Monday, 20 October 2008

Paint red hot landscapes that sell!

I had mixed feelings about the title of the book "Paint Red Hot Landscapes That Sell!" I have nothing about being successful at selling art, but it sounded too much like dozens of business books that promise you to make your first million dollar in six months. I also feared that the author would dictate his recipe to paint “by numbers” the perfect bestseller. Thankfully, the content is much more nuanced and balanced and provides sound advice that you can use to improve your painting.

Mike Svob starts with a sobering (but true) statement: “If you want to be one of those professional artists who make a living selling art, it will require a great deal of self discipline and hard work. Talent is nice, but optional.”

The book contains a number of recommendation regarding what, according to the artist, makes a painting sell:

  • “People tend to prefer warmer paintings to cooler ones. It is human nature.” (Page 66)

  • “As a general guide, visually transparent passages of paint are more appealing than opaque passages." (Page 69)

  • “The addition of believable figures participating actively in the landscape environment has a special attraction to us as human beings. The psychology of this obviously goes very deep. Knowing this can help you make a sale.” (Page 86)

  • “Larger paintings simply have more impact.” (Page 98)

The artist reviews the main elements that make a strong painting:

  • Subject
  • Composition and direction

  • Tonal map
  • Edges
  • Colours, warm and cool.

The most interesting considerations are on colours. This is not a surprise: when you open the book, the word “colourist” comes immediately to your mind. What is more surprising is how Mike Svob came to the conclusion that he could “push the colour” any way he wanted. The paradox is that colours are not that important and therefore you can play with them without destroying the belief in reality. Here is how the painter explains it:

“We understand the world by shapes and tonal values alone. Color is not necessary. To demonstrate this is true, just look at a black and white photograph. The image has no color, yet everything makes complete sense.”

As a result, you can allow yourself total freedom when it comes to colours: “Only use colors you like – no other”, advocates the artist. It is a fact that I was not shocked or even surprised to see Mike Svob’s landscapes with yellow, orange and even green skies. It just worked within the overall colour scheme of the paintings.

Although Mike Svob’s landscapes are realistic, his treatment is more one the graphic side of the house. You will fail as an artist if you just copy his style without adapting it to your personality. You may sell your “red hot landscapes”, but would it be you? However, there is plenty to borrow from this book in order to try new techniques and visual effects, reflects on your own paintings and venture in new directions with colours.

Details for the book

Paint Red Hot Landscapes That Sell!

Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: International Artist Publishing,US (Aug 2002)
Language English
ISBN-10: 1929834187
ISBN-13: 978-1929834181

Table of content

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 : Finding your way in art and sales

  • Chapter 2 : Getting your message accross with materials and grounds

  • Chapter 3 : Compelling design that makes the sales

  • Chapter 4 : Putting buyers in the picture with tonal values

  • Chapter 5 : Warm up your sales with the direct local color method

  • Chapter 6 : Painting « must have » landscapes

  • Chapter 7 : Edges – the make or break part of controlling the buyer’s attention

  • Chapter 8 : Making it look good on the gallery wall

  • Chapter 9 : Creating a visual feast that sells

  • Chapter 10 : Gallery of bestsellers

The author

Mike Svob lives in White Rock, British Columbia. He has been a full time artist since 1982. He has done more than 45 exhibitions and 22 large scale murals.

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Anonymous said...

Where can I buy Mike Svob's book, "Paint red hot landscapes that sell"?

Benoit Philippe said...

This book is now out of print. I checked Amazon and the second hand copies are quite expensive. The best would be to get it from a library or to put it on watch on eBay, hoping that a cheaper copy becomes available.