled Warrior III, ordered a framed Winter Wonder.
When I emailed Sam to thank him for the order, he replied that it was for his three year old who saw it in my booth when he made the first purchase this past June.
Art is a wonderful gift regardless of the age of the recipient, but I don’t often have sales for children so young. It’s especially rewarding because the child was able to share the experience of their father buying my work in my booth. It’s a wonderful message for a young person to see their dad value artwork so much. It encourages a lifetime of art enjoyment.
The selected image has already been received by this time and may be hanging on the wall of the room the three year old calls their own. That visual for me is pretty great.
A career in the arts happens in many ways. My own route was from animal behaviorist with a career in the sciences to a full time artist working in the medium of photography.
The corporate-to-artist journey for me was gradual and unique. As I meet artists working in a variety of mediums, I am always interested in what path they took to their current lives.
In the August-September issue of Professional Artist magazine, I write about three full time artists who left corporate careers to pursue the arts as their vocation. Each artist arrived at their new careers in their own way and with various backgrounds, but there were similarities as well. The three artists I interviewed are all accomplished professionals, serious both about their art and the business of being an artist. I also think the work they create is truly extraordinary. Professional Artist magazine is on newsstands now.
I’ll be in Rockville, Maryland this weekend participating in the A-RTS Rockville Arts Festival for the first time. It will also be my first show in the state of Maryland. Like many outdoor shows, there is a lot of physical labor involved and as this show has a Saturday morning set-up, it will be a bit of a grind. I’ve done these types of shows before though and they are part of my motivation to stay in some form of physical fitness. A regular routine consisting of yoga and light weight training is usually enough to keep me from getting hurt and from falling asleep during the show (lots of coffee doesn’t hurt).
The image of the hanging orchids below was made at Longwood Gardens, one of my favorite locations to work with flowers. This time of year though there are flowers growing everywhere and they all call out to me. I carried a Sony RX10 on this trip which was a pleasure to use and allowed me to work with a light weight, very versatile camera.
The image is available as an 11×14 archival print matted to 16×20 for $89 by emailing me at email@example.com.
A big part of the visual impact of an image is the focal point. The focal point is the specific location that the viewer is lead to by the photographer. That point may be achieved through selective focus, light contrast, color, or some compositional device. Sometimes, the focal “point” may be a focal plane, a slice of the image that is somehow accentuated and made therefore, most important.
I like the visual impact of altering the plane-of-focus in an image beyond the normal parallel and instead creating a plane that is rather diagonal. It imparts a bit of an altered state feeling. It can also impart a bit of a dreaminess. This dreamy state is partially due to the defusing of an area of the image that is usually part of the normal depth of field. I like too, that the result is a simplification of the scene so that the specific slice I want to draw attention to is the only area in focus.
To achieve my desired result, I use a Lensbaby adapter which allows me to use Nikon lenses on Micro-Four-Thirds cameras. In the image below I used a Nikon 28mm manual focus lens (quite old) on a Panasonic G2 camera and set the plane of focus off to the side and down. It was a spring evening after a rain and the woods were vibrant green and smelled wonderful.
As a full time artist, I rely on the sales of my work to live my life. That means I need to be both an artist and a business owner even though at times those duties seem to conflict. As an artist I want to be true to my vision and create the work that I want to create. As a business owner, I have to at least consider whether any particular work is going to do well in the market place. I also need to be careful not to let the business side of my life pull be down or lift me too high. The art really needs to be my paramount concern if my business is going to continue to sustain me.
Smart business practices do not have to conflict with making the art I want to make. If I market my work in the right places and am conscious of the fact that I am not making work for everyone, I can both stay true to myself and find the collectors who match my style. I think that the artists who are able to find their niche while being flexible enough to accommodate the desires of patrons, can achieve both their artistic and financial goals. If I offer a new print for sale, it means that it is also a work that has satisfied me creatively. I think it is important that collectors understand that the artwork they buy represents something honest and fulfilling to the artist. My subject matter has always dealt with nature as the object of my images. My images have always been somewhat biographical in that they speak to a personal feeling, mood, or fascination. If they didn’t fulfill that aspect of who I am, I think I would have stayed in the corporate position I left 12 years ago.
The image below was made on a lovely summer morning in Acadia National Park. A telephoto zoom lens with attached polarizing filter was used to isolate a section of water lilies and keep the water a rich blue. The light hitting just the area around the water lily made me stop and go to work.
I believe that collecting art and creating art have a number of similarities. I see both as being creative processes. The artist creates work that is an expression of some aspect of who they are as a person, while the art collector expresses themselves through the selection and arrangement of art. In both endeavors the choices made are very personal.
In Erling Kagge’s book A Poor Collector’s Guide to Buying Great Art, he states “Building a collection is much like living life or writing your autobiography – it is intensely personal.” Kagge continues, “you need to follow your own path.”
I feel that the making of art is very autobiographical as well, and that following one’s own path in it’s creation is very important.
Kagge speaks too about being obsessed with the building of an art collection if it is to be of significance. He suggests that a collector’s budget must be secondary to the passion of acquisition. “I recommend that you just start buying, that you don’t spend too much time thinking” he says. In some ways this could be good advice for artists as well; just start creating, don’t spend too much time thinking.
I also like Kagge’s advice to just hang artwork in your home and office, allowing time to get to know it, and then evaluate more fully how you feel about the work. It is in that way he suggests, that a collector can develop their own tastes for what they want to collect. I do something similar sometimes when making a new print. I tape the print to my studio wall so that I can look at it often and with fresh eyes to determine if its my best work and pleases me. In that sense, I am also developing my own taste.
The image below represents my taste for minimalism, simplicity, quietness, and an appreciation of Japanese woodblock paintings. I enjoy the lines, the balance and tension in the image. I feel that it is simple yet engaging. A pigment giclee print is available directly from my website – HERE
One of my goals when selecting new photographic tools is to be able to do things that my current tools don’t allow or make too difficult. Last year I purchased a Nikon Coolpix P900 because I felt that its crazy 83x optical zoom lens which ranges from an equivalent 24-2000mm would allow me to compose almost any image I wanted. It also was said to have a pretty good image stabilization function which I knew would be necessary with 2000mm!
No camera can fill every niche, and the more any one camera claims to allow me to do, the lower the image quality tends to be. So I went into this purchase expecting the limitations of such a camera. Having worked with it just a bit now, I have confirmed my suspicions regarding its limitations but also what I hoped it to be – a go to camera when an image idea comes to me and there is no time or access to setting up “better” gear.
One of those “in the moment” ideas came to me during a recent evening and the Nikon P900 was the tool I selected to try to make the image I was visualizing. The moon was slowly coming over a ridge lined with trees. I wanted to compose a frame filling image of the moon with the silhouetted trees in front in a very flat, two-dimensional way. I ran inside for the camera and started composing. At 800 ISO I was able to get sufficient shutter speed to hand hold 2000mm I thought. But for extra security I found a post to lean on and stabilized myself further.
I took the meter reading off the moon to maximize my shutter speed and because I wanted the sky to go black. The image became a round, golden ball with some crater detail and bare winter trees silhouetted. Its the image I visualized in my head.
Prints in two sizes are available on my website – Here