TRANSCRIPT: Ep. 081 Why No One Wants Your Painted Rocks


Hey there, Miriam Schulman, and you’re listening to Episode Number 81 of the Inspiration Place podcast. Today we’re talking about why no one wants to buy your hand painted rock, why only your friends buy your art, a little bit about Michelangelo, as well as giving you a virtual tour through the perfect New York City day. So, for this whole potpourri, stay tuned.

Today’s episode is sponsored by the Artist Incubator. If you’re wondering how to skyrocket your success as a professional artist step by step, and if you’re ready to start investing in your art career, you’re in the right place. I’ve done it and I can show you how to do it, too, using the Passion to Profit framework. To learn more, go to, that’s B-I-Z.

It’s the Inspiration Place Podcast with artist Miriam Schulman. Welcome to the Inspiration Place Podcast. An art world inside a podcast for artists, by an artist, where each week we go behind the scenes to uncover the perspiration and inspiration behind the art. And now your host, Miriam Schulman.

Well, hey there. This is your host, artist Miriam Schulman, and you’re listening to Episode Number 81 of the Inspiration Place podcast. I am so happy that you’re here. Today, we’re talking all about you, Michelangelo and also the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In this episode, you’re going to discover my curated blueprint for a perfect New York City day, why nobody wants your hand painted rock, and maybe why only your friends are buying your art.

But before we get there, I wanted to tell you about the in-person New York City day that I’m hosting on April 24th, 2020. It’s an intimate New York City immersion. By the way, this event is 100% free for my Artist Incubator members, but since not all of them will be able to travel all the way to New York, I’ve decided to open up a very, very limited number of tickets to non-Incubator members.

Now, the complete exact itinerary is still in flux, but I want to share with you a taste about what’s happening. I want you to think of this not as a commercial for my live event because it really isn’t. This is actually a playbook about what you should do when you go to New York, but, of course, I’m hoping that you’re going to do it with me.

So I’m starting the day off in the Café Sabarsky. The Café Sabarsky bears the name of the Neue Galerie co-founder Serge Sabarsky. This cafe draws inspiration from the great Viennese cafes that served as important centers of intellectual and artistic life at the turn of the century. This makes the cafe the perfect meeting spot for a group of artists to begin our New York adventure.

It’s outfitted with period objects, including lighting fixtures from Josef Hoffmann and furniture by Adolf Loos and banquettes that are upholstered with a 1912 Otto Wagner fabric. It’s absolutely stupendous. There’s even a Bösendorfer grand piano in one corner of the cafe. Now we’re going to be there in the morning, so there’s most likely not going to be any live music. But if you are planning a trip to New York, just know that this particular cafe does do live cabaret. So, just something to know.

We’re going to enjoy this late breakfast together of whatever suits your fancy on the menu. But let me give you a sampling. So, the cafe is run by a Michelin-star chef, Kurt Gutenbrunner. He has basically a modern take on the culinary heritage with a menu, listen to this, I’m such a foodie, that reflects the history and allure of the Viennese cafe and restaurant tradition.

So here’s a sampling of the types of traditional foods they ate. And by the way, if you’re wondering what artists we’re talking about, Vienna is basically the home, Vienna and Austria both, are home places and major cultural art centers for not only some of the greatest musicians of all time, Mozart, Beethoven, but also artists Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, which has, and I’ll be talking more about the art in a moment, but the traditional delicacies that they ate, which are offered in this cafe are chilled smoked trout crepes with horseradish, Bavarian ham and cheese plate, and I don’t eat ham because I’m vegetarian, but no judgment if you do, smoked salmon with sour cream and cucumbers. And of course, it’s served with the finest Viennese coffee specialties. I noticed they even have matcha tea on the menu.

Now, one of the reasons I felt it’s really vital to include luxury items throughout the day is, as artists who maybe suffer from a starving artist’s mindset or a scarcity mindset, it’s super important to learn to be able to accept luxury and receive this kind of abundance into your life. And accepting abundance definitely takes practice. If you want to have the confidence to raise your prices, you have to be able to practice being in this kind of receiving mode and being to allow luxuries into your life. So besides being able to accept luxuries when you join me on this day, if you’re joining me, if you’re part of this special day, I’m going to love getting to know you while we’re getting high on sugar and caffeine.

Now the museum opens at 11:00 and we’re going to be the first to enter. This museum, as well as the cafe, don’t you love this art history lesson right now? So whether you come to New York with me or in the future, you’re going to be fully prepared. So this museum and cafe are housed in the center of an area known as Museum Mile. So, the reason it’s called that is because, in addition to this particular museum, it’s the Neue Galerie. And by the way, I have a very pretentious cousin who always corrects me and says, “No, Miriam, do you mean the Neue Galerie?” It gets me so pissed off. So this particular museum is on the corner of 86th Street and Fifth Avenue and along Fifth Avenue is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim and several other smaller institutions, Jewish museum, a few more.

The building itself was completed in 1914 by the same architects as the New York Public Library. It’s been designated as a landmark by the New York Landmarks Commission and it’s generally considered to be one of the most distinguished buildings ever erected on Fifth Avenue so that alone makes it a must go place. So the cafe, the architecture, at one point, this building was actually owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt and later this building was purchased by Ronald Lauder and Serge Sabarsky in 1994. And for those who don’t know, Ronald Lauder is part of the Estée Lauder family fortune. And the late Sabarsky was a famed art dealer as well as a friend of Ronald Lauder.

Besides being an unbelievably gorgeous building, the Neue Galerie New York is a museum devoted to early 20th century German and Austrian art and design. It’s a fairly intimate museum gallery. It’s on two exhibition floors, which I really love that because it’s not one of these overwhelming museums where you get like sensory overload. You can go through the highlights at a nice pace, but fairly quickly.

The collection features art from Vienna, circa 1900. And if you’re not sure yet why you should care about this, let me tell you, the most precious artwork in this collection is Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele, otherwise known as Woman in Gold. Yep. That painting. So, not only that painting, that’s not the only reason to visit this museum, as the German and Austrian collection also includes Egon Schiele, and other very important works. Highlights from the museum’s extensive collection of Austrian art from this period from about 1890 to about 1940, they’re going to be on view this spring, so you’re not going to want to miss out, especially this painting. I don’t think it’s always on exhibit at this museum, but it is on exhibit this spring. So, that is a must see painting for every artist to have on their bucket list. And I can’t wait.

All right, so if seeing Woman in Gold was on your bucket list, you can definitely now check this off. We’ll get our fill of this museum and now imagine yourself strolling down Fifth Avenue. So this event is planned for the end of April, which by the way, flu season will be over. I am not going to mention the dirty C word but that will be long in the rear view mirror by the end of April. And I do happen to know that both Delta as well as United are waving penalty fees for any travel booked between now and April 30th, so you are fully protected that way as well. But that’s not going to happen. Flu season will be long gone.

Let’s imagine that April 24th is a warm spring day and we’re going to walk along Fifth Avenue on the Central Park side of the street and that will serve both as a palate cleanser for the senses, as well as help us get some steps in after all that decadence at the cafe. Now the order of what follows is somewhat still in flux as I have to secure the afternoon meeting room and dinner reservations, but on the agenda for 100% sure is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So like I said, depending on timing, we’ll either head for lunch immediately to the Member’s Dining Room, which has views of Central Park, or we’ll go straight to the Dutch paintings of the 17th century.

What I have on the agenda today is seeing some of the greatest portraits of all time. So, the Dutch paintings are the Golden Age of Rembrandt, Hals, and Vermeer, and these paintings have been a highlight of the Met collection since the museum purchased it in 1871. This particular exhibition brings together some of the museum’s greatest paintings to really have a beautiful view of this chapter of art history and see it in a new light. So there’s 67 works of art that are organized thematically. If you’re a portrait painter like I am, bringing together in your mind’s eye the glory of the Austrian decadence of Gustav Klimt along with the quiet realism of the Dutch portraits and to have that juxtaposition in the same day, will be completely life altering for you.

Now, the other thing I want to point out, this exhibition also provides the opportunity to view rarely exhibited paintings including a woman artist, Margaretha Haverman. Her painting ‘A Vase With Flowers’ is one of only two known paintings by this artist and the only painting by an early Dutch woman currently in the Met collection. Now I want to point out to you that hardly any women artists had access to nude models and that’s why they became still life specialists and painted flowers instead of the portrait and the figure. It’s so important to celebrate women artists and I know a lot of you love to paint flowers as well. So to celebrate this woman’s art is really important.

Now since this day is planned for April 24th, it might be possible that the rooftop of the Met is open. I checked the Met’s website two different places. One said the rooftop doesn’t open till May, but another said mid-April, weather permitting. So, let’s cross our fingers because hands down you will get the best views of Manhattan from the Met rooftop.
Now after lunch, the plan is to meet for an afternoon of masterminding, coaching, and brainstorming all about your business. And I do have a theme for this workshop day. So what I plan on doing is pulling out one of the fundamental pieces from my Passion to Profit framework. So if you haven’t listened to the Passion to Profit framework, we will link that in the show notes. You can go listen to that.

One of my most frequently asked questions are all about pricing. So, the theme of this workshop is the Profit Planning framework and a lot of what we’re talking about today in this episode has to do with profit and pricing your art, so listen up. The day is going to be capped off with dinner and a final evening session. So like I said, the Dutch paintings might be the evening session instead of the afternoon, but that’s the outline for the curated adventure.

Now if this sounds like a dream day for you, you can go to as in New York City, to reserve your spot. Like I said, this is free for my Artist Incubator members because I’m essentially buying their tickets. Because I want to keep this event cozy and exclusive, there may be as few as four tickets available for non-members. I’m not planning on hosting a huge conference. This is meant to be an intimate, exclusive event. You get yourself to New York City and I’ll treat you to all the luxuries of a beautiful and inspiring art day from museum passes and food. I truly hope you can join me.

All right, now let’s go on with today’s content. What I thought I’d share with you today are those things that are coming up most frequently during my Passion to Profit planning sessions. If you choose to apply for an Artist Incubator program, you do get a free Passion to Profit planning session with me. I do these sessions to make sure anyone who wants to join the Incubator is a good match and will get the most out of the program.

But a really huge side benefit for me that I’ve been enjoying while doing these calls is I get so many ideas for what to talk about during this podcast. So what’s going to follow is basically a potpourri of some of the things that have come up.

And by the way, if you were one of those folks who applied and these stories sound familiar, don’t worry and please don’t be embarrassed because the reason I’m sharing it here is because your situation is not particular. Whatever it is, it came up several times so you’re not some kind of special snowflake. Your problems and struggles are shared by many of my listeners, whether these were your answers on the application, whether you’ve written into me or they were shared during the call. I hear the same stories over and over again and that’s why I’m sharing them here on the podcast.

So let’s start with one of my favorites. I’m going to call it ‘no one wants to buy my hand painted rock.’ Okay. No, this is actually a little more of an exact story that was pulled from one person’s, I forget if it was an email comment on my blog or whatever, or Facebook comment, but the truth is I’ve heard this exact frustration from many people who wants to sell things that are cheap, like single handmade greeting cards for $7 each, or in this case, hand painted rocks for $20 or $30 each.

So here’s what this artist shared and I am going to call her Susan. Here’s what she wrote. “Here’s the thing, I don’t paint on canvas. I paint on rocks. So my “audience” is somewhat limited. Most folks admire my work, but don’t consider it “real art”. I can’t find the right venue to sell it. Any ideas?”

And by the way, I do want to point out to you that most of the time people know what their problem is and they just don’t want to admit that this should be a problem. Like notice how this person knows. She knows the problem is that she doesn’t paint on canvas and it’s hard to find an audience. My ideas, okay, listen, whether you paint on rocks, on Mason jars or you make a record sculpture or you offer $7 greeting cards and you know that you can’t ask a lot for that because well, at the end of the day it’s just a rock.

Hey, why not paint on canvas? What the heck is stopping you? Then you’ll be able to offer that same art on prints when you photograph and reproduce it because it’s pretty damn hard to photograph a rock and you’ll be able to make greeting cards from it, printed greeting cards and make calendars and heck, you’ll be even able to ask $400 maybe, it depends how large it is, for that same painting so a collector can hang it on their wall. Because what are they going to do with a rock?

I hear this, I’m calling it the painted rock problem, in more subtle ways. So, for example, an artist shared with me, “I do charcoal drawings and they don’t command as much.” I don’t want to squash anyone’s creativity, but you do know that works on paper are not as highly valued as works on canvas or even works with color like watercolor or pastel.

And you do know that there’s a framing expense whether that is absorbed by you, the artist, and therefore you have to mark up the work accordingly, or the collector who is purchasing it either has to absorb your framing costs or has to spend the money to frame it themselves. Where the canvas, it’s either less expensive to frame it or they can even enjoy it without a frame.

So one way to immediately increase your profits is to offer art that you can charge higher prices for. Now if you, my friend, are not a rock painter, I took that because that was probably the most obvious example. But I do get emails from other people like they’re painting on Mason jars or they’re doing something else that’s very crafty and they’re frustrated. Don’t assume this story doesn’t apply to you because I know it has applied to me in the past and it’s something we all fall victim to.

So instead of maybe a hand painted rock, maybe you’re working hours to design a $5 magnet or a $10 pin, and though there may be more of a market for pins than rocks, you can spend a heck of a lot of time on an item that sells for only a little bit and it’s really, really hard to make up the volume of what you’re doing.

Let me explain to you if your goal or if you need to make $50,000 a year to make it as a living, as an artist, whatever it is you’re offering, if it’s a $5 item, you have to sell 10,000 of them. 10,000 that’s a lot. And if it’s a $10 item, you still have to sell a lot. You have to sell 5,000. And even if it’s a $50 item, well then you have to still find a thousand people to buy that $50 item.

So it’s so much easier to sell 50 paintings for $1,000 each or 25 paintings for $2,000 each. Does that make sense? Like I said, even if you’re not painting on rocks, ask yourself, “How long did you spend on that eight inch painting?” You know people like to do those eight by eight inch paintings and would your time have been better off working larger or faster? Maybe it takes you just as long to make a 20 inch painting as an eight inch painting. So think about how can you work larger, faster, or in some cases, a different medium.

Now if you’re just painting for fun, hey, no judgment, but if you want to make a business out of it, you have to make things that people actually want to pay money for and they want to pay lots of it.

Now I can hear the naysayers out there. You want to be a real artist. You want to paint what inspires you and in the way that inspires you and in the moment that inspires you, which is why I want to talk today about Michelangelo.

Now I’ll hear a lot of people tell me that they want to be a true artist. They want to paint the way they want to paint, whether that’s on a rock or you do works on paper and no one is saying you shouldn’t do all those things. You can be as creative as you want, but if you want to make a thriving business out of it, you have to be willing to serve your customers.

So what the heck does that have to do with Michelangelo? All right, my friend, did you know that Michelangelo was a commissioned artist? Let me let that sink in. A commissioned artist, okay? In fact, he hated, hated painting. He never wanted to paint the, wait for it, Sistine Chapel because he considered himself a sculptor. And not that he did the sculpting for fun, either, because all of his famous works were commissioned by the Medici family or by the Pope.

Ask yourself, is the Sistine Chapel not real art? Does that make Michelangelo a sellout? That means you’re very much a real artist if you take commissions and you’re in the same category as Michelangelo, just like Michelangelo, if it’s good enough for him, well, it’s good enough for me. My most successful clients and students are the ones who have successfully leveraged their skills to offer commissions. This is what’s most lucrative.

If you’ve been listening to my podcast, you know that portraits were the key to building my career as an artist, which is another reason why I’ve included so many famous portraits as part of the New York City day, from Woman in Gold to the Dutch paintings and in fact I’m considering, if time allows, to add Joan of Arc, which is also at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s a humongous painting. I want to say it’s floor to ceiling in a really huge hallway, unbelievably breathtaking. So, these portraits are going to be ruling the day of the New York City adventure.

For those of you who want to learn how to paint portraits themselves, and I’ve been getting a lot of emails from people wondering when I’m offering that training again, I will be offering lots of free training in the way of videos and more podcast episodes about how I got started as a portrait artist and more. Keep looking for those. I’ll be sharing stories of my first commissions on Facebook Live, as well as the podcast, and just keep looking for those. They’re going to be, I believe, we’re starting all that the last week of April into May.

Meanwhile, let’s get back to helping you with your problems right now because the next problem that I want to address that I hear from so many people is only my friends buy my art. Oh, my God. I hear this complaint all the time and here’s the thing. Do you know why your friends are the only ones who buy your art? Do you know? I think I do. It’s probably because they’re the only ones who knows about it. And another variation I hear is that my coworkers buy my art and I don’t want to charge them. And to that, I ask, why not? I mean, your coworkers are charging you for Girl Scout cookies, so why can’t charge them for your art? Meanwhile, your coworkers are people with jobs.

So here’s what I want to say for all of y’all who are selling art to your friends and your coworkers. Of course they want to buy your art and the reason why is because they feel connected to you, the artist. That is what I’m teaching inside this podcast is how to build authentic connections with collectors. You already have those authentic connections with your friends. One of the main reasons people buy art is they feel connected either to the subject matter or the artist or both.

And besides once somebody has collected your art, whether it was a stranger you met at an art show, you’re now going to start treating them as a friend. And once somebody has collected your art and now they become your friends, do you stop charging them? Do you see what I mean?

Here’s what you can do if you still feel the little, tiniest bit squeamish is you can offer what I call the repeat collector discount. It’s usually about 10% and if you choose, you can also extend the same discount as a friends and family discount.

My friend, Money Mindset Mentor, Denise Duffield-Thomas calls this a mate’s rates. We talk about that as well as not undercharging for your art in Episode Number 33. I’ll make sure these are linked up in the show notes, that’s for all the show notes.

Now, if you’re excited about what I’m sharing today, you’re definitely going to want to join me in New York. This is just the tip of the iceberg about the Profit Planning Workshop. When you come to New York, we can sit down, we can actually talk about how to price your art.

So that’ll do for this episode, but before we go, I want to offer you the opportunity to learn how to perfectly price your art for profits. In this episode, I shared some of the common missteps and limiting beliefs, but with a little personal guidance and the right group of people around you, the sky’s the limit.

That’s why I want to invite you to join me in New York for the Profit Planning Workshop and visit some of the greatest portrait masterpieces of all time. Like I’ve said before, this one day event is included for my Artist Incubator small group coaching program, but I am making the New York City day available to all my podcasts listeners, but the tickets won’t last for long. There’s only a few available. Just go to

One more thing. So important. If you do invest in this one day immersion with me and then later decide to join the Incubator, your fee will totally be applied to the program. So if you want to join the Incubator program first, it’s an even deeper dive into what you learned in this episode, how to price and market your art, the biggest mistakes to avoid and you’ll get regular coaching calls with me to make sure you’re making the progress you want to make.

Currently we only have room for a handful of new artists, so if you’re serious about making a living from your art but are struggling, then this can be for you. More information about the Artists Incubator can be found at, that’s B-I-Z. And since it’s by invitation only, you can’t sign up unless you apply.

Now, if you’re not sure if you’re ready for that next step, I do have a free assessment you can take. You’ll find the assessment at It breaks down your art marketing personality, figures out where you’re at in your art journey, and will give you the next best steps. All right, so come back next week, same time, same place. Bye for now.

Thank you for listening to the Inspiration Place Podcast. Connect with us on Facebook at, on Instagram, @SchulmanArt and of course, on

If you liked this episode, then you have to check out the Artist Incubator. It’s my small group program for emerging artists who want to make more money from their art. The program is by application only. To apply, go to, that’s biz as in B-I-Z. If you qualify for a free strategy session, you’ll get my eyes on your art business absolutely free, and we’ll discuss the steps you need to take to make 2020 your best year ever.

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