Pastels anonymised

I de-labeled all my soft pastels.

Pastels are glorious: intense colour held together with a minimum of binder. Their purity is their super-power but also their flaw.

The re-organised pastel box – for now…

Quality soft pastels are expensive, and I find myself overly preoccupied by which brand I’m currently scraping across the paper. Brief thoughts wondering how much that sky just cost, clutter thinking and interrupt focus.

Yesterday I did two things: reorganised my studio pastel storage (a regular task, particularly when there are a few new arrivals); tore off all the labels.

Of course it’s not hard to distinguish the make of a pastel once in your fingers. Size, shape, feel, colour intensity all point to its origins. But no labels mean the primary consideration is colour – exactly how it should be.

When time matters

A shiny new motto for me going into the new year: avoid getting into a discussion about time with a prospective buyer.

I’m convinced I lost at least two sales in last month’s open studios weekend as a result of potential buyer weighing price and time a little too closely. Those two exchanges, though not the norm, were both a surprise and a revelation.

The nature of my work often generates the question of how long it took, detailed tonal charcoal drawings in particular. That conversation inevitably leads a buyer to form a value judgement against the price of the work.

In most cases, they have no understanding of the costs involved: VAT and gallery commission (in some cases), framing, storage, additional time in prepping, photographing, online promotion, recording, cataloguing… this list goes on. Once you start talking about such details, they just glaze over. All they can deal with is price vs time.

Total time spent to create a work goes far beyond the physical activity for a single piece.

So how can you avoid these purchase-inhibiting exchanges?

My plan is to remain as vague as possible. After all, any piece that is part of a collection or series may take far more (or less) time than its siblings, for all manner of reasons. If pinned down, I might use phrases such as “works like this can take anywhere from 10-30 hours”. Though I am coming to the conclusion that such exchanges are unlikely to end in a sale if the buyer is focused on a time:money judgement.

Really, the amount of time a work takes to create should be wholly irrelevant.

The new site

If you have been following along for the past few years you may know that my various blogs have come and gone. But such things have been in limbo in recent times. With increasing focus on creating art once again, and relocating to a new studio space in Margate, I felt now was an ideal time to return to talking about what I am up to.

Neil drawing in the studio
Neil drawing in the studio

You can expect work in progress, creative plans and ideas, news, thoughts, a studio journal, and probably a fair bit of creative introspection.

My professional focus since the early 2000s has been anything but artistically focused. That is changing. Over the coming years I plan to rediscover that side of my work, brush the cobwebs from old skills, discover new ones, and gradually shift to art being the primary focus of my professional work. Expect a fair bit of blogging all about those challenges.

Who knows? Maybe my journey, however it unfolds, will help and encourage.