The true value of art?
The true value of art
This fascinates me because people have such diverse opinions – mostly thinking it’s all about money.
I think the opposite.
Every one of my paintings is an individual piece of my art. It may or not be ‘good’ - although everyone’s idea of what that means is different. It may or may not please many or even someone. It may or may not sell. But it comes from my heart, my hand, my creativity.
And every one of my paintings whether sold on Artfinder or Saatchiart for hundreds of pounds or eBay for a score or so, is valuable. A real painting or drawing. Not a print. A complete one-off original.
I’m just saying this as some – especially other artists – feel that when I ask little for a painting it de-values it – or me.
Well – no – it doesn’t. Among my What is Art list of definitions and ideas is this one – up over 400 of them now and it’s one of the most important:
It isn’t about money. The only true value is in the artist’s pleasure and/or drive as he or she paints and in the pleasure someone else may have when they see it.
So please- if someone asks you how much your Jenny Hare painting was and when you reply £25 or £400 or £1000 don’t be upset if they say something disparaging like “oh, she’s not in the big league then” or (and this comment was from someone you’d have thought really intelligent), “Well it’s not real art then is it?” Oh boy . . . !
Painting for me is joyous. It’s something I miss if a day passes without time to play with paint or a pencil. Even if it’s just half an hour practising drawing, or preparing a background on a canvas ready for the next day’s work, I instantly feel my full self again. Satisfied with my output, even if it hasn’t worked and will simply be a let’s-try-again starting point tomorrow.
So I normally paint every day except on the very rare occasions I’m away, and if I’m lucky I finish a good few paintings every week.
This kind of output would be a problem for most artists whose painting could flow similarly prolifically, whether professional like me or amateurs, as even if you have a private show few galleries can accommodate more that say 30 paintings. That’s less than one a week, and then of course some may not sell and return home.
But Picasso’s output is my inspiration. He completed over 8000 works in his lifetime and who knows how many more because I understand he’d sometimes give his work away or pay for some every day thing or service with it. Just think – for the lucky people who truly treasured the gift, it would now be worth thousands, even millions. And just think again – how many others didn’t rate it? Did those paintings end up on the fire or in a skip? Doesn’t bear thinking about does it?
Did some people say of his work, before he was famous, well it’s not real art, is it? Probably!
Before you say, Oh Jenny – you’re not Picasso, well of course not. I’m simply an enthusiastic, joyful artist without Picasso’s genius but with the good fortune to be able to paint paintings some people love although they are unusual in palette and style and therefore not universally appealing by any means.
But when someone likes one, they usually love it.
And so while nowhere near Picasso’s output (yet!) since I stopped selling in galleries when I moved here and started selling online just a few years ago, I’ve sold around 800 paintings and drawings and like Picasso I’ve also given quite a few away, and like many of the great artists, painted over many I wasn’t happy with too – so probably that takes me up to around 1000 all in all. Only 7000 to go!
But when there’s a lull in sales, friends will say things like “Why don’t you paint conventional landscapes?” or “why don’t you sell your work in galleries again?”
And then if I don’t watch out, I find myself thinking, ‘Could they be right? – Have I got it wrong painting to my heart’s content and selling at my truly affordable prices on eBay, Artfinder and Saatchiart’s websites and from my studio for a fraction of what my work would be fetching now if I’d continued selling in galleries?
‘You’d only have to sell a handful a year to match your current painting income,’ someone said just the other day.
Well. Here’s the thing. I truly do love painting to my heart’s content. I love the wonderful comments you and other buyers make about the painting. And I love the fact that anyone who loves one can have one without breaking the bank.
I love the unpretentious honesty of this way of selling. Someone likes a painting of mine and they can buy it if they so wish. No manipulation by the conventional art world whatsoever to create huge prices. (Read ‘The 12million$ Stuffed Shark’ by Don Thompson if you’re interested in how incredibly false it is).
But still, although I know my way of painting joyously and selling lots and lots of paintings works well for me, I do sometimes question if I’m being sensible.
Today I read these words said to someone struggling to follow her business path as others advised her to go a different route. They cheered her and strengthened her resolve and they did the same for me:
“I get what you’re trying to do and it’s important and I know you know that, so keep going.”
Like her, yes of course, in my heart and head and very being, I know that my personal philosophy and way of painting and selling my work is right for me and all those who enjoy it: We should all be able to buy original art we love. Real, wonderful paint, lovingly placed on the canvas, board or paper by the hands of the artist.
I really do believe in real paint and original work and it being available for all.
So, of course, did Picasso. And if giving his paintings away or trading them for a song worked for him, I’m proud and glad that it does for me. Some of mine, like his, may not be appreciated and might one day end up on a skip – but even if the painting’s given joy in the moment to someone who’s seen it, that makes my heart sing in tune with theirs. And when people tell me the painting hanging on their wall gives them pleasure every time they glimpse it and that they treasure it, that’s good enough for me.
So of course I will keep going.
I've just finished a new wild brown hare painting, and a gorgeous one of flowers in the garden and I'm working on two more new paintings.
The joy goes on . . .
Thank you and all my collectors and others who encourage and inspire me to keep the faith . . . you are very much appreciated.
Truly affordable art for everyone who would like an original painting.
With love and light, Jenny