Unpacking September

The Realiy 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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Political Art

FUCK 800“Fuck Your Morals” (11 x 14″ acrylic on canvas panel) July 2017. SOLD

FUCK #2 800

“Fuck Your Morals #2″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) July 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

I often feel like I should be doing more overtly political art like my Standing Rock Water Protectors series, that painting faces – women’s faces – isn’t enough. Yet, this concern reflects how a lot of people feel right now, historically. What can I do? What can any of us do to set things on a better course? Maybe it hasn’t been necessary to describe the better course for a long time. Better than what? Better than 1% self-interest. How about the greatest good to the greatest number of people? A utilitarian premise that doesn’t take us too far, but I think that’s what people have in mind as opposed to being fine with the wealthy doing whatever they want to make money at the expense of everyone else.

When I start to question my motivation for not making more overtly political art, I accept that fear is involved. Would people buy political art? Do I paint protestors or faces? I go back to the amount of very direct political content I have created. Must I always sing political songs? Paint political art? Write political novels?

“Fuck Your Morals” was a two painting series. I admit: when the second one didn’t sell, I stopped. If it had sold, I would have continued. I make a distinction between making multiple paintings of political subjects and replicating primarily aesthetic work. It’s very different. If I had a strong sense of political work selling, I’d paint more of it. Painting faces is a way for me to support myself and protect myself from retail-related damage (wrists, back, etc.) so that I can continue to make more overtly political work in the future. There! I’ve justified it! Yet, if painting women from photos whose primary intention was to exploit women in the name of capitalism, if painting those faces with a completely different intention, to populate the world with women’s emotions that they themselves (allegedly) felt – anger included – this is political. It’s also utterly idiosyncratic and it requires some thought. It’s also the work of a cultural activist who has been creating work across a handful of disciplines without ever making it big, but yet, keeps going rather than giving up or selling out.

I sometimes feel that the prettier faces sell fastest, that there’s a demand for youth and beauty, that I don’t want to play into. I’m not searching for something that will sell well and then continue to paint a bunch of those. That isn’t what I’m doing. Even though I get immediate feedback in terms of ‘likes’ and sales on FaceBook, I return to paint whatever I want. Most recently, I’ve been placing more importance on areas other than the face like the hair, neck and shoulders – where I’m doing more abstract work. It’s a way of broadening the work beyond the face.

I think more money-driven artists might go towards what sells, but that’s too much like capitalism – as is raising the price for no particular reason other than it’s the conventional thing to do when something becomes popular. All the years of making music that isn’t about fame and fortune fortifies this approach. I know first hand what else can be accomplished by making something that isn’t essentially profit-driven. Friendship, community, measurable social change. Don’t get me wrong – I want to have money to reduce worry and increase security, but it isn’t what propels this project. Yet again, if the paintings weren’t selling, I’d have to get a job in retail. Grappling with the balance between creativity and commerce is nothing new to me. It’s part of what I’d include in an artist statement, but I think that’s something that will come later.

 

 

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Video: currently available

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, September 2017

$100 USD paintings currently available

Music by Mecca Normal

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The Painting of “No Hat #310”

No Hat 310 800

“No Hat #310″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) December 8, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

After I posted “No Hat #310” on my FaceBook page yesterday, former Bitch Media culture reviewer Jim Burlingame commented, “Awesome! I’d love to read a breakdown of your artistic choices, with each stage of a painting like this.”

So, I replied.

Whenever I take a break from painting, which is usually only a few days, it always feels like a significantly new time or phase is about to begin. I feel a lot of pressure to do something good so that there isn’t a kind of comparative downward sense. I knew I wanted to use a different subject and move away from the women I’d been painting, but I didn’t have anything in mind, until I saw a screengrab I saved from footage around the same era as the Rolling Stones paintings I did.

It was a very blurry black and white image, very low contrast where the features were mostly obscured – very different from what I’ve been doing which is all very brightly lit faces. I wanted to use something other than black for the darkest areas – which I painted first, before the lighter areas of the forehead, nose, upper lip and cheeks. To a certain extent, I usually paint eyes, nose and mouth to look like those things, but with this one, I’m painting light into the dark to give the sense of mass and contour, so I went back and forth cutting in with the warm skin colors, then back into it with what turned out to be black and not some slightly warmer color. Overall, it became more about looking at all the components together at the same time to see how believable it was in terms of what would be in shadow and what would be catching the light with a singular light source from above.

I frequently use blue in the background because it recedes, so it can help a painting like this, which is about what pushes forward out into the light. I did a bit of what John Singer Sargent did and made the right side of the head (his left) – the hair – a hard line and the other side softer. To make it softer I painted a thin layer of the background color over the dark , but I want to indicate that the light wasn’t simply cutting into the dark there, that the light picked up another color around the hair and that was the warmer color – a purple because the hair was made of black with red in it and the blue of the background with red makes purple. As soon as I had that purple in I knew I wanted bright yellow for the clothing percentage of the surface because purple and yellow are complementary. I couldn’t wait to get the yellow on the panel, but then I muted where the purple was so it wasn’t reaching out and working with the yellow, but more as a hint under the blue, after that I adjusted the darkness on the face and it went too dark and became like a stylized silhouette, I’ll call it for lack of a better term, whereas I wanted it to look like it was someone in a certain light, not a stylized image, so I needed to alter the intensity of the black coverage – but not by changing the color or cutting into the black with the skin color. At this point I knew I was going to take it to the sink and use a scrub brush. I kind of checked in with my confidence level and quickly noticed no apprehension (a way to describe a sense of assessing that I’m not about to do something reckless for some other underlying reason). I also knew I needed the paint to be a certain amount drier before I got it wet or it would just run off out of control, so I got the hairdryer on it and recognized how much this part is based in experience, having gotten to know the paint and how paint of various thicknesses and wetnesses will behave when I get them under the tap. I knew which areas were set and which were vulnerable to the water. I was thinking about other disciplines – like cooking and baking – during which various consistencies have to be achieved during complicated processes.

I used to do a lot more at the sink, removing a lot of the paint in frustration and experimentation, but water from the tap has become much more of a tool as I’ve become more experienced. Sometimes I do it just to loosen everything, as a final step in what might have been headed towards over-painting.

I ran it under the tap quickly and pulled the scrub brush (a nail brush, actually) over it once and got the lines I wanted. I walked back to the board allowing the water to run off the surface, watching to see what was happening on all areas. I mopped up some of the water carefully with paper towel and got the hair dryer on it again, and felt very good about being able to add the final gradation, the alternating values of light and dark, around the eyes and under the nose. Oh, and the swipe of paper towel moving the paint horizontally off the left is a compositional addition.

 

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Standing Rock Water Protectors

Standing Rock 20 x 24 800
“Standing Rock Water Protectors” (24 x 20 x 1.5″ acrylic on wood) September, 2016. $800 USD plus shipping.

Standing Rock 800 #2
“Standing Rock Water Protectors #2″ (11 x 14” acrylic on paper) September, 2016. SOLD

Standing Rock 800 #3
“Standing Rock Water Protectors #3″ (11 x 14” acrylic on paper) September, 2016. SOLD

Standing Rock 800 #4
“Standing Rock Water Protectors #4″ (11 x 14” acrylic on paper) September, 2016. $100 USD plus shipping.

Standing Rock 800
“Standing Rock Water Protectors” (11 x 14″ acrylic on watercolor paper)September, 2016. SOLD

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Mobile Exhibitions

12
Deep Cove, North Vancouver, summer 2017

3
help me
Granville Street Art Walk, Vancouver, 2017

1
Commercial Drive Car-Free Day, Vancouver, 2017

 

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Paintings Based on a Photo of Bridget Bardo

My objective has more to do with emotions that aren’t essentially expressed on her face in the photo. My paintings hold multiple tensions and micro-energies that transcend the split second of the shutter opening and closing. There’s emotional history involved because of who I am and how she looks. Most recent paintings (11 x 14″ acrylic on canvas panel) at the top.

No Hat 294 800

No Hat 256 800No Hat 254 800

No Hat 255 800No Hat 242 800No Hat 247 800No Hat 234 800No Hat 235 800

Singer #7 800Singer #4 800

No Hat 158 800

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Animals Available

Fox #10 800
“Fox #10” (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping

Fox #12 800
“Fox #12” (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping

Wolf 800
“Wolf” (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping

Wolf #2 800

“Wolf #2” (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping

Wolf #3 800“Wolf #3” (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping

Wolf #4 800

“Wolf #4” (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping

PAINTINGS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE  FaceBook and WordPress
Email me: meccanormal@hotmail.com to check availability

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