Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How much do you value yourself?


What is value?

Well according to value means quite a few things:

1. relative worth, merit, or importance: the value of a college education; the value of a queen in chess.
2.monetary or material worth, as in commerce or trade: This piece of land has greatly increased in value.
3. the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium of exchange.
4.equivalent worth or return in money, material, services, etc.: to give value for value received.
5. estimated or assigned worth; valuation: a painting with a current value of $500,000.
Value is important to all of us. It affects our well being, our relationships, our professional lives, our hopes and our dreams.

Do we value ourselves enough to believe we are worth being in good health? That we value ourselves enough to pursue an education? That we believe in ourselves to enough to say goodbye to the toxic parts of our lives?

To be honest, I value myself in a positive light about 89.9% of the time. There are negative things that hold me back from loving myself as much as I want to. Things that are both internal and external. I'm not quite where I want to be in life, but I do value where I am and I appreciate the work that's taking me to where I want to go. 

Let's take a look at definition #5.   

estimated or assigned worth; valuation: a painting with a current value of $500,000.

 I wish. 

Taking this from an artist perspective, how much do I value myself? My work? My time? As an artist one of the main goals of mine is to sell paintings. I very much enjoy the idea of having people buy my work and appreciate it for what it's worth.

But what is it worth?

This is a big question that happens to us all that are trying to sell our work. How much is my art worth? I ask myself that all the time when told to put a price on my paintings. How much blood, sweat, tears, hours of my life did I put into? What is that worth to me?

Well,  it's worth a whole damn lot. I'm worth a whole damn lot. I believe I am. I may not be some big named artist or have sold a whole lot of paintings (perhaps because of the price?) but I value the time, thought and energy put into them.

Monday, I was at the Axis Gallery in Downtown San Jose, and brought in a whole collection of animal paintings and drawings that I had completed back in August. I was submitting them to go into a show next year in January.  I had fixed a couple of the paintings up (I will show side by side comparison later) which put more time and work into the piece. I am never quite finished with a work because I am for that unattainable sense of perfectionism, but I digress.

I was asked to put a price tag on the selected works. Usually, when I have to come up with a price, I have to think about the whole picture. Time, materials, quality, energy, and how much I love the piece and believe it to be. 

I stared at my pieces. They stared back.

I stared at the price list I had originally written down. I looked at my work again, and they continued to look right back asking: how much are we worth to you?

There were three other women in the gallery at the time, one the curator Deborah, was leading the discussion taking place about pricing one's work. My head began its usual pained throb when it comes to this situation.
I had done quite a bit of research to compare what other artists were selling their work at. Many had their starting prices for a small piece higher than what I originally planned as my base. But I haven't been in the business quite as long as them.

How the heck do I price my work?


High price scare some buyers. Low prices may lead a prospective buyer to believe you don't value your work, so why would they bother buying from you?  You don't want to undersell yourself just to make a few bucks but you don't want a sense of an overinflated ego when charging an insane price for a work, unless you honestly, truly believe that the piece is worth that much. 

This coming from a girl who priced one of her pieces at $6,000. Not the above :) But hey, I believe the certain piece was and is worth that much money. 

Back to the discussion. Another artist, Laura was also trying to determine the prices of her work being submitted. Amounts were suggested to both of us. One of the suggestions surprised me because in my mind, I thought I had been pricing too high where as they thought I was pricing low. 

The point was obvious.

If someone truly values a particular piece, they will pay the price for it. They will pay for it what they believe it's worth. 

So, I could go back and forth over the prices, but that would result in more headaches. Simply, I need to learn to trust my gut instinct on how much I value my work and let the price speak for itself. If someone values the work as much as I, then they will pay the amount for it.

Here's hoping that people out there love my work :)

How about any of you readers out there. Have you ever had to put a price tag on something of great value to you? How did you come up with the number?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Blink and you miss it

Wow. November flew by fast.  And no posts from me. So sorry. :( I must post more if I would like to be a serious blogger. How about a photo filled post to make up for it? And a promise to post once more this week. Deal?


So November was a crazy month.  Not as crazy and hectic as Sept and October or even August, but crazy nonetheless but I had two paintings on a schedule. Again. Yes.

I was asked by a volunteer at El Aguila in Salinas, where I showed my Dias de los Muertos paintings for 2 weeks, if I had any artwork pertaining to the Mexican Revolution. Coincidentally, my brain was pushing me to work on an image that had been wanted to be put to canvas so I said, 'No, I don't have any paintings, but I can produce one, maybe two'.  These would have to been done by the 18th of November since the Mexican Revolution anniversary show was on the 19th.

So, my relaxing month that I had promised myself, was put on the back burner while I worked away on some paintings. My husband hasn't seen me since the honeymoon! I practically live at the studio now.

Below are two paintings. One small one of the woman in the serape is untitled. The other, the big painting of the lady in the yellow blouse and the bandolier is entitled Soldadera.

Here is the sequence of her evoultion

Acrylic on gesso masonite board. Generally, when I start a painting I go full out with the colors and then work my way backwards. Not the best of ideas but the image in my head wants to be born!

 I was not feeling the above image.  She looked to fearful to be placed in such a bright landscape. Also, another thing about me, I hate working backgrounds. I  usually have this image in my head that wants on canvas and I do it, but I don't think the background thoroughly through so I end up getting frustrated with the painting.

The image in my head is supposed to capture an emotion. A moment in time. A story peeking out from behind the eyes of the lady. By my train of thought the surrounding scenery/background is supposed to help push that idea/emotion/moment etc. but I get lost. 

After a while of struggling, sometimes the paintings talk and demand a change of scenery when things just don't feel right, so I scrapped the bright background and opted for something else. Other times, the critiques of my friends help along the way too.  Some said they loved the above scenery and loved the way it was going but,  my gut, and the painting itself, tell me it's just not working.

My mother always says to follow your gut. So one of the few times, I did. (I'm usually very indecisive. Don't look at me like that. I'm a Libra!)

I was getting more pleased with the scenery, but I knew, and obviously, I wasn't quite there yet. 

Almost done. She seemingly more comfortable in this terrain. It's not as natural as I would like for her, but she seems to understand it and feel her surrounding.  She meaning the lady in the painting.  My work is alive. I'm crazy. I know. Shh.

Hmm... seemed to have forgotten to take a photo of the final piece. I will post it soon. Pretty much touch ups all over and additional spines and fruit to the prickly pear cactus.

Now on to Soldadera.

Again running full force into the main image. Getting the basic underlying colors down. Feeling the space out. Even in this preliminary stage she's kinda creepy without eyes.

A little less creepy and more bad ass, dontcha think?  I am not quite sure what's going on with her elbow.Here, her hat starts the drive me nuts. The shading is strang to me. I don't want it blending with her skin tone. Nor do I want it too haloish.

So here she is becoming more alivish. I decided to move the cactus scenery from the other painting to this one. For some reason, painting the prickly pears was one of my favorite parts. The sky was looking a strange blue but eh. It was eventually going to be fixed. 

BAM! There she is. Notice the eagle in the background with a snake in it's talons. Hint hint. Mi mama made a good point about her nails. A woman solider in the field wouldn't have well manicured nails. Yes, mom, you're right. I fixed her nails after this photo was taken.  Granted I do have a hard time with painting hands, I thought I did pretty well with this one.

Loving the cactus!

And here she is at her post in El Aguila. She's at #34 Central Ave, Salinas CA, between the Steinbeck center and house. Just look for the crazy flags. I took lots of pictures of the surrounding objects. Loving the pink top and skirt next to her. 

So that's what I did for the month of November. I relaxed and tried to stay warm and enjoyed two Thanksgiving dinners for the remainder of the month and also celebrated a birthday with a close friend of mine. I will be posting pictures of El Aguila, Thanksgiving dinner and the party soon enough.

Hope you enjoyed seeing the evolution of my paintings. I put loads of energy and lots of time into my work, missing out on friends, family, and the hubby, working wee hours into the night, and I am NOT a night owl. I would hate to put out work that I am not pleased with, and I was very proud of these for such the short amount of time I had.
I wouldn't have delivered them if I wasn't happy with them, but then again, it doesn't completely match the image I have in my head. In my minds eye my work would be perfect, to my standards, but my hand and mind don't connect that way. I've had to take two different views of perfection. What will always be in my head versus what I am skilled enough to produce.

Do any of you consider yourself perfectionists? Do you refuse to put out work whether it be in the creative field like art or writing because it didn't meet your standards of perfect? Anyone understand what I mean by my two different views of perfection? Lemme know. 

I would like to hear from you.



And not just the voices in my head. :)

Stay warm out there!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dias de los Muertos

Hello blog world!  The last post was kind of long and pictureless.  Sorry. This one will make up for it.

I am wrapping up a long weekend of activities and recovering from World Series celebration from last night (GO GIANTS!!!!). Advil is my second lover right now. Oiye

So the past weekend was the Day of the Dead Festival at Calvary Cemetery. I didn't get much sleep Friday night, due to my insane cats waking me up at 3 am! But I managed to get some work done in the early hours, checking over the list of things to take and listening to the rain. I prayed that it would clear up enough for the festival. Luckily, Goddess heard me and it stopped raining by 8 that morning.

Setting up was hard. The rain might have stopped but the wind was a pain in the rump. Especially when pitching up a pop up canopy tent. The wind knocked over easels, with my paintings on them and one of the paintings got a rip right down the center. :( Going to repair that one soon. Several of my brand new easel broke as well, which I am none too happy about.

Finally, after my husband conquered the tent and the walls we had our area set up and were good to go. We also had our good friends Alex and Josana in a tent beside ours. She was selling her ceramic work and Alex was selling some prints of his. I'll post some pictures of their goods next time as I didn't take any pictures of them myself. :(

 Here I am!

Yes that is a San Francisco Giants sugar skull painting. Told you I was a Giants fan ^_~*

The furry bush man beside me is my husband Eric. He wears his world series beard proudly. He's going to shave it soon, but keeping it for the parade tomorrow! Yes I am going to the parade. Woot woot!

Here's a closer look at my work:

The third picture down, which I call the bride, was the one that got ripped. At least it was through her hair and not her face. She can be fixed.

Here are some of the Giants sugar skull paintings I made:

Panda Skull

Fear the Beard

The Festival was held at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in San Jose and it was actually a lovely cemetery with some beautiful headstones and markers. I must remind myself to take my camera to the cemetery the next time I'm at one. 

I had a lot of people interested in my art, lots of compliments which really made this artist feel good, and quite a few took pictures of me and my work. :)  The day actually was pretty nice save for a few gusts of wind and it was actually quite warm.  I even got a sunburn, not fun! But the event itself was enetertaining.

Aztec dancers , Folklorico Dancers from a local high school, and story telling. 

Folklorico Dancer at the Festival

They even had a tent where you could paint your own sugar skull. I soooooooo wanted to go to that tent, but I had to man my own. I did manage to wander to the other booths though and found a cute dish cloth I can embroider right after I finish my table cloth embroidery from Hungary that I bought and started 3 years ago. haha. 

Some of mi familia came out in support and even my little sister came all the way down from way northern CA. It was fun seeing all of them there. Even Eric's mom and little brother came to see the event. 

The festival was to end at 3, and around 2:15 there were some menacing clouds rolling into view. By 2:45 it started to sprinkle and within another minute the clouds opened up and it began to rain. Luckily, at the first sign of sprinkle, I started getting all my paintings together, and with the help of my hubby, his mom, and friends we got the paintings into my truck with little to no damage. Just one water spot. Granted, we were soaked through, having to take down the tent. 

That's one way to clear out a festival. Everyone moved quick!

That night the Giants lost. Boo. Sunday came and I had to take my paintings down to El Aguila in Salinas. The building used to be a lawyers office but is now a small cultural center at #34 Central, between the Steinbeck Center and the Steinbeck house. If you're in the area, go check it out!  My work will be there until Saturday afternoon.  My mother came down with me and we met up with my aunt for brunch and I had a great time listening to their stories about working in the fields, about the family and the connections being made within the creative world. I am very inspired by my family and want to continue painting from my heritage. 

Speaking of which, I'm going to San Juan Bautista this weekend to enjoy the Day of the Dead festivities. There will be a procession and music and such. The town is lovely and there is this creative energy I felt just driving through (perhaps its the energy of the San Andreas fault!). I can't believe I've only been there once before.

Tonight I am setting up an altar for my family. For my departed Aunt Charlie, mi Wela chiquita (abuelita/great grandmother) and mi Welo (abuelo/grandfather). I'll be setting out some food for them and hope to have some conversations with them, if only in my dreams. I miss you all.

Light a candle for those you have loved and lost but haven't forgotten.