Deep Blue Barn, 2007, Oil on Panel, 12x16
I have been trying to catch up on my paperwork. I have a great system for tracking my work (I wrote about it here) but it doesn't really work unless I actually, you know, write the info down. At least once. Somewhere. I am about a year behind on updating the individual inventory sheets and it is really starting to bug me. So I have been spending a little bit of time almost every day trying to catch up.
I have been able to put together some numbers though regarding sales and it's been interesting to see those.
I painted about 225 paintings or so, and they were mostly VERY small, 8x10 and under, although I did begin to work a bit larger throughout the year. I was still developing my process, plus lining up shows and gallery representation that year. I sold 94 paintings, however most of those sales were from an open studio sale that I had in order to clear out my work space. My total income was crap, less than zero after deductions.
In 2006, I painted approximately 230 pieces. I know this sounds like a lot and I guess it is. But a number of those weren't quite up to gallery standards (and I have stacks of returned paintings sitting in my studio to prove it), and of course I do tend to work on a small scale so the pieces really add up. I sold 114 paintings in 2006, or to be more precise, my galleries did. And my income doubled from the previous year, although after deductions for materials and travel, my net income was still well below poverty level for a family of six. All in all though, 2006 was a huge step forward for me, I was crazy busy the whole year and was happy about the sales.
Even though I was pleased with 2006, I found myself feeling embarrassed about how low my prices were in comparison to other similarly accomplished artists and also since my paintings were selling so quickly, which is often a sign that prices are too low, I raised my prices in 2007. Sales actually rose even more when I did that and so my income this year is lovely, and my gross is double what it was last year at this same time. I have sold about 80 paintings so far in 2007 and have painted about 110 paintings. That lower number is important to me because it reflects higher quality (I have added many fewer panels to the sand down pile this year, and very few unsold paintings have come back from the galleries) and also that I am painting at a larger scale and with more skill (hopefully), which were some of my goals.
I don't go crazy tracking these numbers and trends, but I do keep an eye on things, even if I am so behind in tracking each piece. Of course I am very pleased that the trajectory of all these numbers is upwards, but even better is that I am still painting what I want to paint. Maybe a little bit more than I would otherwise (actually, the hard work has been good for my focus and development). I am still feeling as if I have much more to say with what I am doing now. So it's all good.
And I can't deny that the sales don't give me a thrill too. Not so much because of the income, although that is certainly nice, but because I really appreciate the fact that there are people out there that feel a connection to my work, enough to let me know by contacting me, and enough to put down money for a painting. That connection feels as good as being able to do whatever I want.