In December 2004, Virginia-based artist Duane Keiser began making one small painting a day, posting them on his blog and selling them at very affordable prices. Over the past four years, Keiser’s A Painting a Day blog (www.duanekeiser.blogspot.com) received a flurry of national media attention and ultimately launched a full-fledged art movement that includes worthy practitioners in the Cincinnati area.
Northern Kentucky artist Randel Plowman has produced one of the most successful — and original — blogs since 2006. His A Collage a Day blog (www.acollageaday.blogspot.com) features small, smart, well-designed collages. The work ranges from witty combinations of found text and images to minimalist compositions.
When asked if other sites like his exist, Plowman says, “Yeah, I have seen some but they seem to be short-lived. I have seen skull-a-day, drawing-a-day and heart-a-day to name a few.”
The fact that the Internet has changed the way people do business is old news. For artists, it has offered the opportunity to cut out the middleman. A typical gallery can take 50 percent commission, and the price of artwork forces many buyers out of the market. By selling directly through their Web sites or via eBay or etsy.com, a portal for sales of all things handmade, artists can reach countless buyers all over the world and make their work more affordable. Prices on most daily art blogs start as low as $25. Plowman, for example, has sold more than 750 collages since he launched his blog. In a sense, the Internet has democratized the art market.
This ease with which artists can sell their work on the Internet, however, has spawned much variation in quality.
An Internet search for daily painting, for instance, produces tens of thousands of results, many of which are dull and clichéd, to say the least. But while most daily art blogs feature paintings, the potential is there for artists working in all media and for those who address challenging subject matter.
Direct sales are not the only benefit to maintaining a daily art blog. Like many other artist-bloggers, Plowman treats his like a sketchbook. He diligently commits to making and posting one work a day.
“For me it is a way to see how I evolve as an artist,” he says. “It is an exercise, much like running or cycling.”
Successful art blogs are a bit like exercise, where it’s always good to have a buddy who expects you to show up at the gym. Art blogs usually invite fans to subscribe. While making art is inherently a self-motivated activity, not wanting to let down subscribers who await daily e-mails could be just the push an artist needs to keep posting new work, even on days he or she doesn’t feel particularly inspired.
Most successful artists will tell you that part of making it is just getting out of bed every day to do the work.
Veteran Cincinnati painter and independent art instructor Greg Storer plays on that philosophy of discipline with the name of his painting blog. Doin’ the Deal (www.gregstorer.blogspot.com) features a more-or-less daily painting, and Storer cites the importance of daily practice to his work.
“It’s really one thing to know how to paint,” he says, “and quite another to be able to do it. Like a vocalist practicing scales, painting on a daily basis keeps me in tune.”
Making art daily also removes the preciousness from the work of art. It’s a myth that art springs from genius alone — it takes hard work, devotion and practice. When looking through even the best art blogs, you probably won’t see a masterpiece every day, but you’ll see some real gems sprinkled throughout.
Working every day provides more opportunities to make something extraordinary.
Daily blogging has helped artists expand other parts of their careers, making it possible for art to be both a passion and a day job. As a result of his blog, Plowman, who spends 10 to 12 hours each day in his studio, has received media attention and interest from galleries and has had his work published on book covers. He was also hired by a major publisher to write and curate a book that features 40 collage artists, due out in spring 2010.
Blogging also launches artists into the global market. “Since I started this process in May 2008, I have hits from more than 40 countries,” Storer says. “I have sold work from Pasadena to the Bronx.”
Plowman concurs: “One of the most exciting things about doing my blog is that I get to network with wonderful people from all over the world who share some of the same passions and interests that I have.”