Moody, Minimalist Landscape Painting

Sweetest Sales, Part Two

In 2011 I wrote a post describing some quirky and heartwarming stories that led to a sale or sales of my work:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/sweetest-sales

 

Since then, I have accumulated a few more that I want to share.

 

My seven-year-old collector:

Several years ago I was approached by acquaintances who live in our little hamlet. Could their younger daughter interview me for a school project on her favorite artist?

Juliet had accompanied her father Brett to an open studio I had hosted several months prior, and so thought of me (the other kids did mostly Picasso or Van Gogh, I think!).

So we did that, and then Juliet returned to my studio for a private art class. Her mom, Rebecca–who I barely knew, at that point—read in the yard while we did our session, and at the end she came into the studio and we chatted. Juliet was still quite shy at that time, but summoned her courage to ask me how much I charged for my paintings. Her mother feared that the question was rude, but I said, no, that asking for price in an artist’s studio was perfectly acceptable.

So I pointed to a 36″x36″ and said, “This painting will go out to one of my galleries shortly and is priced at $6,000”, and then I pointed to a few other pieces in a stack and continued, “but those pieces in this stack” and I pulled out one that had been in the possession of my sister for years, “are much, much older and I will sell to a friend for a few hundred dollars”.

Her mom and I continued chatting, and then Juliet tugged on her  mothers clothing. “MOM, I want to buy a painting.” Rebecca was floored and a little embarrassed, so I picked up what I thought was just a conversational ball. “Juliet, if you were going to buy a painting, which one would it be?

“That one”—she pointed to the stack, where I had stashed the earlier piece behind a few others. I pulled it out again. “I want to buy THAT one.” Her mom tried to backtrack, or at least table the conversation for later, but Juliet was having none of it. “How much would you charge me for it?”

I thought quickly. I could certainly have happily gifted her the piece, it was clear that she wanted to purchase it. So I told her that I would sell that painting to her for $150. “MOM, she said, I have savings and I WANT to buy the painting.” It went back and forth like that for a bit, Juliet also insisting that they take the painting NOW.

And so they did.

Her parents made the great call to have her go with them to the bank and make her first ever withdrawal and then bring me the money herself.

The angelic-looking and very strong-willed young artist:

 

 

I have since enjoyed getting to know the whole family better, as Brett and Rebecca have acquired a few pieces of their own and we have shared a glass of wine or two.

 

“Blue Ridges”, also in the family’s collection.

 

__________________    _____________________________________________    ____________________

 

She googled “Moody Greenscapes”:

 

“Hi,

I was wondering if Green Waves was available?  I have a perfect spot for this painting in my new home and love the story behind this piece on your blog.”
Here is the post that she found:
This sort of email often leads to a discussion about the shipper because…you guessed it…it is a scam.
But of course, I answered politely, not knowing that for sure:
“Yes, the piece is at my gallery in Rhinebeck, Albert Shahinian Fine Art. Someone has been nibbling on it, but has not yet moved.
I am glad that you like the story, as of course, do I!
Where do you live? Would we be delivering (nyc metro area) or shipping? I will loop the gallery in as soon as we figure a few things like that out.”
Then it became clear that we had a price misunderstanding, because there was the big piece itself:

 

 

Green Waves, 13″x76″ overall, oil on linen.

 

And the study for the piece:

 

Second and final small version of Green Wave., oil on paper, 5″x28″.

 

So that was just about that for that, as she explained:

 

“Unfortunately I was hoping the price of the piece was the other one I had seen online since $8,000 is definitely beyond our budget.  This would only be my second piece of original art so we are just now starting out.
I certainly appreciate your response though and congratulate you on beautiful work.  I found you from doing a google image search. I knew I wanted a moody greenscape and from one click to another I found Green Waves.”
Meanwhile, I did offer to look for a different piece:
“If I charged that price for the larger one, it would not even cover the cost of the frame, I am afraid, after gallery commission. This is an expensive business to be in!
If you would like to carry this a little further (I would be honored to be represented in your second piece of original art), we might be able to find something more affordable that you like.”
And then, some communication–she really did love that piece, and it was perfect for her spot—some silence—a bit of dickering— discussion with her husband—much back and forth between me and my galleriest Albert Shahinian—but only about a month later, altogether:
“I can’t believe I get to have Green Waves in our home.  I am so excited. I still cannot believe that not only did I spend so much on a piece of real actual art (instead of all the TJmaxx wall decor I have going on), but that I did so on a piece without first seeing it in person.  All that being said there is no doubt in my mind.  I LOVE love this piece and know i will love it even more in our home.”
And then finally, after Albert packed and shipped the long, heavy piece:
“It’s breath taking.
Thank-you”
____________    ______________________________________________    _____________

Painting from 1987:

A few months ago I received an email from a fellow asking about the inspiration for this painting:

 

Sisters painting, 40″x50″, 1987.

I have to say, I was very excited to see this piece, to me a standout from my abstract figurative period in the 1980’s when I was living in NYC. I remembered the sale of it to a woman who was accustomed to collecting high-end work, and I had always wondered if/how long she had held onto it. Frankly, given what else she had on her walls in her Sutton Place apartment, I was afraid that it had ended up in a dumpster.

It turned out that she does indeed really love her art–all of it, no dumpsters—even those pieces that have been switched around to different residences and in and out of storage. A few years ago, she offered to gift this piece to her sometimes personal assistant/friend and her husband. And so, it ended up in their California home…and sparked the inquiry.

I was communicating with Rich, the husband, batting info back and forth. Eventually, it was his idea to purchase two small pieces to go on either side, accommodating their budget. After studying the photo of their living room with the painting (which we started calling simply the “Sisters” painting, as is is a stylized image of me with my sister Karin behind me), I realized that monotypes would be the best bet, both for color/affect and for price. I recommended going with the pop of warm color that is in the painting, rather than trying to match the greens.

Then the couple decided that they wanted two more prints, for other spots in the room. I sent the four of them off and the next day got the email below:

“Love them! Thank you.  I can’t wait to get them framed!

Love them, love them, love them!”

Framing options—the final decision was the warm mat, since these two are printed on ochre-colored paper.

 

These are the other two that they acquired:

 

Monotype/Divided Fields.

 

Monotype/Mountain Stream.

 

________________    ______________________________________________    _______________

 

Does a gift qualify as a sale?

Some 12 or so years ago we had a holiday party and Gary Alexander, art and science writer from Woodstock, came with his girlfriend. He had been introduced to me years before by my then-gallery, the James Cox Gallery, and had gone on to, over time, write extensively about my work. (This included an 8 page article that got into Freud and brain science and required some serious focus, even for me.)

I had my studio heated and lit that night for those who wanted to take a look, and Gary, of course, did. After a bit of circulating on his part, we went out together and he pretty quickly got snagged by a 36″x36″ painting that was almost totally in black and white, big stormy sky gleam over our Catskill mountains backlit to black.

I can’t find a jpeg of the piece, but it had a look very similar to this one, but with a black mountain range in front:

 

 

 

A bit later, when I went back out with another friend, Gary’s partner was kneeing on the floor, rapt, in front of the same painting.

A few months later, this piece began to—ugh!—develop fine cracks in the surface. It was a new brand of stretched linen I had tried, quite pricey, and I think now was actually stretched too tight, a rare thing. Sadly, this painting was not going out to one of my galleries, even though these cracks were not visible from a few yards back.

I knew immediately what to do. I called Gary and left a message on his machine. Can you come by the studio, I have a surprise for you?

He was there within the hour. A gentle, laconic fellow, he did not stay around to chat after I gave him the painting, but his face said it all.

I am quite sure that it was the last time I saw him. He passed away in 2017.

I hope his girlfriend is still enjoying  the painting.

 

________    _______________________________________________________    _________

 

To Madrid on the private jet:

 

One more, a quick one, because that is how the sale happened.

 

In June of 2017 a fellow was drawn into my gallery on Martha’s Vineyard, the Louisa Gould Gallery, by a very large marsh painting in the window. That piece was too big, but sitting still wrapped in the gallery was my season’s delivery, dropped by my husband earlier that day. The fellow, from Madrid, helped unwrap a new 44″x68″, and fell in love with the piece instantly. His wife concurred. Problem was, would it fit in their private jet?

Just then, his pilot walked by the front of the gallery and was promptly hailed. Would this piece fit? Hurried consultation in Spanish. Yes, it would!

The piece was wrapped back up and invoiced and paid for, and out the door it went.

The whole encounter took about 20 minutes.

 

Rolling Cloud, 44″x68″.

 

_______________     _____________________________________________________________    ______________

 

I have been steadily selling my work for decades, resulting in many hundreds of pieces going out to homes, offices, and public collections around the country and the world. These stories remind me to be grateful for each and every one of those sales, but you can see that most of the ones that stick with me  are not necessarily big in dollar amount, but big in heart.

 

Advertisements

6 responses

  1. Leah Katz

    thank you for sharing this! I love your art and bought a small piece years and years ago and cannot afford to buy any now but perhaps one day I can come to your studio and look at some of your older work! Leah Katz

    January 28, 2019 at 9:32 pm

  2. Cathy

    Just like the little girl in your first story, I too was absolutely determined to have one of your paintings … though it took me a bit longer, I was able, with your help, to purchase a beautiful painting which Tony and I enjoy continually as it is hanging on the focal wall in our living room.
    Love all of these accounts, but think young Juliet is my favorite … how wonderful for this child to have such a positive experience acknowledging and purchasing her first piece of fine art … how kind and thoughtful of you to have made it possible!

    January 29, 2019 at 7:29 pm

  3. So happy, Cathy, that you enjoyed the post and even more so, that you and Tony love living with your pastel!

    January 29, 2019 at 7:51 pm

  4. David

    Your article gives me pause to wonder who is collecting who. Visual art communicates with feeling and when artist and patron meet and agree there is an appreciation for one another that becomes a little more than just a sale from my point of view.

    January 30, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    • Yes, it often does! Many times a collector has become a friend because of that being in sync, though I am careful when I feel that people are collecting artists more than art. (A particular offer to do a late evening run down the Hudson in a private yacht—when I hadn’t even met them—comes to mind!) Visual art does indeed communicate with feeling…

      January 30, 2019 at 2:25 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s