Portrait of Maquoketa Rose Frantzen

A Review
by Armand Cabrera

Rose Frantzen’s show is a stunning tour de force of alla prima portrait painting. One hundred and eighty 12×12 portraits painted on what looks like half inch panels which are not framed. Each portrait was painted in four or five hours from life. Anyone willing to take the time to sit for her was accepted.

What emerges besides the individual personalities is a sensitive group portrait of a town. You begin to get the sense of a relatively small community (population 5917). Frantzen’s ability to record the subtleties of each person’s skin tones is amazing. Each portrait captures a moment in time with the sitter, without excessive flattery.

When you think of what it would take to paint 180 portraits from life in a year’s time you understand the power of her accomplishment. Now add to that the level of quality of these paintings and you realize you are standing before something special. This woman is truly one of the best painters in the country at this time. Her abilities are formidable, combining broad facile brushwork with a beautiful color sense and keen eye for values.

If you are living in the Mid-Atlantic Area, or have the means to travel here from farther away, this is a chance to see a living painters work as accomplished as Sargent or Beaux. The show is on display at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery until July 5 2010, don’t miss it. The show is accompanied by a hardcover catalog which has faithfully captured the paintings.

All images in this review are by Rose Frantzen the copyrights are held by her.

Art Galleries— Post Prices On Your Website!


 Diane Burket
As the Artist Agent for Armand Cabrera, I’m passionate about internet gallery pricing because failure to display prices diminishes our ability to sell paintings. Armand is a full time artist who shows his art in fine art galleries across the United States. Many of his galleries neglect to include prices on their websites. They are losing business, frustrating potential customers and ultimately—costing Armand and I money.
Art Galleries are in the business of selling art. It’s a mystery why some galleries (and artists) don’t post prices on their websites. Art collectors go to art gallery websites for information. If potential buyers don’t see basic information, they become frustrated and navigate to another gallery website. At the least, collectors want to see:
· Pictures of Available Paintings
· Prices
· Artist Information
· Gallery Information
Gallery Point of View
Some dealers argue that omitting prices helps to start relationships between the gallery and the buyer. If the customer calls to ask for the price, the gallery feels they can pitch the customer and, if necessary, offer incentives.
My View
Art collectors are not naïve. They know art costs money. Why withhold information and manipulate collectors into calling the gallery? Many avid art collectors will never pick up the phone to inquire about the price of art. In addition, the customer can’t contact a gallery after hours, so the probability to make a sale can only occur when the gallery is open. One of our collectors told me there’s so much art out there from which to chose—she’ll go to a site that displays prices rather than pick up the phone to inquire about a price.
Gallery Point of View
Posting prices devalues art. They’d rather “soft sell” the art.
My View
Internet visitors want details at their finger tips. The gallery does a disservice to their collectors and their artists by not using every opportunity to sell their paintings. Every major fine art gallery and auction house displays prices on their sites. It must be working for them!
Gallery Point of View
Their artists don’t have consistent prices. The artists inflate their prices for some galleries and reduce them in others. The gallery doesn’t want the customer to know the price discrepancies.
My View
Artists that don’t maintain consistent pricing are unprofessional. Fine art galleries shouldn’t represent them. The art market across the world is very intimate, thanks to the Internet. It’s easy to discover if an artist sells his work at significantly dissimilar prices. (Of course, one must consider the cost of framing—gold metal, gold leaf, etc. —but that’s another subject.)

Gallery Point of View
The gallery uses the website to get potential customers interested in their works—not to actually make sales from the site. They want the collectors to come into the gallery to purchase their art.
My View
It’s very short-sighted to think that all customers will visit a gallery. Many art collectors don’t live anywhere near the gallery. Countless 21st Century customers are Internet savvy and often purchase paintings they see online. Granted, the collector will call to discuss details with the gallery—but having accurate pictures and prices on the website helps to seal the deal.
1) Our best selling galleries post prices and sell many of Armand’s paintings from their websites. Some of their customers never walk in the art gallery door.
 2) Failure to list prices has become such a problem for website visitors that usability expert Jakob Nielsen recently deemed it the number one web design mistake. I quote Mr. Nielsen—“The worst example of not answering users’ questions is to avoid listing the price of products and services. No B2C ecommerce site would make this mistake, … Price is the most specific piece of info customers use to understand the nature of an offering, and not providing it makes people feel lost and reduces their understanding of a product line. We have miles of videotape of users asking “Where’s the price?” while tearing their hair out.”
3) Your website acts as your salesperson across the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
4) People looking for discounts will ask for a discount. If Internet customers like a painting and the price is in their ballpark, they are intelligent enough to realize they can communicate with the gallery by email or telephone and request a discount.
5) The gallery will save the customer time and embarrassment by listing the retail price on the website. A buyer would be embarrassed to find a painting retails for over $50,000 when he assumed it would be under $10,000.
6) From extensive research, I have found that failure to list prices is a collector’s pet peeve. One collector told me she saw a painting she wanted to purchase in an advertisement in a national art magazine. She went to the gallery website and was frustrated— they did not post prices. Rather than call the gallery, she Google’d the artist’s name and found him at another gallery—one that posted prices. She called that gallery and bought a painting from them.
The time has come for art galleries to make it easy for collectors to buy paintings.
The 21st Century art buyer demands it!
About the Author:
Diane Burket is an award-winning Voice Over Professional. She has been voicing scripts for over 20 years. She can be heard on National Commercials, Corporate Films, Training Videos, Telephone Prompts, Internet Sites and Multimedia recordings. In addition to her Voice Over, Diane is also the Agent for Armand Cabrera, a nationally-known oil painter represented by fine art galleries across the United States.


Jean Leon Gerome

Armand Cabrera

Jean Leon Gerome was born in Vesoul, France in 1824. He was the son of a wealthy goldsmith. Gerome studied Greek, Latin and history at Vesoul College before enrolling in the Paris School of Fine Arts under Paul Delaroche. In his third year there the Atelier was closed after an incident of hazing resulted in a student’s death.

Gerome travelled to Italy for a year and after returning to Paris enrolled in Charles Gleyre’s studio. Gerome only stayed with Gleyre for three months but by all account learned a great deal from the master, although Gerome never acknowledged Gleyre’s influence on him.

In 1847 Gerome had his first salon entry, a painting of young Greeks holding a cock fight. Although the painting was skied it received favorable attention for its quality, attention to detail and subject matter.

Gerome would build his artistic career on subjects from antiquity and the Middle East. According to his biographer Gerald Ackerman, nearly half of Gerome’s paintings were orientalist in nature.
Gerome also had commissions from the government that helped build his career. Gerome also married Marie Goupil the daughter of Adolphe Goupil, one of the most influential art dealers of the time.

Gerome’s first trip to Egypt was in 1857, there were to be many more through his lifetime. His paintings were very popular at the salons and he commanded high prices for his work. He eventually stopped taking commissions because of his success. This freed the artist to pursue themes important to him as opposed to his patrons.

In 1863 the government sponsored Ecole des Beauxs Arts appointed Gerome as head of one of its ateliers. Gerome would continue to teach for the next 40 years. He influenced thousands of young artists and was a highly respected teacher. His American pupils included Thomas Eakins, Kenyon Cox, Julian Alden Weir, George DeForest Brush, Abbott Handerson Thayer, George Bridgman, Dennis Miller Bunker, and William MacGregor Paxton to name just a few.

In the 1870’s Gerome was an outspoken opponent of the impressionists and what he saw as a lowering of artistic standards. The fights were very public and as the shift to the new art style took hold he was continuously vilified by critics and younger artists.
Another issue Gerome was on the wrong side of was allowing women to the Ecole. Beginning in the late 1880’s the matter became heated with constant petitions for women to be allowed into the Ecole and to be able to attend the life drawing classes. Gerome who was on the council for the Ecole at the time voted against both changes.

Although the world had passed him by Gerome had been successful enough to live comfortably his whole life. Gerome died five months before his 80th birthday. At the time of his death in 1904 his estate was worth 1.7 million francs not including real estate.
In the ensuing years he was nearly forgotten in France and in the 1950’s his paintings were almost worthless. Recently though, important Gerome paintings regularly command prices of 2 million pounds at auction.

The life and work of Jean Leon Gerome
A catalogue Raisonne

Gerald Ackerman
ACR Publishing

The Orientalists: Painters Travelers
Lynne Thornton
ACR Publishing

The American Pupils of Jean Leon GeromeH. Barbara Weinberg
Amon Carter Museum Press

I hate imitators, people who put works together out of older works, these men are blind unless they are looking with someone else’s eyes, and who produce only the mistakes of the master they draw from. These, one doesn’t even want to talk about; one must simply call them ‘Eunuchs’ ~ Jean Leon Gerome

The Drawing from Life Survival Guide

Armand Cabrera

I originally wrote this for the site, ConceptArt. The information applies to anyone though and I thought it worthwhile topic for the blog.

It seems like there are many artists who want to start drawing from life to help improve their skills. Having drawn from life for quite a few years now, I thought I would create this simple guide to help you survive the cruel world out there. These guidelines have helped me draw for many years hopefully they will help you too.
Before we start the list; here is a little tip you might not know about if you are starting out. Everyone is familiar with pens, pencils, erasers and sharpeners but keep a razor blade handy also. This little tool will allow you to go back and slice out any offending pages that the eraser just can’t get clean enough. Trust me there will come a time you will want it.

1 Be Discreet
Unless you are an A type extrovert that craves an audience look for places you can blend in and people might not notice you stealing their souls by making an image of them. I always try to find a place to draw from where people cannot sneak up on me from behind. When you first start out there is nothing worse than having a bunch of people commenting on your work and your ability while standing right behind you and acting like you can’t hear them.

2 Some places to draw
Public squares, parks, coffee shops, pubs, The bus station, the airport, the train station, just about any mass transit system. You can also stay home and draw using a wardrobe mirror or set up casts or a still life. Family and friends are usually good for poses especially on holidays or special occasions

3 Sketchbooks are not Aphrodisiacs
While there are men and women attracted to artistic types. Beware. We are artists for a reason and usually that reason is a lack of badassness in the Mixed Martial Arts sense of the word. Nothing will get you in more trouble than drawing the wrong person’s significant other as a naked forest elf. While artists are naturally attracted to beauty, drawing someone in public when their jealous spouse is near could get you a black eye. Be aware, and size up any potential threats before you start to draw that cute person you see across from you in a sexy come hither pose from your imagination.

4 Flattery is smarter than Caricature.
Resist the urge to make that person who looks like a character from the Narnia movies, a character from the Narnia movies. This could put you into the same situation as #3 you also don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings if they happen to see you’ve drawn them as Cthulu.

5 Draw in Groups.
If you can find a group of likeminded artists, it is allot more fun to draw in a crowd. This isolates you and people are more reluctant to disturb a group allowing you to focus and actually get some drawing done. Also in groups you can just draw the people you are with since you will all be holding the pose for roughly the same amount of time.

6 Don’t be a Statistic
If people aren’t your thing and you feel like drawing landscapes make sure you don’t sit on the side of the road. Doing so will possibly get you killed by someone who is driving and texting and didn’t notice you there. Seriously it could happen. If you must draw on the road at least put your car between you and any potential traffic and sit far enough ahead of it, that if an idiot does hit it they don’t push it on top of you.

7 Be Prepared
There is nothing worse than getting to your favorite drawing spot and realizing you left your sketchbook at home two hours away. Organize a setup that will allow you to carry everything you need in some sort of satchel or backpack all at once. Have extra pens pencils erasers and sketchpads. Before you leave check it to make sure you have everything you need. When you get home replenish your supplies so the next time you go out everything will be there for you to create your masterpiece.

8 Have Fun
Drawing is hard. Drawing in public from life is even harder. That being said, leave your bad attitude at home. If drawing is such a chore then find something else to do. People that are interested in art don’t need their head bitten off because you are having a bad day. Fall in love with the process and realize nobody draws as well as they want to. Set aside the time for drawing and make an effort to improve one thing about your work every time you practice.

9 Create a Legacy
Every time you start a sketchbook put the date in the front of it. This does two things it lets you look back a few years from now and see how you’ve improved and it will let you know if you’ve been slacking because there is nothing new in it for six months. It is good to have a record of your work.

10 Take the Money
Value what you do, if you draw outside long enough, eventually someone will ask you what you charge for your work. Have an answer! You never know if that person could potentially launch your career and how they dress is not a good indicator of how much they are worth. Decide before you go out what you would say to someone if they either ask to buy what you are doing or they want to commission you to do something for them. I don’t know is not an answer.

A Proactive Approach to Gallery Representation

Armand Cabrera

I am always shocked at how lackadaisical most professional artists are when it comes to their representation in galleries. In these economic times, it is more important than ever to have a proactive, professional approach to representation.

Most galleries are as ineffectual as the artists they represent. As some of you know, I have an Agent, Diane Burket, who deals with a lot of my gallery issues. Please keep in mind, I pay for this service. If you find you can’t manage all the details, perhaps you should hire someone, too.

For this article, I will refer to “paintings”. However, these tips apply to any type of art you may create and wish to sell. Here are 3 things you can do to help your painting career and give yourself an edge in the marketplace.

1. Always Provide An Updated Consignment Sheet To Your Galleries
It doesn’t matter if the gallery provides a Consignment Form or you generate your own— never leave your artwork at a gallery without getting a signed Consignment Sheet proving what you have delivered to the gallery. The form should include 1) Name of Painting, 2) Size of Painting, 3) Retail Price, and 4) Amount Due To The Artist. I include an updated Consignment Sheet every time I send or drop off artwork at a gallery. With galleries going out of business at record rates, this little piece of paper might be the only thing that helps you retrieve your art from a failed gallery. Make sure you have two copies– one signed by you to leave with the gallery and one signed by the gallery for your records. If the gallery will not sign the form, don’t give them any work.
2. Keep A Photographic Record Of Your Work
Provide the gallery with digital images of your work for their website; don’t wait for them to shoot your paintings. You know what your paintings look like. You shouldn’t rely on your galleries to capture an accurate image of your painting after it has been varnished. I want my galleries contacting customers and selling paintings—not spending their day shooting images for artists too lazy (sorry) to do it themselves. My best selling galleries charge a fee to artists if they fail to provide professional quality images of their work. Don’t know how to shoot your paintings? Take a class, pay someone to do it or figure out how to do it yourself (like I did).

Keep a high resolution JPEG of all your paintings. If the gallery calls you about press opportunities, you’ll be prepared to provide them with the images they need in just minutes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been included in national and local press because I had a usable image ready to go. Other artists were ill-prepared and missed the opportunity.

3. Provide Your Galleries New Work
Make sure you maintain a schedule with your galleries to provide them with sellable paintings on a regular basis. One of the biggest complaints I hear from galleries is that artists dump a lot of old and inferior work on them. Why the galleries accept this substandard work is beyond me. But if you want to be represented and sell paintings, you have to provide good work for sale. I recommend swapping paintings out once a year—sooner if you are selling well or if your work is improving rapidly and there is a noticeable change in its quality.