The Question You’re Never To Ask An Artist (Supposedly)

11 Jul

When I was writing yesterday’s blog post Best Questions to Ask an Artist, I didn’t include one very popular question. I decided it needs it’s own moment while I express my unsolicited opinion. I want to share my thoughts on the question that every artist has been asked:

“How long did it take you?”

Ooo… a touchy question for many artists. I have pretty strong feelings about this one. Many artists seize up when they hear this question. One video-blogger said it’s the one question you should never ask an artist. Why? Because it’s assumed that if an artist didn’t spend that much time on a piece that it isn’t worth as much. That same video-blogger made the point that an artist could answer the question with how ever old they were when they finished the piece, because art involves life experience and exposure. Her point being that a piece of art isn’t completed in the hours, days, weeks, or years it takes to physically paint it, it involves a countless multitude of moments of creativity over the artist’s lifetime. Pretty good point! And I agree… to a certain extent. I think the same argument could be made for any piece of work that requires human involvement. For example, a businessman giving a presentation:

“How long did it take you to create this presentation?”

“My entire life.”

Hmm… it better be a damn good presentation.

My opinion? People aren’t asking this question to determine the worth of the piece of art. They are sincerely curious how long it takes to paint a piece like it. As an artist, I’m always surprised how many people “aren’t creative” or “don’t have a creative bone in their body”. It isn’t an intrusive question when they really have no idea how long it would take.

I know some artists argue that “non-creative” people have no idea what’s involved in creating art, so when an artist says “three days”, the worth of the piece is related to time instead of creative investment. This might be true… but they may also be very impressed that you’re able to complete something like that in three days.

Not that anyone has asked, but I feel that if an artist is so uncomfortable with this question, he or she just needs to learn how to answer it. It’s an inevitable question that will always be asked and the asker shouldn’t be condemned for it because, let’s be honest, it’s a legitimate question. And it isn’t common knowledge that it’s considered a “rude” question by some. I say get over it. Too many people are afraid to ask questions about art as it is without artists making up rules. There are no rules in art, remember? THAT being said…

I got asked this question a lot. I understand the way it sounds to people. But I found that an artist can educate people about the piece they are asking about at the same time the question is answered. They aren’t asking, “How many hours did you physically spend painting this?” They are asking, “How long did this take?”

Here’s my answer to my painting Chess, which took me the longest of all my paintings so far:

“Well, I started with a small sketch just to have an idea of what I was going for, then I set up a little photo shoot to get the perfect perception angle. The whole painting is done from a photograph I took of a chess board and pieces. The actual sketch of the board took me a couple days because it involved so much calculation to get the perception right. I had to redo it a couple times because even math failed me in a few spots. The painting took about three weeks of scheduled work, then about two more weeks of touch ups because the more I looked at it the more picky I got about the board.”

Sounds so much better than:

“About five weeks.”

Many artists seem to have the tendency to want to make it sound like they took longer to complete a piece.  Chess took me a this amount of time, so it sounds like it should be worth about X amount of money. But on the other side of the coin… it took me five whole weeks to finish that thing??? There are artists out there who could complete that piece in less than one week! But the reality of it? I had to create it from nothing. It was a process and no one could’ve done it but me, with was clear in my explanation of how long it took.

“The dead chess piece didn’t originally have a crack in it.”

“The background wasn’t originally going to represent the kingdoms.”

“I nearly didn’t add the chess pieces because I liked the background so much.”

These are explanations I could throw in with my answer to their question about time. Details balance the picture of what’s involved in a painting. Details explain why it took so dang long, OR how much longer it really took than the three days (give or take a year, right?) I spent painting Hangman.

So, to all my fellow artists who are afraid of the question “how long?”, I leave you with this one thing to remember:

“Details are an artist’s secret ingredients, but time makes it a recipe.”

I know, right? I make so much sense for an artist.

Best Questions to Ask an Artist

10 Jul

When I showed my art for the first time, I didn’t creepily keep to the shadows and quietly observe people while I frantically licked my lips. I didn’t sarcastically balk at someone’s inaccurate interpretation of my art. And I didn’t snub someone approaching me while I was so busy making sure people didn’t put their grimy fingers on my paintings…

No, I was right there, answering questions and explaining my thought processes. I was telling stories and engaging in conversation. Once I sensed someone was genuinely interested, I felt free to tell them whatever I thought they’d like to know. It was a learning experience for both sides. I learned how proud I am of my pieces. I learned that I enjoy inviting other people to share in the relationship I have with each one, simply by telling more about them. I learned how people react to my art before and after I’ve shared some insight. I also learned how much I’m okay with someone not liking my art (stupid idiots). But the best part? People’s questions.

The #1 question I received: “Are you the artist?”

What happened after that question was the interesting part. One lady said, “I thought so. You look like an artist.” Which I wasn’t sure how to take. Do I look dirty? Weird? Creative? But I just smiled and said, “That’s definitely helpful!”

One man said, “You must have some strange dreams.” Sometimes…

One particular man didn’t say anything, even when I said hi to him, and he stuck around for quite awhile. No facial expressions either. I might’ve creepily observed him. But I didn’t lick my lips. Well, maybe a little.

But mostly I got, “Beautiful work!” followed by a statement of which piece they liked the best. Always nice to hear.

 

More questions I received:

“What else can you tell me about this piece? I just love it.” (So nice!)

“Where did you study?” followed by, “That makes it even better.” (When I said I’m self-taught.)

“Do you paint with acrylics?” (When everything has a title card that says “acrylic on canvas”, this might’ve been a little forced.)

“Did you choose to hang him at dusk instead of dawn for a reason?” (This was in reference to my painting Hangman. So engaging! And though-provoking. I said “Well, we don’t usually play Hangman at dawn.” He laughed.)

“Would you paint a commission piece of an orca whale?” (Huh? Sure…?)

I’ve seen a lot of do’s and dont’s on artist blogs about what to ask artists. In my opinion, if you have a question, ask it. If you don’t have a question, just stare at the art, you might think of one. If you don’t, no worries, you don’t HAVE to ask a question. You can just compliment, or say nothing, sometimes just taking a moment longer to look at a piece says wonderful things to an artist.

Don’t like the art? That’s okay. Believe it or not it won’t hurt the artist’s feelings. He or she knows their art isn’t for everyone… no art is. Just fold your arms tightly and make grunting or heavy sighing noises as you make your way to the door.

 

Questions to Ask at an Exhibit (more specific to particular pieces):

How did you do that?

Is that an actual place?

What piece will be particularly difficult to part with?

Is this a new technique?

How did you come up with that title?

This seems to be a turning point in the series, am I right?

What inspired this piece?

How do you know a piece is finished?

 

Interview Questions (more about the artist):

What’s on your easel now? What are you working on?

How do you overcome an inspiration block?

When did you realize you wanted to pursue art?

How did you become an artist?

What did you do before you became an artist?

What’s your favorite piece of art you’ve purchased?

Do you hang your own art in your home?

Have you ever painted something you decided to keep?

What’s the greatest compliment you’ve received on your art?

What kind of relationship do you have with a blank canvas?

Coffee or tea?

What’s the difference between a good idea and a bad idea?

How do you know what to title an abstract piece?

How do you feel when someone interprets your work differently than you meant it?

What do you hope the public never finds out?

Intimate: Does it pay the bills?

Has art changed you?

What do you listen to while you work?

What’s the grossest drink after you’ve brushed your teeth?

What’s the most important item in your studio?

How do you keep from getting distracted while you work?

Do you ever censor yourself?  Have you ever started something but then decided it was too bold?

What’s next for you?

And the list goes on and on. There are SO many questions you can ask an artist. In fact, I may do sequential posts on this subject. So if you have any favorite questions to ask artists, or you are an artist and enjoy answering a particular question, please let me know! I’ll give you credit in my next post.

Check back for my upcoming post on a controversial question you’re supposedly never to ask an artist!

Six Inches of Art Goes a Long Way

18 Jun

Every year starting in 2009, Rochester Contemporary Art Center (RoCo) puts out a call for donated art for their 6×6 exhibit. Each piece measures 6″ x 6″ and sells for $20 to help fund the center. This year, over 6,700 pieces of art by over 2,900 artists showed up on their door step, every piece accepted.

They take pictures of each one, number it, and keep track of the associated artist before they put them all online. First, they hold a previewing so enthusiasts can pick out what they want ahead of time. At opening night, it’s a riot. Then they open it up online so they can sell the rest. Check out the video below to learn more about it. It’s pretty awesome.

 
This was my first year submitting. I sent two pieces on 2″ deep stretched canvas. They both sold on opening night! Yesss…

You’re not supposed to know who the artists are until the big reveal in July. But since my pieces have already sold, I don’t mind showing them now. Plus, I’d like you to all check out what pieces are left in case you’d like to get one… or two… or three or four (heck, they’re only $20 for originals).

My pieces are #s 5984 and 5985. Here’s what they look like on the website for the preview:

5984-HouseI5985-HouseII

The pieces colorfully illustrate two neighbors keeping in touch. I remember having a can “phone” as a kid! I swear it worked. I wanted to give Andy Warhol a little nod with the tomato soup cans. It also reminds me a little of SuttonBerresCuller’s Ties That Bind installation (Click here to see it).

And here are a couple quick shots I took before I sent them off to New York:

redline

yellowside

sidebyside

Don’t forget to check out what’s still for sale at roco6x6.org!

Did you buy my art?? Send me a note! I’d love to hear from you: lynettemarquis@gmail.com

I’m Back From My Nap – My Riveting Recap

5 Jun

Or my coma… whatever you want to call it, it’s over and I’m back now.

What have I been doing?? Well, the month of May 2014 was a pivotal point in my art career (yes, pivotal). Looking back, I can’t believe how much has happened! I’ll go into more detail later about some awesome things I learned, but here’s a riveting recap for now:

  • I debuted as an artist! I showed in public for the very first time in the Phinney Wood Art Walk… The BIG One. It was so awesome.
  • My full Games Series (so far) was on display in Abrams Chiropractic in Greenwood for the entire month (my first exhibit!)
  • I have two pieces in the 6x6x2014 Rochester show (I’ll post more info on lynettemarquis.com)
  • I averaged a sale a week! So yeah… four… but I’m really happy with that.
  • I got in the Twin Peaks show in August at Urban Light Studios (also more info to come on lynettemarquis.com)
  • I’ve submitted to three other calls. Cross your fingers for me! It will be awhile before I know the outcome…

In January my artist resume consisted of my name and phone number, so it’s pretty awesome to see it grow.

June is starting out eventful, too. I had no idea yesterday morning that I was going to be in the Punk Rock Flea Market in Seattle with some of my art on Saturday. Not to mention I get to hang out with the curator of the Twin Peaks show! I also get to put my serving skills to work tomorrow night as the Bar Lead at an Artist Trust fundraising party. Whew!

But wait! There’s more!

My first installation/sculpture piece is on the drawing board. I’m working on a proposal for Storefronts. I’m striving for something appealing to the public, innovative, relevant, identifiable as my style, and, well, epic… Interested in seeing more? Find me on Facebook! Or Twitter… or Instagram… everyone is getting a sneak peek.

My Curations IX – Marie Forleo

2 May

Marie Forleo might not be what most people call an artist, but I feel what she does is definitely a form of art.  She has her own motivational internet TV show MarieTV and blogs about anything and everything that will help you “create a business and a life that you love”.  She contributes quite a bit of inspiration to the business side of my career and I’m very pleased to introduce her to you because, even if you don’t have your own business, her videos are great.

Here are two videos by Marie that I think you might enjoy. This first one addresses artists (painters, crafters, musicians, writers, everyone!) who feel that their best work is getting ignored. Take a peek!

This next video was the very first video of hers I watched. I felt like she was speaking directly to me!  She talks about working from home and what sort of schedule to stick to. After I incorporated everything I learned into my daily routine, I was hooked. Enjoy!

She’s a goofy gal, but I really like her. Sometimes when I feel like I need a boost, I just hop on over to her website marieforleo.com.

If those videos didn’t hit home for you, check out this one:

Wow, right?  Okay, I’m done drooling over Marie…for now.

“PCU!”

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