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'Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell' by John Baldessari

tips for artists who want to sell

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Santa Monica Museum of Art is having a benefit May 11 featuring artist John Baldessari. Baldessari is famous for different aspects of his work, among which is advice for artists. I remember seeing him at Venice Beach and sometimes at Hermosa Beach where we lived. Lots of artists and creative people live along the strip of beaches that skirt Los Angeles.

Here is a description of “Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell.”

John Baldessari (American, b. 1931). Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell, 1966-68. Acrylic on canvas. 68 x 56 1/2 in. (172.7 x 143.5 cm).

The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica / © John Baldessari

  • “Generally speaking, paintings with light colors sell more than painting with dark colors.
  • Subjects that sell well: Madonna and child, landscapes, flower paintings, still lifes (free of morbid props. dead birds, etc.), nudes, marine pictures, abstracts and surrealism.
  • Subject matter is important, it has been said that paintings with cows and hens in them collect dust. while the same paintings with bulls and roosters sell.”

Cool, huh? It is in all caps and that is a work of art.

John does a

lot of cut and paste work called collage. He was a trailblazer when he started that style in the 1960s. A sample of his work is shown in the slideshow.

I was having a conversation with Theresa Stifel, artist and owner of Stifel & Capra of Falls Church in which we talked about artist statements and what sells. I paint trees and people in active situations in watercolor medium. Trees stand still enough, the light is constantly on the move. People are often on the move unless they are asleep.

What do people buy, we pondered?

I told her about my show at the Arlington Arts Center a few years ago called “Cats on the Washington Post”. I wrote an art statement that said I do watercolors on the newspaper. I put them in a large basket and called it kitty litter. I sold almost all of my cats.

Someone asked if I do dogs.

Oh my no. Not in my artist statement.

I was kidding, of course. Then I remarked that I have a self-portrait called “Watercolor Whore.” That is what my daughter called me once describing my penchant for painting anything and everything.

Theresa said, “You really don’t do that do you?”

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