Thursday, December 20, 2007

My Inventory Book

(Above: Stephen Chesley and his ledger.)

(Above: Stephen's ledger.)

Before going to England (and maybe even earlier), I promised a post about my method of keeping track of the artwork I inventory book. This is that post, but it requires a bit of background information about my mentor, Stephen Chesley.

Stephen Chesley is one of the Southeast's best respected oil painters. He's been self sufficient for over two decades. He's generous with his knowledge, advise, and support. He encouraged me to pursue my artistic passions long before I could admit them, even to myself. His studio is now directly across the hallway from mine.

When I first started stitching original work, Stephen showed me his catalog and urged me to keep a similar book documenting each piece. He told me to buy an ordinary ledger, the kind found at office supply stores. For every work, draw a thumbnail sketch and record the measurements (framed and unframed if applicable), the date of completion, the price, and a few words about the process or thoughts involved in the making. Later, he told me to add an inventory number and information about purchases and juried exhibitions. Fortunately, I followed his advice. (This week, I recorded #1000! Believe me, having an inventory number is helpful when a piece done three years ago sells!)

I don't always draw the sketch. (One "In Box" pretty much looks like another when reduced to simple lines!) Unlike Stephen's book, I make more detailed notations about the techniques and materials used. (Stephen only needs a word....oil, watercolor, pastel, ink, etc.) Yet, fundamentally, both serve the same purpose. We are organized and never wondering about the price of a work, the size of a piece, the date, etc. It makes filling out juried show entry forms a snap. It lists collectors. It is easy, too. I figured that "if this system is good enough for Stephen Chesley, it's good enough for me".

(Above: Jeff Donovan, another artist/friend, and Stephen Chesley in Stephen's Studio.)

(Above: The view of Stephen's studio from the door.)

This post might have ended here, except that recently I learned something else about this system. Steve and I went to the Edward Hopper exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. It was awesome. Edward Hopper's work has influenced many painters, including Stephen Chesley (who is suppose to be in DC this weekend looking at this show and the Turner Exhibition!) The exhibit is wonderful, all masterpieces. We wandered from one incredible room into another...somewhere along the way there was a Plexiglas covered pedestal. Inside were ledgers....ordinary ledgers with thumbnail sketches, measurements, dates, information...just like Stephen Chesley's catalog...just like mine! (To see images, click here.)

I was shocked. Later, back in Columbia, Stephen laughed. He thought he had told me that he always thought "that if it's good enough for Edward Hopper, it's good enough for me."

1 comment:

Wanda said...

I never thought about an inventory book. I do try to photograph all my work but can think of lots of things I didn't take pictures of. Maybe I don't have enough pieces to really worry about it but it sounds like a potential excel list and you know how I love those!!! ha ha