Video: Currently Available Contemporary Portrait Paintings by Jean Smith

Jean Smith’s $100 USD paintings (11 x 14″ acrylic on canvas panel) from December 9th back to the beginning of the series (January, 2016).

“First, oh my word I love these portraits {acrylic on canvas panel} so, so, so much. Second, Canadian rocker turned painter Jean Smith sells these paintings on Facebook for $100 a pop. WHAT? Yes, true story. Are you wondering what you’re still doing here and why you’re not over there buying a whole bunch of these 11×14 beauties? Me too. Here you go… Jean’s Facebook page. You’re welcome.” – The Jealous Curator

Music by Mecca Normal

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All 11 x 14″ portrait paintings

Here are all my contemporary portrait paintings from oldest to most recent.

Music by Mecca Normal (Jean Smith and David Lester)

Contact Jean Smith by email

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Multiples

Assembly line, division of labour, mass production. Not terms one wants associated with their original artwork which intends to stand alone as unique. As a painter who paints most days I have developed a vocabulary of techniques that steer away from what I think of as clever or trendy. I keep things simple. I paint faces from photos on a monitor in front of me. I don’t have rituals. I become irritated when I start to notice anything vaguely ritualistic creeping into my set up, but it is more efficient to keep things where I expect them to be because a lot of things happen quickly. When I reach for the hair dryer, I want it to be where it’s supposed to be. Same with paper towel and the spray bottle. I stand while I paint because I use my entire body. I don’t want movement to be restricted. I paint in silence. No music, podcasts etc. Some of this is behavior comes from a longstanding reverence I have for painting. The other night I watched a video of a woman who was going to demonstrate ink drawing. Maybe I’m a snob, but when she plunked down in her chair and mentioned she was watching her favourite TV show (a murder mystery), I cringed. Then she proceeded to struggle to get the tops off each bottle of ink saying something like, “just goes to show you how long it’s been since I…” Um, that was enough.

When I say multiples, I mean simultaneous multiples. Not consecutive paintings of the same subject. In graphic design, I’d call it four up or however many up. I’ve noticed the inspiration to paint multiple panels strikes more with animals and landscapes as opposed to faces which are immersive studies of emotion.

Doing five paintings at once means I can keep areas fresh. I move quickly and this can lead to over-painting and painting over things that are good. If, while painting, I recognize a quality that I want to keep, I can move to another panel and continue to paint, while still referring to the subject. If i was working on only one panel, I might want to change that area. I’m not sure what this is called, but along with knowing when to stop, knowing not to mess with good stuff, is very important.

Also, I may put down one colour on all the panels, then proceed to paint one of them entirely before moving on to another one or two — it happens in a variety of ways and it has more to do with how these options free things up and add pressure. Everyone needs to invent such things for themselves, depending on how they are wired. Of course there are people who paint by putting down various areas of paint one after another without changing anything as they go and I have no idea why they bother or what that’s all about. Paint by numbers approach.

I was lying in bed this morning thinking that painting multiples this way is like writing songs. I don’t just do a verse and a chorus and call it finished. Well, actually, I’m sure I have and basically, I try not to make distinctions between song parts including verse and chorus (I resist knowing what a bridge is), but if I was more committed to conventional songwriting I’d be looking at it this way (with a bridge? … a hook? no idea what that is either… stifling artifice, if you ask me).

a bit of verse

maybe some chorus action…and repeat
verse
chorus
verse
chorus
verse

chorus

I’m starting to see each of these changes as a switch between paintings. If I paint something with a hook, I might be better to leave it and move to another panel, rather than run the risk of losing the hook they way it stands. I don’t mean in terms of length of time, but for the sake of this analogy, it’s a way to hone and allow areas to exist while I go to another panel on which I might come up with something that fits with the previous panel or to continue working with that thought without jeopardizing what I’ve just done. So, doing multiples is more like doing one big painting of a repeating subject.

Or maybe each painting is like a chapter in a novel I’m writing, where different details about the same characters and settings are brought forward.

Check the links under the paintings for multiples.

 

5 800

Same Time Same Place #5″ (11 x 14″ acrylic on canvas panel). $100 USD plus shipping.

Reflection #4 800
Reflection #4″ (11 x 14″ acrylic on canvas panel). $100 USD plus shipping.

7 800

Baboon #7″ (11 x 14″ acrylic on canvas panel). $100 USD plus shipping.

 

 

 

 

 

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Same Time Same Place

6 800
“Same Time Same Place #6″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) December 30, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

5-8001.jpg
“Same Time Same Place #5″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) December 30, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

4-8001.jpg
“Same Time Same Place #4″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) December 30, 2017. SOLD

3 800
“Same Time Same Place #3″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) December 30, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

2 800
“Same Time Same Place #2 (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) December 30, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

1 800
“Same Time Same Place #1″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) December 30, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

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Baboons

4 800
“Baboon #4″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) December 24, 2017. SOLD
5 800
“Baboon #5″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) December 24, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.
6 800
“Baboon #6″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) December 24, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.
7 800
“Baboon #7″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) December 24, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.
8 800
“Baboon #8″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) December 24, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

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Paintings Within Paintings

No Hat 162 800

No Hat #162

Back in April, when “No Hat #162” (above) was painted,  I typically considered the neck and shoulders an area that I didn’t want to distract from the face, and this was usually problematic because these structural components are important. The neck supports the head and the shoulders might indicate tension or suggest something about the body below. So the question became: how do I give information about stance and attitude using neck and shoulders without taking visual attention away from the emotions on the face?

You’d be surprised how much time I spent in the lower third of the painting, and how frequently I went to the sink to wash paint off and work with what remained. This area is also tricky because this is where a major shift in depth occurs. You’ve likely notice that I skip ears whenever possible. Other than the background and the sides of the head and hair, the neck beneath the chin is the only other place than recedes dramatically. Unlike the ease I’ve established in dealing with the sides of the head (where I employ methods I swiped from portrait artist John Singer Sargent) I have found using the neck to define the jaw a troubling matter.

In May, when “No Hat #179” (below) was painted, I made a brilliant discovery. I began treating the area below the jawline as separate territory (see detail of “No Hat #179” below) in which I gave myself the freedom to work with an openly abstract sensibility. In my mind these areas became landscape based as opposed to portraiture. Not only did I create mini-masterpieces in the lower third, but this departure from the more representational nature in the top two thirds served to distinguish distance in the depth of field. The answer to the neck and shoulders question was not in diluted versions of what was above it, but in strongly delineated abstract features that provided the distinction I was after without becoming too fussy.

No Hat 179 800

No Hat #179

No Hat 179 800Detail of “No Hat #179”

In June, I was asked to do a commission. A woman I don’t know messaged me, offering to pay up front if I’d paint a black lady “(like me)”. I said paying first wasn’t necessary and explained that painting likenesses isn’t really my thing unless inspiration strikes. She said she thought she’d like what I painted. I told her I liked a particular photo of her and she told me one of my songs is one of her all time favorites! I figured we were on the same wavelength. She knows my band and wants one of my paintings. Seems reasonable.

I definitely felt inspired when I painted these three (No Hat #186, #187, #189 below) based on the photo. I was really happy with the final paintings, but I decided not to send them to her directly because I didn’t think I’d captured a likeness of her, but then again, she hadn’t really said it needed to look like her either. I posted them for sale on FaceBook and waited to see if she spotted them. She didn’t, so I let it slide until this week when I figured I’d make a private album for her and let her know I had done the paintings (but that they didn’t look much like her). She mentioned that she recognized herself in one of them, but made no comment about buying or not buying, and I decided not to ask.

I described the whole lower third concept to her (with the hope she’d buy one) and she mentioned she’d majored in painting at one point. Anywho. No sale. And that’s fine. Maybe she was buying herself a gift and when the painting didn’t materialize in a timely fashion she bought something else with that one hundred dollars. I mean, almost six months had passed since she asked.

More significantly, these are three of the first ones where I stepped into my new philosophy about the area below the jawline. Perhaps I wouldn’t have found my way into this as quickly if they hadn’t been commissioned work or maybe I was on this trajectory and whatever I painted next would have included an abstract element in the lower third.

All of these paintings (11 x 14″ acrylic on canvas panel) are available for $100 USD plus shipping.

No Hat 186 800

No Hat #186

No Hat 187 800

No Hat #187

No Hat 188 800

No Hat #188

186 BIG

Detail of “No Hat #186”

187 BIG

Detail of “No Hat #187”

188 BIG

Detail of “No Hat #188” includes the mouth only to show
the line that connects the jaw and shirt to the earlobe

A note on commissioned likenesses: working from snapshots of people I’ve never seen in real life isn’t ideal. Painting specific people feels very different than painting what I want to paint. It isn’t actually what I set out to do nor is it something I enjoy. After doing a dozen or so commissioned likenesses, I came to the conclusion my energy is better put painting what I want to paint. Plus, the likenesses end up taking twice as long and they seem to require at type of email conversation where I have to put myself into an unpleasant emotional state as I explain my preference for not doing commissioned likenesses.

 

 

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Thérèse Dreaming

DP307783

What about the third figure in Balthus’ painting Thérèse Dreaming? I’m not really one for looking around in paintings for things that might be or mean other things, but, in this case, perhaps the towel isn’t just a towel. Is it a towel thrown in? It seems to be the shape of a weeping, forlorn ghost of a man, perhaps the painter, in the scene, but basically being ignored by the girl. A man who knew youth and its vitality were behind him as he approached death, a man who wouldn’t have been of any interest to Thérèse, whose body language seems defiant to whatever rules she may have been indoctrinated towards womanhood with. Eyes closed; she’s tuned him out, holding her own space and thoughts while maintaining a very powerful pose. Sexuality here might be of the fuck you variety. Fuck you whomever says I cannot sit this way. Fuck you whomever thinks I am vulnerable because my hands are above my head and my eyes are closed. Fuck you painter man who thinks you’ve captured me or ever stood a chance with me. Maybe it’s more of an Oh Bondage Up Yours! moment as the withered old man lies crumpled and crying. Anywho, that’s my take.

It also reminds me of the Mecca Normal song Narrow in which a common activity is used to re-prioritize functions away from the male perspective. “A man might think she’s singing while she braids her hair. She is not. She braids her hair while she sings.” Similarly, I doubt very much that Thérèse is dreaming. She looks like she’s thinking to me.

Perhaps the painter captured more of her attitude than he intended.

Unpacking September

The Reality Sandwich interview I posted yesterday is the second in their series of interviews with writers, artists and musicians who use Facebook to reach audiences that often don’t expect to find them here. So, that got me to thinking about the details of my sales success. I guess I could have included more information in the interview, but I prefer to do it here for two reasons. I control the content access and it’s a much smaller audience.

My FaceBook sales story has a definite spike in activity based on a feature that appeared mid-September. Three months later and sales are still higher than they were, but I’m cautiously neutral about the feature’s long-term impact. It’s not too good that we’re halfway through December and I’ve only sold 5.

2017
September = 35
October = 22
November = 25

December so far = 5

 

I use deadlines, internet-generated accountability and a variety of milestones – mostly sales by month – as motivation. The Jealous Curator’s feature on September 14th was a huge motivator. With new eyes on my FaceBook page, I wanted to paint and post new work in my usual way, which is aiming for almost daily, but, I have to admit that the business and packaging side of things got pretty intense!

35 is a record number of sales for one month. 31 of those were after The Jealous Curator’s feature. That is to say, September wasn’t looking too good, which is why I sent The Jealous Curator a press release.

By September 12, I’d done 8 paintings with 4 sales – including “No Hat #250” (below)falling into a best ever category (meaning either very popular or a personal favorite). Not wanting to give the impression I was going to paint as realistically as this from then on, I got a little more I got a little abstract. Actually, I did one more that same day (September 4) aiming to hit the same degree of intensity as “No Hat #250”, but “No Hat #251” (below) was its own thing and it was not received particularly well on FaceBook, but sold some time later. After this, my records show that I didn’t paint again until September 10 (likely to allow some breathing room in the overall project), but that next painting didn’t sell, nor did “No Hat #253” on September 12 (below) even though it’s a damn good painting. Sales throughout the summer hadn’t been great. I sold 8 in June, 10 in July and 4 in August – I need to sell 9 a month to meet my expenses and so far in 2017, at that point, I was averaging 8.25 sales a month.

2017
January = 4
22 in February with Studio Visits and a couple of multi-painting sales
March = 10
April = 9
May = 9
June = 8 
July = 10
August = 4

For my second year of business, things weren’t looking too good as far as growth or meeting my expenses. I’d hoped that more people would share my paintings on FaceBook to broaden my reach and increase sales that way, but it became clear that people didn’t share my posts – even when I asked. There were only a handful of shares and almost no new connections came from them. I had hoped that there would be collaboration in this way, since I frequently promote what my customers do, but that whole side of things hadn’t rubbed off. I hoped people would see that sort of reciprocity and build on it.

By mid-September, I had a feeling I’d set the bar too high with “No Hat #250” and I wasn’t sure how or when sales would get back on track. This is when I composed a press release to the Jealous Curator which included this detail (below), which, now that sales are stronger than ever, I feel FaceBook sales will continue.

“I’ve been selling my $100 USD paintings directly from my FaceBook page for the last 18 months, but as the pace of sales slows (200 sold) I’m considering gallery representation.”

I got an auto-response email back saying she got tons of submissions and then, about an hour later: “GAH! i love them, jean! post going up tomorrow!”

“First, oh my word I love these portraits {acrylic on canvas panel} so, so, so much. Second, Canadian rocker turned painter Jean Smith sells these paintings on Facebook for $100 a pop. WHAT? Yes, true story. Are you wondering what you’re still doing here and why you’re not over there buying a whole bunch of these 11×14 beauties? Me too. Here you go… Jean’s Facebook page. You’re welcome.” – The Jealous Curator

With the pressure on, I returned to a subject I’d worked from quite a few times already and painted “No Hat #254” which didn’t sell right away, but I felt the style took into account how I perceive The Jealous Curator’s audience.

No Hat 250 500
Best ever category. “No Hat #250″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel)
September 4, 2017. SOLD to Kenny Mellman of The Julie Ruin
No Hat 251 500
It was it’s own thing.
“No Hat #251″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel)
September 4, 2017.  SOLD
No Hat 253 500
“No Hat #253″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 12, 2017.
$100 USD plus shipping.

No Hat 254 500
“No Hat #253″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 12, 2017.
SOLD to a Vancouver collector

I did 24 paintings in September
16 of those were after The Jealous Curator feature

85 paintings have SOLD since the Jealous Curator feature

Here are SEPTEMBER’s paintings

 

Fox #10 800
“Fox #10″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 2, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

Fox #11 800
“Fox #11″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 2, 2017. SOLD

Fox #12 800
“Fox #12″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 2, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

No Hat 249 800.JPG
“No Hat #249″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 3, 2017. SOLD

No Hat 250 800
“No Hat #250″ (after Peter Paul Rubens) (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 4, 2017. SOLD

No Hat 251 800
“No Hat #251″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 4, 2017. SOLD

No Hat 252 800

“No Hat #252″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 10, 2017. SOLD

No Hat 253 800
“No Hat #253″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 12, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

No Hat 254 800
“No Hat #254″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 15, 2017. SOLD

No Hat 255 800

“No Hat #255″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 15, 2017. SOLD

No Hat 256 800
“No Hat #256″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 16, 2017. SOLD

No Hat 257 800
“No Hat #257″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 20, 2017. SOLD


No Hat 258 800

“No Hat #258″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 21, 2017. SOLD

No Hat 259 800
“No Hat #259″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 21, 2017. SOLD

No Hat 260 800

“No Hat #260″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 22, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

No Hat 261 800

“No Hat #261″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 23, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

No Hat 262 800

“No Hat #262″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 23, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

No Hat 263 800
“No Hat #263″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 24, 2017. SOLD

No Hat 264 800
“No Hat #264″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 24, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

No Hat 265 800
“No Hat #265″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 26, 2017. SOLD

No Hat 266 800
“No Hat #266″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 27, 2017. SOLD

No Hat 267 800
“No Hat #267″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 27, 2017. SOLD

No Hat 268 800
“No Hat #268″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 28, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

No Hat 269 800

“No Hat #269″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) September 30, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

Paintings Currently Available

 

All content on this page (c) Jean Smith, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Interview

 

1

In-depth interview with Reality Sandwich by Tamra Lucid, December 11, 2017.

The second in a series of interviews with cutting edge writers, artists and musicians working through Facebook to reach audiences that often don’t expect to find them there.

“I’m painting from photos that were taken for specific purposes – a lot of them are publicity shots or for advertising. It feels like I’m giving misrepresented personalities the opportunity to express a depth of emotion – which is sometimes anger – or maybe it’s the subtle nuances I choose to include.”

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