Sunday, August 28, 2011

Shakespeare's King Lear & Hurricane Irene

Blow, windes, & crack your cheeks; Rage, blow
You Cataracts and Hyrricano’s, spout,
Till you haue drench’d our Steeples, drown the Cockes.
You Sulph’rous and Thought-executing Fires,
Vaunt-curriors to Oak-cleauing Thunderbolts,
Sindge my white head. And thou all-shaking Thunder,
Strike flat the thicke Rotundity o’ th’ world,
Cracke Natures moulds, all germaines spill at once,
That makes ingratefull Man.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stockhausen In Freundschaft – work in progress

In Freundschaft – gallery installation – 1

Working again on the Stockhausen piece for solo clarinet, In Freundschaft. The installation photo above shows two large paintings together with smaller sketches. The painting on the right wall measures 96 x 42 inches, while the painting on the back wall measures 72 x 48 inches. These are derived from the "master painting" (67 x 108 inches) seen below.
In Freundschaft – gallery installation –2
None are intended to be the definitive, or final work in this series, as it still a work in progress. These pieces started life as interpretations or responses to a piece of music, but there comes a point in the creative process where the painting grows and matures and develops a life of its own and leaves the home, so to speak.

The main challenge is how to represent the linearity of music on a single rectangle and the solution might be a series of paintings. I have made a series of linear drawings in book form, where the pen behaves like an oscilloscope of sorts. One may argue that there is just as much potential in a single painting, given that the piece of music as a whole itself possesses all the lyricism and aesthetic qualities that a painting can offer and I have made several studies with this premise in mind. Currently I have been listening to just a few bars and painting in response; and making enlarged detailed selections, as seen above.

Scale is important, and I am seeking a larger gestural solution, hence these gallery installations – all digital creations, based on a small painting 8 x 5 inches. I am seeking the sonorous qualities seen in paintings by Barnett Newman, Yves Klein and other Color Field painters, together with the gestural lyricism of the action painters such as Jackson Pollock and Cy Twombly.










Watch and listen to the piece performed by Han Kim.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

En homenaje a Jorge Luis Borges, born August 24, 1899

Es una locura laboriosa . . .
Text by Jorge Luis Borges
Pen and ink drawing by David Esslemont

"Es una locura laboriosa y empobrecedora la locura de escribir libros muy extensos desarrollando durante quinientas páginas una idea que puede ser contada perfectamente en cinco minutos de narración oral. La mejor forma de ocuparse de ellos es hacer como que esos libros ya existen y ofrecer un sumario, un comentario".

"It is a laborious madness and an impoverishing one, the madness of composing vast books - setting out in five hundred pages an idea that can be perfectly related orally in five minutes. The better way to go about it is to pretend that those books already exist, and offer a summary, a commentary on them."

From the  Introduction to El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan (The Garden of Forking Paths)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Marketing and selling your art online – part two

Looking west over Grasmere, water colour landscape by David Esslemont

Building your profile

Standing out from or above the crowd is a challenge, to do so online is an even greater challenge, as the crowd is measured in thousands if not millions.

Your customers need to be able to find you and your art online. They do this in a number of ways: by going directly to your Web site, online gallery, blog or whatever, following a link, or searching for you or related subjects. Web site analytics will reveal where direct traffic and referrals are coming from, and what keywords are used when searching. Use your URLs everywhere, and link them. Add them to your e-mail signatures and use your domain's e-mail service e.g. contact and people will know where to find you and your work. Ask for reciprocal links with other Web sites, comment on posts, submit your URL's to the search engines directly.

“What are your customers searching for” begs the question “what are they looking for?” Are they looking for information or advice, or to buy art. I would further ask the question “why?” Addressing this latter question first: perhaps they are looking for a memento, a gift or they simply collect paintings or prints. Perhaps they are looking for a picture to hang in their hallway. Perhaps they are just curious to know more about you and your work. Perhaps they are looking for advice on how to frame a picture, or how to choose a picture for their home. The field is wide and if one is aiming to be in “the right place at the right time” you have to offer the online visitor what they are looking for and, something of value. Artist Lynne Taetzsch provides an excellent example both on her Web site and on her blog.

The chances are their search will include the criteria that will help them find what they are looking for: keywords. So naturally having matching keywords is a big advantage. Relevant keywords as header tags, image tags, link references, titles and body text will help your ratings with the search engines. My advice: work on this now or get someone well versed in SEO (search engine optimization) to do the job, it is important.

Let us assume I paint watercolour landscapes of the English Lake District. I would expect all the bold words to be important keywords and ensure their inclusion together with place names, and qualifiers such as morning, evening, dusk, rain, cloud, and lake. If you are selling original framed art and prints, then include those keywords too, if you think it will look good on a wall, in a living room or elsewhere, say so. Keywords can be generated from a text (or Web site) by analyzing the frequency of words used [much as I did with Barack Obama's inaugural address] to find the most often used, or key words. There are many free online keyword generators such as Tocloud that will also produce graphic images, but none that will produce anything quite like I did for the President's speech:

Drawing by David Esslemont from My Fellow Citizens

Searching Google for “Grasmere watercolour” returns 105,000 results with this link on the first page:
These watercolours were made "in the field" from a perch above Grasmere looking west northwest. They were painted over a number of weeks, in March and April ..."

Searching Google Images returns 8,000+ results but fortunately shows my Solmentes logo on the first page! This links to a Facebook post about the Grasmere watercolour being available as a stretched canvas print. The actual water colour image is nine pages further down and links to my online gallery. The image itself is tagged with the title "Looking west over Grasmere, watercolour as stretched canvas print!"

Good luck.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Marketing and selling your art online – part one

Order this print today and have it hanging on your wall next week!

How to market and sell your art online? That is what I entered into the Google search box and in a roundabout way have discovered a whole new world of possibilities.

Marketing is about satisfying customer needs profitably. So to begin you have to ask what are you selling, who are your customers, where are they, and what do they want to pay: it's the four p's – product, people, place and price.

If I earned a penny, or even better a dollar every time someone commented on my work with a "WOW" (in particular when viewing the new digital flowers in the Florilegium Solmentes portfolio), I would be a wealthy man. How can one turn those comments into sales?

I decide to offer the flower prints as signed limited edition prints for $200 each, $150 each for two or more. There was the stumbling block: price. Apart from a strange antipathy towards digital prints such as these (do people realize it took me just as long to create these images as it would to make multi-colour linocuts, for example), the price seems to be the most important factor in turning the "WOW" into a desire to buy the work. At least I had some interest and "AIDA", the old acronym so pertinent to advertising (attention, interest, desire and action), can be applied here.

Going back to the four p's, being in the right place, at the right time with the right product, should give you a better chance of making a sale.

Free online galleries and portfolios abound! But there is the catch, if there are so many, it also means there are MANY other artists also trying to market and sell their work online. So you have to (as my grandmother used to say) "stand out from the crowd". For now I am going to throw a handful of bait in the stream and see if the fish are biting and address the profile issue in the next post.

FineartAmerica offers a free account that allows you to upload images of your artwork and sell prints, on demand in an amazing range of sizes and formats (canvas, matted and framed prints etc). While their offer is enticing with the unlimited number of image uploads, the small print limits the number you can actually sell as "print-on-demand". Unless of course you pay $30 for an upgrade to premium membership. So I did and now they have made money from me but I haven't sold anything, yet. Well done FAA.
PS The yellow blackberry flower print is available in a variety of formats from

Podcast: David Esslemont on the history of the Gregynog and Solmentes Presses

Gregynog Hall Nigel Beale aka The Literary Tourist , came to visit and recorded our conversation in which he asked me about the history...