Sunday, March 29, 2015

Gnomes by the Inch

Two years ago, Karen and I answered a call -- produce a couple of paintings on paper.   The reason — a fund raiser for a local non-profit, WAVE, the acronym for Working Against Violence for Everyone.  Certainly we wanted to support them.  The concept — buyers selected parts they would like to cut out of paintings for the sum of $1 per square inch.  It sounded like fun until the painting began to take shape.  I composed the entire 22 x 30 inch sheet into one complete painting.  Surely someone would recognize brilliance when they saw it and buy the entire composition.  Ha!  At the end of the gala affair Karen and I purchased the last 120 square inches of it for ourselves.  It now resides in our dining nook where I still consider the purchase a good investment.

Of course Karen was considerably smarter, completing 5 stand-alone paintings on her sheet with borders around each one.  They sold faster than I can inhale a slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving day.  All survived fully intact.  You can view our paintings in one of our February, 2013 blogs.

Thus, when the call came again this winter, I figured I’d outfox them.  I painted a smaller 15 x 22 inch piece, obvious to the entire world, designed to be sold intact or in two pieces.   I returned to a gnome theme in earnest this time ending with somewhere around 33 gnomes in the composition — strategically placed so there was no way to divide the painting up in any way except as I envisioned — no room for compromise.   

                             Gnomeland    15 x 22 inches before being cut up   Alkyd on watercolor paper

Once again, Karen was smart.  She contributed one 9 x 12 inch painting of a ptarmigan, too small for further division.  It was well worth the price, but alas, we didn’t even take a photo of it although we know it found a fine “home.”

While I later learned people were interested in following either of my concepts, that wasn’t how the system functioned.  Everyone coming in the door received a random number.  Subsequently, after plenty of time for everyone to ooh and aah over all the paintings and eat themselves into the mood for a buying frenzy with a feast designed to create an appetite for art, the moment of decision arrived.  The first group of potential buyers was called forth to commit the cardinal sin in any artists eyes.  Anyone among them could select for decimation whatever part of a painting they wanted, even if someone in a later group wanted the entire painting.  You guessed it.

In the end, actually in that first group, the top half of Gnomeland survived, but the bottom…it felt as if I dropped that slice of pumpkin pie in a muskeg bog.  When Karen and I left, two lonely gnomes still remained with no prospect of survival. 

                                                          The top half of Gnomeland that survived

     The bottom half that didn't.  The two gnomes furthest on the left (including one of the fishergnomes) were destined for oblivion. 

Next Time....