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How Do You Buy a Painting Online Direct from the Artist?

26 Mar

Buying art directly from the artist isn’t such an unusual thing. In these days of galleries and exhibitions and professional art organizations and non-profit art cooperatives, we’ve been trained into thinking that we can’t deal with, talk to, or see the artist directly, but really, this is one of the best ways to purchase art.

An original painting is an investment of time and love.

An original painting is an investment of time and love.

Why? First and foremost, when an artist doesn’t need to compensate for a gallery commission, he doesn’t need to raise his prices to adjust for it. That’s definitely a winning factor for the purchaser.

Just as importantly, the purchaser learns more about the painting and the painter, adding even more interest to the artwork.

Now when you live in the same town, or near to, the artist in question, you can frequently call to make a studio visit, and thereby view the artwork in person. When you live across the country, or even on another continent, this is more difficult, but as we purchase more and more items over the Internet, buying art online opens up wider vistas of possibilities for our walls.

At Steve Henderson Fine Art, we encourage people to look through the website and enjoy the images of Steve’s various works. On each page, an artwork will be identified by its medium (oil, watercolor), size of the painting itself — unframed — in inches, whether or not it is framed, price, and availability. When a client finds a piece in which he or she is interested, we encourage them to read about Our Prices, which gives an overview of why Steve’s works are priced the way they are.

Anyone who has looked for original fine art quickly learns that artwork has no hard or fast rule for how it is priced, and some really dreadful work out there is priced very, very high. Our Prices seeks to demystify some of this process, and further you along in your art purchasing education. Fine art, skillfully executed, is the result of an artist’s passion and expertise, and producing a beautiful painting takes time and ability.

Signed, limited edition prints are an affordable artwork option

Signed, limited edition prints are an affordable artwork option

Once a potential client finds an artwork in which he or she is interested, the next step is to contact the artist. We have a Contact form on our site — it’s easy to fill out, and if a form isn’t your thing, we provide a direct e-mail to Carolyn, the manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. We also chat with clients over the phone or via Skype, and this communication process is designed to answer clients’ questions and provide more information about the artwork and how it will fit into the space that the client has designed for it.

Do not be shy about this communication process — purchasing art is, indeed, a process, and an artist’s happiest clients are those who have had all their questions answered and feel confident about the artwork they are purchasing — they know its colors and subject matter, and how those elements will fit into the environment they have set up for it; they measure out its size on the wall to get an idea of how it will hang there; they are conversant with the artist and know more about the painting they are looking at; they are comfortable with the final price and have worked out with the artist a means of paying for it (we frequently set up no-interest payment plans).

We even offer posters of Steve's work -- very affordable fine art gifts for yourself and others.

We even offer posters of Steve’s work — very affordable fine art gifts for yourself and others.

Of course, hitting the PayPal Buy Now button is always an option, and many people who purchase signed, limited edition prints and posters do so with the same confidence that they download an e-book, but always, the option to contact the artist and get those questions answered is a valid one.

Don’t be shy.

Automobiles and Fine Art Paintings — What Do They Have in Common?

11 Oct

I love my Honda Fit. And while that may seem to have nothing to do with art, actually, it does.

Color, light, energy, joy — paintings provide those — and who of us can’t use more color, light, energy and joy in our lives? Promenade by Steve Henderson

You see, I drive my Honda Fit, everywhere, and in the process of its being used, it gets dusty, the tires see some wear, the interior windows next to where the Toddler sits get coated with whatever sticky stuff she’s got on her hands and smears onto the glass. (I know. I don’t want to know much more than that, either.)

Honestly, if I kept my Honda Fit inside the garage and never drove it for, say, 10 years, it would look exactly the way it did the day I bought it, and I could resell it — maybe at a profit — because it would be such a great investment!

But you know, people don’t buy cars to keep as investments. They buy them to drive in them, and when it’s the right car, like my cute, sassy, blazing barbecue orange Honda Fit, they enjoy the process.

If more people thought about art this way, more people would own, and enjoy paintings. But all of a sudden, when people look at a painting, they go into this “I Must Make a Profit on This Investment Mode” — even if what they’re looking at is a limited edition print for $80. Somehow, they tell themselves, if they purchase this, they need to be able to resell it, ten years down the road, for $200, because that’s what you do with art — you buy it as an investment.

Art adds that extra special joy to our lives. Seaside Story by Steve Henderson.

What a sad, limited world view, one that keeps people from renovating their aesthetic lives and their home’s walls. The best reason to buy art is because you like it, because when you see the painting or the print it makes you happy, because you want it, because — like my Honda Fit — it’s smart, sassy, sophisticated, and fun — in short, that painting is You.

Enjoy driving your car — it’s a marvel of technology. Drink the wine that you like — red, white, blush — because only you have your unique palate. And buy art because you like it. Any other reason is less than the best.

Do You Want It? Then Buy It.

8 Jun

Those of you who know my alter-ego, Middle Aged Plague, will have read about my recent purchase of a Kindle (I Am (amazon) Woman: Hear Me Roar!

“What an exciting life this woman leads.”

She’s gorgeous, she’ll look great on the wall, and she’s available in everything from the original to a print to a note card.

I know.

An ostentatiously ordinary person with personal tastes in which I indulge now and then,  I live as intimately with our household budget as I do with the Norwegian Artist (although I am far, far more enamored of the Norwegian). I’m sure that the word “budget” is not an unfamiliar one in your household.

Which is the point: While I do not indiscriminately spend — my usual shopping experience involving cheese, canned tomatoes, and butter, sometimes more exciting items like flip flops, printer ink, and stamps — I do save up for those completely and totally “I want this! I want this!” items, and when the jar is full I dump the coins into an envelope, transfer the funds to the bank, and buy whatever it is I’ve had my eye on.

Guilt free.

Generally, “I want this!” items are not ones you eat, repair the house with, stuff into bathroom cabinets, or put into the dog’s bowl, which makes them difficult to justify because you don’t really “need” them, but in a way you do, because they feed that happy little person inside of you who couldn’t sleep for weeks before your birthday, or who skipped with joy over a pair of new, wildly outrageous shoes.

Basic brown serviceable shoes that fit right are all your feet really need. (I remember discussions along this topic with my mother when I was a child.) But they’re so much less than what you want.

And is it so very bad to admit that you want something that you don’t really need? We buy things we don’t really need all the time, but because they’re part of our everyday purchases, we don’t agonize about it:

You don’t really need the latte. You could have coffee at home. Better yet, water fulfills your hydration requirements.

Take out pizza? Make it yourself. Actually, whole wheat toast, a banana, and apple juice would probably fulfill the same nutritional needs. Better yet, oatmeal with raisins. It’s cheaper.

That’s a cute blouse; it looks good on you. But a serviceable, well-constructed t-shirt will last longer and clothe you adequately for less.

The original fills the wall — 32 x 48 — the small print is just right for that area above the table in the foyer — the note card will brighten someone’s day, especially with your handwritten message inside.

If you follow this level of extreme practicality to, well, its extreme, then life becomes dull indeed — kind of like all math and science classes in the semester schedule and no art, no music, no drama, no history, no literature — just a bunch of numbers and formulas. While it is undoubtedly practical and budget friendly, such economic austerity of the soul eventually takes its toll, and like the dieter who denies himself anything that smacks of a cookie,  you break down one day and binge — on cheesecake, on cake, on ice cream, on doughnuts.

It would have been so much easier to build the cookie into the diet plan.

So go ahead — plan for the fun things — like fine art, which, from us — because we know what budgets are — you can get as originals, prints, even note cards, representing a variety of sizes and price ranges. We even set up interest-free payment plans, because we believe that art belongs in the homes of real people, not limited to art museums.

Do you want it?

Then buy it.

All of the work that you see through this site is painted by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art. Because we believe that real art belongs in the homes of real people with real incomes, we offer Steve’s artwork, in addition to its original form, as signed, limited edition prints, miniatures, and note cards for a reachable price. For those of you who want a print but don’t know how to frame it, we will do so for you for a nominal extra cost. Contact Us with your questions and we’ll work with you to get fine art into your home.

Do I Have to Be a Fulltime Artist to Be a Real Artist?

1 Jun

Given what we’ve discussed in the last two articles, The Question That Never Goes Away and Another Question That Never Goes Away   – you probably have a pretty good idea of what the answer to this one will be, but let’s talk about it.

Time invested in doing well at what you do is the critical factor in achieving success. Sophie and Rose by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art

For some reason, people have the idea that if an individual does something part-time, or if he doesn’t make a killing on doing it, then he’s not really whatever it is that he’s doing. By this definition, the volunteer firefighters in many rural communities who put their lives on the line protecting people and property aren’t really firefighters.

Or substitute teachers – what would school systems do without these people? – aren’t really teachers.

Our nuclear physicist – who works part-time because of family obligations – isn’t a real nuclear physicist.

Bit absurd, isn’t it?

But it’s understandable, since an artist doesn’t depend upon a degree, certification, title, or job description to be an artist. He can have those things, or not; and having them doesn’t ensure that he is an artist.

Artists make art.

They don’t talk about making art; they don’t emote about making art; they don’t wax eloquent about making art – people who do that, and stop there, are artistes not artists.

True artists do spend a lot of time creating – the Norwegian Artist paints, others sculpt, work with wood, brass, clay, and beyond the visual arts we have dancers, writers, actors, if I miss one please don’t yell at me, but what they have in common is that they create new things from whatever materials they have on hand, and they’re pretty serious about doing it well and consistently.

A number of these people, who have day jobs on the side, actually do work full time at being artists — in addition to working full or part-time elsewhere. The goal of many is to drop that day job and exchange it for full time in the studio, and many of them manage this, but those who don’t, or those who are in the process of getting there, are by no means not artists. It’s time invested, not money made, that is a stronger determination of a person’s commitment to being an artist.

Treating Yourself in Today’s Economy

19 Apr

“Do people still buy fine art in this economy?”

My mother, ever the practical woman who lived through the Depression and successfully raised five kids to adulthood, always has good questions.

Available as an original, print, or miniature study, The Pataha is an example of fine art that meets the needs of various budgets.

The answer is, “yes,” but as in everything in this ever-changing, never-got-your-finger-on-it economy, they do it differently.

Ten years ago, when house prices were literally and unsustainably going through the roof, people purchased art, as they purchased many things, as an impulse item. Today’s buyer, however — especially collectors who live real-people lives with mortgages and angst at the gas pump — looks at the art several times, oftentimes contacting the artist directly via e-mail, phone, or in person to discuss the work itself, as well as the price, payment information, and payment plans, if available.

The result is that, when the collector takes home the painting, he or she feels good about the purchase, because it was made with an eye to the budget. It’s actually a better, more sustainable, and less stressful way of treating oneself.

Artists, as well, are finessing their products to the need of the marketplace, many offering fine art, archival prints of their paintings, some for the price of a bottle of good wine or a family evening at the movie theater. The difference is, once the wine is gone or the movie is over, the money is gone; but with the print, the art stays, becoming a part of the buyer’s daily life.

At Steve Henderson Fine Art, we are committed to getting real art into the lives and homes of real people, and for this reason we welcome hearing from you who are interested in Steve’s work. If you’ve never contacted an artist before, don’t be shy or feel that this is something “real collectors” don’t do. Increasingly, collectors across the board are finding that direct contact with the artist, before and after purchasing the work, enhances their appreciation of their collection. Good questions always deserved to be asked, and they deserve good answers. You can reach us through our Contact Form on the Steve Henderson Fine Art Gallery website.

In addition to Steve’s originals, we offer a complete line of Signed, Limited Edition Prints, starting at $55, and regularly offer Workshops for those pursuing their painting path.

These are not easy days in which to live — there is much uncertainty. There is, however, also much beauty in the world around us, and a painting — be it original or a print — captures that beauty and allows us to lose ourselves in it, over and over, any time of the day or night.

The Right Stuff

16 Mar

I work with knitters, and a student recently told me,

“I don’t like the way my stuff turns out.”

Using the best materials that you can afford goes a long way in achieving the result you're looking for -- whether you're painting or knitting

When I asked her what kind of yarn she used, she replied,

“Oh, I just picked up something cheap. I didn’t want to spend money on something that probably wasn’t going to work out.”

Bad idea.

Whether you’re knitting or painting, you’ll get the best results when you use the best materials.

While a novice, or even an intermediate, does not need the most expensive items in the store (interestingly, many professionals do not shop at the tippy top themselves), they also don’t want the two-quart tubes of student grade paint and cheap, cheap brushes, all slathered onto loosely woven, won’t-stay-stretched, canvas.

If the colors are weak and the brushes imprecise, the results will be disappointing.

The Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson, discovered the major difference between student and professional grade art supplies in one of his early quarters of teaching, when he recommended a starter watercolor kit to his students while he used the materials from his own studio for his demonstrations.

“I know I’m a beginner,” one student said, “but even though I’m following you step by step, nothing I do looks at all like what you’re doing.”

Steve picked up her brush, dabbed it in her paint, and swept it across his canvas.

“Nothing I do looks like what I’m doing with this paint either,” he said.

From that point on, he recommended his own paint choices and brushes to his students, limiting the colors and brush choices to decrease the cost.

Yes, it costs more. No, you don’t have to overhaul your entire studio at once.

But bit by bit, buy up.

Aim for the top where the view is better.

Is Art a Luxury?

8 Mar

Let’s talk about this term, luxury, first.

Most of us, if we want something badly enough, can find a way to get it. Living on the Edge by Steve Henderson

A luxury is something that you don’t really need, and by that definition, lots of things fall into this category.

We need shelter; we need protection from the elements; we need food; we need water; we need air.

That being said, the shelter could be a hovel, and as long as it keeps us warm and dry, then anything more is a luxury.

Food? What we need is enough to sustain life — rice and beans should do the trick, but most of us prefer to go beyond that. Technically, the steak, potatoes and spinach salad, along with the chocolate pie for dessert, that you ate last week is a major, major luxury.

Do you see where I’m going here?

Anything that goes beyond what we truly need to sustain life can be defined as a luxury.

You need a car to get to work; fine. It doesn’t have to be a Cadillac, but if it makes you happy when it is, and if you can afford it, why not?

You need a phone to do your job; it doesn’t have to be cute and small and smarter than you are, but if it makes you happy when it is, and you can afford it, why not?

You need clothes because you don’t live in a nudist colony; they don’t have to be form fitting and flattering, but if it makes you happy when it is, and you can afford it, why not?

You want something on your wall that makes you smile and feel happy every time you look at it. That’s a painting. You don’t eat it, wear it, or live inside it, so it’s technically a luxury, but if it makes you happy and you can afford it, why not?

An Unusual Way of Getting Your Art into a Museum

7 Jan

Recently in Poland, my homeland that I’ve never actually been in, a young art student chose to forgo standard procedure and covertly hung one of his paintings in a major Warsaw gallery.

“I decided that I will not wait 30 or 40 years for my works to appear at a place like this,” Sobiepan told reporters. “I want to benefit from them in the here and now.”

So do we all, son.

While I smile at his effrontery — and wonder at how he smuggled a painting in, past the guard, and managed to pound a nail up there without anyone noticing — I am also consternated that such an attitude reaps its own reward: while the museum took down the painting from its briefly stolen space, they re-hung it in their cafe. And the artist is reaping attention and benefits because of what he did — not because of what he paints.

“Someone will buy it just because of the story behind it,” the Norwegian Artist said at the breakfast table this morning. “His career is made, not based upon his skill as a painter, but because of his nerve.” (Actually, the N.A. used another term that rhymes with “halls” or “stalls.”)

It is eminently understandable the young man’s frustration at getting through to museum officials, gallery personnel, magazine editors, professional art organizations — any group sets up its criteria, and after awhile, that criteria can get in the way of its original intention: to seek and showcase fine art, whether it is done by an established name or by a struggling, emerging artist.

Realistically, some good art gets shown, but so does bad art, simply because once the artist has broken the barrier and made his name, he could paint old Playboy calendars from the mechanic’s back room with compost-derived paint and get it hung, showcased, admired and sold.

So the young man decided to take a short cut.

Robert Frost had it right when he talked about the road less traveled; it's worth taking. After the Harvest Rain by Steve Henderson

But in the same way most of us have learned to be wary of Uncle Rob’s famous short cut that shaves 30 miles off the trip, our common sense tells us that anything worth having is worth working for. If the old guard doesn’t work — if the museums close their ears and the major art organizations pick the same old things over and over for their prize winners and the galleries sniff that they’re full and the magazines print a new article about the same artist three issues in succession — then find a different road.

Not only will it not be a short cut, it will probably be longer, and since it isn’t very well used, it won’t be as easy to follow, but it will get you to a different destination, with different scenery along the way.

How Do Artists Price Their Paintings?

20 Dec

Shore Leave by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art

Great question.

As you may suspect if you have looked at a lot of art, there is no centralized standard by which paintings are priced. If clothing were sized the way artwork is priced, you could be a size 2 and weigh 550 pounds.

But paintings, in a way, are like cars, and often their price is based upon the name and perceived status of the artist (the more well known the artist, the higher the price). The high price does not necessarily denote the quality of the painting so much as the demand for the artist’s work, namely because people deem it “collectible” and plan to sell it, at a later date, for more than they bought it for.

A Realtor relative encapsulated it thus:

“Something is worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it.”

That being said, if you are out to buy art because you like it on your walls, and not because you see it as a financial investment, then you can find reasonably priced, well done prices for something that fits into your budget. These works are done by what we call “emerging” or “mid-range” artists — people who can be quite good at what they do, but who do not yet have the publicity name value that escalates the price upward.

Many of these painters achieve their retail price by comparing their works with other painters of similar style and career level. Generally, the smaller the painting, the lower the price, but even a miniature work will command a higher price if it incorporates detail that required extra time on the part of the painter.

Keep in mind that many artists offer their work framed, and a decent frame costs money. If the artist is selling the piece through the gallery, they owe the selling party a commission, often between 30 and 60 percent, and the artist’s take has to pay for that frame and any shipping costs of getting the work to the gallery.

And although all paintings require time and material on the part of the artist, not all paintings sell, or at least not the moment they leave the easel, so artists build this risk factor into the price of their paintings.

Do not expect to pay $50 or $100 for a well done original painting, because no artist can make a serious living selling his work for this price. Think about your dentist — as much as you would like to walk out of that office owing $10, what would you think of the man or woman’s professional abilities if that is what they charged after all of their education and experience?

If you like an artist’s work but are unsure about the price, feel free to write him or her and open up a conversation. Some may rebuff you, but others will not, and it seriously never hurts to ask. And remember this: while on your end, you do not want to feel cheated, on the artist’s end, he/she does not want to haggle and bargain simply because the client has the idea that this is a flea market and wants to get the piece for a super great deal way lower than retail price.

Open for Business

16 Dec

You’d think that with an artist in permanent residence, there would be ample paintings for the walls, even if we do get to enjoy them only until they’re sold. But the Norwegian Artist, like many artists, enjoys collecting the works of colleagues, especially those whom we get to know personally, or, e-personally.

Many Hued, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

To this end, I was at a gallery last week and was just at the point of purchasing a miniature by a talented watercolorist. But I decided to go to lunch first and finalize the purchase in my mind. (This is another great reason for artists to purchase art — you begin to understand the mindset of a purchaser and see that you, too, do not lightly and impulsively undertake the additions to your collection.)

“How long are you open?” I asked the gallery associate.

“Three p.m.,” he answered.

So off I went for Thai red curry beef and coconut ice cream with black bean sauce (this latter is oddly tasty, not remotely resembling refried beans over ice cubes). At 2:40 I was back — to a closed gallery.

While apparently, according to a second associate, it had been a slow day, this really isn’t a good reason to close up shop 20 minutes, or even five minutes, early. In our little town, we have a bakery that is successful through no efforts of its own, since it regularly runs out of popular items, employs baristas who cannot make the same two coffee orders resemble one another, and indiscriminately closes early when things feel slow and everyone just feels like wandering on home.

Do not try this in your own business.

Maybe you’re like us, with a studio open by appointment and with much of your communication done via e-mail, phone, and the website — in this case, while your day doesn’t necessarily run from 8 to 5, you also don’t have to be on board 24/7. You just have to be on top of things enough to respond well within a business day to an inquiring client or gallery. While I may send an inquiry out at 11 p.m. on a Friday, I sure don’t expect a response until Monday or Tuesday, and most people are of the same level of reasonability.

But if you do have regular, posted hours, will you please keep them?

Regarding that watercolor, I still want it, and it’s not the artist’s fault that the place closed early. I will, however, let him know, so that he can let his gallery know, and hopefully, I can enjoy a green chicken curry this time, polished off by more coconut ice cream and black bean sauce, with a final dessert of that gorgeous little watercolor.