Monday, September 19, 2011

What is it Worth?

Me at Open Studios with my cigarettes. Photo by Kat Clare 

Open Studios is a twice yearly event where artists open their studio doors to the public.  It is usually in April in the spring and October in the fall.  It is a great way to spend the day, looking at art, meeting local artists and, for me, the most interesting part, getting to see different work-spaces and studios.  (It is my re-occurring dream where I find a building filled with amazing spaces and I get to explore them all and pick one for myself!  It’s my happy dream unlike my anxiety fish dream, but I exorcized that reoccurring dream with a successful painting series).
Every Dream is a Wish 30"x40" oil on canvas

Art Explosion, where my studio is located, had an early Open Studios this past weekend, which was separate from the city-wide, ArtSpan Open Studios that will take place October 1st-2nd (and of which I am also participating in).  It is the second Open Studio in which I have participated in. The first one was this past April. 

Much to my dismay, I found the April event grueling and depressing.  It was so much work to get ready for and nothing happened.  There were few sales for everyone.  Artists that have been doing this for years were disappointed.  They told stories of just last year where people came in, started pointing and saying, “I’ll take that, that, and that!”  Then they went to the next space and did the same thing.  Perhaps it is the change in the economy. Who knows? So to prepare for this potentially soul-killing experience, I did a bunch of soul-searching and figured out what I really wanted to get out of this experience, which was to move stuff out so I could make some more stuff.

I have to admit, going in, I was not optimistic.  I was haunted by April.  I talked to everyone I could about pricing my work.  Everyone cautioned me not to price too low. In the end, I listened to my heart and decided to price my art to move, and these are my reasons... 

  • First, I have been out of the market for a long time.  I left the Artist’s Gallery in Fort Mason 10 years ago.  And while I am in the process of looking for new representation, without the resume or representation to back up higher prices,  I didn’t want to over charge for my work.

  • Second, since I am not in a gallery, I don’t have to worry about them taking a 50% commission.  I get the whole enchilada. Because of this, I can price my work lower versus people who need to keep “gallery prices” consistent at their studio.

  • Third, I feel like I am still floundering around trying different things and not totally focused.  My work is consistent in palette (color) and style, but from what I have read, I think that galleries really want to see a narrower focus, of which I have not developed just yet. At this point I paint what ever I want to.  I am still figuring it out.

  •  Lastly, I just want to paint right now and keep painting.  To me that means not getting precious about what I am producing and just moving it.  I want to paint a lot, paint larger, and make room for more work.

This is why I priced things the way I did, which is probably lower than what most artists would have priced their work, and people responded.  I am content.  I made multiple sales and I traded one piece for some wonderful ceramic art by Wendi Spiers and her husband Carlos Oropeza.  The nightmare of April was averted.  Bring on October Open Studios!
Me, my friend Kris, her family (sans beloved husband Tim)  Lauren, Vanessa, and Julian and my Makiko at the Friday night reception.  Paintings by Beatrice Hunt (


  1. Makes sense to me... I'm glad you had a good day... I know how both feeling are (make a sales & not.) October's just around the corner! Nice stuff, kid! Keep those brushes movin'!


  2. Yeah, it's good. I like to see your work getting out there. and for those who can afford to, now's the time to buy. Oy vey that I can't spend money on anything but my house repairs and Lena right now. 45th Ave would be mine. (and myabe that Tanker!)