Conversing with Artists

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Loving Art and Conversing with Artists – Having spent decades in Corporate America, living in the artists’ world has brought many delightful surprises and some horrifying questions. I am continually amazed by the questions friends, family, strangers, fellow artists, neighbors, and service providers ask me.

Conversing with Artists

Here are some examples of the worst questions that I hope will give you a chuckle or an empathy:

1. Are you selling anything?
2. What do you really do for a living?
3. Does anybody buy your work?
4. I’ve always wanted to paint–do you think you can tell me what I need to know over lunch?
5. How long did it take you to paint that? (If you give what the person perceives as a short time, you are charging too much. If you give what the person perceives as a long time, you can’t be very good.)
6. Do you make a living painting?
7. Why don’t you have anything alive in your painting?
8. I’m a decorator–what percentage do I get off?
9. How much of a discount do I get if I buy more than one? (I always wonder if they do that at Macy’s.)


Here are some examples of the best questions that I hope you may consider asking artists:

1. Tell me the story behind this painting. (My favorite, because every one of my paintings has its own story.)
2. Which masters have influenced you the most?
3. Where may I see more of your work?
4. Do you accept commissions?
5. Would you be willing to work with my decorator?
6. Would you share a bit about your life as an artist?
7. Do you teach?
8. How do you decide which paintings to put in a show like this?
9. Would you put me on your mailing list and keep me informed of your events?

While a few artists are shy around strangers, many artists love speaking with the public, sharing secrets and stories about their work, and getting feedback about which pieces are the most pleasing to viewers. Everyone enjoys positive feedback.

Artists understand that not every person will like every piece of art. Is it ever appropriate to make negative comments about a work of art within earshot of the artist? Consider an art selling space a store. People go into stores to buy what they like. Can you imagine someone taking an article of clothing to a clothing store manager to state all the things they don’t like about it? Just think how much more enjoyable it is to concentrate on art that speaks to you. You aren’t likely to buy a piece of art at every show you attend, but it’s hard to forget the first time a piece of art captured you and you just had to have it. Without question, you knew you had to own it. Even if you had to make payments to buy it, you had to make it yours. Where is that piece? I’ll bet you still have it.

I would love to hear about your first art purchase. Spare no details. Describe everything. Share enough of them and I will do a “Wonderful World of Art” Newsletter devoted to them.

My first “fall in love with a painting” came at a young age. My mother and I were shopping for a painting for my Aunt Mary Ann and Uncle Fred’s wedding anniversary. This was in the 1960s when huge art warehouses were popular in New Jersey where we lived. We tramped over three floors of ceiling to floor art, looking at hundreds of paintings over four hours before we chose a water/woods fall scene resplendant in sparkling colors. Nearly 50 years later, that painting still adorns their living room. I still think it is one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen.

2 Comments
  1. Andrew J. Sacks says

    Barbara, thank you again for your continuing interest and expertise in art.

  2. Joyce White says

    Love this
    I think MIT is important to tell the artist how their art speaks to you.

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