What Exactly Do I Do?

As Somerville artists ramp up to Somerville Open Studios, promotions go out, studios are scrubbed, and websites are updated.  Aaaah, Spring in Somerville.

It was an email from my studio building that got me thinking.  Building maps are going in for their annual update, and we need to make sure our info is correct, including “a VERY SHORT description of WHAT kind of work you do.”  Given the examples provided, “very short” is assumed to be a max of three words.


Can I really say that I paint faces?

One of the very best talks on artist marketing that I attended had us think about three words that best describe our work.  My notes are, of course, filed in some undetermined location, so I’ll take a new stab at it.  I paint big faces.  Oops, that’s four.  And not just faces.  Some have no faces at all.  Mostly, they are expressions.  In oils.  Unfortunately, ‘expressionism’ has already cornered the market on any artistic phrases using the word “expression.”  And I definitely have nothing in common with Expressionism.

“Portraits in oils” doesn’t convey that I do both people and dogs — never mind that I don’t want them to be seen as portraits so much as paintings.  Paintings of expressions. Then again, to anyone who has known a Jack Russell terrier, the painting to the right is truly a portrait of a Jack.

OK, so portraits without heads, faces that are not portraits; some human, some canine, some a little of both. The only thing they all have in common is that they are paintings (rather than sculptures or photos or encaustics or fabric or…).  In oils.  But “Oil Paintings” doesn’t tell you anything at all about what I do, does it?

Portrayals.  In oils.  Portroils.

Oh, fine.  Portrayals in Oils.


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