How to sell Art

“Write a blog about how you sell your art.” a friend suggested the other day.

10x10 inches, oil on linen
10×10 inches, oil on linen

“You have been living from your paintings for five years now, I want to know how you do it”

Tossing and turning in the middle of the night, I thought about this question; “How do I sell my art? What is my business model?” Watching the early morning mist over the neighbors Christmas decorations, I realized I have no business model.

I’ve written before about how every time I needed money badly it seems to come to me out of the blue. There was a phone call from a woman  in Nebraska, mail from a man in Wisconsin and a knock on my door from a neighbor who wanted to buy a painting he had seen. Once in awhile I get a Facebook text from Joyce de Jonge who owns a furniture store in the Netherlands asking me where to deposit the money for a painting she’s sold.

10x10 inches 25x25 cm, oil on linen
10×10 inches 25×25 cm, oil on linen

Not having a business model does keep me up at night because if I don’t have a plan about how to generate income, it is just a matter of praying and believing, which does not equal financial stability. To be more specific, every plan I thought would work out, did not. It was always a surprise when money came in, so I also want to “know” how to sell paintings.

I’ve had a client come over by private jet from Indianapolis, purchase a large  painting and then leave with, the rolled up canvas in the cockpit. I also had a client who came to my studio after seeing a painting of mine he liked in a local store. He had a penthouse up for sale in Sarasota and needed something on the walls and bought five paintings!. Another client has bought 25 pieces over the past two years  to decorate her new house. Everybody came from totally different places. I didn’t “plan” for any of it.

20x24 inches, oil on linen
20×24 inches, oil on linen

Then there’s the collector who only buys from Facebook.  She knows the value of my work and likes the way I handle her orders.  The most recent sale was to a German gentleman who I met at a seminar about personal growth. I mailed him photos of my work. He liked it and paid in Euros.

Here is his reaction,…..You see I haven’t showed it to many people but everyone who has seen the original is quite impressed. Congrats! WELL DONE. SUCH A GREAT PIECE OF ART. For me this is such a great experience because I learn to trust my intuition and my taste for quality! I look forward to see the painting at it’s real value. I won’t sell it below 50.000 euro. And at this price I’d only sell it to see the increase of value and help creating more increase of value. I think art can best increase in value If it changes owner from time to time. 

This is how  my “ business model” works, with no rhyme or reason. But If I dig deep in my subconscious,  I believe  I had a picture of what I would like to have happen in a certain circumstance. When I put an effort in a pop-up gallery, I did meet my most devoted client. I had a vision. It was my deepest desire and I knew I only needed one person who would really appreciate my work. When I send messages out on the Internet I know I only need one person to fulfill my desire. So now at home I envision selling my inventory to one collector. I have seen it, so now it is a matter of waiting for reality to catch up.

Seagrapes in Spring, oil on linen 10x10 inches,
Seagrapes in Spring, oil on linen 10×10 inches,

Is this a business model? Not one that I would recommend to anybody else, I think it might just be mine.

Lucian Freud

Man with a Blue Scarf

Portrait painting is fascinating to me. I have been doing it for many years although never with the purpose of really dedicating myself to the process. Over the years I have been drawn to portraits as a means to discover the soul of humans, the story they reveal about themselves with or without words. For a while, I painted my ancestors with their wealth stuck to their heads in ornaments of gold.

A couple of years ago I read a book about portrait painting written by an art critic. Lucian Freud, perhaps the world’s leading portrait painter, spent seven months painting a portrait of the art critic Martin Gayford. I want to share this with you because it provides insight to the details of the process. Man With a Blue Scarf,  by the way, became the title after the model lost his scarf. His wife suggested he buy another one, which Martin did. The color was not exactly the same. The painter noticed immediately that this was not the same piece of fabric.

A review about the book states the following; “Gayford describes the process chronologically, from the day he arrived for the first sitting through to his meeting with the couple who bought the finished painting, and he vividly conveys what it is like to be on the inside of the process of creating a work of art.

As Freud completes his portrait of Gayford, so the art critic produces his own portrait of the artist, giving a rare insight into Freud’s working practice. Through their wide-ranging conversations, the reader learns not only about Freud’s choice of models, lighting, setting, pose, and colors, but also about his likes and dislikes, his encounters and experiences, and the ways in which he approaches his relationship with each portrait subject. The book is full of revealing anecdotes about the people Freud has met in the course of his long career, including Max Ernst, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, George Orwell, W. H. Auden, Greta Garbo, and his grandfather Sigmund Freud.

“As he works – shielding his eyes, a quiver of brushes between his fingers, dabbing the canvas “like a person making contact with something hot” – Freud mutters and sighs, criticizing the latest mark, goading himself onwards. This could be any portrait painter at the easel; indeed the painterly process from charcoal underdrawing to claggy conclusion is the least interesting part of the book, partly because how they are made is so evident in the paintings.

As for the old masters, Freud’s insights are piercing and astringent. He cannot love Vermeer for the “curious way his people just aren’t there”. He believes every good painting contains, indeed requires, “a little bit of poison”. It is a pity he doesn’t give more examples, but the poison in Titian – his god – is a sense of mortality; precisely what people see in Freud himself.” – NAME of BOOK

Dr Tiger or No Man’s Land

48x48 inches, oil on linen.
48 x 48 inches, oil on linen. (For Sale)

This is the original text of my speech about the exhibition at the Conservation Foundation in 2015;

The Dutch are rich and created most of their own landscape. One of the seven wonders of the modern world are the polders and dikes of the Netherlands. They have for Centuries gained land from the sea instead of going to war. They don’t like confrontation and are tolerant as a culture. To this day they remain universally acclaimed for their marine engineering. Because of this half of the country is below sea-level as a nation they are sensitive to landscapes in any form. The Dutch painters from the Golden Age became famous by painting their environment. Their legacy is part of the greatest masters in European Art.

Rich cultural inheritance

That is where I come from. It is my rich cultural inheritance. When I go out in the woods to paint, the spirits of my ancestors follow me and show up in the wind ruffling through the palm leaves. They hold my hand and from the mysteries of the earth and sky, the paintings are being born.

The art of landscape painting is to contain the majesty of the ever changing earth upon a never changing piece of board, linen or canvas. I believe is is a noble occupation, a serious occupation and a difficult occupation. Making art is not a trivial pursuit.

Art is rich

Art creates cultural cohesion. Without art society cannot share its symbols. I dare to say that the non-verbal communication is stronger than the words we hear and speak every day. It is felt in architecture and in music. Landscape painting uses the order of architecture and the silence between the notes of music. This form of Art makes us mindful of the beauty around us waiting to be recognized. The visual arts have always functioned as an instrument of power.

Rich sunset over the Gulf Of Mexico

Be Rich

The theme of my exhibition is Be Rich. I don’t refer to rich as monetary wealth since a stack op paper gathering dust in a dark place is not inspiring to me. We all need financial security, but in the abstract, finances in itself are dead and boring. What is interesting to me is the richness nature brings, a late glow of the sun on a dead leaf: the moving of a cloud through a stark blue sky. I believe I am not alone in my love for shapes, forms, colors and textures of this earth we call home.

The origin of the title “be Rich”  is found in the road called Bee Ridge, when you drive up North on I-75 to Sarasota.  It refers to Bee Ridge road where at its eastern end is an old landfill, now covered with grass. Behind the landfill is a park called Rothenbach. That is where I found my inspiration for the paintings. One day when I went to a plain air painting class of Kevin Costello, I discovered it. In the car I was repeating the name Bee Ridge over and over again as to not forget where to take the exit. Once I saw where we ended up I changed the mantra fast in “Be Rich” since the most enriching authentic Florida landscape unfolded for my eyes. Five dear looked at me with their trusting eyes. Spanish moss was hanging from old Oaks entangled with vines like garlands at a party.

Manasota Beach Club

I came to this area through the Manasota Beach Club, an old Beach Resort in Englewood. They made me Artist in Residence and I accepted the offer because all I wanted to do is to escape the hectic life in Miami and be quietly surrounded by nature. The idea was to bring color into the cottages through paintings in exchnage for a stay. The soul of the landscape did not reach me, at first. I could not see any color in the grey-ness of dead palm fronds or the barks of the trees. It was totally disappointing and a huge challenge to come up with something colorful. I simply started copying the world as accurate as I could, using a stack of magazines about how to paint. Over time studying the vistas of this part of Florida, I opened myself up to the mysteries as they were unfolding before my eyes.

Learning to paint enriched my world. Be Rich/Bee Ridge is the result of years observing Floridian landscape. But there is no value in the work if it not shared with others. It would be like giving a kiss and nobody to receive it. It disappears in mid air. Who would want that? The result of years observing the Florida landscape with love therefore is  in this group of paintings and my love to all of you that share this feeling.

Rich landscape of Sabal Palms and Native Figs.In teh Back is The Palm House, my office.

PS.Inspiration during painting was “A Land Remembered” by Patrick Smith