When it comes to opinions my Muse has a mind of her own.
Over the years, and even before my most recent post about Toby the Bird Dog, former collectors have reached out.
“I bought the cat you donated to Sac SPCA and my housekeeper broke his toes. I tried to glue it myself but…”
“Someone stepped on my pendant. Can you replace broken stones?”
“You made some custom pieces for my mother but they aren’t my style. Will you buy them back?”
In the minds of some collectors, art comes with a lifetime-satisfaction guarantee, not to mention lifetime warranties.
When restoration issues arise, galleries habitually suggest that their clients contact the artist. I know this because I’ve had these conversations:
“Hello, I bought one of your pieces from The-Gallery-That-Must-Not-Be-Named and they say I should call you…” (No commission on repairs, perhaps?)
I find this so ironic.
When it comes to their clients, galleries are possessive and, sometimes, downright paranoid––yet with good cause. I’ve seen artists handing out private business cards at gallery openings.Not at all respectful to those who ponied up for the wine and cheese!
Here’s where possessiveness is a problem, though. Until an artist gets paid––and let’s be honest here, some galleries are less diligent about fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities than they should be––and, unless the artist is in the habit of popping in and out of galleries, performing inventory checks (instead of being in her (or his) studio, making all that good art) the artist doesn't know what a gallery has sold until she gets paid.
Imagine this scenario: Artist goes to a party and sees her (or his) painting on the hostess’s wall. “Oh! didn’t The-Gallery-That-Must-Not-Be-Named tell you?” says the hostess, “I told them we knew each other when I bought it. I’ve had it for a couple of months now!”
It’s awkward. The artist is left thinking, “Gee, I should have called to thank her,” and “Wow, I thought I had a good working relationship with my gallery, built on mutual respect and trust––hey, wait a minute, I know why I didn’t call her! I still haven’t seen a check!”
The terms “client” and “collector” and their relationship to “gallery” and “artist” can be explained like this: the people who buy art are, first and foremost, the galleries’ clients and, secondarily, the artists’ collectors–– and with the exception of a gallery event (an opening or private show) never the twain should meet.
Unless something needs fixing.
But I digress…
As a creator, am I not bound to my creations? After all, they are my children.
But what about someone else’s child?
Recently, I was asked to to restore a treasured totem gifted by a soul-dear friend. A poor little angel who had lost both wings and foot.
My challenge: I couldn’t be sure what the sweet little creature was made of. It seemed to be cast out of resin, finished in a stone-like texture. I'd never worked with resins and I knew fired clay wouldn’t work at all, so off to Michaels I went, in search of inspiration.
Paper clay! Easy to work, adheres to surfaces, dries in a few days with paintable surface–– at least that’s what the package said. I’d never worked with paper clay either but, being a kids’ craft product, I felt reasonably confident stepping outside my comfort zone.
Paper clay is great for kids’ purposes, not messy and easy to work with. It sticks to itself (and to other surfaces) so I was able to build the angel’s missing back and foot onto her original form.
When I came to the wings I learned the drawbacks. Paper clay doesn’t hold an imprint like sculpture clay (it’s like pushing into bread dough) so I had to wait until the wings totally dried before adding detail. For this I used a foredoom and pumice wheels
Finishing and painting followed. Golden Acrylic clear granular gel for texture followed by a combination of grey and bronze acrylic paint, softened afterward with a wash of Titan buff. As an afterthought ( or, perhaps, my signature) I silver leafed her flower.
I suggested earlier that, for some, art comes with a lifetime guarantee. After working on this cherished angel, who wasn’t even my child to begin with, I understand. Art that someone loves is eternal.