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Below are two examples of communicating about your art.
1. I often paint en plein air. This means to paint on location. I find a location to paint, set up my pochade box and begin painting. I use a combination of loose brush work with some palette knife. These paintings are usually quite small and most are completed in about 2 to 3 hours. Some in as little as 20 minutes. These works are loose and painterly with a lot of spontaneity.
2. While painting on location (or en plein air) I am moved to capture my emotional response to the landscape. As I immerse myself in nature, she reveals herself to me. I feel a connection. I learn. I understand. I feel. As you view these plein air paintings, the reverence I have of nature – the reason why I paint at all – becomes evident. The spontaneity of the brushwork adds visual delight and enables you to become part of the process as you complete the imagery in your mind.
Do you see a difference in the two approaches?
The first paragraph explained HOW. The second paragraph explained WHY. Which was more interesting to you? Note, the second paragraph explained why for both me and you. Why I paint plein air. Why it matters to you.
Most people want to know why. They don’t care about how. Dr. Frank Luntz helped me realize this idea as I heard him speak on NPR.
As you speak or write about your art, as you share your story, remember tell WHY, don’t worry about telling HOW.
Why are you drawn to a specific subject or genre? Simply stating “I am intrigued by the figure” doesn’t explain why. Why is it intriguing to you? And remember, why does it matter to me?
Why do you use a specific technique or medium? Most collectors don’t care how you use your technique (some artists might want to learn how), but they (collectors) want to know why you use it and why it matters to them.
I don’t care how you got to where you are in your career. But I do care why you got there.
1. I spent all my free time outdoors when I was young. I still love the outdoors and show that love in my landscape paintings. (HOW – boring).
2. Nature has had a tremendous impact upon how I view the world. I have learned to feel and see and connect on a deeper level. Thus my paintings have become a means of expressing my veneration for nature. They are a response to the moment. (WHY – more interesting).
3. I manipulate the clay by adding and subtracting. I model and carve and push and pull to get the varied effects I want. (HOW – boring).
4. By manipulating the clay with a variety of techniques and textures I am able to capture the gestures, movement, and the essence of life itself of the human form. (WHY – more interesting).
I hope you see the difference. Explain why, not how as you share your art with your fans.
Today's post is an updated version from a few years ago, but we're republishing it again today because it's still a timely and a very relevant message. Enjoy!
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Don't Just Play it Safe
There Must Be Another Reason
Understanding the Why Informs the How