June 19, 2014

Vainly Made Art

The illustrations I have been working on are time-consuming and detailed. Although on a good run I could finish two in a day, generally these pencil drawings take one to three days to complete. Therefore, I’ve taken a short hiatus from those and worked on drawings that yield quicker results. For these I used charcoals and pastels.

The last two finished drawings were reworked from old sketches made my more vigorous youth. I was very prolific albeit easily distracted and impatient. That is why I have a veritable plethora of sketches but few complete drawings. The one above that I just reworked and completed brings to mind an interesting but cautionary tale of vanity galleries. The goat on a pathway was a sketch for a large painting that was exhibited in a gallery in Washington D.C. It was a vanity gallery and I had to pay a fee to exhibit there. That was back in the day when it was difficult for an emerging artist such as myself to obtain exhibition opportunities. The gallery shipped back the work only after persistent nagging on my part. It was shipped via UPS and for some reason there was a hole punched through the box and right through the canvas. I reported this to the gallery and they filed a claim. UPS paid the shipper, the gallery owner, and then came to collect my damaged painting. The gallery kept the money and I lost a painting. Eventually I did win a small claims suit against the gallery using the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts but the owner of the gallery slipped out of his responsibilities by closing his gallery and declaring bankruptcy. After making off with other artist’s money as well, said gallery owner then had the nerve to write an article for a local newspaper about his failed business, complaining about how vain and demanding artists are. I recall the article was called “Bonfire of the Vanities.” I’ve avoided using galleries that ask for money up front ever since. I’ve often wondered whether my experience is also what helped change UPS policies in refusing to insure paintings or art behind glass!

The drawing below is a reworked charcoal of a model I sketched during graduate school.

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