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Selling Right Off the Easel October 11, 2012

Posted by Bev Bunker in Uncategorized.
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Cool Water II, 24in x 36in, oil on canvas

Its really a wonderful testament to the validity of your work as an artist when a painting, just finished, isn’t off the easel and is sold, especially when it is being created for a solo art show. This recently happened to me. I was thrilled and exhilarated, but here’s the rub; the work I was painting was to go in one of the galleries that represent my work. This particular piece was on my easel in a location I was painting in as a result of an emergency, being that my own studio had some water damage and was being attended to by my loyal Mr. FixEverything husband.

People never get to visit my studio while working on a show…never, never, never. I will touch and re-touch too many times before I’m satisfied with the final result. Only then will the painting be done. If someone sees it (as happened recently as well), and if they are another artist, they usually like to make helpful comments such as “maybe you should brighten that area up” or “maybe you should dull that area down” and so on….you get the idea. However, in this situation all the remarks were ‘oooh’ and ‘wow!’ I took this to mean that the painting was working.

So Mister and Missus walk in and see the painting and immediately fall in love with it. Lovely! But there’s a problem. They want to take it home RIGHT NOW. I can’t do that since the painting is for a show and MUST be up at least for the opening reception. Also, the other thing is that it hadn’t been sold in the gallery! This means that the commission doesn’t have to be split (ordinarily).  Now this is where it gets tricky.

Mister and Missus want to take the painting home NOW and they can’t. I have to retain it and let the gallery know it has been sold even before they have seen it, and it must go through the gallery for sale and removal. This is the right thing to do. So I contact the gallery first, explain the situation and then contact Mister and Missus. Their disappointment is abated when I tell them it needs to be up for the Opening Reception of my show and will be the HIGHLIGHT of it. They are delighted and everything goes ahead.

Now the moral here is, if you have gallery representation and you sell work outside the gallery that is meant for a show with them, your moral compass will point the way to do what is right for both of you. I told my gallery up front about the situation. Yes, I split my commission with them, that’s just the way it has to be. And what I got out of it was that my gallery worked very hard to sell a few more pieces of mine. They were happy I was honest, I was happy and carried no guilt. And the people who bought it? Their painting highlighted my show, got great reviews and comments, and it now hangs happily in a home where these people enjoy it.

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