I am an artist hailing from eastern Canada. I’m influenced and inspired by Ryan Hewitt, Lindsey Kustusch, Irina Yermalova and Peter Pharoah. I love how their pieces focus on compositional arrangement of darks and lights, floating light into the shadows and the overall visual excitement created by strong contrast.
There was a shift in my work last year when my friend, a former gallery owner, said that all she could see in my work was a big, grey blur.
I was offended at first. When I calmed down, I realized that she was telling me something I needed to know. I took a hard look at my work and realized that I was missing a clear note and structure to my pieces. The contrast I needed to make it stand out was not evident.
So I continued to listen and observe. I was mesmerized when watching Kustusch and David Leffel create a light halo that escapes at a 90-degree angle to the darkest dark in a painting. I incorporated this into my work.
I was still struggling with the “whys” and “hows” of mark making when I found new inspiration. I had been following Nicholas Wilson of Art2Life and Red Queen Art Creations on Youtube. The Red Queen creates beautiful abstract compositions without reservations. She works with bravura and without trepidation.
Nicholas shows how to refrain from being precious about work and to continue developing pieces by destroying the original composition to make a better whole.
I really benefited from their explicit instruction, growth mindset and spontaneity. This, coupled with Nicholas’ work ethic and relentless pursuit of a better piece, is the inspiration for the new direction in my work.
My goal is to build layers of interest that generate space in the picture plane. I establish depth in my work by adding layers and juxtaposing darks and lights. I like to hide the number “3” or elements of three in my work, and I create pieces that force the viewer to look for a figure that is hidden within the abstract piece.
My work is very high contrast. I fancy myself a colorist and really enjoy pushing the envelope of my painting experience. Sometimes I feel like I am just along for the ride. I start painting and go into a working trance. Then I wake up the next morning and have to look at my easel to see what I’ve done.
by Carolyn Edlund
Use these strategies to create a sense of urgency, encouraging buyers to pull out their wallets and make the commitment to purchase. As an artist, you are in a good position to encourage buyers to take action to avoid missing out on your work.
Art by it’s very nature is finite, and not available in unlimited quantities. Encourage buying by highlighting that your work is:
If your work of art is unique, and there is nothing else like it, then clearly there is a single opportunity to make the purchase. After that, it’s gone. Make sure to let shoppers know if you make one-of-a-kind art; this can also add perceived value to the piece you are selling.
You make your creative work in production, or have reproductions made, but have chosen to limit the edition to a fairly small number. Collectors will have to make the commitment now to avoid missing out. This is especially effective if your art is collectible.
Create a sense of urgency by making offers time sensitive. With the clock running, customers must make up their mind before one of these benefits expires:
Are you offering a discount or having a special sale? Set a specific end date, and stick to it. Let your customers know the day the sale will be over, and send a reminder shortly before the cutoff. Everyone likes a sale and this can be strong motivation to buy, but offer discounts infrequently. This will help you avoid the problem of having your regular customers always waiting for the next discount.
Shipping costs annoy just about everyone, and offering free freight as a bonus can incentivize your customers. Free shipping overcomes an objection and helps smooth the purchasing process. When your free shipping offer expires, they will have to pay that expense. (Cover this cost by adding wiggle room in your pricing formula so that you can afford to make these offers.)
Do you offer a bonus or special gift with a purchase of a particular size? Make it time-sensitive as well and entice shoppers to buy it now.
Sometimes deadlines already exist. Use them to help close the sale:
Christmas is coming. Select the last day to purchase, have the work gift-wrapped and drop-shipped to a third party, and state that clearly. This can apply to Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or other holiday as well. If your work is perfect as a gift, advertise this offer or use signage in your retail show booth. Have deadlines figured out ahead of time so that you can accommodate these customers and get purchases to their destinations on time.
Your conversations with shoppers may lead to information that allows you to set a deadline for their purchase. Perhaps they moving into a new office, and need artwork installed by a certain date. Or maybe they are hosting a party and doing some redecorating to get ready. Does your customer plan to attend an important event and need a spectacular piece of jewelry? Use this information as a motivator. Give the customer a time frame in which to purchase in order to make a prompt delivery, arrange for installation, or complete a commission for a special occasion. Each time you use strategies to create urgency, you have increased your opportunity to close the sale.
Half a lifetime ago, I began a mission to help artists answer one question. How do I get my work to market? It remains a vital and consistent preoccupation for them and me because the need never changes. Constant Need and Constant Change While the need is constant, the methods keep changing. I launched this […]
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Welcome back: On the museum’s reopening and embracing the healing powers of art.
If you didn’t get a chance to purchase one of the Crucible curved card scrapers, you can make your own with a dry grinder and an existing card scraper. It takes about 30 minutes.
Download and print out the following template. It’s a hand-drawn version of Chris Williams’s scraper, which is where our design started.
Cut it out and affix it to your card scraper with the help of spray adhesive. Or make a cardboard template and trace its shape on your scraper with a permanent marker.
At your grinder, set the tool rest to 0° – parallel to the floor. Dress the wheel of your grinder (we use an #80-grit wheel, but a #60 or #100 will also do) so it has a slight convex shape. This convexity in the wheel makes the scraper easier to shape.
Get a bucket of water and put it by the grinder.
(Hey wait, where are the step photos? I’m in a hotel room that’s 400 miles from my shop. You are going to have to use your imagination.)
Place the scraper on the tool rest and start grinding the excess metal away. Don’t work on one part of the scraper for more than a few seconds. Keep moving around the perimeter. After 10 or 15 seconds, try to pinch the scraper with a finger and thumb. If….
… you can pinch the scraper with no pain, continue to grind.
… your fingers reflexively jump away, cool the scraper in your water bucket.
… you smell bacon, also cool the scraper in the water bucket.
Once you have ground down to your line, you will have become pretty good at grinding flat shapes – congrats. Now you need to remove the grinder marks from the edges.
Use a block of wood to hold the scraper at 90° on a coarse diamond stone and stone the edges. Remove all the scratches from the grinder. Then move up to a #1,000-grit waterstone (or soft Arkansas) and then up to a polishing stone. Then you can proceed with normal scraper-sharpening procedures.
This is exactly how I made all of our prototypes. I promise that you will become emotionally involved with your scraper after putting all the work into it, and you might not ever want to buy one of ours.
So be it.
— Christopher Schwarz