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Monday, January 25, 2010

Writing an Artist's Statement

I paint. So why do I find myself writing so much lately? I have noticed how important writing has become to my career. In addition to painting, I take time to write artist statements, press releases, letters to galleries and clients, descriptions of my work, and of course, articles for my blog (oh yeah – and my new book due for release August 2010). I happen to enjoy writing. The more I do it the better I feel about it. Sort of like painting. Both mediums - painting and writing - are a form of communication. After a private period of experimentation, building technique and finding our own voice, we can relish the next phase where our work goes public – for better or worse. It’s the true test. Will viewers or readers get our message? What will they feel from our work? And the big existential question – will our work make a difference? I do believe that art makes a difference. Faith in this idea gets me through the rough spots, creative blocks and hard times.

I have written and rewritten my artist statement hundreds of times. As my work changes so does my statement. This may be one of the hardest tasks we have as painters, to describe in words what we create in a mostly non-verbal medium. In the past I tried to describe the images, but now I write about how I feel about the work and why I paint. Here’s the first paragraph of my current statement “Call me an optimist, but I believe that man has the powerful ability to dream, to create better worlds and new realities. And images play an important role in this. Our history begins with images, which go far back in time, even farther than language, and are cross cultural. We are united through images. I keep this in mind daily as I am barraged through news and media with sensationalist stories and events of world crisis. Part of me wants to join the peace corps but instead I paint. I paint with the conviction that my images can heal. I paint my versions of heaven; places that are beautiful and meditative not found on earth. Click here to read the full statement on my website.

Recently I found a cool new blog about art for healing. Manhattan Arts International's "Celebrate The Healing Power of Art 2010" is based on the belief that Art is a natural force that promotes heath and well-being for the creator as well as the viewer. Renee Phillips, Director of Manhattan Arts International, is organizing an online exhibition of positive art that uplifts the spirit, plus collaboration with others who share this belief. Interviews and articles reflect the contributions of Art & Healing leaders and causes. Click here to visit their web site: www.manhattanarts.com. Click here to visit the Blog: http://HealingPowerofArt.blogspot.com

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11 Comments:

Blogger Chasing Purple Dreams said...

Aghh the dreaded artist statement, in all the years I have been painting I have never written one! Yours is beautiful and just how I feel about my painting. Writing is the thing that I am most self conscious of so it seems odd that I enjoy blogging so much. I really admire those simple artists’ blogs that just have a picture and a couple of sensationally chosen words, but alas that will never be my style.
Writing descriptions of paintings for my Etsy store is like torture and it’s why I have been working on the shop for weeks and only have 7 listings. I have paintings stacked everywhere, but I have only managed to describe 7 of them!

January 27, 2010 at 2:08 AM  
Anonymous Tim Gagnon said...

Great POST Nancy!

Lord knows I agree. For years I worked in the Marketing/Advertising/PR world and spent many a day writing glowing PR for everyone else but found it difficult to write about myself in my BIOS and Statements. It felt like arrogance/bragging but then I started to take my own sage advice and realized that if I'm not coming across as extremely enthusiastic about my artwork why would anybody else want to be? Like laughter, enthusiasm is catching!

I have learned that people WANT to know the background and motivating factors behind my paintings. Oftentimes they get MORE excited about the work when the know the back story.

The other side of the coin is learning the "ART" of good writing. This is harder than it looks and I have enlisted a good friend who is a writer to edit my "more important stuff". Their help has proven invaluable.

January 27, 2010 at 8:11 AM  
Blogger Art Trip said...

Yeah, artist statements. Why do I skip them after the first sentence? I always thought someone could redo the concept and come up with something original instead of boiler plate.

January 29, 2010 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger Regina said...

Thank you for this helpful post. It's good to know that it's normal to keep revising one's artist statement.

February 2, 2010 at 9:05 AM  
Anonymous canvas paintings said...

It's so hard to write that "statement", so hard to describe your pieces as sometimes they can be so personal to yourself you cannot put it into words how you felt when painting a particular piece.

February 7, 2010 at 4:08 AM  
Blogger Magic Brush said...

I own a decorative painting company and have never heard of an artist statement! ha! I must not be serious enough. I love,love, love writing in my painting blog in addition to the painting blog itself. Stop by and say hello sometime! Jennifer

March 17, 2010 at 7:23 PM  
Blogger Daniel Peci said...

very useful tips, writing is such hassle for me!

March 19, 2010 at 1:22 AM  
Blogger Paula S In New Mexico said...

Hi Nancy ~

I was watching the crackle video and noticed the wall easel. Is this a commercial easel or your own creation? I sure could use one of these.

March 21, 2010 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger Nancy Reyner said...

The wall easel in the video was made very simply by a carpenter friend. It's just two 2x4 pieces of wood fastened into the wall with holes put in at intervals. I have pegs that match the holes. This can be accomplished easiest by just putting the holes directly into your walls, but my walls were not strong enough so I first put up the wood.

March 22, 2010 at 7:39 AM  
Anonymous Karen Trask said...

I missed the opportunity to meet you when you were in Scottsdale recently, Nancy. Who knows, I was probably in New Mexico at that time! Hopefully we'll actually be able to meet someday.

Like me, you are probably left AND right brained, which apparently is rare, but people like us obviously exist.

Also, similar to your latest post on finding that stillness, it helps to find a stillness to be able to write that artist's statement. If you bring it up from the art, why you do the art you do, it will draw the viewer in, and they will be able to read past the first line and be that much more enthralled and excited about your work.

But for those still having problems writing that statement, find a quiet place, picture one of your pieces. Have pencil and paper handy and just let the words flow to answer some questions you should ask yourself, as if you were a viewer of your art for the first time. Ask the questions, and then answer them. Soon an artist's statement will form.

March 30, 2010 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger kitsopens said...

its a really good site and love it alot

May 26, 2010 at 3:02 PM  

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