by Janice Nigro
I hit a major milestone today. I sold some of my original paintings.
I have mixed feelings about it. I’m not known for my ability to paint. I might be, but only because I call my paintings fun art, not fine art. My neighbor paints fine art. She paints on big canvases, on surfboards, and on walls, very big walls. Her art is on several continents. I paint fun art on notebook-sized mixed media paper. My neighbor gets her paintings right the first time, or nearly so. I take a few tries, as in many, before I like a painting enough to show it.
I too use different venues to show my art. Sometimes I put an image on social media. I feel compelled to do it when I paint something that makes me feel happy. Or something that makes me laugh.
Most of the time I photograph the painting, print the image on a card, and send it to someone. I have a friend, now on the other side of the country, who gets a lot of my cards just because. In today’s digital world, there is something cathartic about sending a card when the person on the other end will never expect it. My friend appreciates a good card any time because she has a business of her own creating cards. Her job is to send happiness out into the world. Or to make it easier for you to do that.
I’ve always thought she is an easy target because she likes to send mail as much as she likes to receive it. But she likes my cards so much that she uses them as dividers in her luxury brand planner.
A couple of my paintings I’ve thought about framing for myself, but at my current skill level, I know that they are best as the little art that I send to friends and family.
I don’t fool myself about my art. Even my photography ranks as only pretty good. But I go at least one step further than most which is to print out my photos. I go even further because I frame them and put them up for sale in a local shop.
Photography is hard to sell today. A friend recently said, “It’s tough to sell photographs today because everyone thinks they can do it.” I’ve heard that about certain painters. “Everyone thinks they can paint like I do.”
Key word is that everyone thinks they can do it. Sure, with photography, most everyone has a camera today and everyone uses them. Like tourists in our own lives, we photograph each moment of our days. Most of the time what makes a photograph great or a piece someone will buy has nothing to do with this casual approach to serendipity. It’s that you are out there every day on the beach, in town, underwater, and you see situations that most won’t because they aren’t out there every day.
I photograph mundane things around my town, but with a twist. Everyone photographs the lifeguard huts when they’re at the beach. But I do it in the marine layer. If I hear the foghorn, I’m up and out there. And sometimes when I’m out there in the marine layer I find a surfboard or some other object leaned up against a hut that makes it interesting. That’s what makes my photos different from the others of the same lifeguard hut.
Once I came across a chalkboard with a message from the lifeguards to keep swimmers and boogie boarders out of the way of surfers. I’ve never seen that chalkboard again. You have to be out there every day to see things, not just be there sometimes.
I never thought anyone would want to put one of my paintings on their walls. These paintings are not going to a stranger, someone just off the internet, so I’m sure there is an element of the person seeing something in my paintings and my photographs that remind her of me. Or the fact that she’s watched me struggle to work on a skill set different than the one I have focused on for most of my life.
But I’ve come upon a dilemma that I never had before. Giving up my originals.
My first thought when my friend asked about my paintings was to make prints for her. I’ve only ever sold (or sent) prints. That was the routine. Then I realized I am supposed to sell the originals.
Why is it so hard to let go of the originals? I’m not sure. But all art reveals something about the artist. The visual part is that the artist has some talent, for realism, for color, for imagination. But the other part is that the art reveals something about the artist, a moment of the artist’s thoughts captured and nailed up on someone’s wall for everyone to see. It could be funny, sad, or newsworthy. Or something no one else has thought of or looked at.
Maybe giving up an original will get easier when I’m sure I can make more. Some artists live off their art so they might find it easier to let their paintings go. Other artists know they can do it again.
I’m starting to believe that I can make a small side business out of my little paintings. I wouldn’t have thought before today that it was possible. And the only reason it was possible today, is because I sent a friend a Christmas card. A Christmas card that she now uses as a bookmark.
I made a painting, I printed it, and I sent it.
This is one of the lessons I’ve gotten out of making art. And writing. That for something to happen, you have to take it one step further than you might want to before you are ready to.
Good bye my little paintings.
©Janice Marie Nigro/janikiInk.com
Looking for a scientific editor or writer? Contact Janice Nigro at Janice Nigro Ink. I have published in Cell, Science, and Nature, and articles I have edited have appeared in Cancer Research, Clinical Cancer Research, PLoSONE, the Journal of Surgical Oncology, and Oncotarget.