Art of Live Painting

Authors: Go Chengdu


Welcome to the 4th column of what will be a regular feature here in the Arts section of GoChengdu.
New and emerging artists will eventually face the issue of getting their work "out there" in front of the art market if they intend to make creating art their sole source of personal income, or at least, in the case of trust-fund artists or celebrity artists (for whom financial stability or independence is not an issue) to achieve a satisfying level of recognition.
That is not to say there are not other, more reclusive motivations for creating artwork, including for therapeutic purposes, but generally speaking, an artist is presumably creating their work to share with others and for appreciation of the work by others, along the widest spectrum possible.
In the writer's experience, one of the most effective methods for exposing artwork to the market is to do live painting events in well-trafficked venues. In China, the sheer size of the market creates many opportunities for an artist to do so. Believe the writer when he says that "nothing draws a crowd faster than a live performance" (including live painting), with instant social media recognition as the crowd hums with dozens of mobile streaming devices pointed in your direction.
Think about the effectiveness of this type of event. There are many types of venues that would be very supportive of this type of event, including galleries, teahouses, cafes, luxury on-site real estate sales centers, cultural organizations, upscale book stores, shopping centers and the writer's personal favorite; popular cultural tourist attractions, such as Du Fu's Cottage, the Kuanzaixiangzi (Wide & Narrow Alleys), the Wuhou Temple and Jinli Street.
Some of these venues will contract the artist to be there for certain cultural or promotional events, others will just offer the space and the appropriate set up for tables, chairs and easels at no cost to the artist. It is a mutually beneficial relationship in which the artist can both draw and harness the crowd for the venue and for the artist.
For example, let's break down an appearance on the Kuanzaixiangzi in Chengdu, a venue which sees hundreds of thousands of visitors each weekend. Set up anywhere along that Alleys, an artist will be a major draw on the crowd with mobile devices lit up. Live painting in such a venue will bring you immediate social media exposure to tens of thousands of people because each person physically standing there recording and taking pictures of you is sending it out to their WeChat, Weibo and you-name-the-app circle of friends (and most people have hundreds or thousands of connections on both). It is not hard to see how that multiplies very quickly.
Another important factor to consider when live painting is the effect it has on the potential buyers. One of the hardest parts about selling original art is proving up its originality and authenticity. These days, there are many fakes, cheats and scams using both modern printing technologies and backroom old-fashioned copycats. So when people actually see it happening right in front of them, it guarantees this is the real deal and as art is most often an impulse buy based on feeling, you put those things together and it is a definite advantage to the artist. It is also a measure of the marketability and desirability of the art you create.
You may look at live painting as a true, real time test of your artwork. It is a very good sign at a live painting event if someone on first sight, buys your work. Alternatively, you should also take clues from the reactions, or lack thereof, to your work. Sometimes that can be hard to stomach for an artist, but what better test than to have a crowd of people looking over your shoulder and judging on the spot?
There are some other tell-tale signs that your work is being appreciated and one of them includes the "touchers". While it is generally frowned upon by most artists, it is something the artist should take as a very positive indicator, if someone just suddenly reaches out and touches the work. At live painting events, this is going to happen, absolutely. With paintings mere inches away from the table edge and if your work has a temptingly delicious texture to it, there will be many curious hands.
The writer has taken to placing a "touch painting" at the front of his live painting table to satisfy the urges of onlookers, which is a painting specifically made for people to touch and get a feel for the rich texture of the artist's signature style. And hundreds do! But that is a good thing. It means they are moved by your work and your work is luring them in.
We will do a whole new column on pricing of your artwork, but quickly here, if someone is asking the price of your work, then that is also a very positive sign for the artist. All of these little green lights create an on-site momentum that an artist can tap into. It only takes one to trigger a slew of buys or inquiries to visit your studio. From the writer's experience, this is usually the way the buying cycle works, in ebbs and then, in surges.
Each week here in this column, we give some practical, real-world commentary about art, rather than paraphrasing historical or contemporary information on the web. We leave the research to you, but we'll give you some search terms related to the column topic, for you to check out on your own.
1. The Kuanzaixiangzi (Wide & Narrow Alleys)
2. The Wuhou Temple and Jinli Street
3. Du Fu's Thatched Cottage
If you are an aspiring artist, art student, emerging artist, or fellow professional artist and you wish to have your work reviewed for some constructive feedback, please send a photo or representation of your work to the writer's WeChat (see QR Code) and perhaps your work will be selected for a published review, based on the writer's real world experience in selling original artwork; 315 original works of art in the past 35 months.
This week the writer feature some of his popular small format "Four Seasons" Abstract plates, which he most often paints live because of its relative portability and affordable price range. They are also a good example of the writer's unique artwork composition and materials usage. These "plates" are actually made in three to five stages, with typically the last two stages being completed live and sometimes according to the buyer's input and color choices. They are created by starting with a stage one "mother" canvas, which is texturized, rubbed and transferred with traditional Chinese inkwash papers of varying degrees of thickness. These papers, once dried with an impression of the "mother" canvas, are then layered to taste and fused to a hardboard or canvas board surface utilizing the writer's "trade secret" medium formulation. They form the foundation or background for the finished painting, which in the writer's "Four Seasons" Collection is usually a floral abstract.
Title: Four Seasons Floral Abstract
Sizes: Various 15x15cm 20x20cm 30x30cm 40x40cm 50x50cm
Composition: Oil and metallic acrylic on inkwash paper fused to board

Matt Vegh is one of China's most widely sold contemporary artists. He is also the curator of the M Gallery International, located in Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan. The M Gallery International returns to simpler times with a focus only on "Beautiful Art".

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