Watercolor: Reading at the Mission (& why artists should use social media)

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Reading at the Mission 21 x 28 Watercolor on Arches Hot Press Paper
I don’t know if I’ve posted this painting; it was done before I started blogging in 2005. It seems appropriate to post this week, because the couple reading on the bench were modeled after two of my favorite people, and they’re in town for the holidays. They are both references for figures in a lot of my work, because they’re dear to me, and I’ve got many photos of them in natural poses & settings. I also think it’s good to make art from familiar subjects.

I see a lot of this in other artists’ work; family & friends are frequent subjects for paintings. I know some of my favorite artists in history did this – John Singer Sargent painted his friend Violet Paget, as well as his mother, cousins and fellow painters. I didn’t know this lovely practice was so prevalent with living artists until the internet laid the whole art world out on a platter for me. I’ve talked about this in previous posts, but I continue to be fascinated and giddy over my good fortune to be painting during this time in history.

•With Facebook, blogs, online galleries, digitized museum collections and art festival & competition previews, the entire global art world is in my studio. It’s in yours too. Every single one of us has a shiny, gold All Access Pass.

•I had no idea there is so much talent out there, right now. Living Artists, doing amazing work, today.

• User-shared photos & videos posted online from exhibits, museums and artist’s studios allow you and me to see – sometimes on the same day as an opening – events happening everywhere.

Just as virtual proximity revealed that many of my peers paint their friends and family, peers and their links also introduced me to Anders Zorn’s studio, showed me a painting I had never seen by one of my favorite artists – Emile Friant, and another by Gustav Klimt, and shared photos of Jeremy Lipking painting a portrait demo at Arcadia Gallery in New York City last June. That was over lunch one day. The amount of new information coming down the tracks from the art world every minute of every day is crazy. (And as such, it behooves anyone with time management issues [like me] to add structure to the day; schedule surf time diligently – one hour over lunch :))

I meet or discover 10 or 15 artists posting their work on Facebook every day. As word spreads about the benefits of Social Networking as a Community and a Marketing tool, more and more artists are jumping on the train. The internet has empowered artists to show their work to the world with a computer, and I believe the creative population will continue to dream up new ways to use virtual proximity & social networking to expand artistic authority in new and innovative ways. As an artist, I’m thoroughly enjoying the camaraderie and access to so many painters and printmakers I admire and respect, as well as direct sales to my clients, and collaborative online marketing strategies with my galleries.

As a collector, I’m discovering artists I didn’t know about on the net. Which means art patrons around the globe are empowered too. Art Dealer Philip Mould says in his book The Art Detective that the internet has democratized knowledge. With more access and more discoveries, that means more competition for artists too. There’s a much bigger selection of art to buy from on the internet, with direct access to artists and their studios. Will patrons’ tastes evolve as they’re exposed to thousands of pieces of art each week? What sort of buying patterns will emerge when a patron’s inbox is sprinkled with daily painter group emails, gallery opening announcements, individual artist promotions and a mulch of art blog posts? Will previously undiscovered artists with enormous talent float to the top, while moderately talented, but perhaps more successful artists falter? Will buying habits change as collectors get to know artists directly via chat & comments on facebook & twitter posts?

It’s hard to predict where it’s all going, but I’d wager a bet that it’ll be more fun, and pretty dang fascinating for artists & collectors to stay smart about the future of the online art world by participating in the new platforms creative folks are finding inventive ways to use (blogs, facebook, twitter, etc.). At the very least, the social networking train is packed with very good company, and a nice selection of art to view, so climb aboard and grab a seat. The learning curve might be steep, but we’re all in this together, and your All Access Pass to the net means there are tutorials, encouragement, videos and how to’s abound.

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