Cleaning House

We Be CloseIt’s hard to believe, but just five years ago I had no website or social media. My art business was based entirely on word of mouth. When I decided to start promoting my business online, I had no idea where to start. Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, DeviantArt, Twitter, and this blog — they all represented new opportunities, and I tried them all as part of a grand experiment.

Enough time has passed that I now have real data with which to analyze these platforms. I’ve made a lot of friends and attracted followers online, especially on Instagram, and I expected this following to translate into increased sales and attendance at art shows — but business has remained random, and art show attendees have never turned out because of social media. Invariably they come due to word of mouth or advertisements on third party websites. Furthermore, I can trace very few of my sales to my website or social media.

I try to make sound business decisions in my career based on real-life experience and hard data. I have to face the fact that the online platforms are not enhancing my business to the extent that I can justify their continuing expense. I’m not talking about having to pay for services, since all of the platforms aside from this blog are free to use. But the considerable hours that go into maintaining a social media presence represent unpaid labor. There is also lost income, since I could be allocating the time I spend on social media toward more profitable activities.

The experiment was worth the risk, because I answered important questions for myself; but I have already started to “clean house” in order to cut my losses. So far I have deleted Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, DeviantArt, and Twitter. I erased some of my old YouTube videos as well, most of which served as advertisements for workshops and exhibitions that have long since expired. For now, I’m keeping Instagram, Etsy, YouTube, and this blog — but I may ultimately decide to scale back even more. To be honest, there is a certain appeal to “going rogue” and getting back to underground art-making.

The lesson in all of this is look at your business strategies with detachment and reason. If something isn’t working for you, it may actually be working against you. Pull the plug on activities that suck your time and offer no commensurate reward. Most importantly, put your focus and energy on your art.

Collar Boy

Collar Boy, 2017

Collar Boy, 2017

I am proud to premiere my new painting, Collar Boy (left). I painted this from a photograph sent to me by Aaron Ranney, whose Instagram page you can view here. He is an enthusiastic art lover, and he has been graciously modelling for lots of artists on Instagram. Thank you, Aaron, for bringing this pose to life!Collar Boy Painting first layer

To learn how I go from a solid black canvas to the finished painting, see my latest video (below)! Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for exclusive art tutorials, behind-the-scenes footage, and more!

How I Paint

Painting Step by Step

Strawberry Boy, 2017

Strawberry Boy, 2017

I am thrilled to premiere my latest acrylic painting, Strawberry Boy (left). This was a really fun project that took my pop aesthetic to a whole new (and tastier) level.

My model and muse was a very creative and beautiful young man whom you can find on Instagram. I based this painting on a photo he shared with me.

I drew a grid on a black canvas and the same grid on the photo. I then went square by square, painting what I saw in “greenscale”.Strawberry Boy greenscale

From there, I built up the painting, layer by layer, using Ivory Black, Titanium White, and one version of each of the primaries. In this case, I chose Quinacridone Magenta, Cobalt Blue, and Cadmium Yellow Light.

At the last minute, I added Cadmium Red Medium to the strawberry to help differentiate it from the lips. This really did the trick!

Strawberry Boy with Dean finishedFor more photos showing the complete process step by step, see the video below — and subscribe to my YouTube channel for more helpful art demos!