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The Bonus Paintings

The Bonus Paintings

How "finding your style" as an artist can lead to more freedom, rather than less - and some amazing experiences with the Bonus Paintings. 

* This might be useful for artists who are struggling to find their "style," so they can "brand their art" better to achieve better sales. 

Bonus Paintings

I am a creative person and fascinated by the processes of art in general, and my own responses and initiatives in the creative process in particular. In other words, I LOVE to play. Indeed, art is the ultimate place of play and freedom for me.

This has always been in deep conflict with the practical side of art, which includes recognition, being a collectible artist, selling art, creating a brand for my art, and all that jazz.

Of course, I've been thinking about this long and hard, over many years, decades now, and recently I have resolved the conundrum to my satisfaction.

Here it goes.

The whole "who you are as an artist" is really only a role you play so people recognise you.

Who you are as an artist is unknowable. It's hugely complicated, deeply personal, contains a myriad of conflicts as well as infinite creative potential.

It's also completely inexplicable in linear language or even conscious thought.

That's exactly the same as putting your entry on a dating website. You've got 500 words and six pictures to catch attention and define something in the viewer's mind, and that's it.

So what you do is to choose something that makes sense, is attractive to the right people.

Now here's the important part.

EVERYBODY KNOWS that you can't put "who you really are" on a dating website page. Everybody knows this. You don't have to make a big deal of it.

This introduction is only there to attract attention. The right people will go deeper. They will contact you, ask questions, and a relationship may develop.

Art and your art "brand" is just like that.

It's only there to attract attention and open the door for further communication and going deeper, eventually.

You can also think of it as a shop window in a busy town centre. What are you going to put into the window to attract attention and make people come inside?

That's the simple way forward so that people can literally "label" you as something.

"Oh I know that guy, he's the one who puts sharks into fish tanks."

"Oh yeah, that woman who paints the vibrant flowers."

"Ah ... isn't that this lady with the crazy squiggle paintings?"

Yes, that's right. That's her. We have a recognition of the existence of this one particular artist.

99.999% of people never get any further than that, and that's perfectly alright. They are highly unlikely to become your future patrons and collectors.

It's OK to have a gimmick, to have a label, to have a brand.

Remember, it's just there to attract attention and to make it easy to have something to say at the local networking meeting.

So pick something you like to do in art, never get tired of doing, and those things can't NOT have a "back story" of an event or an experience, and put that out in the shop window to attract attention.

Symbol Painting In Gold & Blue

Symbol Painting In Gold & Blue

Mixed Media on canvas, 20"x30" Silvia Hartmann November 2016

For me, that's the Symbol Paintings, and their descendants, the Symbol Hybrids. I can paint those forever and get something out of it every single time. Not a problem!

But so now, what about "all the rest of me as an artist"?

What about the experiments? The ongoing journey? Playing freely with all sorts of things?

How can I continue to develop as an artist if I get "stuck" on only doing Symbol Paintings to please the punters and make it easy to love/buy/recognise/collect real, original Silvia Hartmanns?

Ah ...

And here we have the concept of the Bonus Paintings.


The Bonus Paintings

So here I was, having just finished with a Symbol Painting (Gold and Blue, 2016) and it was only 2am and I'm high, buzzing, and surrounded by brushes, canvases and paints of every conceivable type.

What a brilliant time and space to play!

I was flying. I was happy. I was in the zone. And made for my own amusement and without looking over my shoulder at anyone at all, Story Island.

Story Island Painting

Story Island Bonus Painting

Acrylics/Mixed Media on canvas, 12"x16" Silvia Hartmann 2016

Which was followed by On The Shores Of The Universal Ocean and then I cleaned up and went to bed, blissfully happy.


On The Shores Of The Universal Ocean

Acrylics/Mixed Media, 6"x6" Silvia Hartmann 2016

As an aside, these two set up a movement that fed back on the Symbol Paintings and the very next day, I started one of those, Treasure Island, as well.


Symbol Hybrid "Treasure Island" under construction! Nov 11th 2016

Which can go in the shop window as a "classic Silvia Hartmann Symbol Hybrid painting."

I'm going to have all sorts of "Bonus Paintings" and other bonus art activities. I always did, anyway, but what I find surprising is that by deciding to go with the story of MODERN Energy Art and the Symbol Paintings as my "brand" and "artist statement" opened up this space to be more free than I've ever been.

It's like the entire stress has gone out of the processes, both ways.

I love doing Symbol Paintings. Absolutely LOVE it. Love them. Don't care how many people say, "It's another one of Silvia's squiggles ..." :-) I stopped myself from doing more of them because I was fearful I was going to get "stuck on Symbol Paintings" and jeopardize my own artistic development.

Now I can paint as many as I want! Yay!

But at the same time, the Bonus Paintings are the way forward, the wild inspirations, the failed experiments, the fun and game of being inside the processes and just following along, see where it leads, not a single thought given to "style" or any kind of looking over your shoulder at sales or what other people might think.

It's brilliant.

Having decide on the style, I now know what to put on the website up front for the casual visitors; what to put into exhibitions so folk can get to know me as the Symbol lady, and that's perfectly fine; and the Bonus Paintings (Bonus Art!) finds its home on my art blog.

Everybody's happy.

The conflict is resolved.

I'm *very* excited! :-)

It's one of those strange things. Like feeling more free after getting married than you did before - it's only when you feel like that that you know you've got the right person.

Making this commitment to one of the things (of the myriad, infinite, endless!) that you love to do and putting that up front in your shop window, as the profile pictures on the dating page, is the way forward for all the practical purposes.

And for the rest ...

... well ...

... there are the Bonus Paintings!



Silvia Hartmann

November 2016


Bonus Paintings from November 2016:


Story Island

Story Island


On The Shores Of The Universal Ocean - Acrylics/Mixed Media, 6"x6" Silvia Hartmann 2016




Gold River Bonus 4"x 8" Mixed Media on wood



Moon Flowers  - Acrylics/Mixed Media on canvas, 16"x20"


Pillars Of Creation - Acrylics/Mixed Media/Gold on canvas, 16"x20"

TBC ...!


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