Saturday, October 1, 2016


I was asked to post about art collecting from the vantage of an artist . I am happy to do so and will describe what I have learned from my three years of renting a studio in the arts district of NE Minneapolis.

A little back ground so you know where I am coming from. I am an architect by day and an artist by night. Each has a lot to do with creating and drawing in ways that hopefully affect people.  I love both of my jobs, yet they are two jobs so I run a double life and that double life goes well into the evenings!  I also teach art once a week at White Bear Center for the arts.

My advice on collecting and obtaining art is going to have less to do with galleries but more with artist working studio, open studio events and commissions.  Most of my work is primarily shown in my studio and in local restaurants and not galleries primarily because my art life is in the evening and it is hard to network galleries outside of business hours.  As I get closer to retirement I will go this route but for now I paint or draw every day and have my studio open at every opportunity.

There are online galleries such as Invaluable :, Etsy, Blue Canvas (before they closed),  and my gallery on Behance. Behance is more of a portfolio site and not as much for selling.  I simply need to put more effort into galleries and online, but with my limited time frame if new work is flowing I am going to give precedence to creating and then marketing during any creative ebb.

Open studios are a great place to see how the art is made, meet the artist, and visit repeatedly.  I will often get 3 or 4 visits before someone makes a purchase, but even on these non-purchase visits an artist will thrive on the conversation and encouragement.  It is also interesting to see which pieces get attention!  It certainly changes.

When visiting this is your chance to ask questions and by all means negotiate. When an artist has work in a gallery they have to add the galleries 25%-50% (and higher) commission.  So many people are afraid to throw out a number because they might offend. This not the case and can be fun.  I tend to be firmer on art that is framed because of the work I have in it, my options of where to market it, and your ease of just driving nail and hanging it. 

HOWEVER, at least in my studio, make me an offer on what I haven’t yet framed. I believe that is where the deals are. You will need to go and get it framed and there is expense there, but I love it. The art is my take and the frame makes it fit your house. I am in a constant struggle of what to get framed, and what to just plastic bag.  My wall has a portion of simple clipboards for this work. My happy medium is to matte frame and hinge a piece. It’s affordable to me and allows you to by a stock frame that matches your house.

I believe I make more off of commissions than art off the wall, but that varies through the year.  In NE Minneapolis all of the studios are encouraged to be open on the first Thursday of the month. I believe St Paul does something similar on Fridays.  We have an ever growing ART-A-WHIRL in the spring that will bring 2,000-3,000 people through our studio.  Sales are strange and the crowd is there for the live music and beer as much as art but I typically sell 20-30 small pieces and pick up repeat visitors that turn into commissions through the year.

Also, if you don’t see anything in your price range, tell the artist what your price range is. I promise in a working studio they probably have boxes of studies, or partials that you may dearly love. Some studies are among my favorites but I am not sure others like it enough to give it wall real estate.

Commissions are fun and funny.  It is the difference in seeing something you love and buying it versus paying for something you hope you will love. 
Honest advice on getting the best commission? Give simple direction on what you want and what you love about the artist work but little else. The more freedom you give the artist the easier it is for the artist to do something that sings.  Also even if you see high dollar work on the wall but your budget is $100, be upfront about it. Most artists can work backward on size, or details, etc while still producing something you love.  Your house probably only has so many walls capable of large art anyway.  Even if you can’t come to an agreement, ask away. You have no idea how much the encouragement and interest mean.

BUT, DON’T ask any one to do work for exposure.  Especially here in the cold north you can die of exposure.

Honestly when you buy an artist work, and especially if you buy straight from the artist, you are helping to make this part of persons life possible.

By what you love, and tell the artist you love it. (I also give a discount if I can tell someone is floored by something). If you are going for the working studios route you are more likely to get on the ground floor.

Also I love the quote, “ Please buy from a living artist, the dead ones don’t need the money!”

In my part of North East Minneapolis you can visit a dozen or more great studios but the 3 I am most familiar with are
 My own – Solar Arts Building – - about 20 artists and a great community. Indeed Brewery is on the first floor and a great place to start.

Northrup King Building – - Huger than Huge and amazing stuff.

Casket Arts building –

There are ton more, but one disadvantage of having an open studio is that limits you ability to wander to other peoples studios.

I hope this was helpful.  Love open studios so come and visit and take something home! My door has the big T-Rex on the second floor of the solar arts building. I draw or paint every day so it is always changing.  I am a bit buried in artwork right now and would love get more work out there so don't be afraid to make an offer!

Friday, September 2, 2016

2016 State Fair Sketches

4th year in a row!

A twisted sister sausage is always my warm up sketch.

Liene lodge while the first dried. Experimenting with very non water proof ink and watercolor. 

The butterfly house. 

A nice on the spot commission sparked by a conversation while painting the butterfly house. 

Painted the gate from the Irish pub across the path. Very quick and starting to get dark. 

The Poultry Barn was closing soon so I only had 20-30 minutes so I had to move fast. 

And then finally some people practice before going home. 

Another great year and great group. One of my students participated and that was fun and saw so many artists I know. Lisa and I agreed to make each other submit for the Fine Arts Show next year. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Water Soluble Carbon Dark Tower

With all of the talk about Stephen Kings Dark Tower series I thought I would share my take.  Or what turned out to be a take.  I did this water soluble carbon piece in a hotel room on a business trip.  After long meetings I often need to paint.  While traveling especially.

I gave this to Todd Beaver for Christmas one year. A fellow Dark Tower fan.

Keep Drawing!

James Nutt

Spoon and Cherry- a favorite sketch

If you know Minneapolis you know about this huge Spoon and Cherry sculpture.  This is an urban sketch done while sketching with the Metro Sketchers.  The original is hanging at the White Bear Center for the arts and I have professional prints on water color paper at my studio for $75.

This is done with my travel inkwash technique of older water pens filled with ink applied with a water pen filled with water. 

The red is Noodlers Cayenne, the blacks are Noodlers Lexington Grey and Black.


This smaller version is from my daily sketchbook.  I can't remember which came first.

Keep Drawing!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Pecha Kucha - Things that inspire my art life

My architecture firm does an annual Pech Kucha presentation and invited me to participate. This is a 20 slide presentation with 20 seconds per slide.  Really fun and went quickly!  I decided to try to describe my current art path and things and people that have encouraged me along the way.

Maybe someday I will type what I spoke, but for not this will have to do.  I am also committing to reengaging with this blog. I have let is sit for a long time.

Hope you enjoyed it!

Keep Drawing

James Nutt
Solar Arts Building

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Balcony Painting in Mittenwald!

This This Painting in Mittenwald - Die Zirbelnuss

This was my window balcony view for a few days at a wonderful air b&b. I spent a lot of time painting out here trying different techniques of the same view. 

This is evening using a warm triad color mix. I was working in a wet on wet style that I am trying to get better at. I learned a lot here and am excited to try a larger format with some of the photos I took. This is 8.5 x 11 on toned paper (I have never water colored on toned paper and this Magnani Annigoni Designo stuff is crazy nice)

I can't decide if this one is done but I realize I haven't signed and dated. 

My slightly expanded in I am using my real brushes instead of my water pen. I also took a box of assorted 8.5x11 papers to experiment with. 

Same view but a very very different take. I have better pictures but this was the light during the some of the paintings. Really fun. Complete wet in wet painting technique giving up tons of control. This is on 300 pound arches paper which is unfortunately on the back of another painting. This was an accident and I am so lucky I didn't ruin it!

And finally an attempt at the wonderful steeple. I enjoyed this painting and would like to do larger versions. 

Super fun....more to come!

James Nutt

Friday, May 15, 2015

Art-A-Whirl 2015 - Come and See Us

Art-A-Whirl is Here Again! Come and See Us
I didn't realize that I hadn't posted this blog entry from Art-A-Whirl 2014!
Come and see our new space in the same building.  We are excited to show work from this year and meet tons of people.
Our space in the middle of the hall on the 2nd floor of the Solar Arts Building which houses - Indeed Brewery.
711 NE 15th Ave
711 NE 15th Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55413
4 artist share this space. 1 photographers and 3 architect needed an art outlet! Plus Leo has his space and his work on display.
A few pictures from prep this week

AND A REPOST FROM LAST YEAR simply because it was so much fun.
The place was packed all weekend!  Really wonderful to meet so many people and discuss art.  We worked so hard to get this set up and it was worth it.

This image is typical of how many people were in the studio the whole time. Leo really did great with the people and even tried to sell some art.
My friend Pat Mackey stopped by wearing the required architect black shirt.

The T-Rex! got the most attention of everything I had posted. I sold several prints.  T-Rex! is back in Hazels NE for the time being.  I have sold prints to or created new cardboard pieces for several people since the show.

Lots of friends who stopped by are in this picture.


The NewStudio Architecture crew came by!

Indeed Brewery and the band outside kept the place packed. There was so much fun stuff going on that it was crazy.

Leo had fun.

Our hallways are also art galleries. We are at the end of the hall so this gives a good indication of how busy it stayed.

Another shot of the common space.


The space is was only empty before the start and after!
Art-A-Whirl was a blast.  We will be open most First Thursdays if anyone wants to visit and see what we are up to. Thanks for all the support of our art. It really helps!
James Nutt