Exciting news! I have just launched my new web shop, where you will be able to buy much of the new paintings I make. At present I have just the 2 works illustrated below for sale, both are in editions of 10 and are priced at £25 + P&P each. Please click here to visit the shop.
I have been painting pretty much daily for about 3 months now and it is fulfilling and has moved swiftly. Without other distractions I have been able to concentrate on it far more keenly than ever before. With the irrelevant and mundane things that used to waste my time discarded I can focus and ideas flow freely, can be explored fully, and are executed in a manner which, more often than not, pleases me.
I inhabit a different world now. That which has come before has formed and informed what I make and the way I make it. I have the time and opportunity to evaluate and analyse why I make things the way I do. I have been making small, abstract paintings for about 4 years now and production has been vigourous. For more than a year before that I made very little and prior to that I made, generally speaking, a small number of large scale figurative paintings.
When I made the significant move to abstraction it was in order to ensure that I could enjoy painting. I wanted to indulge in the singular joy of applying paint and the work was designed purely to afford me this opportunity, and it worked. At that time I understood it to be a simple thing. I love painting. I was unable to do it to any satisfactory degree in the form I had previously pursued. I had no means to change my circumstances and therefore the thing I could change was my practice. I redesigned it to fit into my life, such as it was, and by doing so I could paint again. Quite simple. Now though, I see things a little differently, or at least, being able to stand away and look back at things with some sort of overview, I believe I can see more of what lead me to reshape my painting as I did.
The truth is, since early 2013 I have not enjoyed life. I was not happy, but, and this may sound odd, I wasn’t actually aware that I was that unhappy. I shan’t go into detail, but I was busy – excessively so. I didn’t have much time to think about things like happiness, or to paint. At least I managed to figure out a solution to the latter! So now I look back on my change of approach as a far more profound attempt to inject some little joy into my daily existence. I wanted an escape. An indulgence, a responsibility free pursuit that I could be assured would give me a little pleasure and honestly, it did offer me that. Now of course, things are vastly different. Day to day life just does not compare. I can confidently say that I am much, much happier. There’s a way to go of course, as is the case for most everyone I’d have thought, but the direction of travel is clear.
What intrigues me now, is how my painting will respond to this change. The form it has taken until this point has perhaps been protective. It has taken the shape of psychological refuge, offering that little bit of respite from difficulty, but now that I have been pulled free of that I feel it just beginning to move in a different direction. It has served its purpose in its current form and I am excited to see where next it will go. There are already some new questions I am beginning to ask of my practice. Something more I want it to provide for me and, I hope, for others. It’s exciting, and I welcome the potential complexity that I have hitherto consciously and quite vocally eschewed.
I don’t suppose this is the sort of post most people would put out as they try to promote their ‘business’ (yuck). It’s not what you’d call projecting a relentlessly positive or ‘on message’ image, but frankly I don’t care about that. One’s experiences shape and inform one’s practice. It would be easy to spin it all with a cheerful grin, but it would not be honest and it wouldn’t cast the things I make in the right light. For those of us blessed/cursed with the creative urge it can be the case that we don’t really know what we’ve made until sometime after we’ve made it. If it turns out that what we made isn’t actually what we thought it was, well, tough shit. Give it all greasy gloss, present it with a forced smile and toe the line you drew for yourself if you want, but I’d rather be straight about what’s really going on or, if it’s not clear what’s going on right now, at least give my best guess about what went on. And if my opinions change, or I realise i got something wrong I’ll say so, because if i can do that, I think I’ll have a much better chance of seeing and embracing whatever comes next.
I will be showing the 8 paintings below at Kristian Day’s works on paper exhibition Paper Cuts at Transition Gallery, Hackney this Saturday, November 19th. It’s a one day event, but if you can’t make it there the works will also be available online soon.
for more information visit Kristian’s website
Transition Gallery can be found here:
Unit 25a (second floor)
8 Andrews Road
The eagle eyed among you may have noticed that I’ve been fairly quiet for a while. Unfortunately I’ve not been at the peak of health and wellness for some time, but I am very happy to report that I am now much improved.
And there’s more. One truly unexpected result of my illness is that in recovery I have become the extremely fortunate beneficiary of opportunity and I intend to grasp it with both hands. I am taking the exciting step of making painting my full time pursuit. It will come as little surprise that I consider this something of a dream come true. I am utterly thrilled. I have no idea where it will lead, but rest assured I will be doing everything in my power to ensure it is the most positive move of my life.
My wife and I are in the process of building our shared studio at home, dedicating one room of our house to our new venture. We have spent too long sidelining our passions to accommodate the expected routines of the day to day. Not any more. We all of us get but one shot at life and I very much doubt that it yields much satisfaction if dreams remain forever unpursued. It’s a risk, of course. Success is far from guaranteed. But without taking that risk, failure is an absolute certainty.
So, what does this mean for my practice? Well, in very basic terms, lots more painting! That’s the main aim. Also I hope more exposure, promotion and exhibitions, but critically… I think I’m going to have to ask for money in exchange for pictures! Shock horror! Don’t panic though. I still intend to maintain my free pictures project. I would hope that with extra time to paint I will be able to produce the same number of freebies as I always have and then add paintings for sale on top of that. We’ll see how it works, but rest assured your chances of getting something for nothing should not be diminished.
Initially I have decided to adopt the same basic pricing structure as I laid out to cover commissions (explanation detailed here and below). Naturally it may be subject to change depending on how things go, but for now it is an entirely transparent and, I’d like to think, fair pricing system based on a simple formula.
As always I would love to hear your opinions on this new adventure. It is one of the most exciting things I have ever done and, I hope, the beginning of an entirely new way of life.
Sale of the century
Since introducing the concept in February 2015, giving my paintings away for free has become a cornerstone of my practice. I have found it more defining than I had expected. For those unfamiliar, many of the paintings illustrated on my website have been made available for free. Anyone may request one by simply emailing me. You can tell which are, or have been allocated as freebies because they are annotated (FREE PAINTING) directly beneath the the title and description. Many have already been claimed so I can offer no guarantees of satisfaction and my only caveat is that recipients cover any costs incurred in getting their paintings where they want them (postage being the most common). If paintings can be easily delivered or collected for nothing, all the better. I always prefer to meet the recipients whenever possible.
Initially it was the case that I gave every single one of my paintings away. At that time painting was what I called an ‘involved hobby’. I had to fit it in around full time work and family life and as such sales did not enter into the equation. It was reward enough that the work was getting out there, however, in August 2016 I began painting full time, making far more work and started selling my paintings as well as giving them away.
But I remain committed to maintaining the free painting project. It has become so critical to my practice that to abandon it would be to remove a huge part of my ethos and much of what I believe differentiates my approach from the majority of the art world. My hope is that this project will benefit both myself and the recipients. Everyone likes a freebie and in a small way perhaps this gives people the opportunity to own something they might not otherwise have expected to. I benefit in that now and again my paintings are going out there and ‘doing’ something more than simply being another item dropped into the world of commerce.
The other side of the coin
Like many, many artists I aim to sell my paintings. It isn’t easy because, in terms of the basics of retail, necessity and purchase, art is a vague and nebulous thing. It is not a necessity like food. It is often a retail item, but whilst most people could tell you the price of a pint of milk, only a tiny percentage of the population are even vaguely aware of the market value of one piece of art versus the next. Artists are asking you to buy something you definitely don’t need, for what is usually a relatively high price based on the intrinsic value of the materials and can therefore very often seemed plucked out of the air. And more often than not all this is based on the intended buyer’s own entirely subjective aesthetic preference. Sounds a tough sell at the best of times!
I would like to be able to make this a little easier if I can. I can’t make my paintings essential to your life. They aren’t and never will be. I can’t change your aesthetics either. You’ll either like them, or you won’t. I can try to convince you, but honestly I’d prefer you trust your own judgement. I don’t want to try to talk you into something you don’t want to do. That doesn’t really help either of us.
So, the part I can affect is the pricing. Having worked in the art world for more than a decade I have some insight into how high end art is priced. There are various factors to be considered depending on the piece in question but the fact is that plucking a number out of the air does happen to a certain extent, and a four digit number is a pretty big one to invent in most anyone’s book.
My solution to this is to price my paintings based on an entirely transparent and easily calculable formula. So, let’s talk turkey. How much for a painting? It’s pretty straightforward:
Existing painting (one I have made by my own choice):
5 pence per square centimetre of surface area + transport costs = total price.
Production costs + 5 pence per square centimetre of surface area + transport costs = total commission price.
To better define these factors:
5 pence per square centimetre
Exactly that. For every square centimetre of surface area of the painting (height x width) I charge 5 pence (£0.05). I feel this is a relatively modest price. To put it into real terms a painting 25 x 20cm works out as 500cm2, so £25. A painting 100 x 150 = 15,000cm2 , so £750. In the case of a commission the client may decide the size (based on commercially available stretcher bars or wooden boards), so they’re in complete control of this cost.
Whatever it costs to get the painting where the client wants it. Sometimes nothing if collected in person. Otherwise postage or courier or airmail or delivery or whatever.
Production costs (applicable to commissions only)
Materials such as the stretcher, canvas, drawing pins, paint (if I need to buy in specifically) or anything else required for which I will incur a cost.
All costs are of course agreed in advance and in the case of commissions an up front deposit to cover materials may be required.
So there you go. I think that’s pretty clear, fair and eliminates a bit of the commercial art world’s smoke and a few of its mirrors, which is no bad thing in my book.