Today I want to give you some ideas to help freshen up your art – not just for others, but for you. You will learn things about your art when you challenge yourself to look at it in new ways.
Because we’re meeting in a virtual space, we’ll look at how this might be done on a website, but everything I share here could be applied to a live venue.
This post is intended to get you thinking. It’s just a brainstorm of ideas to start the process. I’m not saying that the ideas are brilliant or anything that’s for you.
All I’m saying is . . . think about it.
Karen Meredith, whose question spurred this series, agreed to let me use her site as an example.
As you can somewhat see in the image on the right, Karen has her paintings broken down into fairly standard and accepted categories: Still Life, Outdoor Settings, and Interiors. Then there are Palette Knife Paintings, Commissions and Potpourri (paintings that don’t fit neatly into any of the other categories).
There’s nothing wrong with this, although I would argue that the last three categories could be squeezed into the other three and be eliminated.
But . . . what if we looked for other themes?
Under the heading Outdoor Settings, Karen has landscapes, houses, umbrellas, boats, gardens, fences and more. There are a number of possible themes.
Houses. No, not just houses . . . “Quaint Cottages” or “Storybook Cottages.”
Gardens. No, that’s not terribly exciting. How about “Garden Entries” or “Garden Arches” or “Entering the Garden”?
In the Still Life category, we find fruits, flowers, and figurines. Hey! “Fruits, Flowers, and Figurines” could be a more interesting name. But it’s still broad.
When I squint my eyes on the page, the palettes emerge and I find myself wanting to see all of the paintings together that have blue backgrounds and pink-to-red flowers.
Then the yellow sunflowers and lemons strike me. Everyone knows that van Gogh’s Sunflowers set an auction record of $39.7 million back in 1987 (adjusted to $74.5 million in today’s market), but not everyone can own van Gogh’s version. How about your own version of sunflowers?
“Sunflowers” should be a theme. Not just because of the van Gogh story, but because they continue to be popular.
It would be nice to highlight the energy of Karen’s sunflowers in a headline. “Animated Sunflowers” or “Energetic Sunflowers”?? Not quite there, but it’s a start. Here are just three of them. What do you think would be a good headline for this grouping?
|All works ©Karen Meredith.
Left to right: Still Life en Plein Air, Tequila Sunrise, Flowers with Apricots.
Always consider how they are shown together. The order here isn’t accidental.
This whole sunflower trajectory started with yellow. Color itself could be a theme for any artist, regardless of media or style.
You could have pages, as I’ve seen, for Warm, Cool, and Neutral Palettes or a single color that you favor - like Yves Klein’s blue.
I could go on and on with Karen’s site because there is a lot of variety. I think she was right in feeling the need to tighten up what she shows people.
Remember that your goal with showing your art is never to show everything you have. It’s always to Wow people – IMPACT.
One last thing. Karen has a lot of works on her portfolio pages that are Sold. While I understand that it’s nice to show that you are making sales, it’s confusing for viewers and potential gallerists. I would move Sold works to their own category. This will cut down on a lot of the visual clutter.
4 Steps to Your Remix
- Remove all Sold work or put it its own category.
- Sit with what remains for awhile. And I mean a long while. You can do this in a physical space or by moving your digital images around. I used to do this with 35mm slides and a light tray, but you can do it in an electronic document or app. Just make sure you can move the images to where you want them to be.You want to immerse yourself in your art. Be quiet. Look. Really look. Listen.The work will speak if you give it the opportunity. Ideas will emerge.
- Challenge yourself by putting two works together that you never would have imagine being together. What other pieces can you bring in to make sense of these two works? To create a cohesive narrative about them?
- Have fun with it! Be as creative with your installations (real or virtual) as you are with your art. As I said previously, you’re creating a composition made up of individual works of art rather than your chosen medium.
Does this give you any ideas?
Does it make you think that some of the programs we use to show our art online are limiting? Or perhaps it’s the online space in general that’s so limiting.