Learning More about Being an Artist

the first imperative is to work. That much I get. But today, I sold another painting and learned more.

Don’t worry; I’m not freaking out. I know the person I sold it to, not really well, but still I know her. This morning I took a painting to the museum to hang where the one that sold Saturday had hung. The buyer works at the museum and wanted to see it so she followed me when I hung it.

“It’s the river,” I said. “Frozen, mostly.”


“The paint, though. Yeah. It’s special.” I told her all about where the pigments had come from and that I had seen them “in the wild.” I told her about the prehistoric “Buon” fresco I’d seen in the limestone cliffs north of Verona where the green in this painting “grows.” “All these colors,” I said, “except for that lighter blue there and the white, come directly from the earth. Well this color,” I pointed at some burnt Sienna, “was heated to bring out the iron color.” I pointed at the highest part of the sky and told her about ultramarine and lapis lazuli, how special it is, how expensive in olden times. I told her about the book I wrote about the artist who painted fresco. Then she said, “I want this painting.”

She went to the bank and came back with the money. “I love it, but hearing you tell me about the colors makes it mean even more.”

That made sense to me. Colors are miraculous. “It’s all dirt,” I said, “everything we are, everything we eat, all of it, all these beautiful things.” I personally see it all as miraculous.

Talking to a customer THAT way is totally possible and made me happy. It’s part of what my paintings are; part of who I am.

20 thoughts on “Learning More about Being an Artist

  1. What a wonderful way to sell a painting that contains so much of what makes you the artist you are!

    Thought: let the writer side of you provide each buyer with such a “history.” I doubt the woman who bought this painting will be able to remember each and every detail (I know I wouldn’t) and would appreciate having it in written form to keep with the painting.

  2. A beautiful picture and a wonderful explanation!
    When someone looks at my paintings, I’m far more apt to say, “This sky is darker than I wanted it to be”…and… “I didn’t get the shadows quite right here”…and… “I wanted those background trees a shade paler, and this front grass a bit shorter… and…” Hopefully someday I’ll get past this. 🙂

    • It’s just weird. I’ve had to do a lot of self-scrutiny because I WANT to sell my paintings and I WANT people to love them. I love them, so very very much. They deserve to go from THIS person who loves them to another person who will love them. Sometimes people are idiots like the person who wanted the big tree painting just because he’d never had areal oil painting before, but sometimes people are just spectacular. Like you, I’ll get past this!

  3. You could have put that photo of the painting up there in the post and I would have liked it. The colours glow. But hearing about the paints again made me like it more too.

  4. Here’s a thought. For every painting you want to sell, include a card or a paper explaining about the pigments just the way you described them. If I were buying, that would mean something special.

  5. Congrats on selling another painting, Martha.
    PS I am enjoying Martin’s story very much. It is as much about the emotion in the painting as it is about the tools for creation.
    There’s still time for healing.

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