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About Traditional Art / Professional Member Clara LieuFemale/United States Groups :iconr-i-s-d: R-I-S-D
 
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Gesture Painting

I am on a tight deadline, working around the clock to create a solid plan for how to format my idea for a series of fine art tutorials.  Even though I’m scrambling to get all of the logistics in place, it’s great to be this busy.

The primary challenge I’m facing is how to maintain the depth and complexity of the content, while simultaneously keeping everything understandable to the layman. I want to present basic principles, but also be detail oriented and practical at the same time. Ultimately, I want the content to be approachable enough that someone with no art training could watch my tutorial and be inspired to pick up a paint brush.   Fundamentally, the content I want to deliver is the same as what I teach in my classroom at RISD. However, the format could not be more different, and that’s what is so fascinating to me.

I’m writing down everything that I teach within a few focused topics.   Every trick and strategy that I employ in the classroom is being verbalized. Even within what seems like a very specific topic, I have so much to say.  Once the content is written down, I have to figure out how to present it in an coherent manner. This project is the perfect combination of organization, teaching, writing, documentation, and visual art for me.  I knew this was going to be a big project, and now that I’m deeply immersed in the work, every day is exciting.

IMG_5376
My oil paints, which I haven’t touched in 9 years emerged from my storage closet today. I was surprised that they were in good shape, basically in the same condition I left them in. You’ll find out why I need these paints in the near future.

My idea for a series of fine art tutorials continues to move forward.  I feel like I should be feeling guilty that I haven't created any artwork for 3 months now. Surprisingly, I don't feel guilty at all. I have been aching for change in my creative approach, and this new endeavor is the change I've been searching for. I've also noticed some new but familiar behaviors I've developed over the past few weeks.  Although some people might see these behaviors as difficult, to me they are undoubtedly indications that I'm doing the right thing

1. I've been waking up before my alarm goes off. 
My mind has been racing with ideas, and once I'm awake, I can't wait to get started.

2. I am very excited, but also incredibly anxious.  
I’m torn because part of me wants to indulge in the optimism while I can,  but then there’s a palpable anxiety that the project could die tomorrow. The further I get, the harder I’m going to fall if things don’t work out. In some ways, progress can hurt more than an early rejection.

3. My creative fears are more intense than they have been in a long time.
When I experience fear, I know it means that I am taking a major risk.  As scary as it is, fear is the most concrete signal that I’m headed in the right direction. This project might be the biggest risk of my career so far.

4.  I am not in this alone. (for now)
In my artwork I’ve always tried to do it all, beginning to end.  This can be empowering because you don’t need anyone’s approval.  However, it’s also draining, and there are limits to what you can accomplish by yourself. Working with other people has the potential to significantly expand what’s possible.

5.  I am forgetting to eat and drink while I work.
I cherish these moments, when I’m so deeply immersed in my work that the world around me disappears. For a long time, I’ve been yearning to feel this way again,  and it’s simply wonderful to have this back.

Chalk pastel studies of master drawings
Over the past few months, I’ve been making concrete progress with my idea for creating a series of fine art video tutorials. I’ve been following a trail of bread crumbs, slowly finding one crumb at a time. I can’t get into any specifics, but let’s just say that it’s looking like I won’t have to do this on my own. I’ve managed to make some important connections that could provide a platform that I wouldn’t have by myself. Nothing is official right now, so it’s still possible that I could be back to square one if it doesn’t work out. That’s fine with me; in the end it’s all a learning experience and it’s refreshing to take a different approach to my teaching.

I’m enjoying the brainstorming process I’m in right now. I know that I have strong content to share, the major challenge is how to deliver it. The presentation and format are critical, as they are highly influential in terms of targeting the audience. I had initially thought that my target audience would be students ages 12-18 and adults, but it seems like even art school students would be interested as well.  Last week I received an email from a current student at RISD (someone I didn’t know) who was struggling and reached out to me for help.  It occurred to me that even students in an academic environment could benefit from a resource outside of their school. The audience is there, I just have to reach them.

“Ask the Art Professor” is an advice column for visual artists, now featured in the Huffington Post.  This is your chance to ask a professional artist/educator your questions about being an artist, the creative process, career advice, etc. Submit your question by emailing me at clara(at)claralieu.com, or by commenting here on this blog. All questions will be posted anonymously, and you’ll receive notification when your question is online.  Read an archive of past articles here.

“How do you put a price on a piece of art? Is it different for different forms of art? I’m specifically interested in paintings. How are paintings priced in general?”

There are essentially four criteria which factor into the price of an artwork: 1) the media of the artwork, 2) the size of the artwork, and 3) the artist’s position in the art world and 4) the venue where the artwork is being exhibited.

The artist’s position in the art world is probably the most important aspect to consider. Emerging artists haven’t developed a name yet, so they can’t demand thousands of dollars for a single artwork. The majority of emerging artists will usually sell an oil painting within the $100-$1,000 range. An artist who can sell an oil painting for $30,000 would be considered by most people to be very successful. Then there’s the top of the art world where some artists can sell an oil painting for $500,000 and more. These artists are the select few who are internationally renowned and showing at the top museums.

Generally speaking, the most highly priced media is large-scale sculpture. Sculpture that is being sold professionally has to be in a permanent material, such as bronze or stone. Works created in these materials require specialized fabrication processes that can cost the artist thousands of dollars for a single sculpture. After large-sculpture, large paintings tend to be priced the highest. Paintings will always be on the higher end because they are unique objects.

Prints and works on paper are usually priced less than sculpture and painting. Since many copies of the same print exist, several people can own the same print, therefore making each print less valuable. Many painters create companion bodies of work in printmaking, which allows them to have an inventory of work with a more diverse range of prices. For example, if an artist sells a 48″ x 48″ oil painting for $2,000, a 9″ x 12″ drawing on paper by that same artist might sell for $200.

2015-03-09-1425905219-3126511-5390774082_d575bf35e3_b.jpg

Large-scale artworks tend to command higher prices, although there certainly are exceptions for small scale works that are exceptionally labor intensive. Not only are large-scale works more expensive to create because they require more materials, but they also cater to an entirely different kind of patron. The average person who buys a 9″ x 12″ artwork is usually purchasing the artwork to decorate their home. Most people simply don’t have the space to fit a 48″ x 60″ painting in their living room. The patron who purchases a 48″ x 60″ painting has to have an extremely spacious residence, and/or be a major art collector.

The venue where your artwork is being shown also determines how you price your work. On the low end is open studios, which is generally a very casual neighborhood event where an artist opens their studio to the public. At most open studios events, anything priced over $50 is unlikely to sell. The crowd at an open studios event is mostly local people who have interest in art, and the purchases they make are usually small impulse buys. When I’ve done open studios events in the past, I treat the event like a yard sale; works that generally sell are small sketches for $50 and or less. The highest priced work I ever sold at an open studios event was a 36″ x 24″ charcoal drawing on paper for $90.

By contrast, at a commercial gallery in a big city, pricing an artwork for $50 would never happen. Every gallery is unique, but it’s typical for prices at a commercial gallery to begin at around $300 for small works, going up to $20,000 for larger pieces, and even more at the top galleries. You also have to factor in that most galleries take a 50% commission, and that the gallery will likely have a say in determining the price of your work.

So how do you approach pricing your own artwork? Avoid prices that are so low or so high that it becomes embarrassing. When I was director of a college gallery, I worked with a relatively unknown artist who priced his 36″ x 48″ ink drawings on paper at $55,000 each. All things considered, this price was astronomical. On the other hand, if you saw that same 36″ x 48″ ink drawing on paper in the same gallery priced at $90, that low price would be detrimental to a visitor’s opinion of the artist.

When I price my artwork, I consider the cost of the art materials and the approximate number of hours I worked on the piece. The total cost of art materials can vary tremendously depending on the piece. For example, an oil painting requires that I pay for a heavy-duty wooden frame, canvas, primer, oil paint, brushes, rags, a palette, solvent, etc. By comparison, an ink drawing on paper of the same size costs practically nothing because ink and paper cost very little. Then, I estimate how many hours have gone into the work and multiply that by an hourly rate. (Most artists choose a rate that ranges from $15-$50 an hour.) Between the labor and art supplies, I can usually arrive at a price that comes close to what I think will be appropriate.

Pricing art is always tricky, especially for new artists who don’t have a track record. Once you have had the chance to sell your work in a number of contrasting venues, you’ll develop a stronger awareness of what’s appropriate.

Related articles:
“How can an artist overcome their financial issues?”
“How do you explain to potential clients that artists need to be paid?”

Studio View

I had lunch with one of my artist friends yesterday, and I realized after talking to her that I need to shift my thinking towards my art. I’ve been in denial about this, but I am finally letting myself confront the hard fact that over the past few months, my studio practice has become distressingly unpleasant. Lately it feels like I’ve have to focus all of my energy on everything but the art: meeting deadlines, exhibition logistics, making professional connections, publicity, etc. It’s gotten to the point where I’m distracted by so many external responsibilities that I don’t even enjoy the art making process. I’ve let the tasks outside of the studio ruin the experience of creating.

My friend said that another artist she knew recently did a solo exhibition that turned out to be a highly taxing experience. She said that this artist poured in months of work in the studio, had to make a huge financial investment to frame the work, and did substantial marketing and publicity.  In the end, the artist said that it was extremely demoralizing to have dedicated such an immense amount of time and money into an endeavor that basically didn’t garner any concrete results. Other than being another line on her resume, her career didn’t make any noticeable progress, and none of the money she invested into the exhibition came back in the form of sales.  I know from experience that unfortunately, this is a very common experience for many working artists.

If there’s no financial return, and no visible career advancement, what is left? Do we just have to keep treading water so we don’t disappear?  My artist friend said that ultimately, you have to be able to derive your own joy and satisfaction from the experience of making the art.  Otherwise, you’ll just be bleeding time and money, which frequently leads to bitterness and resentment.

That’s what I want back, that feeling of being so completely immersed in the art making process that it feels like nothing else in the world matters. I want to have studio sessions where I forget to be hungry and focus exclusively on the moment I’m in.  I had a professor who used to say “if you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.” I still don’t know what my next project will be, but whatever it is, I want to enjoy myself again.

Gesture Painting

I am on a tight deadline, working around the clock to create a solid plan for how to format my idea for a series of fine art tutorials.  Even though I’m scrambling to get all of the logistics in place, it’s great to be this busy.

The primary challenge I’m facing is how to maintain the depth and complexity of the content, while simultaneously keeping everything understandable to the layman. I want to present basic principles, but also be detail oriented and practical at the same time. Ultimately, I want the content to be approachable enough that someone with no art training could watch my tutorial and be inspired to pick up a paint brush.   Fundamentally, the content I want to deliver is the same as what I teach in my classroom at RISD. However, the format could not be more different, and that’s what is so fascinating to me.

I’m writing down everything that I teach within a few focused topics.   Every trick and strategy that I employ in the classroom is being verbalized. Even within what seems like a very specific topic, I have so much to say.  Once the content is written down, I have to figure out how to present it in an coherent manner. This project is the perfect combination of organization, teaching, writing, documentation, and visual art for me.  I knew this was going to be a big project, and now that I’m deeply immersed in the work, every day is exciting.

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claralieu's Profile Picture
claralieu
Clara Lieu
Artist | Professional | Traditional Art
United States
I am a professor, writer, and visual artist. I am a blogger for the Huffington Post, where I write an advice column for visual artists called "Ask the Art Professor". I published my first book, "Learn, Create, and Teach: A Guide to Building a Creative Life" in 2013.

I currently teach in the Division of Foundation Studies at the Rhode Island School of Design. In the past I have taught in the Illustration and Printmaking departments at RISD, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, at Wellesley College, and at the Lesley University College of Art and Design. For four years I was the Director of the Jewett Art Gallery.

My studio practice explores isolation and mental illness through drawing, printmaking, and sculpture. Recent exhibitions have been at the International Print Center New York, Bromfield Gallery, the Danforth Museum of Art, the Currier Museum of Art, the RISD Museum of Art, and the Davis Museum and Cultural Center. I have received grants from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and the Puffin Foundation.

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:iconsandrapelly:
SandraPelly Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2015  Professional Traditional Artist
Your work touched me greatly.   It left me   speechless and stunned and at same time I felt as if someone finally understands. I  hope you have defeated your demons because I am still figuring mine.  Seeing your work gave me extra push to  sort myself out  and express myself more.   Thank you. 
Reply
:icongoatqueen:
GoatQueen Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2014
Did you ever do something on how to ship art once it's sold?
Reply
:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
I haven't, but mostly because there are already tons of articles out there on how to ship your work when you sell it online.  It also depends on what online site you're using. If you want to know, Etsy has a lot of information on how to do it. 
Reply
:icongoatqueen:
GoatQueen Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2014
ok ty!
Reply
:iconmiguelopazo:
miguelopazo Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I like your gallery, I feel is like a representation of many episodes on my mind
Reply
:icon33m:
33M Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014
after vacation I was delighted to see your newest deviations come through....Wonderful work.  I learn very much from your work and your writing.

M
Reply
:iconimfragrance:
imFragrance Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014   General Artist
Your blog is very helpful ! Thank you for your helpful advices.
Reply
:iconodistrait:
Odistrait Featured By Owner May 21, 2014
I just finished going over a few of the post on your advice column and watching a portion of your lecture video. It has been truly inspiring so far and I will definitely share your advice column with the teacher who oversaw my work at the magnet art school I attended in high school, so that other students might benefit from your advice. I hope that's okay.

thanks again,

Jean
Reply
:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner May 22, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Of course!  I am delighted that you found the columns and video interesting.  Thank you!
Reply
:icongoatqueen:
GoatQueen Featured By Owner May 10, 2014
Hey,

Since you used a lot of Dura Lar in your works I've always wanted to try some.
I found some in the art classroom so I jumped at the opportunity to use it. I have to admit, I really like it and I want to keep on experimenting.
 
Here's the work.
graveyardbat.deviantart.com/ar…

I did another work using the paper, but I haven't uploaded it yet.

Have a nice day!
Reply
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