Welcome to my blog! I hope you enjoy visiting from time to time. I will have fun posting information related to current projects, my travels, or just random thoughts! Feel free to post your comments anytime.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tips on Survival II

Here are the remaining 5 tips on surviving as an artist. I'm sure there are many other ideas that come to mind. Let us know if you have anything to add!

6. Identify your market. Who are you painting for? How can you best connect with the clientele that can become your patrons? Recognize “who” can purchase your work. Contribute to auctions that you know are supported by influential people. Contribute work to elite private school auctions, hang a portrait in an expensive children’s clothing shop, propose your work to a successful and well placed gallery, speak and share your work with local business clubs. Offer to paint a portrait for FREE for a highly respected local figure, and request an unveiling event. These are just a few of many ways to help identify your clientele.

7. Fair pricing. Your goal is to have your work seen and to earn enough money to cover your expenses. Price your work fairly and reasonably. when starting the life of an artist, the more work you are completing (even for a modest sum of money) can create excitement and motivation by you and your client.

8. Diversification. Don’t just become a portrait painter! If I had not painted fruit and landscapes along with portraits when I began, I would not still be a full time artist today. Not only does this diversification help you grow as an artist, but it provides other opportunities for you to show your work and advertise your name. Not to mention, providing alternative income! Teaching can also be a profitable experience for you and your students. Not only as an additional source of revenue, but it can also connect you to other artists and potential clientele.

9. Dependability. You are a business as an artist. Go the extra mile and remain dependable at all costs. Be responsive and provide the best customer service possible. Unfortunately artists are not known for keeping schedules, arriving on time for appointments, or generally running their affairs in an orderly and responsive manner. Show your clientele that you respect them, appreciate the opportunity to work for them, and take your work seriously. Always do more than what is expected of you!

10. Develop a support system. Develop relationships with other artists and friends you can trust. Share your work in progress with them. Share problems you are facing or new ideas… get their feedback. These relationships will help you in your life as an artist, making the experience richer and more rewarding.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tips on Survival!

A year or so ago the Portrait Society of America did a series of articles in their newsletter on "Traits of a Successful Artist". I was honored to be asked to contribute my thoughts on things that have helped me to survive as a artist. Because this list is fairly long (10 points total) I will post it in two installments. As Mr. Kinstler has said to me more than once "keep the faith"!

1. Set goals and write them down! List things you would like to accomplish both in the short term and in the long term. You might consider committing yourself to a weekly class, list teachers you would like to study with, techniques you would like to improve on, subject and compositions you would like to tackle, galleries you would like to show with, competitions you would like to enter, etc. Setting goals is the first step to accomplishing them. Hang them near your easel as a constant reminder of what you will achieve.

2. Work hard. Whether you have the opportunity to devote your entire day, or just a portion of the day to your art, work hard! I have worked 12-18 hours a day for more than 15 years. It is important to devote as much time as possible to your growth as an artist, but you must work smart as well. An hour of painting free from distraction is worth 3 when the phone is ringing and the kids are home from school.

3. Study. Set aside a portion of each day for study. Read about a favorite artist, visit a museum either in person or via the internet, browse through a favorite art book, sketch from life, etc. Spend quality time developing your skills by reading and studying each day.

4. Tenacity! Don’t take “NO” for an answer! This can be no truer in the life of an artist. You will constantly face defeat and rejection. Galleries, agents, clients, friends, and even family may at times dampen your resolve. Put your passion to work. Remind yourself constantly that you can and will succeed. Pick yourself up after a bad painting, a rejection notice from a competition, or a negative review from a client. Turn each of these situations into learning opportunities. Ask yourself “what can I do better or differently next time?” Commit yourself to growth from every experience. Remind yourself constantly that you will succeed, that you will grow as an artist, and your decision to follow your dreams to become an artist will become or remain a reality.

5. Thrift. For nearly the first 10 years of my life as a full time artist I painted every painting on a $2 easel bought second hand, mostly held together by duct tape and a prayer! I rented a small studio that was prone to flooding and had less than ideal lighting conditions. It was important that I kept my overhead low and focused on living off of less than I made. Survival is your main goal. Living frugally whether by choice or not, is important. Getting to the next painting is your ultimate goal.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Website Updates

We have just added new content to my website! www.michaelshaneneal.com

New Portraits:
See a few new portraits including John Barrymore for the Players Club in NYC. Visit www.michaelshaneneal.com/portrait_barrymore.shtml for oil and www.michaelshaneneal.com/sketch_barrymore.shtml for charcoal study.

New Demonstration:
Visit www.michaelshaneneal.com/demo_scirica.shtml to view a step by step demo of my portrait of Chief Judge Anthony Scirica. 

Workshop Dates:
We have also just announced my workshop dates for 2009. Please visit www.michaelshaneneal.com/workshops.html for more information.

The hat is especially great for painting. The bill is black underneath to minimize reflections and color distortion while you paint. Great for indoors or out!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

2008 Portrait Society of America Conference

"You Be the Judge: Creating a Commission from Start to Finish"

On Friday I spoke to a great group at the PSA Conference on creating a portrait commission from start to finish. I shared both my approach of working with clients as well as the stages of creating a portrait. The clients I discussed were Chief Judge Anthony Scirica, Judge Jan DuBois, Sandra Day O'Connor and Senate Judiciary Committee Co-chairman Arlen Specter. 

The topics of drawing, value, structure, edges, and color were discussed as well as contracts, correspondence, life sittings, and framing, just to name a few. 


I had the honor of speaking at the Portrait Society of America's Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania last week. A high point of the weekend for me was being asked to speak at the Inspirational Hour on Sunday morning. We had a great group, much larger than expected for 7:30 am in the morning!  By request, here is the highlights of the talk I presented entitled S.H.A.P.E. 

Throughout our lives God gives us the opportunity to paint self portrait. As Benjamin West said we should always seek "... the essential character, not the accidental appearance" of our subjects. What does God see when he views our self portrait now in progress? How can we S.H.A.P.E. our lives to grow as people of faith to reflect more of God's vision for His people.

Col. 3:24 

Are you giving to others through your work? Do you teach, give your time and work to others? http://www.ksdk.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=112398

Psalm 78:70-72

Are you following your heart?

"He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his heart and his hands is a craftsman. He who works with his hands, his head, and his heart is an artist."  St. Francis of Assisi

I Chronicles 29:17
Psalm 25:21
I Peter 5:5

There are opportunities to do the right thing and the wrong thing everyday. Do you make good choices? Do you remain humble in your life and work? Do you give God credit for what he has given you?

Luke 10:41-42
Rev 2:2, 4, 5

Do you keep things in perspective? Do you remember the importance of God first in your life? Family? Relationships?

E= Experience
Romans 8:28

Do you use your experiences to grow? Both positive and negative experiences? God does not waste either. Both can help you grow closer to Him.

God is infinitely kind and patient. Ruth Graham once said after driving through a construction site she saw a sign that read "End of Construction. Thank You for Your Patience." She felt it summed up her life perfectly.  Keep striving everyday to SHAPE your lives and self portrait in His image. Think and reflect often on the perfect life of His son, Jesus. Go to God's word and pray for guidance every day.