Saturday, March 21, 2015


Yellow Pier. 48" x 60". Oil and mixed media on wood panel.

Recently one of the galleries which represents my work requested that I do a large pier painting for their inventory. I spent three weeks working on the piece and was pleased with the result. So when the gallery told me they couldn't accept it because it was too Yellow I was surprised and disappointed. To be precise, I was told that they found it difficult to sell paintings containing a lot of Yellow.

So, what is it about Yellow?  Many years ago a gallery owner in New York told me “Don’t paint Yellow – it doesn't sell”. Soon afterwards I painted a Yellow piece and it sold – very quickly - so I dismissed the rule. But here it is again.

The problem isn't that the painting has been shown and remains unsold. It’s that the gallery owner, who sells many of my pieces very quickly, is nervous about the color because she assumes that her clients won’t like it. So now her clients won’t get the chance to see it and, consequently, won’t buy it.
I told this story to an artist friend who immediately asked me if I could put a white “wash” over it. That surprised and saddened me. Should I paint what I know will sell easily? Or should I expect my representatives to take a leap of faith and try something slightly different every now and again? It’s that never-ending quandary: Do we allow financial imperative to influence our work? The short term gain (paying the rent!) is good, but in the long run do we put a lid on our careers by compromising?

Fortunately this story has a happy ending: A gallery in Laguna Beach loves the piece and wants to include it in their summer show. So perhaps Yellow is just a little too brash for the subdued palettes of San Francisco and New York but perfectly fine for sunnier Southern California.