NFTs and me December 25, 2021 21:46

Recently, I painted five oil paintings in nine days, which with the help of a tech bro who bought some art from me years ago were turned into nfts and sold in three days in an auction.  And I made more money from that sale than I made for the past couple years from selling my art the usual way. 

The blockchain I am using (Solana) is not wasteful of electricity; in fact, it's carbon neutral. The fees are miniscule, like about 1.5 CENTS. Yes, people can right-click on my image, but I have news for you: nfts are more about provenance. You can decide to allow your nft to be used in various ways as part of the contract. Yes, there is theft of images, but this has happened to me plenty without any of my art being an nft. Unlike with traditional tools, with an nft I can get a royalty every time it is sold.

I'm not going to argue with anyone about nfts. If you want to learn about them, you can. It is not my job to educate people about them, just like it's not my job to educate people about the paints I use. Instead, I will talk about what making nfts is doing for my art, because so far, I haven't seen anyone address that particular issue.

My next nft project is a big one--48 watercolor landscape paintings which I will use to create 264 composite digital paintings. The image that I've attached to this post is a small slice of one of those composites.

I've never painted so fast in my life. Each of the 48 paintings are 10 x 30", and I am completing a painting about every two days. This is about the size I usually paint, so it's not that I am painting faster due to smaller size.  I photograph those paintings and turn them into digital files, which I neaten up and modify in various ways and then put them together into unique paintings that will become the nfts. The digital cleaning up is what takes me the longest. I don't know Photoshop as well as I should.

I have discovered a bunch of things by working on this project, which I am 1/4 of the way through. 

The biggest is that it has broken the back of my perfectionism in painting, which has crippled it for as long as I have painted. When I set out to make nfts, I told myself that the purpose of these paintings was to bring joy to the people who bought them. They didn't have to be perfect--they needed to be competent and to express beauty as best as I could do. I didn't have to emulate O'Keefe, Lautrec, or Monet. I didn't have to be a Great Artist. I just had to do a good job.

And this opened the floodgates. 

I have become a much better painter just through the amount of practice I've been getting. But more, I feel I can fully use what I actually do know about painting instead of always holding back due to fear of fucking up. 

I can't tell you how many times I have stopped working on a painting because I was afraid I would fuck it up. Probably about 1/3 of my paintings end this way. Another 1/3 are not worth saving. And 1/3 are and I am able to overcome the fear of fucking up with them.

One of the reasons people mock nfts is that they say nft art is lousy and ugly. A lot of it is. But I don't see a higher proportion of crap in nfts than in regular painting. It seems equal. I thought, well, I've got better technique than tons of these people, so I have nothing to fear on that score. But when I realized there was such a strong parallel in terms of the percent of crap art in both nfts and traditional art, I felt like I've been messing myself up all these years by not believing my art is good enough when 95% of any kind of art is crap. Now I see that my art is good enough. It doesn't have to be great to be ahead of the mob. It has to be honest and competent and original.

Before I had a studio, I felt satisfied if I produced a finished painting every 2-3 weeks. When I rented the studio, I resolved that I had to justify the $350/mo I was paying for it by going over there to paint ever single day. Before I knew it, I was painting faster than I'd ever painted before--2-3 paintings a week, and most of these in oil.

The faster I painted, the more I learned about painting. The more I learned, the more issues I could solve. And that gave me more confidence in myself as an artist. I experimented more, took more risks, solved more problems, and sold some art.

The speed with which I am making the paintings that will become nfts is even greater. I have learned a ton already--about technique, yes, but more, about my art and what I am capable of doing. And once again, my confidence has increased. Even just drawing for the underpainting has made me realize I am competent at rendering things. 

So painting fast and painting for nfts shattered my perfectionism in art and massively boosted my confidence, such that fear of fucking up is no longer stopping me from trying things in my paintings. I never expected this to happen.

I fully expect my skills to improve a great deal. And to make some money while doing it.