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The Cringe Factor

The Cringe Factor
by Robert Genn

Yesterday, Clyde Steadman of Denver, Colorado wrote, "Recently I went to an opening by one of my favorite artists. Three or four of the paintings were absolutely top notch. Most of the rest didn't rise to the same level. Since I don't have too much gallery pressure right now, I resolved to go back to my studio and destroy a bunch. How do you manage the challenges of supplying paintings to all your dealers while keeping your work at a high level? Do paintings slip by? Do you sometimes cringe when you see them in galleries?"

Thanks, Clyde. Good news. The better artists worry about this the most. FYI, we've put a selection of Clyde's work at the top of the current clickback. Here are a few thoughts.

Catch losers early. You need to get your ducks in a row fairly early on in the process. While intuition, passion and creative energy are all important, particularly at the beginning of a work, try to do a quick look-see where the work is liable to take you. Thinking ahead warns of pictorial traps, creative boondoggles, substandard work and terminal cringes.

Take time to look and see. You need to systematically vet on a secondary easel. Really check things out--morning and night, tired and fresh, relaxed and tense, under several moods, several lights. Over a period of time the bad stuff just miraculously appears, and you're properly propelled to fix the stuff. Prematurely shipped art kills artists.

Get them back. From time to time it's a good idea to cruise dealers' sites. The above methods can fail you for a variety of reasons. Ask nicely to have things sent back. Dealers understand this and appreciate it. You have a couple of choices. You may destroy the work or try to rework it. Sometimes you can make them better with just a few strokes.

And yes, the golden rule is not to send substandard work out in the first place. Shows, dealer pressure and too many galleries can degrade your quality. To keep your standards high you need to learn to be an ever-vigilant, ever-dedicated student of your own product. Your destiny depends on it.

Best regards,


PS: "All is measured by that relative term quality. It is in this search for quality that the artist is, of necessity, the eternal student." (Rex Brandt, 1914-2000)

Esoterica: Particularly during the holiday season when you go around to the homes of acquaintances, you see two main kinds of your art: That which you wish they had never bought, while bothersome, also brings the possibility that you're improving. And then you see work that looks pretty darned good. This brings the uncomfortable thought that you might be getting worse. I saw one like that last week that the folks had bought 26 years ago. I took it with me to clean for them, but I also needed to study it to see what I was up to in 1984. We've put it on display in the current clickback.

Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to post from his twice-weekly newsletter. For more of his fantastic artistic insight, visit his website at www.painterspost.com

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