The meaning of a sale is something I end up thinking about each and every time someone purchases one of my paintings. A recent sale through a gallery startled me from my routine and brought forth all the emotions, thoughts, excitement, and fears-yes fear.
The fear of never selling again, the fear of not being able to work freely without having to cater to a certain subject matter in order to make another sale, the fear of the unknown just as it has been and frankly should be. Fear drives, motivates, inspires, and keeps me in motion. Regardless how many times I have been fortunate enough to sell a painting, starting way back during my refrigerator door sales as a small child, I always feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Someone just spent hard earned money on something I created, in essence she/he took a small part of me. In short, they picked me. Being picked is something we all can probably relate to even it is just a quick glimpse back to childhood when we divided up teams.
I never really get to interact with the person that buys my work in the fashion which I would like. I want to sit down and really have a conversation, I want to hear about the connection to the piece, the patrons thoughts about paintings in general, and perhaps a little about their story. I was chatting with a very pleasant young sales person in the gallery last night and I told her that of course the monetary reward of a sale is no small matter, but the true magic is in the fact that some how, some way the work connected with the patron. The moment of connection, the wonderment of seeing something which you know you must take home to enjoy is really one of the most special things about creating paintings and is certainly the case with me, purchasing work for my own collection.
A sale is often bitter sweet. I relish in showing my work and sharing the story of creating paintings. I am in all actuality rather shy and inhibited socially, but my paintings can speak for me and they never complain about even the largest crowds. So, I am a little sad when one is sold, it is very likely I will never see it again. My best hopes are that not only does the original owner cherish and enjoy the work, but that a family member will eventually take it when the owner must part with the painting. The notion of a life cycle of a painting is yet another thing I find myself thinking about and could be a whole separate topic of its own.
In all practicality though sales find us, nourish us, and encourage us to do more, go further, and continue the journey. I have heard over and over again stories of professional artists who just when things were financially most bleak discovered that coveted envelope in the mail box from the gallery. The small slip of paper inside provided food, shelter, and paint. The journey will continue.
I would like to share one last thought on making a sale. Not every sale actually results in a transaction of money. Sometimes when I am in a gallery meeting the patrons a person will walk up after a prolonged time. He or she has been staring at a paining, really soaking it in. A few comments will be made about why the painting speaks to them, what it means to them, and then the comment comes in the form of a near whisper if I could only afford it, I can't but I love it. These emotional sales are really powerful for me. I am moved beyond words when I can share a moment like this with someone who is really connected to the work.
To all of you who take the time to be patrons of the arts-thank you. Please know the meaning and value of a sale, monetary or emotional. You are a critical part of the overall journey of a painting and I simply couldn't do it without you.
Thank you for taking the journey with me.