05 January 2016

The Nocebo Effect

The nocebo effect is a medical term which is the opposite of the placebo effect. Instead of having a positive reaction, the nocebo effect works through the suggestion of a negative side effect causing negative reactions. Although used as a medical term, the nocebo effect can be seen in all aspects of life.

Today on FineArtViews Blog I had one of my previous blog posts published. As with most articles on FASO there's a trail of negativity which follows and causes me to form certain impressions about the artists who make them.

I am shocked by the level of rudeness that gets displayed online, especially in a place like FASO by other artists. Are you aware of who all reads the blogs and what effect your comments have on your image and career? If one can be accused of wearing rose coloured glasses with the people we love, the opposite is also true. The glasses are darker for people that have presented themselves in a negative fashion.

After reading rude or ignorant comments by someone, I wouldn't give that person the time of day. I certainly wouldn't buy anything from them, regardless of how much I loved or needed the product they were selling.  I prefer to support the people working to make the world a better place through their positive attitude and kindness.

"For me, creating art is accessing a shining sliver of divinity – which is all positive, loving energy. When I go to a place of negativity and fear, I find that my access is denied."
- Michael Carpenter

So this is some tough love for all the negative people:

I am a Canadian (and darned proud of it too!). Canada is not the same as the US, or any other country. Our economy is different. Our distribution of wealth is different. Our education is different. Our people are different. Our attitudes are different. Your reality is not mine, and what applies to you may not apply to me.

Maybe 10 or 20 years ago, you could stay in your studio and knock out the paintings and people were flocking to you (or your gallery) snapping up your work before the paint even dried. That's never been my reality. I have always had to work hard to improve my skills and sell my work. If it's not selling the only person I have to blame is myself. Not the economy, not the galleries, not the people. Me.

If you were once able to sell your work so easily without effort, I can see how that would be disappointing to you now. But what good is dwelling on the past and spewing your negativity doing for you? You can either talk about how things aren't what they used to be, or figure out how to forge a new path and get on with it. Do you want to be an artist, or do you just want some fairy godmother to come along and sprinkle dollar bills at your feet while you paint all day? (We all would like that but know it's never going to happen!)
"Many an optimist has become rich by buying out a pessimist."
-Robert G. Allen

One of the commenters on FASO said, "Auctions are totally irrelevant." Maybe in your world they are. Or maybe the fact you think that plays a part in your struggles today. Local art auctions are relevant to me. What aren't relevant are the big international auctions. In the local auctions, I pay attention to whose names I'm seeing and I pay attention to prices. This is a good way to get a feel for how the local population appreciates art and what they are willing to pay for it. It can teach you about what styles of art are in favour, and many other things.

I am probably classed in the lower end of the middle class. I don't take fancy vacations. I haven't travelled overseas since I was a teenager and went to the UK on a school trip. We don't own a travel trailer, or many of the other toys most other middle class people do. I don't wear expensive clothes (I'd only get paint on them anyway!). Our house is modest and in need of repairs. We don't eat out often or enjoy many luxuries in life. But what we do enjoy is art, and buy it often, especially when the financial markets are performing poorly and it becomes far too risky to invest in stocks or other financial investments.

I am not buying Degas' or Monet's. I am buying art I love from living artists I like (who have good attitudes!). The work may increase in value, it may not - just the same as financial investments. If this is how I live and think, don't you think it's reasonable that many others like me are the same? Non-wealthy people who love and buy art.

I watch the auctions because I won't buy art from artists who are regularly represented in local auctions. My thoughts are if that person has multiple paintings in most secondary sales, it's a good indication there is a glut of their work out there which I think lowers the potential for future value increases. The fact I don't want to buy from an artist with a glut of work on the market, also influences me as an artist.

Though I try to paint daily, I won't join the daily painting movement, and try to keep my productivity in check. I guess this probably goes back to my education and economics classes with the law of supply and demand. Where supply is great, demand diminishes. I don't ever want to supply myself out of job! So I do other things from time to time that keep my creative skills sharp, like now. I have unofficially declared January to be an illustration month. I did the same thing last year, so I guess it's going to become a tradition.

Instead of working daily on paintings, I'm doing a lot more sketches, and just generally playing around with works that aren't meant to be sold. It's a form of creative play totally different from the portfolio work I do for sale. I do learn things which eventually find their way into my paintings and improve the work I'm doing. That's kind of the point to creative play. But I'm also spending some down time sowing the seeds for future sales ensuring I can continue to lead the life I love.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
- Author unknown
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to the post office to post a painting to New York. My first sale of the year, with many more to come!