Thursday, August 2, 2007

Painting is Location, Location, Location

"Above Tesuque", Oil on Panel, 6x6 inches
Jerry Lebo, 2007


I haven't posted in a few days, but I was thinking today of the importance of location to painting. I did the above painting yesterday, which is the type of painting that you would never get away with if you were painting on the East Coast of the US--the clouds just don't look that way. That is a problem with landscape painting in certain places, such as where I am today--Santa Fe, New Mexico. If you paint an landscape in New Mexico and try to sell it in Washington DC--is anybody going to buy it? This led me to think about three things artist spend a lot of time and thinking about...location, location, location, in other words: (i) where to paint; (ii) where to sell; and (iii) where to live.

Most of us are stuck were we need to live for work, or were located by birth. Which is not a bad thing. I have been to 25-30 countries in my travels over the years, and I am convinced that you can paint right were you are, as well as anyplace else. So my personal opinion on the first question, which is "where to paint" is most definitely "right where you are." Don't sit around thinking that where you are living is uninteresting, or wishing you could move to New York or Santa Fe--or Northern California so you could paint. My advice is get out your paints and go outside and start painting. If you don't have time, or it is too hot (or dark outside), go to your studio and paint still life or from photos. If you are stuck at work, find a way to paint at lunchtime or before or after work (In the next few weeks I am going to send you a post about how to paint at the office or work). My experience is that, with a little creativity, painting can be done just about anywhere. An hour a day is the key to progress.

Now let's me move to the second aspect of location, which is "where to sell". The answer to this question is a bit trickier. As I said above, will a landscape painted in New Mexico look good in a gallery in Washington DC? My experience is that galleries in DC are not interested in western landscapes. Although, galleries in California might be. Thus, part of the answer of where to sell your paintings depends on where you paint. My experience is that every region of the US appeals to a certain market. On top of the regional aspect of painting, there are also venues where particular genres of painting sell best. For instance, paintings of cowboys and indians sell best in Texas and Oklahoma--and they sell a lot of them around there. So, instead of thinking about what to paint, so your work fits into the galleries in your area, my advice is paint what you love and then find the outlet later. Thus, the answer as to "where to sell" depends first on what you love to paint. If you are a painter of western landscapes who lives in New York, you may need to travel a bit to find your audience--but you can be sure there is one out there waiting for your work.
The answer to the last question, "where to live" is the most difficult and personal. In fact, I think that there is not much other people can tell you about where you should live, as it is such a personal choice. Suffice it to say, if you fell alive and passionate about where you live--you are probably in the right place.
Anyway, just some thoughts for your consideration. Keep on painting--the world needs art. More later. Sixtyminuteartist
T

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