Thursday, December 3, 2009

ARTIST AND COLLECTOR RELATIONS

I received a telephone call last night, December 3, 2009, from Martha and Bob Thomas who currently divide their time between Warrenton, Virginia and Ramseur, North Carolina. The call prompts this reflection on how artists and collectors can develop a relationship.

It was in a city park in Asheboro, North Carolina where I first met Martha and Bob Thomas. The town was sponsoring a spring art fair where I had come to sell my paintings in a make-shift booth alongside my Japanese pickup truck. Having just completed a Master of Fine Arts in Painting at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, located about 40 miles up Highway 220 from Asheboro, I was anxiously seeking any venue for sales of my work to fulfill a goal of being a painter who survives solely from those sales.

When Martha and Bob strolled by they looked at the paintings to see bucolic landscapes of North Carolina's Piedmont Region displayed alongside exotic images of North Africa, specifically Morocco. I think the anomaly of seeing such disparate images in this setting stirred their curiosity and we struck up a conversation.

They had once been to Morocco back in the early 70's, as I recall. I was living there at that time working as a teacher of Art, English, and Humanities at the Kenitra American High School. This USDESEA school located in the provincial town of Kenitra, about 25 miles north of Rabat, the nation's capital, educated dependent children of the diplomatic and military personnel stationed there. The Thomases were a young couple then living in Madrid, Spain where Bob was deployed as a dentist on the nearby U. S. Air Force Base in Torrejon. Seeing the images of Morocco brought back their memories of that exotic visit and of the times they shared exploring new cultures and European living. Our conversations about shared experiences as young folks from rural backgrounds thrown into the big world bonded us thoroughly.

So, this meeting with Martha and Bob would probably have been in 1975, give or take a year. The particulars of the art show are very vague in my memory well, but I do remember them purchasing a 10 x 13 inch oil on paper entitled Forest Lawn Park 3 created in 1973. They paid $25.00. Little did they or I know then that they would become some of my most devoted collectors.

In the ensuring years, I remained determined to be a painter and survive from the sales of my work. At my modest Greensboro studio, I developed a Studio Exhibition format, whereby I could sell directly to collectors two or three times a year without benefit of the gallery system, which in those days--and even today--makes it difficult to earn a living solely off those sales. I had had the good sense to keep accurate records early of all paintings created. I used 3x5 index cards onto which I recorded the information about each painting with an inventory number. Concurrently, I also did the same with all collectors dutifully recording their addresses, what they had bought and for how much. With this Collectors File, a basis was formed for the mailing list for these Studio Exhibitions.

Martha and Bob Thomas reconnected with me again around 1979 when they responded to one of my Studio Exhibition invitations. From then and up to when I moved to New Mexico in the mid-90's, they were invited to over 30 exhibitions, attended at least 10 of them, and purchased over 15 paintings, ranging in subject matter from more North Carolina landscapes (their Graham Farm Near Wilmington 36, an oil on paper measuring 36 x 44 inches is a spectacular piece), six paintings based on my experiences on Samos Island, Greece in the mid-80's, and three more New Mexico landscapes.

With this summarized background of my relationship with Martha and Bob Thomas, I want to show the reader how the works of a painter eventually are totally intertwined with the person who purchases them. The painter becomes a personal friend and the paintings displayed on the walls of the collectors' homes remind them everyday of the artist, the shared experiences in the painting which prompted the purchase, the intimate conversations of mutual concern and the general welfare of the artist.

Such was the telephone call last night. Bob, for whatever reason, had looked at my website and read the Blog where I had relayed the experience of the retina problems I've had since July 4th weekend. He and Martha were immediately concerned about me and called to see how I was faring. We conversed for quite a while, getting caught up on our respective lives. We ended with their telling me that their thoughts and prayers were with me as I sought a resolution to this loss of vision. Upon hanging up the phone, I was very still, contemplative, and deeply touched that I meant so much to these two wonderful and caring persons who first encountered me and my dream of being a painter on a flat piece of park land 34 years ago in Asheboro, North Carolina.

Artist and Collector Relations

I received a telephone call last night, December 3, 2009, from Martha and Bob Thomas who currently divide their time between Warrenton, Virginia and Ramseur, North Carolina. The call prompts this reflection on how relationships can be created when buying art.


It was a city park in Asheboro, North Carolina where I first met Martha and Bob Thomas. It was spring and the city was sponsoring an art fair to which I had come to sell my paintings in a make-shift booth set up beside my pickup truck. Having just completed an Master of Fine Arts degree in painting at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, located about 30 miles up Highway 220 from Asheboro, I was anxiously seeking any venue for sales of my work to fulfill a goal of being a painter who survives solely from those sales.


When Martha and Bob strolled by they looked at the paintings to see bucolic landscapes of North Carolina's Piedmont region displayed alongside exotic images of Morocco. I think the anomaly of seeing such disparate images in this setting stirred their curiosity. They stopped and we struck up a conversation.


They had been to Morocco back in the early 70's. I was living there at that time. I was a teacher of Art, English, and Humanities at the Kenitra American High School, a USDESEA school for dependent children of diplomatic and military personnel from the United States. The paintings they were seeing were the result of experiences I had had there. They were a young couple then living in Madrid, Spain where Bob was deployed as a dentist on the nearby U. S. Air Force Base in Torrejon. Seeing the images of Morocco brought back their memories of that exotic visit and of the times they shared exploring new cultures and European living. Our conversations about our shared experiences as young folks from rural backgrounds thrown into the big world bonded us thoroughly.


So, this meeting with Martha and Bob would probably have been in 1975, give or take a year. The particulars of the art show are very vague in my memory well; however, the Thomases have stuck by me as collectors ever since our first meeting. They purchased that day a 10 x 13 inch oil on paper entitled Forest Lawn Park 3. They paid $25.00. Little did they or I know then that they would become one of my most devoted collectors.


In the ensuring years, I remained determined to be a painter and survive from the sales of my work. At my modest Greensboro studio, I developed a Studio Exhibition format whereby I could sell directly to collectors two or three times a year without benefit of the gallery system, which in those days--and even today--makes it difficult to earn a living solely off those sales. I had had the good sense to keep accurate records early of all paintings created. I used 3 x 5 index cards to record each painting with an inventory number thereby creating an Object File. Concurrently, I used the same method to create a Collectors File, which formed the basis of the mailing list for these Studio Exhibitions.


Martha and Bob Thomas reconnected with me again around 1979 when they responded to one of my Studio Exhibition invitations. From then and up to when I moved to New Mexico in the mid-90's, they were invited to over 30 exhibitions, attended at least 10 showings, and purchased over 15 paintings, ranging in subject matter from more North Carolina landscapes (their Graham Farm Near Wilmington 36, an oil on paper measuring 36 x 44 inches is a spectacular piece), six paintings based on my experiences on Samos Island, Greece, and three New Mexico landscapes.


With this summarized background of my relationship with Martha and Bob, I want to show the reader how the works of a painter eventually are intertwined with the person who purchases them. The painter becomes a personal friend and the paintings displayed on the walls of the collectors' homes remind them everyday of the artist, the shared experiences in the painting which prompted the purchase in the first place, the intimate conversations of mutual concerns, and the general welfare of the artist.


Such was the telephone call last night. Bob, for whatever reason, had looked at my website and read the Blog where I relayed the experience of the retina problems I've had starting in July. he and Martha were immediately concerned about me and called to see how I was faring. We conversed for quite a while, getting caught up on our respective lives with their telling me that their thoughts and prayers were with me as I sought resolution of this loss of vision. Upon concluding our conversation and hanging up the phone, I was very still, contemplative, and deeply touched that I meant so much to these two wonderful and caring persons who first encountered me and my dream of being a painter on a flat piece of park land 34 years ago in Asheboro, North Carolina.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Update on the Retina Problem

Arroyo-Presidio--Lajitas Road, 2008
Oil on Canvas 15 x 30 Inches

Arroyo with Sedge-Presidio-Lajitas Road, 2008
Oil on Canvas 24 x 36 Inches

The retina problem continues. On November 12, I had an exam by my doctor here in Santa Fe and he found that the retina had developed an edema and that my vision had worsened since the last exam which had been five weeks earlier.




This is when I decided to get additional opinions on my condition. It wasn't that I did not trust my doctor, I just wanted to have his regimen confirmed, or learn what else could be done for me to get my vision back in the right eye. As a result I am going to Dr. Brooks McCuen at the Duke Eye Center in Durham, NC on November 22 and to Dr. Tim Murray at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, FL on December 7. Surely these two visits will accomplish what I hope.




All studio work on painting has, for all intents and purposes, stopped. I have not been able to finish what I had started with the Pinto Canyon paintings. I did go out to the Badlands north of Santa Fe and outside the community of La Puebla to draw the hoodoos in the land formations. What I found was that I could not tell up from down on the ground. Merely stepping across the landscape was very difficult and uncertain. I could not see volumes. And, the result was that I was unable to draw what I was not seeing. Very frustrating.
I will post an update once I know something. Meanwhile, I am sending works for exhibit at the Annual Trappings of Texas Exhibition at the Museum of the Big Bend in Alpine, TX opening in late February and extending into April.

Friday, July 31, 2009

OUT OF COMMISSION


I have been out of commission since July 9th when I had to have emergency surgery for a detached retina at the Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque. As many of you know, the recovery period is very long and entails lying face down for two weeks with your head in a pillow and getting up to move around only as nature calls or some other necessity. It was fairly boring except when friends brought over books on tape and I was able to spend time listening to, mostly, Tony Hillerman novels. I was checked by the surgeon this week and he thinks my recovery is going well. I have a few more weeks of medication tapering off the dosage in the last weeks. My vision has not returned to normal yet, but it is supposed to improve in the next few weeks.


I am now able to get into the studio to start back to work. The paintings I began this past February in the Pinto Canyon area of the Trans-Pecos are waiting for me to get to them and also several private commissions. I also have an Open Studio Exhibition and Sale coming up the week after Labor Day Weekend and am preparing for that annual event.
I have included a photo, taken by Marsha Jackson of Santa Fe, showing me at work on location in Fort Davis, Texas. The painting being worked on is Oldest House-Fort Davis. It was completed in the studio a month or so later and purchased by a collector in Midland, TX.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

California Painting


Near Loch Lomand--San Rafael, 2007
Oil on Canvas 11 x 14 Inches
Private Collection, Wilmington, NC

Back to Santa Fe for the Summer

The stay in Marin County, California is over on Monday, June 29 when I return to Santa Fe, the base of my operations as a painter. I have been at our second home in Woodacre, CA since before Easter. During this time I have enjoyed our church community at the San Geronimo Community Presbyterian Church, where partner, Reverend Dr. John G. Scott, is the Pastor. I've also created a few new paintings, finished others that I had started last year, participated in the annual Marin Arts Council Studio Tour (my second year), and , finally, worked on computer skills under the tutoring of Amanda Smith.


I will get on Interstate 580 in San Rafael, cross the Richmond Bridge over San Pablo Bay and continue southeast through the urban sprawl of the Bay Area until Interstate 589 meets Interstate 5, coming from the south. Interstate 5, one of the busiest in the nation, goes through rolling golden hills flecked with dairy cattle; orchards of apricot, almonds, and citrus; vineyards for table grapes, and an occasional feed lot, whose smell will announce itself long before and after I pass it.


I usually stop at every rest stop just to stretch my legs and walk Leicester and Rowena, our Jack Russell Terriers, who are a delight to travel with.


Just southeast of the roads to Bakersfield, I turn onto California 223 to cross over to California 58 which goes westward. This takes me directly through crops growing along the road side to the farming town of Arvin, where I get a take out lunch at a fine, homeowned burger joint. Here the French fries are the best: cut from actual potatoes (not frozen) and fried at very high temperatures to create a proper crisp fried potato. With the lunch in tow, I drive out of town, gain elevation, and find a pull-out just at the base of Tehachapi Mountain's Bear Mountain. Here I can chow down on the burger and fries in peace and quiet, look down and across the sweeping Central Valley, and Leicester and Rowena can traipse around for some much needed exercise.


Now I must prepare for the next leg of the journey: traversing the Mojave. But, first, I have to cross the rest of the Tehachapi Mountains, past the wind generators into Mojave Town. It will be a grueling drive as the temperatures are predicted to be hovering around 105 all the way past Boron and Barstow, where I pick up Interstate 40. Just as I get onto the Interstate, there is a sign that says, "Wilmington, NC 2659 Miles." I am reminded that I have driven Interstate 40, probably 10 or so times in the past 5 years. And this stretch from Barstow to Needles is always an exciting part of the journey.


Going through so much stark beauty with the expected monotony of Interstate 40 does not impede my appreciation of one of America's great and vast deserts. Maroon hills, distant bluish mountains, an occasional Joshua tree along with the variety of desert plants make this leg of the journey a delight. But, always, in the back of my mind, is the thought: do not be seduced by the beauty as it can be a very dangerous place should the car break down. I have plenty of water, food, a way to create some shade, and some necessary items for repairing a flat or leaky hose. I only hope and pray that the 1998 Isuzu Trooper I am driving will not break down but continue its steady climb toward the 275,000 marker of miles travelled!


The day will end in Kingman at the Best Western Wayfarer's Inn. It is always a welcoming place for me and Leicester and Rowena, who have become accustomed to their room and the dog walking area. There will be dinner ordered from Lo's Chinese Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge to complete this log of the journey.


Needles is not a seducer even though it is located in a wonderful setting, near the Colorado River.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Post One

I started this in November 2008 and chickened out. Now I'm finally writing something. Watch the immediate days and weeks for more messages. Still learning how to do this. Hope I can find this again!