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Level 81 – Atreides Mine

Just finished up my latest painting, “Level 81 – Atreides Mine” last night. It’s a Steampunk / abstract of a underground mine scene on the planet Arrakis.

This painting is 18″ wide and 24″ high (portrait). If anyone is interested in this painting, don’t hesitate to contact me at 250-784-8383 or email

Making A Living Painting Acrylic Art – Part 1


This week I wanted to explore a topic openly and honestly – selling my own art. I also wanted to throw out some ideas about services for other artists.

Over the last 20+ years I have marketed products and services for clients all over North America. Everything from games to books to financial training. I have used social media, websites, newsletters and hundreds of other tools. But i want to talk about marketing art.

About 15 years ago I started painting and in the first year, I painted about 10 watercolour paintings. Each one sold for about $200-$550 for the original version of each. I then sold prints of each for about $150-$200. In my first year, I made about $30,000 in gross sales. Not bad for part-time.

Today, I paint primarily acrylics and they range in price from $250 – $650 for original pieces. The price is slowly creeping up.

My goal (to be totally, brutally honest) is to make enough to match my current consulting work and a bit more. Like most artists, over the years, I found there were 2 ways to sell:

  • The traditional Way – selling locally, entering local shows and exhibitions. And hope for the best.

  • Sell primarily online, via the Internet, using Social Media and promoting online.

I typically do both but there are many challenges with both.

The traditional way involves getting paintings in Galleries, working on other peoples schedule, booking shows months in advance, and many other challenging issues.

The Online method of sales is challenging due primarily to the type of promotions you do and the branding of your work. The benefit is you reach a SIGNIFICANTLY larger market. During the first year I sold my watercolour prints, I sold 80% to the US and about 30-40% of my original watercolours/acrylics.

Future Directions

One thing I have learned with both techniques is you have to:

  • Market as many ways as you can.
  • Marketing and promote daily
  • Build a following and stay in touch.
  • Make it easy to buy
  • Know your Target Market

When I talk about marketing different ways, I am not talking about 3-4 methods like a webpage, letter to galleries, Facebook page and Christmas cards. You have to think 50-80 methods of reaching people. I started listing all the different ways you can market and easily come up with close to 80.

Another big challenge is pricing and also determining WHO is your target market and how best to reach them. This is critical. You need to not only think about what gender, income range, interests but need to know about 30 different things that tie to HOW they buy. Do they research the artwork or comparison shop and then buy 6 months from now or do they buy it the same day they see it for the first time.

Experimentation is important and I am finding that on Social Media like Facebook, I can get lots of interest and lots of good impressions from family and friends. But few sales in most cases. On the other hand, Instagram viewers on my feed tend to buy but few are people I know if at all. You need to test.

Pricing is always a challenge. I spoke to one artist online who I read about in a art magazine in BC. He had only painted for maybe 1-2 years. His work was unique and very large, with most paintings easily 4-5 feet across and about 6-7 ft high. He priced his work at about $4000 to $7000 per painting. And he was selling a lot of work.

The average person does not normally spend the kind of money the above artist was charging.

What is encouraging is that you may create a painting and sell it as an original for $500-$1500. But you can print 100 copies and sell each at $300 each as a numbered print. Thats $30,000 in print revenue with about $20K in profit.

I think the approach I may take is to set a goal of say $40,000 in sales. Based on my current volume of work ( say 4 originals a month ) that works out to 48 a year. To make $40K, I would need to sell each for $830. Thats not realistic in the market I am reaching.

The better approach might be to sell 3 original painting over 10 months (taking 2 month off throughout the year) and sell 30 at $400 – $500 each. On the low side thats $12,000. Leaving a $38,000. Now if you created prints of each painting in 2 sizes, you might make more profit.

Example:

30 originals x 75 prints each = 2250 prints

Print size one ( 13 x 19 ) -> $250 print x 2250 = $562,500

Subtract expenses of 35% (a bit high) = $364,236

If you did a smaller size of 9 x 12 size, you could sell for $100 each and make another $18,000 net.

The secret is to save your originals for the target market that want these and sell the prints in 2 affordable sizes (signed and numbered) for the audience that is looking for affordable prints.

In my next blog post, I will share some income opportunities for artists based on some of the marketing I have done. Email me at gordon@gordoncurrieart.com with any comments you have.

Random Thoughts About my Art

Today I wanted to post thought thoughts and feelings about my Art. Why I paint and more importantly what I paint. Hope this gives all my friends and family some background on my favourite hobby.

We all love to express ourselves and in the crazy world we live in today, you really need a great hobby and something that allows you to put aside the challenges and problems of the world. For me, painting is something that allows me to relax.

I have other hobbies and love to read, create stuff with wood and spend time at our family cabin at Moberly Lake. Getting up in the morning, sitting on the sundeck with a coffee and family around makes for a great life.

People ask me why I paint. I can honestly say its one of the few things that help me relax, stay somewhat stress-free and also explore the creative side of my life. What surprised me a few years ago was the combination of painting and researching my painting themes. This was fun but soon I found the feeling of actually touching the paint and using paint textures, mediums and getting my hands wet really made a big difference.

Imagine having a hobby you can do that gives you the best feelings and really makes you feel whole. Your problems literally fall away. I know this feeling for me is very addicting. The closest I can describe it is this example. When I used to draw race a car a few years ago, I would take off like a rocket, pull a few G’s and 10 seconds go from o mph to 130 mph. It was a huge adrenalin rush. Well oddly enough when I paint, the excitement level is just about as big. Mind you without the danger aspect.

Why do I paint what I do?

Alot of people ask me why I paint the themes I do. It is a great question. Lets first start with a current list of what I paint with a short note beside each topic/theme:

  • Flowers and Window Boxes – I paint these as I love gardening, grew up in Victoria and spent many years helping my wife garden. The colours smells make it easy to love these themes. And many people love my rich use of colour.
  • Sci Fi / Steampunk – I have been a HUGE fan of Science Fiction. Over the years, I started to really enjoy the Steampunk movement. The Jules Verne style blend of old items used to describe art and other Victorian themes was fun. I also helped develop computer games over the years and love non-violent adventure games. Match this with some fantasy coupled with Lord of the Rings and Dune, well these are great subjects to paint.
  • English houses / Architecture + Cotswold Homes – I grew up in Oak Bay ( part of Victoria ) in an area with predominantly old English homes. I collect David Winter Cottage and love English architecture. This is a big part of why I want to paint these themes. Coupled with English gardens, it makes for a great day of painting.
  • West Coast Themes / Old Growth Forests – Growing up on the west coast of BC….well it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see why these themes are fun to paint. I camped a lot on the west coast and on Vancouver Island. I have many fond memories of this area. My art reflects where I grew up in a lot of ways.
  • Firefighters themes – I worked as both a volunteer firefighter and then from 1981 to 1987 a full-time firefighter. Painting firefighters and burning buildings reminds me of that time in my life. My father in law was a firefighter for 35+ years and I always admired his career.
  • Rail Car Themes – What can I say? I love trains, model trains and should have gone to BC Rail or CN when I was a young man and got a job. To this day, I hear a train and go running to see it!
  • Japanese Architecture and Gardens – This has been an interest of mine since about age 12 when I saw Japanese themed gardens and was enamoured with pictures of Bonsai, Tea Gardens and many other Japanese themes. Hope to one day go to Japan to study their architecture.
  • My other topics I paint include Mediterranean buildings, old wagon wheels, west coast marinas and more. Again, painting from great memories when I was younger.
  • So there you have it. Why I paint and reasons why I paint what I paint. Now you know “the rest of the story”.

    Last thoughts – I hope in the coming months/years that more of my work will sell and I can work 50% of my time as an artist and eventually retire and work 100% on painting. It’s that much fun!

New Techniques / More Paintings / New Sizes / Personal Thoughts

This week I wanted to share some fun stuff about my paintings. I get emails every few days asking me how I get certainly effects. So I thought I would share a few with you. I also wanted to share some paintings I have on the go as well as some new sizes and personal thoughts.

In the past when painting acrylic paintings, I have always tried to use a warm, neutral colour for a background colour. I will then sketch overtop of that with a conté crayon. Then I go through a process of painting in values from light grey to black.

In my recent painting “CoreWorld 2175”, I started with a light outline of the image with a 20-30% black. I started out by blocking in some rough colours to see if I liked the direction I was going. Some key areas that needed to be covered early were some white pipes and heating ducts. I painted these in a white with just a hint of blue/green. It was very hard to see the colour but it was there. I then let the paint dry and grabbed my metallic silver and painting a light coat (more wash like) over the white pipes. The next step was to paint some thinned green, rusty copper colour in washes over the silver. These were left to dry. Once dry, I then take VERY light washes of colour over the pipes. It worked out to about 10 coats.

So you might be thinking, “What effect will I get?” The effect is pipes that have a white base, silver reflective colour and then depending on the light, reflect light from the various washes of colour. It’s hard to describe but I can maybe take a video and see if I can capture.

Experimenting with washes on different colours and layering them is fun. In most cases, you need to let them dry before painting over them.

Another technique I have bee experimenting with is mixing shadow colours. Most painters use a form of black but true shadows are not a black but a combination. On the colour wheel ( for those that use them) you can pick a variety of shades that work well. I will upload some pictures soon to show what I mean.

More Paintings

I currently have two 18″ x 24″ Steampunk paintings underway. I will be picking these up at the framing shop this week. I also have a 36″ x 36″ painting ready for background base before sketching out the design of this beauty. Lastly, I have 3-4 paintings in development that will run in the 18″ x 24″ size.

My desire is to paint larger than the 18′ x 24″ but many clients like something affordable that fits a den, bedroom or office. For custom work I will use larger sizes.

Personal Notes

Over the past few weeks, I have had a few people ask about why I don’t paint full-time. The answer is not a simple one. I love to paint and although I enjoy working with my clients, designing web pages and solar projects, deep down I would love to paint full-time. I have so many ideas for paintings and series that I doubt I would ever get bored.

Painting for a living is tough. Many of the paintings I create don’t always appeal to a northern audience. In Dawson Creek, people love to see painted grain elevators, wheat fields, lakes and mountains etc. I love painting these but I also miss the coastal areas of British Columbia where I grew up.

Fantasy markets vary and some themes like steampunk style paintings appeal more to people living in larger centres and in many cases other countries in Europe.

The audiences for the work I do varies as well. I am seeing that more and more as I experiment with different ideas and techniques.

Over the next month or two, I hope to market myself ( and paintings) better and get more attention on my work. I don’t typically get a lot of pushback on prices, so I think I simply need to get in front of more eyeballs. Here are a few more ideas I expect to do in promoting my work:

  • The US market has bought a lot of my work over the years. Time for a big push there again.
  • I want to try promoting my work more as gifts for family, coworkers looking for an idea for a retirement gift or target doctors or lawyers (who typically enjoy creative art).
  • I will continue to advertise on the new Facebook Marketplace.
  • Promote myself on Instagram more
  • Look for more commissions. They take time and you really need to do a lot of prep work but are fun!
  • Book some more shows and paint more outside. Known as “Plein Air”

Moving ahead, I want to start selling prints more actively again. I have the scanned images and can print on demand. In the past, I used to print about 25 of each print and number them. I would print about 80% of the original size (to preserve the price of the original). The mistake I made was I should not have limited the size of the print run to a small number. Thinking a small run of 500 might be more appropriate. I will have to think about this.

Take care and let me know if you are interested in any paintings or have a question.

Gordon

Photo by William Felker on Unsplash

New Sci-fi / Steampunk Series

In early 2018, I started working on a new Sci-Fi / Steampunk series. This series was something I wanted to paint for a long time. The combination of old and new technology blended with gears, pipes, old factories and blast furnaces allowed me to experiment with colour and high contrast layouts. The first original in the series is called CoreWorld 2175 was a lot of fun to paint.

This new painting started with months of research on Pinterest looking for old buildings and factories as well as gears and rusty imagery. I gather about 8-12 images in Adobe Photoshop and manipulated them on various layers. From there I exported them and had low-resolution prints made on canvas. The canvas print was mounted on stretcher bars by local framer, Picture It Framing in Dawson Creek.

Once framed, I then started the painting process with acrylics and outlined with India ink. I started with light washes of colour, allowed them to dry and then started the background colours in oranges, rusts and around 32 different mixed shades. Pipes and other mechanical components were painted. This stage took 2-3 days. The following stages included painting shadows, highlights and more washes of colour.

The washes of colour are remarkable as they are microscopically thin but when layered allow you to get a translucent effect with the light bouncing off the canvas. Its quite impressive in the brighter light!

I then went over the dark blacks with India ink and also added a bunch of detailed lines and cracks in the pipe. The final effect was to thin out watery layers of yellows and oranges and washing the entire painting to simulate the warmer tones in the mental.

New paintings coming in the Sci-fi Series

Pictured below are paintings in this series (#2 thru #4). These are the black and white images I created prior to adding the colouring and India ink detailing. This is the first time these images have been shared publicly. These paintings will be completed in end of May and early June and will be for sale. Enjoy!


“Level 81 – Atreides Mine”

“Early Stage Cito-plasmic Generator”

“Obsidian Dreams”

Insider Tips on Painting

Hi there

Today I wanted to share some random tips and techniques that I use to come up with painting ideas and background resource information. Some of these I have figured out through experimentation while others I have found online, watching videos. Given there are literally millions of tips, I wanted to share a variety but in todays post, focus on how I start a painting. I hope you like what you read!

Firstly, about 50-60% of all my paintings come from ideas in my head or oddly enough, in dreams I have. Yes, I will research certain paintings and techniques, but alot of what I do comes from the old “noodle” upstairs.

When I come up with an idea, I will usually sketch it out on two things:

  • A piece of paper or in an idea book ( bound book for painting ideas – legal size)
  • Sketched out on my iPad. (The benefit with the ipad is the fact I can also record colours in my mind)

I also use a number of other tools to help me assemble colours, design layouts, resource images (example: to paint realistic bark). Some tools I use ALOT are:

  • Google Images – I will do a search for “cedar bark” in Google and then I will click on “images” tab to see what they have. From these photos I will look at colour palettes, and textures and patterns specific to that tree.
  • Pinterest – I have learned SO MUCH from participating in Pinterest and collecting “pins” of images. In fact I started researching recently and amassed hundreds of pictures of images for pirate ships. I use it to determine colours, 1800’s clothing styles and even perspective on ships.
  • Adobe Photoshop – I use this program hundreds of ways. I analyze images for layout, design, perspective and point of view. I also will take 4-5 different images and collage them (in layers) to create a picture theme. This helps me keep things in scale. I also use Photoshop for developing unique angles for images / paintings. I can paint the direction that the light is falling and then get a sense of what the colours will be in shadow. I plan to devote alot of future posts to Adobe Photoshop as I can teach people alot of techniques. I have used Photoshop for over 20 years!
  • Old online catalogs of Old Masters Paintings
  • American Artist, International Artist Magazines

Before I go any further, I want to mention that I will be creating two downloadable books for artists that want to use PINTEREST and ADOBE PHOTOSHOP for improving their artwork and creativity. Watch this blog for an announcement soon.

Another great tool I use for keeping organized is BOARDS (aka FOLDERS) in Pinterest ( so I can keep all the Bonsai pictures with other bonsai plant images. I even have boards for PALETTES I like.

My other MUST HAVE program for my business, client info and painting career is EVERNOTE. This program allows you to gather articles, pictures, recordings, video, web articles, photos and hundreds of other bits of information. I have it on my iPhone, iPad, computer and more. If I share some information with my camera on my phone, it syncs with all my systems. Its easy to use and I gather information for many different things. As a painter, I use it for recording ideas, prices on my paintings (and sizes), ownership of paintings, schedule for shows and much more!

One cool APP that I use on my iPhone is Value Viewer. I can take pictures and view them in Black / White or shades of grey in order to establish contrast and centres of interest. Another app I use is POCKET. I use it to store photos and video.

I could go on but thought this would be a good start! Let me know if you have any questions and I can answer in a future email.

Thanks, Gordon

ps. I spend about 3-5 hrs a day painting, as I am currently under employed. When the economy picks up I will be busier. But I want to stay painting and develop my business. That means selling more work, start selling prints, and doing more training of techniques and sharing of tips. I would like to be able to show people how they can learn 10-20% of learning to paint and generate some great work at home! Stay in touch.

Recent Painting Efforts

Updates

Today I wanted to touch base and post some updates on current paintings and some misc comments on marketing. Hopefully there will be some interest stuff that will appeal to my clients, friends and others who follow my work.

This past week or two, I purchased some 11 x 14 canvas boards to paint on. Over the past months I have created a number of paintings on larger canvases. This was based on some feedback from followers who indicated they wanted larger canvases for their new homes. So of course, I created the larger pieces and then some feedback came in that I should paint smaller! LOL! So I am going to paint a few at the 11 x 14 size.

The current painting I am working on is an acrylic of a fence garden scene with two rows of birdhouses. Some are traditional (birdhouses) while others are more whimsical. The idea is based on the concept of lots of birds living in a neighbourhood. Its going to half a nice weathered fence with lots of colourful houses. I am excited as I have painted bird houses before and always had no trouble selling them. I will post some pictures very soon.

The birdhouse image here is just a picture from Google. My paintings are different.

I wanted to mention that I recently joined INSTRAGRAM. Its been amazing so far and I have garnered alot of interest and followers in a short timeframe. If you are on Instagram, please make contact with me.

Displayed Paintings

I currently have 2 paintings on display at Hug A Mug on 102 ave in Dawson Creek. They include my old growth forrest painting (Cedar Giants) as well as one of my paintings of Birch Trees. At Baked Cafe I have 3 paintings including a FireFighter painting and an old growth forest painting of a fallen tree. These two facilities ( coffee shops ) are on the art walk going on in Dawson Creek. Its worth checking out. All of the paintings I have on display are for sale, contact me if interested.

Marketing and Selling My Paintings

Since launching my website at GordonCurrieArt.com, I have tried hard to promote myself and my paintings. To be honest, I have no problem successfully promoting other artists, I have done this for years. But its been…challenging to market my own work. The cobbler fixing his own shoes..!I have the techniques and skills and certainly the software experience. The challenege lies in identifying the market. Let me explain.

In the past years, I sold many watercolours and acrylics. My half sheets (15″ x 22″) originals sold for about $400 to $600. Prints of these watercolours ran $115 to $150 (sized at 13″ x 19″). My acrylic paintings in the past 2 years ran from $300 to $600. I will be selling prints of many of these acrylics this month of many of my original works. Now what has been interesting is that the primary demographic of buyers (and I really don’t mind sharing) have been women (87% of buyers) that are typically 50+ yrs old. Much of my recent works that have sold have been women aged 20-30. One more stat that is worth considering and this is a biggie in my mind. About 90% of my sales of originals go to the United States. Yes, the USA! To be more specific, about 75% in the eastern US and 25% in the midwest. Amazing eh?

So why so many USA sales? Firstly, the population is about 10 – 11 times that of Canada. Americans tend to buy more art to a certain degree as they are not as conservative as we Canadians. Those that have bought my paintings in the USA tend to buy more than one or they will send me a referral of friends and family.

If you hop on the Internet, of every 10 people you meet, only one will be a Canadian while 9 will be US based. I do get interest from many outside North America (primarily the UK, Australia and the Orient).

Also found that Americans will tend to buy artwork for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas and special occasions. Locally in North BC, I have promoted my work locally and had great feedback but I am reminded that I really have to look at the big world of potential collectors.

So wrapping up, I plan to focus alot on more marketing and encouraging people to collect my work. I can produce 3-4 original works a month and thats 30-48 paintings a year (considering holidays).

Thanks!

Gordon

Peace Country Storm

This Original Acrylic painting is called “Peace Country Storm” and is 24″ high and 48″ wide. This painting was started in early July 2017 and started as a sketch idea/concept I had one evening after looking out the window after a recent rainfall / storm.

I started with a pencil and paper and sketch out a rough vision I had on what it might take to paint this. My next step was to work on a colour study. This involved me blending different colours on different layers in Adobe Photoshop. This allowed me to see how the colours might look when blended. I then painted my canvas with a light wash of Burnt Sienna so that I could get a sense of where to start. Painting on a white canvas is challenging and so the burnt sienna makes it easier.

The next stage was simply a matter of using a small rigger brush and drawing in some line shapes. I wanted to follow that with some solid blocks of colour. After a nights sleep I realized my perspective was out and I wanted a larger sky. My horizon was way to close to the middle. After redoing the centre of the painting and fixing my perspective on the fields, I started to work on the various areas of the painting. This took a number of days as I did a lot of colour washes and a lot of on canvas blending of colours.

The final result was the image you see here today. For those wondering about the sky, there were a lot of forest fires and smoke in the sky along with a storm so the colours really ranged from the dark smoky clouds to orange / red sun and blue sky with incoming storm clouds coming from the right side.

I used a series of bright colours on the bottom right to represent homes and properties. This is not a true representation (obviously) and is a bit abstract. I really wanted to share all the colour I saw and continue to see during the summer month’s storms and forest fires.

This original painting is for sale for $850 firm $CDN. I have had a lot of interest in this painting since posting on Instagram and Facebook so feel free to contact me at 250-784-8383

About Gordon

Gordon Currie has been painting watercolours and acrylics for over 10 years. His work has been displayed all over Canada and the US in both private collections and displays.

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