• Zero Hour: Evolution of American Psyche

    So, I’ve not been blogging as much as I’d planned on, but I had good reason.  I was too busy painting, you see I had a deadline to meet, and was working on my largest painting so far… my 9/11 remembrance piece.

    9/11 Memorial Art Finished

    I managed to finish the painting on time.  It is the largest canvas I’ve worked on to date… though I have done larger works for sets on plays.  This canvas is  48 inches wide and 24 inches tall, and its size alone has made getting a good clear photograph a challenge.  I will eventually get a better photo, though it may have to be taken in parts and stitched together in a photo editor.


    At any rate here is the finished painting, though some details may not be visible because of the photo quality.

    9/11 memorial art
    Zero Hour: Evolution of American Psyche


    And here is detail shot of the area with the gold hearts:

    Detail shot of the 9/11 memorial painting
    Detail shot of the 9/11 memorial painting


    The painting explained

    I also wrote up a short description to be posted with the painting in the public display, explaining the main though process behind it and some of the symbolism of the piece.  I didn’t explain every single detail, but enough to give a general idea of what I was trying to get across, what follows is that description.

    Zero Hour: Evolution of American Psyche
    By Vicki J. Maheu

    This work seeks to depict the mindset of most of America before and after the events of September 11th, 2001. It does not necessarily reflect the mindset of any one individual, so there will of course be aspects with which certain individuals, and certain communities, may not identify.
    Before 9/11, the mindset of America seemed very much to be childlike, somewhat naïve of the state of the world and the dangers that many other nations had been facing for many years. America had not had war on her own soil since the Civil War, and was, for the most part, looking ahead with optimism. The rest of the world seemed to be a friendly place. America, in many respects, seemed to have the world on a string, facing a bright future.
    Then that infamous Tuesday morning changed everything. On that day 2996 lives were lost. 2606 were lost in and around the Twin Towers, 265 were lost on the four hijacked planes, and 125 lives were lost at the Pentagon. Immediately after, in the shock of what happened, there was a surge of national pride and religious sentiment. Statements made by heroes, by mourners, by clergy, and by politicians became catch phrases for how we tried to see that day. From the plea of a widow that life was short and there was no time for hate, to the stirring call to action of “Lets Roll”, these phrases expressed for us what we were too numb to put into words ourselves.
    Eventually though, the shock wore off and the national pride of many wore thin. More than a decade of fighting the vague enemy of “terror” took its toll, and many started wondering what we were fighting for. The world seems to many Americans now as a scary place, an angry place, a place where our blood is shed and where we arm ourselves and shed blood. Many of us look around our own country and instead of seeing a bright future full of plenty, we see bleakness, and the starkness of the cruelty that exists in the world, and often we don’t know whether we should be more afraid of enemies from without, or of each other. Our idealistic American dream seems to many to be just that… a dream, out of touch from reality.
    However, we have not quit. We continue on, we are still Americans and we still plan for the future. In the final scene of the painting, the artist intentionally included a field of newly planted crops, to show that we as Americans, while we cannot go back to the naivety of childhood, can still look to the future with hope, and, with God’s help, we can move forward.

  • Art Remembering 9/11

    September 11th 2001, The Day that Changed America

    I, along with many other artists, have been asked to create a piece of art commemorating the events of September 11th, 2001.  I wasn’t sure at first if I would be able get a piece finished on time, and I’m still not sure it will be finished… but I started it yesterday.

    In this piece I wanted to express the changes I’ve seen in America since the September 11th terrorist attacks.  I’ve tried to explain these changes to my kids, and to others who were just too young to really remember, but always, I struggle for words.


    America changed forever that day

    Its hard to express, but I’m sure others who lived through it know what I mean.  On September 10th, 2011 we woke up to the America we has all known.  The America who hadn’t had war on their own soil since the Civil War.  The America who looked at the world with optimism.  The America who was proud of who they were and what they stood for.  The America who was pretty sure that the American dream was still something envied by those in other countries, and something still obtainable to those willing to work for it.

    Before the attacks, America was Naive

    America, like all other nations, has its dark periods of history.  It has its pages that it would rather not read aloud to anyone… its done things as a nation that it would rather everyone would just forget.

    Despite that though, America has always striven to be better.  We declared our belief that all men were created equal while we still owned slaves, but eventually we tried to live up to that declaration by turning away from slavery, and later through the civil rights movement.  We haven’t been perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination, but we did have ideals that we reached for, and those ideals were commendable.

    Before 9/11, the average American citizen, at least those who were born after 1960, were much like children in our naivety.  While we couldn’t really claim complete ignorance, or innocence, we were aware that our country had once had slaves, we were aware of the atrocities that our nation had committed against the indigenous people of this land, but that was all a long time ago, and the majority of us saw this country as a good place, a place to be proud of.

    The evils of the past and the dangers of the world around us weren’t completely unknown to us, but they were also not in the forefront of our minds.  Most of us looked forward to a bright future, and saw the world as a generally friendly place, and other nations as places we would like to visit some day.


    September 11th, Shocked us into Reality

    All of that changed on September 11th.  At first we were shocked, not understanding why anyone would want to do such a horrible thing, and figuring it was the work of a few madmen.  News coverage showing people on the other side of the world cheering and dancing at the news of the attacks made us realize though, that there were large populations of people who hated us… and we wondered why.

    I won’t get into all the reasons for the hatred, or try to tell you if any part of it was justified or not.  I won’t hash out all the details of who did and who said what.  I won’t drag our own nations actions out to be scrutinized, nor will I hold up some other nation and tell you to hate them.

    What I will say, is that after the shock of 9/11 wore off, America was a different place.  There was an initial surge of national pride, and even an initial surge of religious sentiment.  But when those things wore off… the American public had, in a very real way, had our eyes opened, lost our innocence, and became tired and old in spirit.


    Putting it all in a Painting

    Of course, I can explain all that in words, but it takes a long time, and as the cliche says, “A picture speaks a thousand words.”

    So I had to find a way to put the experience, the shock, and the instant loss of childish innocence into a painting.


    Now, the painting isn’t finished yet, but most of the details have been sketched.


    September 11 attacks, september 11 artwork, 9/11 art
    The little girl and the old woman both represent the American public in general… you know, the average American… the left is before 9/11… the little girl is innocent, or at least naive and unaware of the evil in the world and the evil done by her own country… she may be vaguely aware of dangers from without or wrongs of the past… but they aren’t in her mind. She holds the balloon (which if you look closely is the world) by a string… she is happy and the world seems to be a friendly, happy place…
    Then across the middle of the canvas is the event, the one day, that changed everything…
    Then we see her after that day, suddenly she is old, aware of the dangers around her and of the way she is seen by many others in the world… no longer holding the world by a string… it is floating nearby, and no longer looks friendly or happy.
    Also, she is now more fearful, she has fear not only of the world at large, but of fellow Americans… fear and hostility dominate… in response to the fear and hostility, she has armed herself (she’s holding a handgun).

  • I’m in the Rock Hiding Game

    Painting Rocks is Fun

    So, I took my two seal shaped rocks that I posted about earlier today, and painted them.  If you read my first post about Kitsap Rocks, you’ll remember that the rocks I had planned to paint looked like this:

    Two rocks I'll be turning into sea creatures
    Two rocks I found on a beach several years ago… I kept them because their unique shape demanded I paint them, but I forgot about them until hearing about Kitsap Rocks.

    They were odd shaped rocks to say the least, and while I distinctly remember finding them on a beach, they looked more like river rocks to me, but regardless of whether you call them beach rocks or river rocks, they were about to become painted rocks!

    After painting, they looked quite different.
    Here is the chubby little guy on the right in the picture above.

    painted rock, treasure hunt, rock painted like seal, seal shaped rock
    This guy made a chubby seal, I couldn’t really see how to make his tail look like a tail, so I decided to just paint water over his lower body. Now I think he looks like he’s wearing pants the way a plumber does!
    painted rock, treasure hunt, rock painted like seal, seal shaped rock
    Here he is showing off his other side.
    painted rock, treasure hunt, rock painted like seal, seal shaped rock
    Here’s a close up of his handsome face!


    Here is more slender little seal on the left in the top photo.

    Seal Rock, seal shaped rock, painted rock, rock art, rock treasure hunt
    This one was nice because I was able to paint his tail in, and have room to sign him and paint other words on the bottom instead of on the seal body itself.
    Seal Rock, seal shaped rock, painted rock, rock art, rock treasure hunt
    Here’s his other side! (You’ll notice I sneaked in my web address).
    Seal Rock, seal shaped rock, painted rock, rock art, rock treasure hunt
    Here’s his handsome face!
    Seal Rock, seal shaped rock, painted rock, rock art, rock treasure hunt
    He has a nice profile, don’t you think?


    This isn’t just about painting though.

    Of course the point in the Kitsap Rocks group isn’t just about painting rocks.  I could paint rocks, turning them into seal art, and put them up on etsy and who knows, they might sell, but then I would miss the fun.

    The fun of the Kitsap Rocks is that we hide  the rocks so other’s can find them.  Yes, hiding rocks is the name of the game!

    So I took the rocks to a local beach and hid them… then I posted to the Kitsap rocks Facebook group that I had released two seals into the wild at a beach in Kingston, I posted that along with some photos of the hiding places.

    seal rock, painted rock, treasure hunt, rock hunt
    Mr. Chubs tucked away on some rocks.
    seal rock, painted rock, treasure hunt, rock hunt
    This photo gives a little background to help people try to figure out where he is.
    seal rock, painted rock, treasure hunt, rock hunt
    Here’s Mr. Handsom and fit, hiding on a log  near some flowers.
    seal rock, painted rock, treasure hunt, rock hunt
    And here he is again, with more background showing as a hint to local people…



    The Story isn’t complete until they’re found.

    Well of course the story of my little seals isn’t complete until the seals are found. This is after all, a form of treasure hunting!  Not just rock art creation! … and here they are, in the hands of the finders.  I didn’t show the faces because I would never show the faces of other people’s children online without their permission, but rest assured, both faces were quite happy!

    Treasure hunting, rock hunting, seal rocks seal shaped rocks
    So here are the seal friends in the hands of the finders.


    To be continued…

    Of course, as I left the beach, I picked up two more rocks to paint.  So I’m sure I’ll spend a lot more time painting rocks, hiding rocks, and finding rocks too!  Next time, I might not be doing seal painting, who knows, my next rocks might be flowers, or birds, or houses, or abstract!

    To all my fellow painted rock hounds, have a happy treasure hunt!

  • Kitsap Rocks — Rock Painting and Treasure Hunting

    Art, Creativity, Mystery, and Outings

    Like a low-tech Pokémon Go

    There is a new trend in my community in which people paint rocks and hide them.  They leave clues online so that other people can go find them.  I think this is an awesome activity, and I found my first rock just the other day.  I have yet to hide a rock though.

    I think this trend is great on many levels.  I mean, it gets people exploring their creativity, and sharing it with others, and it gets them out in their communities, looking around.  Honestly, I see it as a low-tech and more creative version of Pokémon Go, but it has actually been around longer than Pokémon Go.

    Rocks turn up in surprising places.

    Here is the rock I found, I wasn’t expecting it, I was actually just at the post office to mail off a package from my Etsy shop, when there, right on top of the blue mailbox, was a rock.  Since I’d already joined the Kitsap Rocks Facebook group, I knew right away what it was and deposited my package, took the rock, and drove on.

    When I got home I posted on the Facebook group that I had found this rock, then I scrolled down the page to see if anyone had posted that they hid it, and I found that the person had left some pretty obvious hints, but that I’d found the rock before seeing any of the hints.

    Painted rock treasure hunt, teal, pink, black with dots.
    This is the first rock I found.

    Now, when you find a rock, you can keep it, or re-hide it.  I decided to keep this one since it was my first Kitsap Rocks find.


    Rocks bringing community together

    Not only are lots of families getting in on this creative action, but it is also bringing the community together.  Yesterday, the co-op art studio that I’m part of hosted a free community event for people to come and paint rocks.  The studio provided some supplies, and also invited participants to bring their own.  People from all over the county showed up to paint rocks.

    Sadly, I was unable to attend this event, because I had prior obligations to drive my children and their friends from one end of the county and back again, and then back again and again, but I was glad to hear the studio got involved with this.


    Rocking out some memories

    So all of this rock painting activity caused me to remember something I’d forgotten. Several years ago, at a beach, I found some very uniquely shaped rocks, these rocks absolutely demanded a coat of paint, but I found these before I discovered my love of painting. So even though I had a clear idea of how I’d like to see them painted, I put them up and forgot about them.

    Now though, with seeing all these rocks being transformed into works of art, I remembered these rocks.  I already know exactly what I’m going to turn these into, they BOTH just beg to be seals!

    Two rocks I'll be turning into sea creatures
    Two rocks I found on a beach several years ago… I kept them because their unique shape demanded I paint them, but I forgot about them until hearing about Kitsap Rocks.

    Now, the only thing that troubles me is that I’m not sure I’ll be able to just give these away after painting them…  but I think I’ll give away at least one of them, I might want to keep one myself.

  • The Ultimate Blog Challenge Draws to a Close

    July’s Blog Challenge is Done

    So the Ultimate Blog Challenge for July is done, the next one will be in October.  So I probably won’t post every single day on this blog.  I would like to keep posting at least two or three times a week though.

    I am glad to have taken part in this challenge, because it helped me to develop a habit of getting on my blog each day.  Not only that, but through another blogger I learned a little more about SEO, and adding metadata to my whole site, and also to each post.  So hopefully when I blog now, it will get seen by more people.

    I am still figuring out some of the metadata stuff, but I’m already implementing what I have learned, and I’m trying to read up on the parts I don’t fully understand yet, once I have a good grasp on everything, I’ll share on a blog post so that I can help others increase their web traffic also.

    For now, I can share that if you are on a WordPress blog, there are many plugins you can get that will let you add custom metadata, such as keywords, descriptions of the post, and what title will appear when the you share the post on social media.  The description factor is nice because if you don’t enter it, what will automatically show is just the first few lines of your post, which in some cases doesn’t really give a clear idea of what it’s about.  By adding a custom description to each post, you can let people know what the post is about in a little more detail than you can usually do in a title alone.

    You can also add metadata to the entire website with these plugins, so that if you have an art blog or artist’s website that not only sells art but also offers art marketing advice, or art tutorials, you can add those keywords to the metadata of the entire site and help search engines to find your art website.
    There are some things I still don’t understand, such as where the plugin I used (called the add meta tags plugin) asks for “site-wide meta tags” but then says not to put keywords there, there is another place to enter global keywords, but the I’m just not sure what the site-wide meta tags would be if not keywords.  I’m going to try to learn about that and share it when I know more.

    So, today is Sunday, the first day of the week, and this would be my first post of this week, if I am going to keep with my goal of posting at least twice a week, you will hear from me again at least one more time before next Sunday.  I won’t make any promises at this time of what day it will be, but unless some unforeseen circumstance prevents it, I will post once or twice more this week.

    So if you participated in this blog challenge, what did you learn?

    Also, if you know what the term “site-wide meta tags” actually means, please fill me in!  😉


    Hand on computer keyboard Photo by GaborfromHungary at Morguefile.com
    Photo by GaborfromHungary at Morguefile.com
  • My Saturday as an Artist

    Saturday isn’t my Day Off

    Saturday is one of the two days every week I volunteer at ArtSLAM studio. I work the afternoon shift, and then, on the last Saturday of every month, I stay after closing for a paint party.

    So my day will look something like this.  I leave my house around noon, stop at the store and pick up snacks for the paint party, and then head for the studio.  The studio is right next to Michael’s, so I will stop by there to pick up any paints or canvases I need for the party.

    My shift at the studio will start at 2:00, while I’m at the studio I’ll look around and see if anything needs cleaning, after doing whatever needs doing, I’ll be free to paint, which I will do most of the shift unless customers come in, and when that happens I’ll greet them and help them with whatever they need.

    Towards the end of my shift I’ll set up for my painting party.  Get out the easels, unwrap the canvases and brushes, and lay out the snacks.  I’ll wait to distribute paint until class is about ready to start, so I don’t have to worry about it drying on the pallets.

    Then I’ll teach my class, take a few photos of the fun, and when everyone goes home I clean up.  My husband is there helping through every step of the class, including the cleanup after.  We close down the studio, lock everything up, and then go home.  I get to bed as early as I can afterward because we have church in the morning.

    And that is my Saturday.

    So what is your Saturday like?
    What is your Saturday like? Click To Tweet

  • 90 Days from Now

    Where I plan to be in 90 days.

    The topic for ultimate blog challenge today was to  make some plans of where we want to be in 90 days. Ninety days from today will be October 27, 2016.

    This Website in 90 Days

    If I blog for the last two days of the challenge, and blog twice a week thereafter, by October 27th I will have written and published 27 or 28 blog posts after this one.

    In addition, I would like to have finished uploading all of my current works of art, so that anything I have for sale is posted in the purchasing options section of this website.  I also would like to improve my SEO by adding metadata to this website, which is something I only learned how to do today, and which should bring in some more traffic to the site.

    Additional goals I’d like to get to if I can is to post at least three videos in the next 90’s, the videos can be step by step tutorials, or they can be a sped up version of me painting, or even me talking and telling you about my art, but I want to start including video content to this blog.


    My etsy shop in 90 days.

    90 days from now I’d like to have everything in my etsy shop set up to auto renew, and I’d like to have everything set up with calculated shipping, right now some things are set to calculated shipping and others are not, and while my estimates are usually close, I’d rather be charging people the exact right amount for shipping. In addition, I want all of my titles and tags to be optimized as I described in my post about etsy tips.


    My art in 90 days.

    I have several paintings in progress that I’d like to have finished by the time 90 days passes, one is a scene involving my Sphinx dude character and a mermaid, the other is an underwater scene  in which I plan to add lots of interesting sea life, and another was going to be a sphinx dude painting but I think I may have changed my mind and I might bring it in another direction.

    In addition, I want to produce a piece for a community display on 9/11.

    And I have something in mind that I won’t give details on, other than to say it will involve a lot of black, silver, and white.

    I really want to be done with all of those by then, because I want to begin a series of paintings that I have an idea for, but I don’t want all those half finished projects sitting around in the mean time.


    My health in 90 days.

    While this isn’t art related, I do know that I need to start taking better care of my health.  I’d like to lose some weight by then, I hesitate to set a specific goal though, at least 15 to 20 pounds, and more if I can manage it.  I want to have established the habit of the taking a walk every day, or at least nearly every day, and doing some strength training at least twice a week.

    The blog that I track my health concerns on is my other blog Less of Me, More of Him in case anyone decides they want to follow along with my efforts.


    My other blogs.

    I want to post more regularly on my other blogs.  Less of Me, More of Him is a general blog about my life, as well as my weight loss efforts. In addition to that one, I have a blog where I post devotional thoughts, Bible studies, and things like that.  I want to start posting on Less of Me, More of Him, at least once a week, and at least once every month on Moments with My Savior.  I might also like to start keeping my homeschooling blog again, but I think maybe that might too much to add right now, so I am not setting a specific goal there.


    So there you go, that’s where I want to be 90 days from now.

  • Political Rubbish

    Today’s Topic is Supposed to be Political

    So the ultimate blog challenge suggests topics for us to follow each day, and sometimes I follow them and sometimes I choose not to.  Today we were asked to write a post about what our particular industry would be influenced by one or the other of the candidates winning.  I have a few thoughts on this, the first being that if anyone outside of the United States is taking part in this blog challenge this topic won’t really apply to them.  My other thoughts on it… well some things are best unsaid.


    Politics do have an effect on the art market.

    Politics do have an effect on the art market, because anything that affects the economy affects the art market.  That much is clear, but I can’t say that I believe either of the candidates for the major parties would be good for the economy.  I am honestly so disgusted with our choices when it comes to the two major parties.

    At the risk of offending anyone who is honestly, fully supportive of either of them, I’ll say that my political view for this election is summed up by the bumper sticker I have on my van:

    We're Screwed 2016 sticker
    This is the bumper sticker I have on my van. Click on it to be taken to a site to purchase it.
    I was NOT paid to promote this product, and I am not the seller of this product myself.


    Politically, all Americans, artists and non-artists are screwed if things stay as they are.

    Politically I just don’t see a bright future for America unless we get away from this two party rut we’ve gotten ourselves in. The Republican party has chosen a loud mouth buffoon who makes fun of handicapped people, degrades women, and is accused some pretty serious crimes, not only that, but he has no filter on his words, and could easily anger the wrong person and get the country in a war.  Even if I agreed with everything he wants to do, I still have trouble getting past these things.

    The democratic party is corrupt to the core, the establishment of that party picking a candidate that the majority of democrats didn’t want, and silencing the candidate that had overwhelming support by the majority of democrats. This candidate is guilty of mishandling classified information in such a way that would have landed anyone else in prison, she’s also been recorded laughing about how, as a defense attorney,  she got a child rapist off, even though she knew he was guilty.  In her defense that was job as his defense attorney, but how someone who claims to support the rights of women could find humor in letting a rapist off, is beyond my comprehension.


    Non-politically, there is reason for hope.

    Yes, I believe we are pretty much screwed politically, but I am not really worried.  Why? Because my hope is not in a politician.  There are reasons to hope all around us, every time we see one human being perform and kindness for another, there is hope, but human kindness is not my main hope, there is also a growing move to change the American system so that third parties have a chance, which would be wonderful, but that is not my main hope either.

    Politically we are screwed, but there are reasons to hope all around us... Click To Tweet Every time we see one human being perform a kindness for another, there is hope. Click To Tweet


    My hope is in Jesus Christ, and my citizenship is not of this world.  So no matter what happens in the presidential election.  I am full of hope for my future. 


    But human kindness is not main hope, My hope is in Jesus Christ. Click To Tweet


  • Pricing Art

    Pricing Art, No Easy Task

    How other things are priced.

    When it comes to pricing art, it is different than pricing other products.  When most people decide what to charge for a product or service, the process breaks down to a simple formula that makes sense and is hard to argue with:

    (Time)(rate of labor) + cost of materials + other costs = price

    How this would look if you were building a deck on someone’s house is this (I’ll say the owner of this company is also its only employee to keep it simple, otherwise we need to add another category, which is desired profit):

    Job takes 15 hours, you decide that you need to earn $30 per hour because that’s the going rate for this kind of work in your area, the materials cost $250, other costs such as gas to run machinery, wear and tear on tools and such is figured at $50 for this job.  In reality the other costs would probably much higher because you’d need insurance and things like that, but this is just for illustration.  So here is the formula.

    (15 hours x $30) + $250 + $50 = $750

    Now if this person was a business owner with employees it would look a little different, because we would say (Time)(rate of labor) + cost of materials + other costs + desired profit = price.


    Art is different.

    In a perfect world, art would be priced the same way as building a deck.  The artist would decide on the hour wage they required to support themselves, lets just say $20 per hour for this example, they would multiply that wage by the hours spent making a piece, add the cost of the materials, add in other expenses such as commissions paid to galleries, and maybe a percentage of the studio rent they pay, and that would arrive at the price to charge.  That formula is fair, it makes sense, it is logical.

    And it DOESN’T WORK, at least not perfectly

    Here is why:

    Lets say we are going to price painting on a 36 inch by 36 inch gallery wrapped cotton canvas.  The artist buys this pack of 5 canvases, which means that before tax and shipping the canvas costs them $20.15 each, for sake of this example we’ll say the artist lives next door to the art supply store and doesn’t spend anything on gas, and they have a resell certificate so they can purchase the materials without paying sales tax (this is tricky for artists to get, but more on that later).  So the materials so far run $20.15.  Now for paint, the only way for the artist to know how much paint he uses up in one painting would be to weigh the tubes before and after the painting, and not to use those tubes for anything else in the meantime.  Now, professional quality acrylic artist paint varies in price depending on the brand and color, but an average price is about $3.45 per oz, if the artist buys the larger jars to save money.  If the artist buys the typical 2 oz tubes, then it comes to around $5 per oz.

    So lets say that to cover this 3 foot by 3 foot canvas, the artist used 4 oz of paint (sometimes paintings have texture from thick paint, sometimes the paint is applied thinly, with no texture, so the amount of paint used varies accordingly).  So 4 oz of paint, multiplied by $3.45 per oz, and that is $13.80.  Now the artist also seals the painting with what is known as an isolation coat, and then a layer of varnish.  Lets just estimate the cost of both of those together to be $5, then add $2.00 for the hardware to wire the back of the painting for hanging.  So now for our materials cost we come to $40.95, lets round that to $41 for the sake of simplicity.

    Next we have our labor cost.  We had said this artist decided they needed to make $20 per hour, but they are only considering the hours they actually work on this painting, not the time they may spend manning a booth at a show or putting in unpaid time at a co-op gallery to try sell it.  So lets say they aren’t considering that because they won’t do those things, they show their work in a traditional gallery that will collect a commission at the time of sale.  Galleries typically charge 40-60% of the sale price as commission. So for our purposes we’ll say the gallery will take 40%, and the artist will keep 60% of the sale price.

    The time spent on a painting varies widely depending on the style.  Detailed portrait work of this size could easily 40 hours, a splatter-style abstract on the other hand might only take 2 hours, including the time to seal and varnish and wire it for hanging.  Lets say this piece though is an impressionistic landscape, and will take about 9 hours to complete the painting, plus another hour for the finishing work of sealing, varnishing, and wiring, so 10 hours of labor all together.

    ($20 per hour) x (10 hours) + $41 material cost = $241

    So $241 is what the artist needs to make on this painting after commission.  But remember, the artist only gets to keep 60% of the sale price, in order to figure out what the artist needs to charge we need to do another calculation.  If we divide the artists cost, by their percentage, we’ll find out what the actual price needs to be.  First though we convert that percent to a decimal, so instead 60% we will have 0.60.  So here is our formula $241÷0.60=$401.67.

    The problem is that only a few people are actually willing to pay $400 for a painting, no matter how skillfully it is painted.  So while the artist may start of this price, a year or two later they start cutting the price, $350, $300, $275, $250 Finally lets say it sells at $225, the artist keeps 60% which is $135, the materials cost the artist $41, so the artist actually made $94 for 10 hours of work, or $9.40 an hour.  That is actually good in the artists eyes though, because often they end up making much less.

    Most artist don’t use that formula at all

    Most artist don’t even go through all those steps though, most will charge by square inch, or will ask the gallery owner what he or she thinks the piece can sell for, and then the artist just takes their cut of that without regard to the hours they put in, often this results in the artist getting $75 for a piece that cost them $41 to make, so the artist actually made $3.40 an hour.

    My recommendation to artists.

    My recommendation to artists, and what I will start with future pieces, is to at least use, as a starting point, the formula:

    (Time)(rate of labor) + cost of materials = your price before commissions

    They may have to cut the price down some to make it sell, but at least they will be aware of how much they’d like to receive, and how much they absolutely MUST receive in order to not lose money, at least if you use that formula as your starting point, you will know when you start cutting down the price how much less per hour you are making, and you will know what you can’t drop below if you are going to make anything at all.


    My recommendation to art collectors.

    Consider buying directly from artists on their websites, at art fairs, or in their studios.  If the artist doesn’t have to pay 40-60% of the price to the gallery, they are probably going to be a lot more flexible with you, the customer.

    That being said, if you see the work in the gallery, don’t try to contact the artist privately and arrange for a private sale.  This is unfair to the gallery owner who is paying rent to keep a gallery open so you can see the art in the first place.  It is also putting the artist in a position where they are being asked to violate their deal with the gallery, because 98% of the time, they have signed a contract that disallows them from pulling a piece and selling it to you if you saw it in the gallery.

    You could though, contact the artist and see if they have other pieces that are not being shown in the gallery, often this is allowed.