Friday, October 30, 2009

The value of a critic or gallery owner as arbiter of the marketplace

Fellow equine artist Juliet Harrison posted a question on Facebook asking for discussion about the value of a critic/gallery owner as arbiter of the marketplace, which prompted me to write this post.

After many years in the art business, I think critics and gallery owners look for what's new and different rather than what will appeal to people and make them want to live with that piece in their homes.  They look for the trendy, hoping they'll be at the forefront of something new that changes how we look at art, perhaps, rather than the classic style that is proven to stand the test of time.

Look at what's stood the test of time in equine art - Herring, Munnings, Remington, etc. They're not "edgy" or "hip" and I don't believe they were in their day. I don't know what critics back then said about their work, but today, they wouldn't get nearly the good press that some idiot doing a painting of Mary, mother of Jesus, covered in elephant dung, will get (and yes, that was a real so-called "artwork" that got lots of critical acclaim a few years ago. Yuck.) Yet Munnings, Herring and Remington's work holds up and holds value all these years later.

IMO, art critics' standards of art don't apply to the kind of art you might want to LIVE with rather than what you'd find in a museum.  And IMO, gallery owners know they will get more press by carrying edgy, risk-taking art rather than beautiful traditional art, so that's what I believe a lot of them look for.

We artists have to create what's in our hands, eyes and hearts. Our love of our subjects and our passion for our work will show and those with a grain of sense will buy it long before they'll buy some of that trendy stuff.

My horses aren't tightly detailed because I'm portraying a horse in motion.  You're not that likely to notice the vein on the inside of a real horse's forearm while he's working unless he's a race horse and every single vein is standing out on his body, so I don't sculpt a lot of those details.  That and various other things about my work makes people tell me my horses look like they can breathe, like they can trot right off their bases, and that's what I'm after in my work.  I want to create art people enjoy living with, work that tugs their heartstrings and moves them, work that evokes wonderful memories, and work that looks alive, not frozen in bronze.  That's one of the reasons I use patinas that are as close as possible to real horse coat colors rather than the traditional French brown patina.

My work is traditional, not "trendy," so hopefully it won't look dated in twenty years the way the trendy stuff will.  Remember some of the artworks or knick-knacks that were popular in the 1960s or 1970s or even the '80's?  Today they would look dated unless they were classic in style.  So the critics can keep their criticism and the galleries can keep their edgy art - I'll stick to doing the classical style work that makes my heart sing.  My passion shows in my work, and that's what appeals to collectors, IMO.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sculpting Workshop with Lynda Sappington

May 21-23, 2010, 9AM to 5 PM, $250 for the 3 day workshop at Marienthal Country Inn in Eden NY (near Buffalo), a Bed and Breakfast that's offering a 30% off any room for students. Rooms start at $30/night. The workshop will be held in a converted church that's on the property. For details, see

When you get to that site, click on the "workshops" link at the top. The info on my class isn't on there yet, but should be by Monday Oct. 26. However, the application will work with or without my class info being on the page, so feel free to go ahead and sign up!  Class size is limited to 15.

In the workshop, we'll cover building armatures, measuring the subject (horses, but the same principal applies to other subjects), how to work with clay and building the sculpture. I will discuss mold-making and casting resin and bronze, but there won't be time in this class to do any mold-making or casting.

If you want to get a head start on the class, order my book, "Sculpting 101: A Primer for the Self-taught Artist" by contacting me at

I hope to see you there!

2010 Dancing Horse Farm Art Show

Entry Deadline: March 19, 2010

All works must feature a horse or horses.
Divisions: Painting, Drawing, Mixed Media, Photography, Sculpture, with separate divisions for Professional and Amateur artists.

Full entry information is at You will need the Adobe Reader to read the Prospectus and entry forms.

Venues: May 1-2, 2010, Dancing Horse Farm, Lebanon OH as part of their Spring Fling Horse Show and Festival. NEW THIS YEAR!!! May 3-16, Picture This Gallery, Lebanon OH.

Awards: Ribbons for first to third place in each division. $100 “Best of Show” award.

Questions? Please contact

Lemon Laptop and sloppy filing by Yahoo

I've written various places about the troubles I've been having with my BRAND NEW (as of May 2009) Toshiba laptop.  IIRC, first there was the problem of the screen going black whenever I'd pick it up.  It would come back right away when you touched a key, but still, that isn't supposed to happen.  Then there was the fact that the cursor would jump all over the screen uncontrollably when I tried to use it in the car (with my hubby driving - I get a lot of writing and editing done on trips).  We took it to the certified Toshiba repair place (and none of this is their fault - they've been wonderful about trying to fix it) and the first time it went in, they replaced the touchpad and the hard drive.  In a brand-new computer, mind you!  The blacking out continued and there was some other problem that escapes me at the moment, so it went in for repair again and they replaced the mother board.  When I got it back that time, one USB port wouldn't work and recently, the right mouse key only works intermittently.  So we took it in again and found out that ALL Toshiba Satellite laptops of that model have been recalled and Toshiba will repair it at the factor.  Excuse me, folks at Toshiba, but there isn't a lot left to repair after you replace the mother board, the hard drive and the touch pad, is there???  *sigh*  I'd like to know at what point they plan to send me a new computer - maybe at THIS point.

Oh, as for the cursor problem - we got a different power converter for the car that goes straight from whatever power usually is to that same format (I don't remember if it's DC to DC or AC to AC - I can't keep them straight).  The old converter went from AC to DC (or the other way round???) and that worked for my old laptops but not for this new one for some reason.  The new one is a Vista machine - I don't know if that makes any difference.  My old one was an XP Pro.

We've had several Toshiba laptops - my hubby has one that's about eight years old and is so heavy it's hard to carry around, but it's still running - slowly compared to new ones, but running!  I use my laptops hard, carrying them all over the house, to art shows, on trips, etc.  They're meant to be mobile and I use them that way.  We've been pleased with our Toshiba computers up until this one.  And I love this new computer except for all the problems it's been giving me!  Hence my griping here.

As for sloppy filing by Yahoo - I keep files on my Yahoo mail account for emails concerning various of my projects (such as the Dancing Horse Farm Equine Art Show or books and stories I'm consulting with my beta readers about), special emails from close friends, emails that I've sent myself to note research I'm doing for stories or sculptures, etc.  Every so often, Yahoo will say I have more unread emails than show in the Inbox listing.  When I look down the list in the Inbox, I may find a bunch of spams have inserted themselves in the Inbox list.  Other times, I'll see one of the files highlighted and the extra "new" emails are there.  That happened this morning.  When I opened that file, imagine my shock when I saw a LOT of e's I'd DELETED had been stored in that file!  These are e's I'd read and didn't need, so I hit the "delete" key and expected them to go to the trash folder.  So I went through all my folders and found some of them in pristine condition, but the ones I haven't used very often had up to about 30 trash emails in them!  I have no idea how or why this happened, but if you file some of your emails on Yahoo, you'd better check your folders to see what's really there!

I wish I knew an easy way to save what's in those folders to my hard drive and get them off Yahoo.  I don't know how to do that except by opening every one and saving it as a Word document or something, and that would take an awfully long time with some of these files.  If anyone has suggestions, I'd love to  hear them!