Veronica Winters is one of those rare professionals who can paint stunning beauty with near perfection. Her precise, colorful, and highly imaginative style often leaves the viewer speechless. It isn’t easy, nowadays, to find an artist that is still following in the footsteps of the Old Masters and is putting in the time to create works of truly fine contemporary art. In our continuing celebration of women and their amazing accomplishments, The World Art News is pleased to publish Part 2 of our Exclusive Interview with Veronica. Let’s begin!
How long did it take you to achieve financial success as an artist and what lessons did you learn along the way?
The hardest time for me was right after graduation with my Master’s degree. There was a moment of vacuum where I had no clear path, ideas or job offers. There was no social media or business courses. It took me a couple of years to figure things out. I began teaching art locally at the art alliance and I started teaching art privately. There were few art sales. I did try the art festivals and group shows, which were always a mixed bag for me. I would make money in one place and lose all of it and some in another. One of the things I’d like to pass on is to stay away from vanity galleries. Don’t pay to be exhibited or published or whatever else you’re offered for representation. Artists must pay to the gallery a determined percentage coming from the art sales. If the gallery doesn’t sell enough art, they’re not good for you and would be trying to compensate for their inability to sell at your expense.
There are many ‘hidden’ costs that artists bear to create art. They often include shipping costs, framing and replacement of broken frames, lost art, numerous judging, festival and entry fees, tuition payments, model fees, packaging and transportation, marketing, website hosting and promotion costs that can run in thousands of dollars in some cases. Being an artist looks like an easy and almost frivolous profession on the surface but it’s really a full-time job that requires good money management and planning skills.
How much do your paintings cost on average and how do you price your work?
I price art based on my experience and education. If you have no art background and spend equal amounts of time creating one piece with me, the result will be different. It’s not about the time spent on one piece. It’s cumulative, involving years of work spent learning and experimenting to create unique art.
My work ranges from $500 to $7,000 depending on medium, subject and size. Pricing includes a 40-50% gallery cut, so it stays consistent and doesn’t fluctuate depending on the venue exhibiting my work.
In your opinion, what is the primary skill set one must possess to be a good artist?
I think it’s all about understanding yourself, motivation to create and your unique gifts. For instance, I’m not talented in figure painting. I’m learning the skill but I’m talented in my interpretation of color and symbols and that’s what I’m trying to embrace and put forward. I think improving and perfecting the skill of painting is also necessary if you desire to create realist art. It depends on goals.
How do you come up with new art ideas?
My art revolves around the figure, travel, and spirituality. Combining these three elements together takes a little bit of magic. Most of it used to be emotional processing of my loneliness and a lack of belonging. Now it’s becoming more about a visual re-interpretation of some ancient symbols, love and unity with the universe. For example, when I walk by a tree I see more than that. I think it’s alive and can be a vessel for either travel or communication with higher consciousness. In ancient cultures the tree is represented like the Tree of Life. In Mayan culture, the tree was a channel for gods to travel between the earth and heaven. That’s how I approach thinking and creating art with the result that may look like the “Magic Tree Portal” drawing.
What materials do you use and how long does it take for you to create an artwork on average?
My painting process has evolved considerably over the years. I used to direct-sketch on paper and canvas. Today I design my images in Photoshop first where I can control the size and scale of art. I drop my photo references into a file and start moving them around until I find the position of every element in the picture I like looking at. I create art in two mediums – colored pencil and oil paint. So when I design the image I usually see the end result in my mind and the materials I want to use to create it. As I paint the planned image it still evolves and changes to become more unified in color. Sometimes what looks right on my monitor doesn’t look cohesive on paper. Every artwork presents a challenge. You might think I figured everything out and just keep repeating the process but it’s not the case for me. There is always a moment in time when I get frustrated and bumped by a challenge I didn’t see coming. It takes about a month of full-time work to create one artwork plus 25 years of learning how to do it well.
How do you decide what size an artwork will be and what is the typical size of your paintings?
My materials can dictate the size of art. Colored pencil is an extremely time-consuming medium and that’s why most colored pencil art you see today is small in comparison to painting. Some colored pencil artists break away from this to create big art to stand out from the pack. I usually work on 12x16inch wood boards or 19x25inch sheets of paper and 20×30 mat boards but it really depends on my subject, materials or idea that needs to fit on the surface. My oil painting ranges from 9×12 to 36×48 inches. I could have painted larger but I need to see the patronage to make this work for me.
What advice would you give to new artists that wish to make art their career?
NETWORK. This is the biggest mistake I made when I was young. I thought I’d do everything on my own. I had a lot of limiting beliefs around it coming from my upbringing. I’m slowly trying to change that. I was focused on one thing –painting but networking is more important than getting the art going. Look at the art scene to observe this notion… It’s about whom you know.
There are so many artists today creating amazing art in a vast array of mediums and styles, do you ever feel the pressure of competition?
I try to focus on my own self-improvement and goals rather than on my competition. I don’t experience the feelings of jealousy, rather I feel the frustration of doing a lot and yet not enough to do better career wise and financially.
Do you have to look for buyers or do they find you, and with how many clients do you work on a regular basis?
I think it’s a combination of both. People who buy art often become repeat customers. Most of them are US-based. The age varies with most being over 35.
How do you promote and where do you sell your art?
I write a lot of ‘how-to’ articles in art magazines. Sometimes I get featured online. Sometimes I win a contest award. I invest lots of time and energy into my site to bring traffic to it. I do a lot of stuff for free like content creation on YouTube, blogging, podcasting or social media.
Who are your favorite artists and what works of art influenced you the most – and why?
I like Sargent for his brushwork. I like Bouguereau for his perfection of figure painting. I like van Eyck for detail and symbolism. I like the 19th century Russian painters for their technique and ability to communicate ideas. I love Vermeer for his balance and quietness in art. I enjoy the surreal art of Remedios Varo and Magritte. I like the visual power of Artemisia Gentileschi.
What types of art do you like to surround yourself with?
I used to be very focused on realist painters because that’s what I wanted to learn in terms of the technique. Now I’m a lot more open to other art themes but I still gravitate towards the innovative and beautiful. I find little inspiration in ugly ‘art’. I enjoy visiting the Miami Art Context and other art fairs and art museums whenever possible. Instagram has such a great variety of art, it’s astonishing.
What is your overall outlook on how the art market is changing?
I think the art market is becoming more open and transparent. Yes, the top galleries will probably always manipulate and dictate the art themes and sales volume with lots of investment speculation. Yet, it’s an exciting time to be an artist finding new opportunities online, off-line, and on social media.
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