Article: “Painter Manifests through Positivity”

Painter manifests through positivity
Justina Selinger sells art without effort

Think you can’t make plenty of money as a fine artist? Meet Justina Selinger.

“Most artists are pessimists,” Selinger says. She runs her fingers through the fur of her sleepy cat,
who personifies life without a care. “I never worry about tomorrow.
I am not a what-iffer. I believe in good things.”

Those good things have a way of finding Selinger, whose studio and gallery are located near Occidental, CA. After taking a year off without selling much art, she recently had visitors from the East Coast—a couple who own the Embassy Circle Guest House in Washington D.C. The clients bought 23 of Selinger’s paintings, including her biggest one priced at $8,000. “They about cleaned me out!” Selinger says, laughing.

“I am good at manifesting,” she notes. “Things happen on their own. People put so much energy into trying to promote themselves because they feel a lack. If you come from that point of view, you don’t draw energy. You cancel it. When I started painting, selling my work never entered my mind.”

At first, “I could not draw worth beans,” she recalls. So she took drawing and composition classes at a junior college. Despite no previous art training, she got an A+ in her first class. Attracted to simplicity, she painted luminescent barns, stripping away every element except key shapes, colors and shadows. Light became her plaything, and she trained her eye to see true colors. In one of her paintings, she points out, sunlight and flowers lend their yellowish hue to a blue wall.

As her talent emerged, she focused on craft, learned the language of art and visited museums. The first painting she sold, “Red Barn”, became her trademark, her logo. It was only 12 inches by 14, but it brought $500. “I was thrilled to bits,” Selinger says. Later she sold the same image in a much larger work suitable for a big space. Artrails accepted her to show work two weekends a year, which helped bring buyers.

Many years ago Selinger immigrated from Germany to the United States with a boyfriend, obtained a green card (and later American citizenship) and landed a job sewing police uniforms in New York. In San Francisco, she worked in cosmetics for the Emporium, then for a decade as a hairdresser. She met her husband, a doctor, in the city.

If you paint on commission, ask for a deposit, Selinger recommends. The client for one commissioned work complained that the paint was not of uniform thickness across the canvas. Astonished at the thickness of this gentleman’s perspective, Selinger replied: “I did not paint it with a roller.” She took back the canvas, which hung on her wall for three years. One day she glanced at the painting and spoke to it: “It’s time for you to leave.” Sure enough, a few months later it sold.

Selinger has never had much discipline as a painter. Instead she paints when she’s motivated.

“I have periods where I paint and paint and paint, then I rest.
I know people who paint as if they were going to a job.”

“Until the right person comes along, a painting will not sell, even if you promote it from here to China.”

Life, to Selinger, is rife with adventure. “Which avenue do you go down? This one? Or one that is straight and narrow and safe? There is always money to be made, plenty for everybody. Many people feel there is not enough.”

With painting and with any career, “Come from a place of enjoyment,” Selinger says. “Feel good while you are doing it. If you are bored, the person looking at it will be bored.”

Unlike some artists, she has made little of her money by showing her work in galleries. “It’s word-of-mouth,” Selinger says. “I have done very well that way. You have to get rid of your fears that you can’t do it!”

– By James Dunn

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For More Information:

About Justina
Article: Justina Selinger – Artist Profile
Article: Artwork at Embassy Circle Guest House
Printed Postcard Series

Justina Selinger painting in her studio

Justina Selinger painting in her studio

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