Neal, Whyte & Lindstrom: “The Various Paths to Success”

My tricked out DeLorean time machine.

Step into my time machine back to the date May 27th, 2012 when I attended a panel discussion by artistic luminaries, Michael Shane Neal, Mary Whyte and Bart Lindstrom at the 2012 Art of the Portrait Conference in Philly. I take a lot of notes during classes, workshops and conferences. Some of them never surface again, and some like these lucky notes born under the right astrological sign, actually make it into a blog post. You might not always get the latest breaking news here (try CNN for that) but if  you are seeking a blog about painting & technique served with a little witty banter on the side–then you have come to the right place! Now please sit still while I adjust the flux capacitor on this thing. This is what makes time travel possible: the flux capacitor! First, you turn the time circuits on. This one tells you where you’re going. This one tells you where you are. This one tells you where you were. You input your destination time on this keypad. Say you want to see the signing of the Declaration of Independence [Jul. 4, 1776] or witness the birth of Christ [Dec. 25, 0000]. For this trip we’ll be traveling way back in time, er 3 months back to May 27th, 2012 so you can experience this panel discussion in person. Hold on!

Mary Whyte. “Graffiti”. Watercolor. 39 1/2″ x 48″. 2008. Gallery representation, http://www.colemanfineart.com/.

Mary Whyte: On Promoting Work & Income

  • You must have a web site, an on-line presence.
  • Put up only your best work.
  • Make sure to have contact info up front; phone, email etc.
  • Make a “take away” brochure that holds dates, relevant publications featuring your work.
  • Press-how can you get more of it? Donate a portrait of a community person.
  • Make a contact everyday–reconnect with old contacts. Contact your “wish list” of people you want to buy your work.
Bart Lindstrom. “Kim and Kimberly”. Oil, 36″ x 30″.

Bart Lindstrom:

  • Keep a log of who are your collectors.
  • Create relationships with these people. Remember them, remember details about them. You become “their” artist!
  • Courtship, friendship–it is the same idea with your collectors.
  • Donate portraits to private schools. Entry level products that they can upgrade to something else you offer.  Why private schools? Because these parents have the resources.
  • Keep your work current on your website. Always be culling (removing). Better to show a consistent painting style & have less.
  • Make it easy for people to find you.
Michael Shane Neal. “Rachel”. Oil.

Michael Shane Neal:

  • Attend high-end private school football games and throw up  your cards during touchdowns!
  • Get out of your studio. Get people to know you & understand your work. Make sure what you write about your work is concise & frequent.
  • Diversity is important. Paint everything, every subject. It opens up your clientele!
  • Stay positive! Develop a support structure.
  • Don’t undervalue good old-fashioned hard work. It will make up for a lot of shortfalls.
  • When you get in the studio strive to improve as an artist every single day.
  • The business side is important but more important is becoming a better artist. You must do both.
  • Google people out there who are retiring and introduce your work to them.
  • You can even set a “Google alert” for people retiring from specific fields i.e. Universities.

Bart Lindstrom:

  • Make yourself enjoyable to be with. 1). Learn how to make an exquisite product. 2). Show it to as many people as possible.
  • Agencies need an amazing example of your work & then photographs of consistent work. They are looking for someone who is easy to work with.
  • Take the initiative (with agencies), get their email & send them your best images. You have to make these relationships.
  • Learn how to do demos and do them often.

Michael Shane Neal:

  • Get a list of everybody that is there at your art events & contact them personally.
  • Consider speaking–create a 20 min power point presentation showing your images & studio shots. Talk to your audience about your work and your images.

Mary Whyte

  • Will host small dinner parties in galleries & then give a small tour of her work.

Michael Shane Neal:

  • Spend some time teaching. You will always find people who know less than you do. It helps to build name recognition.

Mary Whyte

  • Has a manager and an assistant. Her husband makes her frames & he has his own frame making assistant.

Michael Shane Neal:

  • Began by doing everything himself. After 10 or 12 years he paid an intern to work for him.

Bart Lindstrom:

  • Trade your art for services. Stop excessive spending so you have more time in the studio (less bills to pay)
  • When you talk about your work to someone else allow for a “moment of reflection” ( to bloom). Allow your message to sink in as they are viewing it.

Michael Shane Neal:

  • Be quiet when people are looking at your work. Let them absorb it. Kinstler calls it the “deafening silence”. Get comfortable with it.

And one last thing Marty, I’m sure that in 2020, plutonium is available in every corner drugstore, but in 2012, it’s a little hard to come by so I am afraid you are stuck in Philly. Sorry. But look on the bright side-at least you will have time to really see the relocated Barnes collection!

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