Friday, April 02, 2010

Behind the curtain: Risk

I've been reading and talking to some people about letting people peek behind the curtain at the creative process. Some argue that it nullifies "the magic" of art. Some (like me) LOVE to see the processes, in all their variations, that artists go through to create, and can then view the finished piece with even more understanding and appreciation.

Art is a very human act. It's not magic so much as complex to the point of incomprehensibility. Like nature itself.

There's also a lot of simply practical, logistical, and, frankly, boring stuff that has to happen to create art. I bring this up ("Finally! I wondered what got her going!") because I've just spent way too much time ordering materials.

First, how many panels, and how big do I need? ... or can I afford?? What sizes are these brushes, really? That took sketching, calculator time, head-scratching, and finally a complete shot in the dark! So, I go to my favorite art supply site, ASW (the best prices I've found, though, even with a huge selection, they don't always have what I want), and take the plunge to buy the biggest panels available. Four of them. Yeeeee! (That's the sound fear makes in my head.) Well, a big part of good art is taking risks. They begin right at the beginning, folks!

Then, the site bogged down to nearly a backwards crawl. Several fear-multiplying re-loads later (Augh! Don't charge me again!), the order went through suddenly. Okay, that's it. No backing out now! *chewing nails* Now, to wait for them to arrive. *tapping chewed nails*

Risks abound. For instance, what am I doing?? Why would I put a plug in the steady flow of commissions to risk doing a bunch of art that may never get out of my studio? Am I rich? Um, no. Am I nuts? Well, that's a matter of opinion, or at least of degree! Or so I like to think.

So, I will hedge my bets a little bit with the holiday cards (loo-oong way 'til they pay off), and I've decided to risk taking on a little commission in the middle of all this. You know; to help pay for materials! (Oh, and dog food, and electricity, and the internet satellite ....) It's a risk because a. it's not a greyhound (can I remember how to paint FUR?), and b. it is in the middle of a big project.

But, I had to take a risk before I even took the commission. In the present scheme of things, I decided to raise my prices. As any artist will tell you (probably loudly, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth), setting prices is a horrible, awful, no good, very bad activity. And must be done.

So, I set off around the internet yet again to search out artists I felt were presenting comparably skilled work, and seemed to be at relatively the same stage of their career as I am, and troll for their price schemes. Armed with a wildly varying range of prices, I'm no closer to my own price list than I was before!

I start flailing, I use a spreadsheet, I try making some kind of formula of per square inch pricing, but that adds up way too fast, even when we're talking about under a dollar per square inch. But, I think, how long do *I* spend on a given square inch in a painting? Seconds? Hours? How much is that per hour of work, then? Gah!! There's no way one can possibly get paid enough per hour for work that is the result of a combination of natural talent and hard-won skills developed over a lifetime! NO way. Hmf.

Back to stabbing in the dark again.

I settled reluctantly on a list I felt I could live with for awhile, but it is higher. Will I ever work again?? I sent off said pricelist to the client, who chose a size, a medium, and sent off a check. Instantly I was convinced I had undercharged! Back to my spreadsheet! Back to stabbing wildly in the dark! More gnashing of teeth!

*sigh* When I finally settled on yet another new pricelist, the difference at the size my client chose was $80. Obviously I can't change it on him, so I'll just call that a transitional price. Very transitional! Lasted about an hour!


The cushy life of an artist is totally stressing me out. I'm going to go walk my dogs!

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