Budding Artist and Art Dealer

Today’s post comes from Plain Jane.

Thursday afternoon a boy of about nine or so rang my doorbell. Turned out to be Marcus, a budding artist who lives in the neighborhood. He showed me a 14″ x 17″ watercolor painting and asked if I’d be interested in buying it. It’s an abstract piece, and in addition to some pretty watercolors he has used salt on it in some places to achieve a different effect. I told him I thought it was pretty interesting, and asked him what he wanted for it, and why he was selling it. He needed to raise some money, he said, and would take whatever I thought was fair. I gave him five dollars, but could tell from the look on his face that he had hoped for more, so I gave him another five bucks, and he seemed pleased. He then offered to rake the leaves in my yard, an offer I declined. He then pulled a long piece of turquoise yarn from his pocket. He had finger-knitted it into a chain, and offered it to me. I politely declined, but he insisted, saying “it’s for free.” I thanked him for this gift, and he happily biked off down the sidewalk.

About ten minutes later my doorbell rang again, quite insistent this time. When I opened the door, there was Marcus with an older sister who appeared to be about twelve or thirteen. Pointing to his sister Marcus said, could you please tell her that you bought my painting. Would you believe it? Marcus had apparently gone home to report on his art sale, and either his mom or his sister had questioned the veracity of his story and took him back to our house to verify it. I thanked his sister for checking up on him, but assured her that I had, in fact, paid him ten dollars for the painting. Thank you, she said, and turning to Marcus her face lit up in a big smile, and she said “congratulations, you’ve finally sold your first piece of art.”

This incident made my day. I had never met Marcus before, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen the last of him. He is a testimony to good parenting. Polite, creative, and showed good initiative, glad he’s in my neighborhood.

How do you support local talent and initiative?


30 thoughts on “Budding Artist and Art Dealer”

  1. perfect pj
    great story.
    i have an orange bowl with feet , it’s a candy dish or small cereal bowl sized piece i bought because i really liked it. it was made by the assistant on my glass blowing buddy in st. paul and when i gave the guy $30 for his bowl and didn’t buy only the primary artists stuff the guy lit up like a christmas tree
    a lot of my art is by people i know or has a story tracing to something more than picking out a frame from a dealer.
    i used to have a rule that you always supported that stuff and supported directly if possible to have the creator directly profit. i don’t have lots of artist interactions these days but i do really like pjs story today.
    marcus is exactly the guy we need to encourage and support
    joe havel is my old bass player turned museum art creator , today his pieces have evolved to bronze pieces 10’ tall but my painting and ceramics by joe are worth a few bucks
    i went through a period where i bought claimed to be art with no certificate of authenticity which made it affordable, i have lots of art but that orange bowl takes me the artists smile every time i see the bowl,
    worth was more than $30

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    What a sweet story, PJ. I love it. Several years ago a little girl in our neighborhood was selling rocks with car paint on them. I still have one in the garden somewhere. Her dad repainted cars and he was teaching her how to do the same thing by starting on rocks. Then she sold them to the neighbors for fifty cents. It was adorable.

    A lot of municipalities have art centers. Our town does. I like to pop in there occasionally to view the local art. It is also a place to contribute to in order to support local talent. Art Crawls, large and small are another way to support that.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. That’s a wonderful story, PJ.

    When I edited an outdoor magazine I struggled to buy original art to put on the cover. Since my magazine didn’t pay well, established artists rarely worked with us. That forced me to work with amateurs who were eager to have their work published. And that sometimes got messy.

    One afternoon I had a goofy argument with a guy who wanted to sell a painting of a deer. I liked much about it, but the deer looked like an Arabian stallion. I had a file with several hundred photos of deer, so I began showing them to him. “See,” I said, “they don’t look like little horses with antlers. They look like big goats with antlers.” The more photos I showed him the angrier he got. He finally bolted from my office, yelling, “I don’t care what they look like! I’m a goddamn artist! I get to paint them as I see them.”

    I had a better experience with a kid going to Saint Thomas who dreamed of painting wildlife. Ed had many slides of wild critters, especially deer. He used a slide projector to cast images on a canvas so Ed could trace them and then fill in the rest. He often put the head of one deer on the body of another to get the right result.

    Ed had another quirk. He could paint the eyes of an animal as well as any master painter. But the further he got from the eyes, the shakier his technique became. As a Christmas present, my wife commissioned Ed to paint a portrait of my springer, Brandy. Her eyes are perfect, with fierce intensity. Brandy’s face looks pretty good, but her body seems not finished, and the world around her is a big blur. But I loved that dog and continue to love that painting. It hangs on my wall today.

    Ed kept working, moving beyond being a painter of wildlife eyes. He now is an established wildlife artist nearing the end of a fine career.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I love this story, PJ, and now seeing the picture. Thanks for posting.

    I belong (and contribute membership fees) to the Winona Art Center and the River Arts Alliance here in Winona. I don’t buy much art, but I share information. If we’re including music and dance, I volunteer a lot of hours to singing and folk dance groups…

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Please note that today’s question is not limited to buying art. I specifically phrased it “support local talent and initiative” because I think we see that daily, but sometimes don’t stop to acknowledge it.

    Of course, I recognize that most of us don’t have enough money to support every venture or initiative we come across, but there are so many other ways to show our appreciation and support. A neighbor friend who doesn’t have a lot of money surprised me with a unique gift last year. She brought me a grocery bag full of stinging nettles she had gathered in the neighborhood. Just such a thoughtful way of saying “I know you and appreciate you,” and it didn’t cost her a dime.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have an update to the Marcus story.

    Yesterday I returned from an errand to find Marcus standing on the sidewalk in front of my house. When he saw me, he smiled and waved “hello.” In his hands were another, smaller watercolor painting. He proudly held it out for me to admire, and then flipped it over to show me that it was also painted on the reverse. This one was not an abstract, but a lovely scene depicting a house with smoke coming out of the chimney, a tree, and the sun shining bright yellow from a blue sky. On the reverse side was one big, red, asymmetrical heart. It truly was charming, and that heart nearly made the sale.

    Here’s my dilemma: I really want to encourage and support this kid, but I don’t want him to think that I can afford to give him five or ten bucks every time he shows up on my doorstep. Marcus appears to be a shy boy, is pretty soft spoken and isn’t very talkative. In fact, he seems pretty reticent. I don’t know if his reluctance to talk has to do with the fact that I’m an old white lady and that he’s a young black boy.

    I hope to get to know him better, perhaps sit on the front steps and chat with him when the weather permits. Any suggestions for how to encourage him to see me as an ally and sometime patron of his art, but not as a sucker who will hand out money every time he shows up?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, you could tell him that you just don’t have enough wall space for all his pictures, but you want him to show you everything he paints so you can critique them just like a real art critic and tell him what you like about them. That may keep him painting.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. You could also give him a time frame – tell him you have to limit your art purchases to maybe one a month, or some other arbitrary length of time, for budget reasons.

        Or maybe encourage him to do some greeting cards. Others in the neighborhood might also be willing to pay a buck or two. Art Scraps has envelopes…

        Liked by 3 people

  7. I was the co-chair of the our public schools music boosters for a couple of years That involved lot of fund raising for extra music equipment in all the schools as well as scholarships to the International Music Camp on the ND -Manitoba border. Our biggest haul came during the all city band concert, when the Grades 5 -12 bands performed. There were usually several hundred people in the audience and we passed ice cream buckets and asked for donations.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Our church has the most varied and active musicians of all the churches in town, and the congregation just voted to fund a full time music and worship director. That will mean a more coordinated music program for our congregation. We have always had a close relationship with the college music department and we hope to involve the music students even more as guest performers during worship. I think that is a nice way to support the arts.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. we did fundraising for our music schools in the form of a silent auction
    if the potential to get brownie points from the community come into the picture donations from theater, spas, wine joints, hair salons and people who will donate cool stuff that can bring in $100 to the cause . a cabin for the weekend , vikings , twins and. sports. tickets čan be gotten, appeal to player to donate a signed shirt or used gloves bat ball helmet , oil changes restaurant gift cards… got 3 or 4000 dollars every year and handed it off to the next folks after we moved on. daughters sports team needs fundraising to make ends meet and getting them to do stuff that makes sense is not easy. i hate commitees and this is a good example
    i remember getting caught realizing the support direct to the guy instead of the association that is organizing the pizza sale
    my kids grade school sold 200,000 dollars of cookie dough every year, cookie dough who would think it

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Well, some of us have supported our own Chris the author in various ways…

    I’ve been the recipient of some of you here on the Trail as you’ve encouraged my little bit of photographic talent.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That was worded pretty badly…let’s try this: I’ve been the recipient of encouragement of my little bit of photographic talent from some of you here on the Trail. Thank you.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thanks for mentioning these two creative endeavors, ljb.

        I’ve admired all of the effort that Chris has put into his books. Everything from his creative story ideas, to actually doing the work of writing and getting them through the process of publishing. And it didn’t end there. He’s traveling far and wide to promote his work and meet his readers. It’s been fun following his progress, and wish him continued success. Great effort, Chris.

        And your photos, ljb, are so lovely. I hope that once your health issues have been successfully dealt with, that you’ll once again have the energy to delve back in and get this small business venture of the ground. I see that you have recently made a couple of small excursions that resulted in some new photos that make me think spring. Good for us both.

        OT – for those of you who had expressed an interest in seeing the Erik Johansson exhibit at the ASI, today is the last day of the exhibit. It’s really something to see.

        Liked by 3 people

  11. This post is well timed – this weekend was art crawl weekend in St. Paul. I bought some little textiles, cards, and a matted piece of art.

    I chatted with the artist that did the matted piece – marked down for a moving sale, and quite reasonable – and discovered she was from the same area in South Dakota where my mother grew up. I tossed out a few family names, and when I mentioned the name of my aunt who still lives in the area, her eyes widened. “I know Verona!” Small world.

    Another artist in the same building knows Steve from his cabin days. I’ve bought from her before, too.

    Liked by 4 people

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