Tag Archives: affordable

An Affordable Workshop in Your Home

19 Jul
Purple Iris -- original watercolor by Steve Henderson

Purple Iris — original watercolor by Steve Henderson

Wait for it — but it won’t be long.

Steve Henderson is putting together a PowerPoint video series of how-to-paint workshops based upon actual workshops that he gives. First on the docket is Purple Iris. While he was painting this piece, Steve took photos every few brush strokes, and he is assembling a painting tutorial that will allow students to follow the process with him, step by step. This tutorial covers the same material that Steve presented in a recent watercolor workshop, and he finessed the final product based upon the feedback of his workshop students.

At the end of the tutorial, students will not only have a completed painting, they will have spent a considerable amount of time with Steve, learning what materials he uses, what colors of paints, what techniques, and how he chooses the subject matter for a painting piece in the first place. The information learned will enable students to launch forward into their next painting project.

It’s amazing — the information found in a two-day workshop, which can run anywhere from $100 – $300 — but for much, much less. Think more along the lines of the price of a book but replete with visuals, illustrations, and step-by-step instructions. For amateurs, the guides will gently lead; intermediates who are confident to push forward boldly can grab the information they need and keep advancing. As a homeschooling father, Steve is excited about the possibilities of working with the homeschool community; many, many parents have children who are interested in art, but the opportunities for lessons are limited, both financially and geographically.

We will post the new tutorials on the website as soon as they are available, and we will alert Steve’s Facebook followers and newsletter subscribers as well. If you want to move forward on your art and there is something that you want to learn, contact us at Carolyn@SteveHendersonFineArt.com with your ideas. We listen to them all.

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.

What Parallel Parking Has to Do with Your Art

16 Feb

Okay, I’m going to share with you my dirty little secret:

I can’t parallel park a car.

Lots and lots of space -- that's what I need when I parallel park a car. Diaphanous by Steve Henderson

Lots and lots of space — that’s what I need when I parallel park a car. Diaphanous by Steve Henderson

Well, I can parallel park a car as long as I’ve got three blank spaces, in a pinch two, and it helps that I drive a Honda Fit. But for the most part I’m willing to drive blocks out of the way and walk, or slip into a diagonal space, or let the Norwegian Artist drive when we’re in the city and masterfully fit that hunk of metal (the car, not the Norwegian) into the allotted space.

In other words, I compensate for my lack of ability.

Ideally, I would learn how to parallel park, which is what our two youngest teenagers are doing with the Norwegian Artist this year before they take their licensing test, but that would mean hours of practicing with the Norwegian, and I’d really just rather spend the time knitting socks.

Because, compensating works.

It doesn’t always, you know — if my problem involved driving skills, say, like the inability to make a right turn without banging into the curb, then I’d need to work on things, but if I can get by — as I have for 35 years — without parallel parking and I’m not hurting anybody and nobody’s yelling at me — then I do, and focus my energy on difficult things that I need to learn and I can’t compensate for.

So it is with painting — some techniques you may never get — something to do with color or brushwork or the ability to draw hands so that they don’t look like elephant feet — and you compensate, by never showing hands, for instance.

As long as this works, it works, and you develop your style by compensating around what you cannot do. The key is determining just how important the technique you can’t do is, and making a decision about it.

More on this next week . . .

I know you’re probably an artist, but, interestingly, artists are some of our best clients. If you like Steve’s work, we’ve set up a number of affordable ways to make it yours — our originals are reasonably priced, our signed limited edition prints are archival quality, and our inspirational posters are uber, uber affordable. This is our philosophy on how we price our paintings. Write us — we answer every e-mail — carolyn@stevehendersonfineart.com.

What Is a Study? How Is It Different from a Miniature?

27 Jan

A study is a preliminary work, generally quite small, that an artist paints before embarking on the larger project, with the idea of testing out the subject matter, coloration, and composition to make sure that everything works together smoothly and well. Different artists do studies for different reasons, but Steve’s major purpose is to create an informal color map, ensuring that the colors that work on the small scale stay true when he paints the larger piece.

Rolling in the Hay study by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art

“It is easy,” he says, “to overwork your colors, blending and overblending until you have mud, and the study lays out the piece’s palette in condensed form. If the colors work on the small scale, they’ll work on the large scale, and I use the study as a reference to keep me true to the visual impact that I initially established.”

Not all artists do studies, but when you find one who does, you have an opportunity to own an original oil painting for a very affordable price. Because the pieces are generally smaller (well under 144 square inches) and more loosely painted, the price reflects this; and the more relaxed style mimics that of many plein aire pieces.

Because many studies are small, they are also classified as miniatures, but not all miniatures are studies. Some artists specialize in smaller works of intricate detail, sometimes to the point of using a magnifiying class so that they can focus on what they are doing, and employing a thin brush of no more than a few bristles. In this case, although the piece is small, its very intricacy demands a higher price.

Steve has created a separate category for studies on his website — Miniatures and Studies — in the Original Paintings section — and like all of his studio works, studies and miniatures are available for secure purchase through PayPal (even for those who do not have a PayPal account) by hitting the Buy Now button.

Shore Leave study by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art

Works that are not in the studio because they are at a gallery or show are available by following the link provided, and, as always, we work individually with clients who contact us.

Buying a Painting is Easier Than Buying a Car

23 Mar

Emergence, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

Bought a car lately?

How about a painting?

On a regular basis, Americans buy new cars. We know one woman who turns her model in every three years for a fresh one – personally, I think replacing the New Car Aroma Tree would be cheaper.

People buy paintings, too – obviously not for the same reason – and what is intriguing is that, for the amount a new car costs versus that of a decent painting by an emerging or mid-career artist, people demand far more of the painting than they do of the car.

For example, with a car, many people focus on color, style, silhouette, stereo system, upholstery, mag wheels, alloy rims – in other words, “like” factors – as opposed to the long-term sustainability of the purchase.

Indeed, most buyers realize  — and accept – that the value of this major purchase will depreciate an instant 30 percent 10 minutes after signing the papers.

And yet not only do people sign the papers, they do so with the expectation that they will be back in three to 10 years, ready to do it all over again. Despite its expense, a new car is not a lifetime investment, and nobody expects it to be.

Show these people a painting, however, and all of a sudden the “like” factor that is so much a part of deciding whether to sign on to five years of car or lease payments is shoved into the background, and the immediate questions become:

“Will it appreciate in value?”

“How much and how soon?”

“Is this artist internationally famous or likely to become so?”

What happened to,

“I like this. I like the color, the feeling, the subject matter. The price is reasonable and I want to wake up every morning looking at this painting.”

On the Horizon, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

For too long, people have been conditioned to thinking that they know nothing worth knowing about art, and that they are therefore unqualified to make an intelligent decision about its purchase.

Never mind that the average person knows very very little about the workings of a car, when it comes to art the message is, if you don’t speak the artiste lingo lengua, then you have no business imagining that your walls can be filled with the color and originality and emotion and joy of original artwork which you have selected simply because you like it.

Part of this attitude can be laid squarely in the lap of the elite art world itself, which for years — especially in the abstract camp — has maintained a sense of cool superiority, sneering at well meaning, ordinary people who ask, “So, why is this worth $30,000? In all honesty, it looks like something an 8-year-old would do.”

Rather than address the logic behind the statement (“It’s a red canvas — with blue dots in the middle and a yellow line across the top – where is the artistic skill?” or, in the case of a “representational” work — “Why is the head so out of proportion with the rest of the body?”) – a select yet aggressive few have denigrated the intelligence of a potential purchasing base, attacking them for honest questions as many of them seek to understand what makes good art, and why some work costs $35,000, while another piece, which they like very much, is $650.

Bainbridge Island Sail-by, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

Regular, ordinary, everyday good people – unite!

Ask your questions. Allow yourself to think about owning original art. Find a work or an artist that you like, and see about the possibility of owning some of his or her work – most emerging and mid-career level artists, who charge reasonably for their work, are willing to talk finances. Decent ones will also answer your questions about their paintings.

Don’t let anyone – artist, artiste, critic, critique – make you feel stupid for asking questions.

Don’t settle for a poster or a print. Get an original – a one of a kind piece that only you own.

And get something that you like.

That’s a good enough – and probably the best – reason buy a painting.

Living Like an Aristocrat on a Middle Class Salary

17 Feb

Elliot Bay, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

I love the orthodontist’s office. Not because he cleans me out as he cleans up my kids’ teeth, but because he stocks recent People magazines, and while the progeny is back in the room of wires and bands, I am the voyeur watching Jennifer Garner on an outing with Violet, Oprah eating cupcakes, and Matthew McConaughey finding any excuse to flash those abs.

One of my favorite photo stories involved Paris Hilton shopping for the hour and facing the back of the car with her boxes and bags and hatboxes and packages — the chauffeur was off somewhere and the poor girl didn’t know how to open the trunk.

Talk about living differently from the rest of us.

For some reason, we envy the life of the rich and famous, and if the upshot of such a life is that one doesn’t know how to open the back of the car, much less put things in it — or take them out later — then what is it that we are so envious about?

I know. I know. Unlimited money.

Outing, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

However, if we put things into perspective, those of us swimming around in the middle class live better than the average aristocrat of the early 19th century.

Think about Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley of Jane Austen fame — despite their vast funds of wealth, it took them an entire day to travel 60 miles in a rattling carriage, less on horseback. We hop in a heated or air conditioned car, depending upon the season, and get there in an hour.

True, they had cooks and servants to lug their meals down dark, drafty hallways to a cavernous dining room lit by candles made from rendered beef fat, the food in covered dishes to prevent the heat from escaping — and once you lifted the lid, you might be looking at a small bird, head intact, nestled amongst vegetables overcooked to the point of dissolving.

Their clothes — trousers with no zippers, by the way, for men; cumbersome skirts and underskirts and corsets and stays for the other half of the population  — were washed by another; and when they washed themselves, they did so in metal tubs into which a servant poured hot water. Personally, I don’t mind the washing machine, and I prefer a private bath of unlimited hot water, complete with a non-slimy soap not made of the aforementioned rendered beef fat.

Clouds, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

Let’s not even talk about the more intimate details of the bathroom situation.

Many of the things we take for granted — electricity, indoor plumbing, drinkable water, antibiotics, personal hygiene, comfortable furniture, and an incredible array of food choices — were all things beyond the reach of the wealthiest segment of society 200 years ago, so comparing our situation with theirs, we live like kings.

Ah, but we want to live like kings in the present age.

Actually, despite the lack of unlimited money part, we do have the ability to enjoy many indulgences of today’s world, without the burden of being followed around by the paparazzi and being expected to look like a 16-year-old Greek Goddess while we are struggling through our 40s. While we may not have as much spare time as we would like, and no doubt most of us would prefer not to spend the time we do have scrunched into a grey carpeted cubicle or cheerfully asking “May I Help You?” of a rude, snappy, disgruntled customer, we can accessorize our personal lives, time and space with affordable luxuries that provide a warm glow of contentment every time we see them or use them or walk into the room where they are.

Mountain Lake, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

Example: every single pair of socks I wear is handknit. Can Donald Trump say that?

Granted, I knit them myself, but the pleasure I get in the actual process is equal to the pleasure I receive in the finished product.

A lavish meal? Learning to cook is incredibly easy; and if you have five high quality ingredients and a modicum of know how, it doesn’t take much to eat very, very well.

Fashionable clothes? I know a struggling single mother who is always stunningly appointed — she finds name brand, designer wear at the local Good Will. Another young mother invests in a few quality pieces and builds her wardrobe around them. I’m no fashionista, but I knit or sew pieces that I love.

October, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

Art on your walls? Ah, this is where you can shine. Do you have any idea how many emerging and mid-career level artists there are out there who are very, very good but who do not charge the price of a small house for their work? As the manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art, I strongly suggest the paintings of this Norwegian Artist, whose work is sprinkled throughout this essay.

Little luxuries for the feet, good food, nice clothes, fine art — they’re more within your reach than you think.

Buying a Painting Online: Make Sure That What You See Is What You Get

1 Feb

Red Hills, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

As I mentioned in an earlier article, Purchasing a Painting over the Internet: Is It Safe? buying original fine artwork online is an increasingly viable and enjoyable way for people to improve the look of their living room walls.

Anyone who has looked up a recipe online knows that there are thousands of choices, and even a five-star rating does not guarantee success (against my better judgment, I once made a banana bread recipe calling for two cups of mashed bananas for one loaf of bread; the result, despite the five-stars, was a thick conglomerate of baked umber ooze more suitable as a doorstop than breakfast).

A painting, however, is more of a monetary investment than failed banana bread, and the prospective collector of an artist’s work wants to ensure that what he is seeing, and has fallen in love with, on the computer screen, looks even better once it is unpacked and hung over the sofa.

The first step toward achieving this satisfaction is using the common sense that I should have used with the banana bread recipe: if something doesn’t seem right — with the work, with the artist, with the website — then don’t blindly plunge ahead thinking that all will come out right in the end. If you have questions, then ask them, and continue asking questions until you are satisfied with the answers.

At Steve Henderson Fine Art, we communicate with studio clients via e-mail and phone, beginning with the initial contact (“I saw this painting I absolutely LOVE on your site,”) and following up with a series of communiques that acquaint us all more firmly with one another. Although Buy Now buttons are appended to studio pieces on the website, we have found that prospective buyers want to engage in conversation about a work first before hitting the button or sending the check, and rightly so.

Al Fresco by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

Many clients want to know the story behind a particular piece — why Steve painted it, where it is located, whether it was painted on site or in the studio. Because Steve uses reference material that he has collected personally — and not from stock photo sites — we are able to supply a personal story for each work, from the historic Hughes House setting for Madonna and Toddler to the quirky race hiker encountered on the 9-mile trek to Hidden Lake. The Fruit Vendor remains my favorite story, a soft-spoken, Colombian market businesswoman who always saved behind the counter a special bunch of  bananas for her regular customers.

The story behind the work is an added bonus, as most people decide on purchasing a painting because it latches onto their psyche and demands to be a part of their lives. What matters is that they own it, and through the years, their own stories are added to its history.

It is important to us, when dealing with clients who are unable to come to the studio and see the work in person, that they have a firm idea of what the painting looks like in real life. An image on a backlit computer screen can look more  — or less — vibrant and colorful than it actually is, and Steve works to mitigate this issue by ensuring, through PhotoShop, that the image posted on the website is as accurate a replica of the original as he can make it. Individual screens vary, however, and what looks one way on one screen looks slightly different on another.

In our communications with clients, we send larger views of the work so that the buyer can zoom in and see the nature of the brushstrokes and the application of paint. If there is a gallery nearby (and with several in the Northwest, one in Arizona, one in Montana, and one in Connecticut, there are options), we encourage the buyer to visit and see Steve’s works in person, to get an idea of his overall style and palette.

On the Horizon, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

Because a painting is an investment — and a personalized one at that — many quality galleries have a policy of allowing the buyer a set period of time, generally two weeks to 30 days, to fully finalize the sale, with the option of returning the painting — unharmed and in its original condition — to the gallery should the buyer decide not to make the purchase.

We also ascribe to this policy, and it is in both our and our clients’ best interest to ensure that everything we can possibly do to educate a client about a work — BEFORE we complete the bill of sale and send the work to the client’s home — is done. To date, we have never yet welcomed back a work from its outward journey, and the general response has been, “It looks even better in real life than it does on the website!”

So, how much can you expect to pay for an original painting by an emerging or mid-career artist — the best, most affordable source of original work for the collector of non-Lear-jet means?

An excellent question, and one that deserves a future column of its own. Stay tuned . . .

Do You Have to Be Rich to Collect Original Art?

7 Jan

Ocean Spires by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

I’ll be honest with you. We don’t know any multi-millionaires, unless, of course, they are cleverly disguising themselves as teachers, fire fighters, insurance agents, auto mechanics, or one of those people who has a mystery job that defies anyone figuring out what they actually do (“I’m a catalytic trades officer of global kinesthetic systems management”).

If we were dependent upon rich people to buy art from Steve Henderson Fine Art, well, we wouldn’t have much of a Sold section.

As it is, we enjoy an eclectic melange of clients from all walks of life and income bands, and one thing this diverse group shares in common is their delight in their individual collections of original art.

Yes, that’s it — ORIGINAL art.

Now, galleries being run the way they are, we generally don’t get to meet the folks who purchase Steve’s work via that route, but those clients who visit our studio directly or who contact us through the website have educated us in the various ways that people of ordinary means can afford extraordinary, one of a kind art.

Generally, most of them set aside “fun-money” funds, and, rather than let it trickle out bit by bit into lattes and theater tickets and white-bagged lunches, they designate an amount each month and go shopping once they’ve put enough in the account. When they work with us, we work with them, either holding aside a work until they have reached their financial goal, or establishing a customized payment plan, or creating a smaller, more affordable work of similar (but not identical) nature to the larger one that they can’t quite yet reach.

What we don’t do is make prints of Steve’s work, because his client base is adamant about owning original work, unlike anything that anyone else possesses.

Polish Pottery by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

And in that area, our non-millionaire clients are just as wealthy as the upper echelons, because the work that hangs on their walls is displayed on no other wall, anywhere — not in Steve Martin’s collection, or in the powder room of Bill Gate’s mansion, or in the hallowed hallways of the White House.

“Well, but Steve isn’t as famous as the artists whose work hang in those places.” (I can hear the sniff.)

While some of our clients do purchase with an eye to investment, all of them choose one of Steve’s paintings because it speaks to them somehow, and having it on their wall where they can see it every day brings pleasure into their lives.

In this way, everyday-people collectors have an advantage over the uber rich — people of modest means buy an artwork not because it will triple in value over 10 years, or because it can be stored in a climate-controlled vault for future trade or sale, or because their art purchasing agent advises that this is someone to keep an eye on, but because they like it.

Incandescence by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

There are a number of emerging and mid-career artists out there producing work every bit as excellent — sometimes more so — than that produced by longtime big name top guns whose prints of their originals are priced at more than an ordinary person can afford (and don’t be fooled — a print is a print is a print, and the likelihood of it being a solid financial investment is about as secure as paying the kid’s medical school expenses by selling off all of those “collector” plates advertised in the Sunday newspaper).

We all like to express our unique individuality — through the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive — how liberating to think that owning real, bonafide, beautiful, and unique art is within the reach of all of us.