Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Myth #5: I Should Collect Lots of Pieces by the Same Artist

There are several theories to art collecting. Some collectors choose to collect based on a theme. Some choose by style. Others select a period. Still others are patrons of a particular artist.

There are no "right" or "wrong" ways to choose how to collect. However, as a beginner, I encourage collectors to start with a variety of artists. In fact, I prefer a beginner to collect based on what they like, rather than any other criteria. Later, you may wish to further define your collection. Or on the off chance that you decide you no longer wish to add to your collection, you at least have pieces that you genuinely like.

The danger in collecting lots of pieces by the same artist include buying a popular artist or fad. These artists lose favor and your collection will be worth nothing. Worse, you may quickly tire of the artist and not enjoy your own collection. Another temptation when collecting by artist is to buy reproductions to increase the size of your collection. Yet another risk is buying work that isn't that great, or that you don't love, because it will "round out" your collection!

If you are tempted (as a beginner) to buy a third piece by the same artist (or even the second) consider your real motivation for buying it. Get another, independent, opinion. It is possible that you may have hit upon a great artist, or even if not great, one that you will enjoy for a long, long time. And that is the ultimate goal. However, if there is ANY thought that you are collecting this artist because having more pieces by him or her will make your collection more valuable, then do NOT buy that latest piece without serious consideration.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Myth #4: Art is Expensive

While art can run millions of dollars, most of us do not currently have that amount of discretionary income. That does not mean that art is out of our financial range.

Depending upon your taste and where you live it should be possible to find art that costs little more than framed posters and knick-knacks.

Rather than having a bunch of "stuff" cluttering your home, find something you really love and buy that. It is better to have a few quality items than a bunch of over-priced items that you will eventually dump at a yard sale! A good piece of art is something that you will love for a very, very long time.

By purchasing from lesser-known or unknown artists you can sometimes get a real bargain.

Sometimes you can buy 2 dimensional art unframed. It may seem like a bargain to buy it unframed, but in the long run it might not be such a deal. Generally I recommend you buy it framed when possible, unless you don't like the frame. As long as it is a sturdy frame, you are good to go, and your new purchase can immediately be displayed.

Especially for a new art collector, I do not recommend spending a lot of money matting and framing pieces if you can get them from the artist that way. You will be surprised at how expensive it can be to properly mount your new piece, and it is important that it be properly done--both for the beauty of the display and also to protect the piece.

If your new acquisition is a sculpture, depending upon the size of the piece, you might need a place to display it. Many sculptures are free-standing and do not require a special pedestal. Just be sure to put them in a spot where they can be enjoyed and not knocked over!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Beauty in the Garden Year Round

I went to the Denver Botanic Gardens on Monday. It was the day after our first snow of the season. Here in Loveland we had slushy rain and snow fall, but nothing stuck to the ground. This was not the case in Denver where about four inches fell. There was still snow on the sidewalks where the sun hadn't hit.

Even still, the gardens were amazing. I will return in the spring to see more things in bloom since flowers are some of my favorite parts of gardens. There were some plants in bloom, some unique plants I'd never seen before, and the palette was fairly muted over all which is attractive in its own way. What was so beautiful about the garden now was the textures.

The boulders stood out more. The shapes of the leaves were more visible. The grasses were pronounced in their variety of feel, color, shape and size. The architectural backgrounds were revealed and appreciated. Even the walkways shone with their distinctive patterns of pebbles, flagstones and rocks. All of this was more evident because there was not the competition of more obvious eye candy in the form of colorful flowers.

The Chapungu exhibition of sculptures is also a fantastic addition for this time of year. So many of these pieces have been in crates for the past several years, it was as if you could hear them stretching at the room and breathing in the fresh air.

My friend Agnes Nyanhongo was not there. She had flown to California to visit with some friends. I did have the pleasure of meeting her brother, Brian, however. One look at the face of the gentleman walking toward me and I knew it was he. All the Nyanhongos I have met (and there are many more whom I have yet to meet) have a similar shape to the face and the same great smile.

It looks like I will be making a second trip to Denver soon as Agnes leaves for home next week.

If you haven't been to the gardens, go soon--and meet Agnes while you have the opportunity.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Myth #3: I Don't Know Enough About Art to Buy

There is some truth to this myth, but the good news is that it is easily remedied.

I suggest starting small and locally. Most towns have a gallery and or a museum. Check them out. And do it in little "bites". I suggest an hour for a real beginner as a maximum. Later you can build up to longer periods.

Do not treat this like a college course where you have to memorize tons of information--unless you enjoy doing that. Just go for a stroll through the place. Stop and look at the pieces and ask yourself a few basic questions: do I like it? why or why not? The answer to the last question might be "I don't know" and that is okay for now.

Starting to notice what you like and do not like is the first step because I believe people should buy art they like.

Some galleries and museums have tours available where you can learn a lot and ask questions. I especially like the staff who are natural teachers, who love sharing the information with you and helping you learn more about their artists and art in general. I find that most places are great if you have questions, so please ask. If you are some place and they are not open to your questions it could be they are very busy, they don't know themselves, they are only wanting to talk to serious buyers, or maybe they are just having a bad day!

Return to the same places when they have new exhibitions. And even go back to exhibitions, especially if they are large, you will be surprised at some of the things you didn't see the first time.

Branch out, too. If you have many galleries in your town, try to see one or two each week. You will soon get a sense of the ones that you like best. Don't discount a gallery just because you don't like the art on first look. Sometimes art is like broccoli, an acquired taste!

Consider this the information gathering phase...look at lots of different styles and media. Go to museums. You can even gather postcards and things there of styles you like to create a reference book for yourself if you want. Have fun, ask questions, and do not buy art, not yet!

When you find something that you really, really, really love and you want to buy it, get some information about it and take that home. Go back another time and see it again. I usually suggest you look at a piece at least 3 times before buying. If the exhibition is closing, find out if it is going elsewhere. Keep in mind the gallery will want you to buy through them so they get the commission. If the art is staying locally and you can see it again (it might be back with the artist, or in a storage facility, or on loan) great. If not, see if you can take photos and ask if you can buy it after the exhibition closes if you decide you still want it.

In a nutshell, start small, take frequent little bites and savor them. You have a lifetime to feast.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Myth #2: Art is a Good Investment

While it may be true that art can be a great investment, I cringe at the idea of most people buying art for that reason. Let me tell you a true story to illustrate my point.

Many years ago, when I was a struggling student, I heard about an exhibition of prints by Marc Chagall, who had long been one of my favorite artists. I drove 200 miles to see this exhibition as it was the first time it was anywhere close to me.

I was enthralled. I spent hours there. I'm sure I was drooling. The gallery was wonderful; the pieces exquisitely lit.

While I am enjoying my own private heaven a man came in with his young son. I overhear wasn't difficult due to his volume...telling his son that this is a great artist to buy! I start to smile, thinking I was in the company of another Chagall lover. I expected to hear him speak of the stories in the work, the emotion, the depth, the symbolism. Instead he says to his son, "this is an old man who will die soon and then the prices will sky rocket...buying now we can make a lot of money!"

I visible shook my head as I continued to drool over one print in particular... a print that cost as much as a small house I had considered buying before deciding to return to school.

Suddenly an elderly woman was ushered into the room. She must have been "somebody" as there were not one, not two, but three salespeople with her! The were busily showing her around the gallery and talking up the pieces, their value, the depth, lots of true and good advice. She however was not impressed. As they walked by a storeroom where another salesperson was getting something I heard her exclaim, "oh, now that one I like!". Curiosity got the best of me and I had to see what got her so excited, when none of these masterpieces had, and in the storeroom was a poster in garish bright colors from a much lesser artist.

I remember thinking at the time "some people do not deserve to have money." But you know what? At least she knew what she liked. For her, buying art probably isn't a good investment. Based on the little I saw, the works she likes won't go up much in value, so she should put her money in stocks, bonds, or real estate.

Buy art because you love it. Not because it might (there are no sure bets) go up in value. Then, if you buy it, love it and enjoy it AND it goes up in value, you have an added benefit. The icing on the cake, so to speak!

Buying investments is always tricky. And salespeople in galleries are just that--salespeople. They have a vested interest in your buying what they are selling. Now, the good ones will help educate you and steer you in the best direction for you, your finances and your collection. They can help you to know what might be a good purchase and what is probably not. Never let yourself be talked into buying a piece of art by a salesperson.

If you are buying for an investment purposes, it must be an original (a print is considered an original if that is how the work was created--as opposed to a print which is a reproduction of an original painting) and it should be authenticated if possible. Even then it might not be a great investment.

Sometimes people think an "up and coming artist" is a great investment. That is only true if the up and comer has some staying power, and you have time on your hands.

Yes, there are people who find million dollar paintings at garage sales for a few bucks, but those are very few and far between--which is why we hear of them! There are far more people who overspend on reproductions by a "name" artist, buying into the notion that they will be worth a fortune some day.

Here's a rule of thumb for you...if a product is a reproduction it probably isn't worth much, and if it is mass marketed it is worth even less down the road.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Myth #1: Everybody Should Buy Art

While it is true that anyone can buy art, whether everyone should is a different matter.

Art comes in a variety of types and sizes, for our purposes we are talking about 2 or 3 dimensional art. Paintings, prints and photographs are examples of "flat" or 2 dimensional art. Sculpture and pottery are examples of 3 dimensional art.

Art also comes in a wide range of prices. Yes, it is possible for anyone to afford a piece of art.

Since art comes in sizes ranging from tiny to gigantic, prices from under $100 to well over millions, there is an opportunity out there for anyone interested in purchasing art.

So why shouldn't everyone buy art? If you are going to decorate your home (whether it is a modest apartment or magnificent mansion) art is a great purchase to make. Art can also make a wonderful housewarming gift. However if you are one who insists that your new home be 100% decorated when you first move in, rather than letting the decorating grow with you, then maybe buying art isn't for you.

While there are no hard and fast rules about who should or should not buy art, keep in mind some common sense guidelines and ask yourself a few questions.
  1. Are you settled in one spot or transient? If you are in the stage of life where you are going to be moving a lot, there is increased risk of art being damaged with each move. You will want to be sure that you have appropriate insurance and packaging for any art. Don't let this alone dissuade you from buying a piece that you love, just keep it in mind.
  2. Do you have the discretionary funds to purchase art? Let's face it, if you aren't current on your mortgage or rent, you probably shouldn't buy art. Similarly, if your kids need new shoes (I said need, not want) or are going hungry, it goes without saying. Other than those sorts of concerns, if you have a little discretionary money that you can put towards art, fantastic!
  3. Do you have insurance coverage? When starting, this probably won't be a major concern, but be sure to keep your insurance coverage up with your collection. If you can't afford the insurance, you can't afford the collection.
  4. Do you live in clutter, or do you have a spartan environment? Generally, people who buy art do not have a lot of clutter around. They are proud of their pieces and want them to be seen. If you have a lot of knick-knacks around and really love them, you might not be ready to collect art.
  5. Do you think a poster from the Museum is art? Sure, it is a beautiful picture, but a poster is not the original and it is not art. If you are in the poster phase it is time to learn more about art, what you like and don't like and build up to buying some real art.
  6. Do you have a place to safely display your purchase? Will it be kept clean, out of any of the conditions that could damage it? If it is going to be damaged by food, chemicals, smoke, oils then you need to protect it appropriately and then display it. If you can't protect and display, don't buy.
  7. Do you know what art is? If you don't--that's great! Time to learn and then decide if you want to be amongst those who purchase art. If you think you do know what art is, and haven't purchased any yet, perhaps it is time to broaden your horizons a bit and explore some other art concepts.
  8. Do you have some money and somebody told you art is a great investment? Hold on to your wallet! This will be covered in more detail later, but to start, become a student of art before you spend a penny. You might discover that you do want to buy art, or you might decide to invest your money in stocks, bonds, or real estate!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Art Buying for Beginners

One of the questions I frequently get is "Should I buy art?"

The short answer to the question is "Maybe".

As an artist and art lover, you'd think I would shout from the rooftops "OF COURSE, EVERYONE SHOULD BUY ART!" For me to say that would be as irresponsible as a dog lover saying everyone should have a dog.

Over the next few days, maybe weeks, I'll talk about the reasons a person should, and shouldn't buy art. We'll cover some of the myths and misconceptions about art collecting. Maybe we should call them Mythconceptions!

To name just a few...
Mythconception #1 Everybody should buy art
Mythconception #2 Art is a great investment
Mythconception #3 I don't know enough about art to buy it
Mythconception #4 "Art" is too expensive
Mythconception #5 I should collect lots of pieces by the same artist
Mythconception #6 I don't like "art"
Mythconception #7 Only rich people collect art
Mythconception #8 There is no place near me to buy "real art"
Mythconception #9 My designer told me to buy this, so it must be art (AKA "Designer Knows Best")
Mythconception #10 I have to buy pieces that go with my house (or sofa or whatever)
Mythconception #11 If he's dead, it must be good (replace "dead" with "famous", it still is a Mythconception, AKA, I hate it but I was told it was a good deal )
Mythconception #12 My house is old/modern/period therefore my art must match
Mythconception #13 My collection must have a "theme"
Mythconception #14 I'll buy it now and put it in storage until I have the room to display it
Mythconception #15 The person at the gallery told me that it would be perfect for me
Mythconception #16 I have to buy the piece the first time I see it
Mythconception #17 People will think I'm cool/smart/sexy/rich because I have art
Mythconception #18 I can buy anything as long as I like it and it will be art

You get the picture (pardon the pun)--there are a lot of mythconceptions about buying art out there. We'll tackle these one by one. Not necessarily in the order above--we creative types like to mix it up a bit you know...don't want to become too predictable! We might also throw in some other best breed for your lifestyle (continuing the dog-lover theme, in case you didn't get that), and care and feeding for your art.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Night On the Town

Day after tomorrow is going to be the 2nd Friday in October. 2nd Friday is one of my favorite days of the month. 2nd Friday is a time for me to get inspired and learn from other artists.

In our town, it is quite an event. Because Loveland is so arts oriented, 2nd Friday is like a celebration all year long, called "A Night On The Town".

There is usually a band playing downtown. Galleries and stores stay open until 9pm. People walk the sidewalks, window shopping and chatting. You see neighbors, and friends, and strangers. This event has become pretty well known and you can read more about it by clicking here.

Cowboys spill out of one venue as families stroll past and corporate types frequent another. There truly is something for everyone.

The challenge for me is that each gallery has a new show up every month...and I want to see them all! It is easy to get into a rhythm and see the same galleries month after month. This month I am making a conscious decision to go to a different one. It is a bit out of the way, so I haven't been there before, but it has lots and lots of sculpture--so it is about time!

Come join me this Friday--you know where I'll be--having a night on the town!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Stone Sculpture Viewing in Colorado

We are so fortunate in Colorado to have numerous opportunities to view fantastic stone sculpture.

Currently at the Denver Botanic Gardens, a 23 acre paradise, there is currently an exhibition of stone sculptures by wonderful sculptors from Zimbabwe.

This exhibition is on through Feb, 2008, so be sure to go and check it out!

To get directions, hours and info go to the gardens site.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Taking Inspiration Where it Comes

I have been sketching more lately...some physical issues and time constraints have kept me out of the studio. Stone sculpting is not something that one can easily do for an hour or so! Too dusty for one thing. A shower is always in order after a carving session, no matter how short.

I have more ideas for pieces than I can possibly finish. Especially since I am always influenced by the stone and it may dictate an entirely different image than I have originally sketched out.

This time of year gives me so many inspirations--the colors, the feel of the air, the shapes of the leaves as they glide through the air, the geese flying in for winter, the doves feeding, the swirls created by fish, fowl and wind on the surface of the lakes and ponds.

I am learning to be gentle with myself. I sculpt because I love it. If I don't get in the studio that is okay because I am enjoying the world and life and gathering inspiration from every corner.