Tag Archives: ann arbor art

Emerging Artist: Paula Shubatis + How to Price Student Work

The last couple months have been a wonderful blur. We went on maternity + paternity leave and have spent some much deserved time at home with out little one. It’s an amazing adventure and it’s bittersweet to return to the real world after a long hibernation. But it feels good to be back.

One of the few trips that have led me out of the studio recently was a trip to meet Paula Shubatis, a senior at The University of Michigan Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design. She was having trouble figuring out how to price her works. When I arrived at her studio, I was in awe of the caliber and scale of her handstretched oil paintings. Not only were they superbly executed, the content of decaying architecture and complementing organic forms required real investigation.

Sous Bois

The following are thoughts from Paula about how she found her way as an artist and painter, what her process is and how she sees her career in the future.

I’ve always been a maker.  Whether it was drawing on the walls, or making my own iteration of the Sistine chapel on the underside my mother’s mahogany coffee table, I’ve felt the constant need to make and do throughout my whole life.  But, it was not until high school that I was able to get a better technical knowledge of making through art classes.  After taking AP art in high school, I knew that I wanted to go to art school.  I came to art school under the false pretenses that I would go into something practical like graphic design, but secretly always knew that I wanted to be a painter.  Experiences with design only affirmed that I was awful at it, and it gave me great anxiety.  Through this rejection of design, I found my love of physicality of craft, in the realms of painting and fiber arts.  Once I found my genuine love and passion for making, I not only knew that I wanted to be a studio artist, but I had to be one, because I wouldn’t know what to do if I wasn’t.  

f. The Dance of the Arcadians

“Foraging a Vernacular Identity” is inspired by my curiosity of the mysteries which lie in the ordinary places which surround me.  I have a strong fascination with how systems of math and science are at play to create the poetry of a space, but could never hope to understand them.  I find myself drawn to painting nature and architecture because of their inherent relationships to math and science.  My paintings are a series of experiments through which I break down shapes, colors and forms of spaces into modular units, and reassemble them to try to figure out how they work.   I like to manipulate different variables like scale, directionality of marks and orientation to play with how the viewer might perceive a space. I often combine different variables of multiple spaces to create one hybridized space.  This process of experimentation and analysis becomes deeply introspective, and I find that I project myself onto spaces which I paint.  I convey my own sense of a fractured reality and disjuncture with the world though a dialogue between degenerate architecture and nature.          

Painting requires one to operate within a very peculiar state of being.  It asks one to be conscious, alert, and responsive at all times, and maintain a dichotomy between an idea, and how that idea actually translates into paint.  Painting asks one to suspend disbelief, and allow one’s self to become immersed in the surface.  Immersing one’s self in a surface demands a full commitment to the surface, and coping with the inevitable possibility of failure.  The surfaces which I grapple with aren’t just fictitious worlds, but they are also my own selfish spaces where I discover and share my most intimate secrets.  It can be very difficult to reveal the truths which I find within my paintings to both the viewer and myself.  It takes just the right mix of self-doubt and brazen confidence to have both the courage and motivation to make new discoveries.  

SnaggletoothPainting will always be something, which I always do, even if I had to dig up cadmium from the earth.  I see painting as a mode of visual communication.  I hope to share this mode of visual communication with others through making and outreach as a teaching artist, and also as a gallery artist.  As long as I have the means to do these things, I will be happy.  While the life and career of a studio artist might be more turbulent than those of other professions, the joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment which it gives me are well worth it.

It’s evident that Paula has a clear understanding of her work and how to talk about it, which is a great portion of an artist’s ability to sell their work. Her concern of striking a balance between asking too much and too little (since she is after all, a “student artist”) is a common one among the art school set. But here I was, staring at eight foot tall works that in any retail setting would go for tens of thousands of dollars or more and yet, I had to tell her something that would appeal to a collector, perhaps visiting the senior show with or without an intent to buy. There are two areas to consider when you’re selling your work: practical and sentimental.

The Prodigal Daughter

Practical

How much time did you spend on the piece?

How much did your materials cost?

Is this a special medium/something rarely seen?

What’s the market like in your area? (this may be a non-issue if you’re selling your work nationwide or on the internet)

Sentimental

How much are you willing to let it go for?

Are you just trying to make a first sale?

If money was not an issue, what would you pay for it?

Once you’ve considered these factors, you should have a clearer picture in your mind of what you’re willing to let a work go for. One issue that Paula brought up was her status as a student and how that may affect a buyer. There are plenty of talented graduates that go on to show and sell work immediately out of college and I don’t believe they should be shortchanged just because of their newness in the industry. That said, I encourage young artists to coin themselves “emerging” or “contemporary” to get away from the stigma of a “student artist.” Because yes, starving art students should make a dollar but it should be a fair amount that they feel is respectable.

On a side note, I want to address those that don’t want to sell. At some point, you’ll create a work and think, I’ll never produce something this good ever again. This is the best work I’ve ever done and I can’t sell it. But consider this – if you don’t sell it, then what’s the point? I see “NFS” (not for sale) on pieces at shows and that negates every reason to create work in the first place. If you document it with great photos and remember the process, believe me, you’ll create something even better in the future. Better to have a collector enjoy than to hold onto something so precious because you think you won’t obtain a higher standard of craft than where you are now. That’s silly, isn’t it?

e. Ponte d' Chaos

You may be wondering if I gave Paula a concrete set of numbers to work with. And yes, ultimately, I did. For the large ones that stood about 8 feet by 6 feet, I recommended a range of $8,000-10,000. For the smaller ones $4,000-6000. I took into account the number of hours, the polished nature of her work, the content and the overall feeling of her paintings. They’re truly monoliths, worthy of a large space such as a corporate lobby or a collector’s living room, somewhere with high ceilings. A few of Paula’s pieces will be for sale at the Senior Show coming up on April 19th and I’ll be anxious to hear the feedback she receives and give any pointers I can to facilitate selling her works.

The next post will be about how to sell the works and get publicity in the local market. Feel free to add to the conversation or post questions. We’re all in this together.

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Tim Péwé, Artist

Neander, 2012 (Suit custom made by Brigit Péwé)

Tim Péwé is many things: sculptor, illustrator, carpenter, artist. The most fitting title, however, is creator.

As a child, Tim sketched and made things like catapults, go karts, weapons, etc. Recently I was fortunate enough to visit his workspace and it was clear his creativity has only grown. Above and below are works from the show, Splinters & Paper Cuts, at the Rivers Edge Gallery in Wyandotte, Michigan through November 10.

Sylvia, 2012 (painting, wig and dress done by Audrey Pongracz)

Now It Can Be Told, 2012

Wood, metal, leather, concrete, marble, ceramic are all materials regularly seen in his works. As I walked the property it seemed everywhere I looked was another hand made piece.

Colossus, 2005

Monolithic, 2006

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Tim’s creations range from furniture to costumes and beyond. In fact, in many ways the Péwés are like Pixar’s The Incredibles: a family of supers. Tim’s wife, Brigit, contributes her amazing sewing skills while their two sons showcase their talents with illustrations and short films. Below is a wearable wood burning stove made for the show mentioned above.

Fire is the Sun unwinding itself from the Tree, 2010 (Backpack Wood Stove)

The amount of respect and astonishment I have for those that build something from only an idea is immeasurable. Many more pieces by Tim can be seen here at his website or you can contact us for image information.

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Finishing the Look: How to Choose Frames for your Art, Part 2

As I mentioned in Friday’s post, framing is truly the finishing touch to collecting and displaying art. The embellishment (or lack thereof) in a frame and mat is the window which lends an air of intent, theme and mood to the piece. For art with historical content, a period frame (one original to the same era in which the painting was created and at times the only frame that has accompanied the work), is important to its integrity and scholarship.

In this photo you see that the frames are ornate and intricately fashioned. Many of these frames are original to the period (mid to late 19th century) and are also hand-carved, a sign of workmanship that is rare to find today except in exclusive framing and high end art dealing.

Image: Cleveland Art Museum

When we look at contemporary art in the same academic setting the trend has swayed toward minimalism, leaving large canvases to fend for themselves against white walls. What do you think of this contradictory handling between say, Impressionism and Contemporary art? Does scale have anything to do with the lack of a frame?

Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art

There are a few key things that should be consistent when you’r shopping for frames. The larger the piece, the wider the width of the frame should be. This is for safety as well as visual reasons. Imagine a poster sized painting being framed by a 1 inch wide frame. Not only would that be off-balance visually, it would be hard for a piece of glass to be held in place by such a small frame. Conversely, the smaller a piece of art, the thinner the width of the frame. There are always exceptions to this rule, if you’re looking to make a large impact but these are general guidelines to keep in mind.

The above reproduction of a Maxfield Parrish painting is an example of a well-fitted frame. Adding about three inches on either side, it lends a nice contrast to the lighter palette of the work and is wide enough to visually balance the large image.

Image: East and Orient

These prints are no larger than 8″ x 10″ and are handsomely housed in thin width frames, no larger than 1 inch. They also have a matching mat with a beveled edge liner in gold/tan to draw attention to the outer line of matching color. This gives the series an overall motif to match the subject matter.

If you’re considering a colored frame, that’s an adventurous and effective choice to enhance the painting. Make sure that you choose complementary hues rather than trying to match the painting to its exact palette. For instance, the nature series above would have looked handsome with a dark wood frame or even a marbled wood with various tones to pick up all the different neutral tones in the piece.

Ask the framer or bring a friend along if you’re unsure about choosing frames. Ultimately, it should be an engaging and exciting experience. And don’t fret about it if you get it back and it doesn’t look quite right, framing can always be changed to match the mood of the painting. Good luck!

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Join us for Jamuary

Yep, it’s Jamuary. You read that right.

Who cares if it’s snowing and 20 degrees out before the wind chill factor? We’re still playing the music as loud as ever, we don’t sleep til the photos are processed and all the paintings are hung level. And it’s not just for kids. Want to know what the difference is between a print and a reproduction? Need your sculpture, print or painting installed? Give us a call today.  734-929-2498

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OWS


It isn’t something you purchase with the intent to turn around for profit, or in some cases even the value paid. It isn’t something you own if it’s something you don’t understand. It isn’t something you buy just to store in a basement. It certainly isn’t something that’s easy to define.

Art provokes. Art challenges. Art is an outlet. Art is something that can literally be anything, yet everyone knows what art is to them. The OCCUPY WALL SPACE movement isn’t to force people to buy art, but when they do to actually consider the art, artist and community.

It’s far too easy to run to Pier 1 or Bed, Bath and Beyond and purchase an over priced reproduction that’s been mass printed. For the same price, however, you can hand pick an original piece that will make you smile, give you something to talk about and perhaps inspire you to think differently. Please do what you can to help people that offer so much to this world, and are so often overlooked.

-N-

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