Part 2 of my interview with Diana Moses Botkin
Robin:You have a diverse art career ranging from handling reproductions, wall murals, teaching, portraits, landscapes, and still lifes. In regard to your business are there any aspects that you wish you had implemented earlier in your career and why?
Diana: This is a great question! I wish I had documented my work better, earlier in my career. My efforts were a bit hit and miss until I realized about 15 years ago that I was losing track of some of my work. Regarding earlier paintings that I don't own anymore, I don't have good records for a few pieces: buyers' contact information, price paid or photos are spotty. I started recording my work more consistently in the 1980s by taking slides of paintings. Even so, there were some that fell through the cracks and I forgot to take photos. I didn't keep a running inventory list of my paintings then, either, but only the slides in a notebook with their titles. Each piece was larger then and I didn't do nearly as many per year, so it wasn't too hard to keep track of them in my mind. It's a lot harder now to even remember what painting goes with what title; there are hundreds. An inventory list and photographic documentation is vital. Now, when I finish a painting, I give it a number and add it to my inventory list. Then I either photograph it with the digital camera, or scan it if it's a small piece and label the file with my inventory number. I also wish I'd kept up better with earlier collectors of my work. Now with the Internet of course anyone can find me but it would be nice to touch base with some of those past customers and find out how the painting is holding up and where it is now. These days it is easy to keep up with current collectors by email. For buyers who have acquired my work through galleries, sometimes the name is passed on to me and sometimes not, depending on the gallery. With direct sales it's nice to be able to get the collector's contact info, send them a thank you note and let them know I appreciate their purchase and am available for questions.
Robin:How has creating a "Daily Painting" had an impact on your art and business?
Diana: I started doing small landscapes when we moved to north Idaho in 1996. At the time I wasn't a landscape painter, although I had done a cloud series in pastel and cloud ceiling mural. My previous work was mostly figurative/portrait and florals, also some figurative murals. The rosy light here in north Idaho totally inspired me to try to master landscapes. I knew I would need to do a lot of paintings to get proficient. Mountains and skies were fairly intuitive for me. However, trees were a lot more difficult, and different from subjects I'd painted before. To get the hang of portraying them I figured I would need to paint at least 100 to learn how. The bigger paintings I'd been doing often took months, so the challenge to myself of doing 100 to get proficient seemed more practical if the pieces were small. "Practice every day" was something I learned in grade school with piano lessons. So I started trying to get some daily practice with small studies. A few years later I heard about the Daily Painting movement which challenged me to try to make something new most days. It's good to strive for, but other art chores and family responsibilities have to get done too. So, I'm not too strict with the goal because I have to be realistic. All that to say that Daily Painting has definitely had an impact on my art and business. Being part of DailyPainters.com, Daily Painters Marketplace, and posting to my blog has been good motivation to paint something nearly every day. I think it's been useful exposure too. The art buying public has become more aware of the movement and I think more collectors are interested in knowing about artists' daily studies. I currently sell many more little pieces than I used to sell big ones. I was considering this recently, and realized that the price for which I sell a small painting now is what I used to charge for a larger work a couple of decades ago.