Sunday, March 14, 2010

What makes a painting sell or be successful

Gustave Doré (1832-83). "The Body of Elaine on Its Way to King Arthur's Palace."
King. London: E. Moxon, 188-.
*****Okay.  So, did you look at the Gustave Dore works?  Did you see how he has a way of drawing the viewer into the story he's trying to tell.  Well, he employs all of these ideas:

Original author of ideas is Austin Deuel (or Devel) -

1.  Tell a story - Put the human touch in it.  Smoke out of a chimney, light in a window.  That kind of thing.
2.  Create a dramatic mood - Fog, snow, rain, sunset.  Even the heat of the day with all the shadows burned out.
3.  Dramatic composition - Every painting has to have a strong vertical in it.

Years ago, probably about 22ish, I was showing my portfolio to my husband's friend.  I had done a lot of home portraits (mansions, etc.).  I got to the end of the photographs and he said, "So what."  I was deeply hurt.  I had been very successful with these paintings.  They had all sold.  What in the world was he talking about?  I contemplated his comment for a long time and realized that those paintings were a big "so what".  I mean they were good representations of the homes and businesses I had painted but they lacked the human element in EVERY way.  They were in a sense-BLAND.  I owe him a coke or something because he was so right.  I now try to employ these ideas that Austin Deuel wrote about.  I think I found this in "The Artist's Magazine" (great art magazine, by the way).

 The is my "Hot Date in New Orleans" painting.  I am not going to show you the bland paintings.  At least not now as I want you to see one that I feel hits those key points pretty much.  I still have this painting and I'm glad as it's of my oldest son.  It's very large and makes for a wonderful entry way piece.  But I was offered an Arabian horse in trade for it.  Drat.  I couldn't take the guy up on it because I didn't know what I would do with the horse-even though I love horses.  Anyway-diagonal, right?  Element of a story, right?  Mood set with a hot summer day, right?  Check.

Art History Moment:  World's End-As at the end of most centuries, a number of people feared that the world would end in 1500.  As a result, apocalyptic images of death were widespread. (From Sister Wendy Beckett's "The Story of Painting")


  1. Thanks, Linda! It's been a work in progress but I have to give Charlie, my son, and Gracie a lot of credit for their help.