The Art of Mark V. Turner
Artist's Musings And Acquired Wisdom
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Musings
 
This page sets out some of the basics on how I came to be a self-trained artist, how my work is constructed and some of what art means to me - or perhaps what art doesn't mean to me.
 
I am an artist with no "professional training".  What skills I have, I've taught myself and what I 'know' about artists and their art I have learned through visiting museums, reading and surfing the internet.
 
I decided to start painting during 2000 as a way to relax from my rather stressful employment as a  consultant. I went to the art store, bought several different types of paint, brushes and art production items. I was struck by the expensive nature of anything related to making art or crafts....  I have learned over the past several years to buy what I need as it goes on sale
 
Rather than work on canvas, which I thought I would reserve until I was producing work 'worthy' of it's expense, I went down to the local home improvement store and purchased a sheet of masonite. I went home, cut out a section with a jigsaw and gessoed it.   I began painting abstracts.
 
Many artists seem to be straining to attach 'deep meaning' or 'spirituality' to their work in order to advance sales of their work. The art buying public appear to be taken in by this, or perhaps are exhibiting herd behavior. I think that most people who appreciate art are buying something they enjoy viewing - not the patent bogus marketing strategies masking themselves as an ethos.
 
I detest the proverbial 'artist's statement'. Yet, without one, people seem to doubt an artist's sincerity.  Too much art seen in contemporary galleries has an artist's statement attached to it which contains much philosophy, but which is difficult to visually associate with the presented work.
 
Many contemporary arts facilities encourage this behavior by seeking to display art work which is deemed to be 'edgey', 'exploring new avenues' or 'avant garde'. The new-ness and justification of a basis for appreciation of this work is laid out through the artist's statement. Seemingly, galleries and modern art museums are encouraging this behavior and are paying out good money to acquire pieces from artists who have good promotional skills, but little else to offer.
 
I trust or hope that my work is appreciated for what it appears as and I trust that the public isn't as easily swayed as so many modern artists hope.

So, how does one define the creative efforts of an educated self-taught painter who works in multiple styles? I taught myself to paint and have learned what I ‘know’ about art from books and museums. I began to paint during late 2000. I’m not plugged into the ‘gallery system’, nor have I received review of one sort or another of my work. I don’t have a lot of interaction with other artists - professional or amateur. I have just published a ‘beginner’ website since a lot of people asked for it’s address in times past. My sales are good for never being shown in a gallery. I’ve been accepted into juried indoor and outdoor exhibitions.

I started using the term “urban outsider” in 2003, which was when I began to exhibit my work. My thought was/is that an urban outsider artist is:

1) An educated self-taught artist working outside the gallery system and instead utilizing the “sub-gallery system” of ‘First Friday’-type venues such as restaurants and retail locations for whom art is not a primary commodity.

2) This artist may or may not be attempting to break into the mainstream art world - though I personally would like to make my passion my revenue generator.

3) The artist is attempting to follow their own lines of inspiration, but is not creating art strictly for their own amusement (A root portion of the definition of "Art Brut"; a root of Outsider Art. So they seek some sort of recognition outside of their creative space.

4) They are distinguished from other streams or flavors of the ‘Outsider Movement’ by lack of ‘Visionary’, ‘Art Brut’, and ‘Art Naive’ distinguishment…. i.e. they don’t experience visions or religious revelations which lead them to produce art, they aren’t idiot savants, they aren’t mental patients, they aren’t hermits producing art with serious primitive elements, they aren’t folk artists.

5) These artists live in the mainstream of life, but in their purest form aren’t plugged into the ‘art world’ support system.

6) Perhaps the ‘urban outsider’ is what was formerly/currently termed as the ’self-taught metro-dwelling amateur artist’. They seek to somehow be compared and compete for sales with formally trained artists (who use their connections and interactions with those associated with the ‘gallery system’ (print media critics, gallery owners, gallery customers, literati, etc) to advance their careers).

7) The urban outsider can morph into a ‘mainstream artist’ when their work is recognized and collected/promoted/sold by the ‘gallery system’ because they are now accepted into the same arena in which the formally trained artists compete.

They can still be an urban outsider artist even after discovery and commercial trade of their work, but many do not remain so - instead choosing to go mainstream. They aren’t idiots after all. If something which is your passion is commercially successful, you go with it…

Don't let any artist fool you - unless they are independently wealthy, they want you to buy their work and sing their praises

I’d appreciate your thoughts……

Wisdom and Irony
 

My experiences with aspects of trying to get to the point of making my visual artistic efforts a full time self-sufficient occupation have taught me several concepts thus far:

1) Almost anything an artist purchases in order to create art these days is expensive - paint, brushes, canvas, board, easels, etc... The corollary being that there is no shortage of companies willing to supply you these products.

2) Sales of your works are good - one can have a place to live which is warm, with enough to eat, and be able to buy more art supplies.

3) Exhibits with no customers or sales are bad - you could become homeless, freeze, starve and run out of art supplies. This is why artists often live tortured lives and have day jobs (much like performing artists and actors) which interfere with producing quality art works.

4) Postcards to notify people of your upcoming exhibits are expensive to make and send.

5) Some people have terrible handwriting when they sign your guestbooks. This makes it tough to tell them when your next art exhibit is taking place because you may not be able to decipher their names or addresses..... Sometimes this is intentional....  It also means that many of your postcards bounce back to you.... which contributes to #3. 

6) Art slides (which are what an artist sends to enter artistic competitions, along with sometimes significant entry fees) are expensive to have made. However, doing your own could be disasterous because your work might never get accepted at an art competition. This could also lead to #3.

7) Renting space or a booth at an art show/exhibition isn't cheap either and if #3 occurs, you could starve and run out of art supplies. 

8) Travelling to art shows and transporting your work there is equally expensive. 

9) Artist's receptions are expensive too.  However, if the artist doesn't have one during an exhibit, please refer to item #3.... Thank goodness my wife loves to cook and entertain.... Otherwise my receptions would consist of bad cheese logs, saltines and cheap jug wine.

10) Many galleries are loath to exhibit the work of an artist which they have never heard of. If one decides to take a chance on an unknown, they desire a significant portion of the purchase price of your work if something sells. So, for the artist to make what they'd normally charge, they must mark up the prices of their work. This can make #3 happen...

11) You will note in perusing this site that many pieces of the artist's output have been sold by the artist directly to clients. However, my client list is much smaller than that of a successful gallery and they are around when interested customers wish to inquire about your work. This might keep #3 from happening...

12) A gallery owner suggested to me that an artist needs 10 pieces of work displayed in order to sell one - which is why #3 occurs and owners are loathe to exhibit the work of an unknown.

13) Success in the art world is directly related to the level of promotion of the artist's work and persona - this being facilitated by connections, press coverage and 'the buzz' surrounding the artist, their work, and any personal antics that are going on caught on film or video.

14) If a piece of art appeals someone such that they wish to make it their own, they will readily pay a reasonable price to own it. This forestalls the occurrance of #3 and is highly encouraged by the artist... So, if a piece speaks to you, contact the artist and see if it is still available...

Thanks,

Mark

All Images Copyright 2000 - 2015 By Mark V. Turner All Rights Reserved