Saturday, July 27, 2013

African Girl

African Girl
24" x 24"
Acrylic on Canvas

Recently, I was looking through my image files and found a few paintings that I have never blogged about, this is one of them. For those of you who saw the APL Show, you might remember this one. 

This painting took far longer than I anticipated to finish... I got stuck in a very big way. The solution is tied to the Koi painting - those thin washes of paint unlocked what I was trying to do and gave this painting the movement around the canvas that it was lacking before I buried parts of it in washes of paint. 

When I went to Bulembu, I took many pictures of the people and buildings, I'm still sorting through those images in my mind. I'm surprised that it has been so hard to paint things from my travels  - especially since this trip I took with the specific goal of doing a series of works. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Are ACEO dead?

Back in 2006 or so, Ebay was hopping with a huge trend called ACEO (Art Cards, Editions and Originals). Hundreds of artists were hawking all manner of subjects and media in a 2.5" x 3.5" format. Prices ranged from under $1 to hundreds of dollars (both prices were not always deserved, in my honest opinion).

The appeal was obvious - collect multiple pieces of art without losing wall space. Comparatively low cost, perfect for people who live in apartments, love to collect things, and the excitement of auctions.... no wonder it was a trend.

Like many artists, I sold many ACEO (I think I painted upwards of 190 of them). It was a steady income stream that was fraught with it's own concerns. Marketing was very important, you had to keep on the hamster wheel of being noticed in order to get the bidding frenzy going. Listing fees could become a growing concern (etsy was a life saver when it came into being because it's low fees meant that you could post unsold auction items without eating too deeply into meagre profits). Then there were the meagre profits, meagre, but really, really, steady. If you were consistent and painted popular subject matter, you could usually sell most of your cards in the first go around. The problem is, when you look at it as an hourly wage... it would fall into the "retail slave" category (or less if you didn't stay active).

So why did I stick with it? A few reasons:

Building an online presence. Supermarkets call them "Loss Leaders" - something that you don't make money on but gets people into your store and builds brand recognition. Lots of my positive feedback came from selling ACEOs. I know people who are considering buying a painting are far more likely to choose a seller that has one hundred+ positive feedbacks as opposed to three.

Experience. Part of becoming a better painter is by just sucking it up and painting. Practicing lines, experimenting with colour placement, trying new subject. Canvas costs money and if you are a one income family, like we were at the time, cheap and easy is the way to go. This allowed me to develop a strong hand eye coordination and confidence. Not all artwork is a masterpiece - this allowed me to pay my dues, so to speak.

I love painting. These allowed me to have some funds to put into art supplies. Our budget was so tight, I wouldn't have been able to afford canvas and paint without taking away things from our family budget. ACEO allowed me to paint fun things as well. Not everything has to be serious and I have a hard time releasing myself from that idea. I could paint flapper girls and mermaids and enjoy intricate patterns and line work.

Are ACEO dead?

I'm not sure. Looking into Ebay and etsy these days, I can for sure say that they've had their heyday. There are still thousands of listings but the quality and they buyers are not what they were a few years ago. This might mean that there is room for some up and coming artists who are willing to shine in a sea of mediocrity. Without the bidders, I'm not sure it would be worth it though. I suspect the decline will continue for a while. Then maybe they will have a renaissance.

I'd be interested to see if those early investors will see a strong reseller's market on these. So far, unless the artist's have a strong career outside of ACEO, I doubt those investments will pay off in the near future if just being resold as ACEO (unlike sports collector cards that these are derived from....)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Painting - Fishermen

36" x 36" 
Acrylic on Canvas

Recently, I was sorting through my images and I realized that there are quite a few pieces that I've never posted on my blog. The above painting is one of them, those who went to the APL Show might remember it. 

A couple of years ago, my husband and I travelled to Turkey for a few weeks. Istanbul made a very deep impression on me - so much so that I've actually had a hard time unpacking and processing many of the photos that we took. Usually, I like to paint from experiences like this, but for some reason Turkey has eluded me (and we have many photos that would make great paintings). 

 These men were gathered all along the Galata Bridge casting huge fishing lines into the Bosphorus. I'm not sure what type of fish they were catching, but it seemed very popular. I was happy once my husband took this shot to keep moving though - I was nervous about being hooked. This piece was a challenge to find the balance between the hazy buildings in the background with the figures in the foreground.