Ever since I was very small I think I’ve hankered after a sea view. And now as an artist I think I want to give everyone a room with a view.
Like lots of people I associate the sea with holidays, whether its an overcast day on a British beach, or a tropical paradise; the sea often means well deserved R&R.
For us Brits, an island nation, we’re never further than 73 miles from the sea and I think there is a collective love and awe of the seas around us.
For quite a chunk of my 20s I lived very near the sea (about two rows back from it) and it undoubtedly still features in my work.
When I moved away from Bournemouth, my husband found us a house with an amazing view and a studio already build in the garden. The view isn’t the sea, but it’s wonderful, huge and expansive. On the North side of Salisbury ( the 7th best city in the world to visit according to Lonely Planet), we overlook the valley to see the ancient origin of the city, Old Sarum.
Most landscape artists are obsessed with light; the immense skies above me serve as a constant inspiration. The landscape below so often acts just like a seascape, reflecting the sky above, creating a mood and atmosphere. Reminding me, and ultimately any viewer of my paintings, of a place, feeling or emotion.
I am often working on landscapes based on the areas around Salisbury, but have most recently been working on my coastal collection. Largely inspired by the Dorset coastline, but also sometimes reminiscent of places further afield. The light in the sky can be bright and strong from the tropics, or warm pinks reminding us of the French impressionists, golden Italian light and even blue and grey shades of Britain. My experiences and the view in front of me inform my work.
There isn’t a political message in my coastal collection, nor a hidden agenda. It’s quite simply about giving everyone room with a view. Art can do that. Art can make our living space beautiful. We can wake up to a cup of coffee and a sea view in our kitchen, without moving house, so long as we have art.
As Denholm Elliot’s character Mr Emmerson said in A Room with a View “Why shouldn’t they have their view if they want it?”
Go on, have your view, if you want it.
Someone attempted to scam me today. But you’ve got to get up early in the morning to catch this bird!
I have to give thanks and praise to the great Facebook group Art fair buddies, as I first saw a version of this scam on there, which meant the pattern of events seemed all too familiar from the start!
Here’s how it all went.
I have a work of art in the featured section of the 'Artists and Illustrators' website this month.
I could have sold that piece five times over. It was actually sold last week.
Since then I’ve had a number of emails asking about it.
This afternoon, I received an email from another potential customer. I sent a, now well rehearsed, email directing them to similar works, and to my own website to see if something else appeals to them.
Their reply though gave me alarm bells.
"Thanks for your mail,i want you to get back to me with your pay pal invoice for the payment now..”
Gosh, I thought, they’re keen. They want me to invoice them, even though the work has sold. Wowser, I must very sought after!
So I sent a nice little email, reiterating that it was sold, but was there another painting they’d spotted that they wanted me to invoice them for?
So they sent this back.
Title of email GET BACK TO ME NOW OK
and the content was: "Okay,i want you to get back to me with the picture of other painting you have that is very closed to the one i choose,get back to me with the last price and you pay pal email".
Big huge red alarm bells.
This person is keener than anyone I’ve ever met to be invoiced for a painting. Any painting. Doesn’t matter to them.
So sent them another email, again thanking them for their continued interest (I’m beginning to feel like the tape of Slartybartfast in 'Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy' putting off potential customers to Magarathea)
Anyhoo, I sent them a picture that didn’t look much like the one they liked in the first place, and the price I quoted was double the price advertised on my website! Nice huh? And that I would need to know their address to calculate shipping costs.
Here was the mystery buyers response.
"i will take this one okay..and i want you to get back to me with your pay pal invoice for the payment now,i want you to no that I have a private courier agent that will come for the pickup after payment has been made, so no shipping included. I'll need your name, the pickup address or location for the pick up “
The following actions have now been taken.
Artists and Illustrators have been contacted, they agree; its a scam. Course it is.
Paypal has been contacted, they agree; its a scam. Course it is.
It works because they can get their money back from paypal in a dispute, after the painting has been picked up. If you don’t ship it yourself and have a tracking number you’re not insured.
So they end up with their payment back and they've got your painting!
So please please pass this on to any entrepreneurs selling on the internet. Paypal, broadly speaking is great as it protects the customer, and thus customers feel inclined to buy from businesses offering paypal payments. But this is a great little loop hole that naughty people have found.
Incidently, as I write, I’m’ still getting emails from my mystery buyer telling me "you no what,their is no problem with the courier service agent that amusing" (come on kids, count the mistakes in that one) and, “why don’t you send me you invoice for payment NOW”
Because you’re not an artist…you’re a con artist and I’m not playing.
I have just revisited my Right-brain business plan, and I am amazed at how much this has helped me plan my business. I started using on Jennifer Lee’s book "The Right Brain Business Plan" a couple of years ago. Back then, it was purely theoretical.
My life has changed, and now I’m full time self-employed and loving every minute. And I thought it was probably time to re-visit my plan.
The concept of the right brain business plan is for creative people (supposedly Right Brained thinkers) to get their heads around the problems of going into a successful business. Businesses require planning, businesses require an understanding of the bottom line, and having a strategy.
Jennifer Lee’s Right brain business plan book, allows creative types to work in their naturally creative way whilst still working towards a sensible achievable business plan.
Deep down I think the way we can all achieve more, and use our brains more effectively is to use both sides of the brain. But when you consider how “left brained” and activity writing a business plan is; spreadsheet on sales and expenditure, net and gross profit, legal issues etc etc. It makes sense to be more creative in the planning stages, before you get to the formal written part.
There are lots of techniques to use, Jennifer is a particular fan of collage, but you can use all sorts of visual stimuli to help you understand what your real business values are.
The right brain business plan isn't a walk in the park though, you really have to drill down and work out what it is you're offering your customers, who your customers are, and how you are going to manage the moolah! You have to do considerable research; no SWAGs allowed (silly wide-assed guesses).
My business plan incorporates a variety of techniques. I began with an accordion book collage, my first collage was created two years ago and I've stuck with the basic principles I created then. However almost everything else in my plan has now been re-vamped.
I have to consider my core values; what really makes me tick in business. I have to consider who my ideal customers are and how I should speak to them. How should I get the word out beyond spending lots of money on advertising; there has to be a more creative way to find out where my customers are and how I can send them a clear message.
You have to be really specific to with your business plan, no vague ideas allowed! I have to make sure I have all my action steps in place and a date for when those action steps will be achieved, that way I increase my chances of success considerably.
I also have a section on ‘milestones’. When will I be able to celebrate those little victories when I have achieved what I set out to do.
Like all business plans you have to face up to the reality of making money. You can be creative in the way that you make the money but you still have to to address the problem of spreadsheets.
My business spreadsheets and business accounts do not appear on my visual business plan board but they are addressed in the book and I found it extremely helpful to approach them in a creative way. It keeps me inside my comfort zone when I'm feeling least comfortable!
My big Right brain business plan board also begins to cover Jennifer's second book “Building your business the right brain way”.
I have mapped out my Entrepreneurial ecosystem. This again looks at my core values, it looks at what I offer my customers, and how I can attract them. It also makes me consider how I can be supported by other experts in my field.
It also helps you plan your year ahead, sometimes thinking in terms of the seasons can be extremely helpful if you're selling creative merchandise. Mapping out Mothering Sunday, Valentines day and Bonfire night are all opportunities to reach your customers with seasonal merchandise.
Sometimes you can get lost in the myriad of things you have to do as a solo entrepreneur. The Right brain business plan helps me prioritise what I should be doing and when. It stops me getting lost. It's not so much a plan, its a map! Its a visually stimulating, inspirational map that can keep me on track.
Do you wish you knew how to navigate your way into the art world?
There are plenty of articles, blogs and books for artists, on how to approach galleries to sell their work. There are almost as many books on how to sell without gallery representation.
But there doesn’t seem to be much advice for first time collectors to buy art!
So here are some ideas you might want to try.
Have a good look at your home. Where do you want to put your artwork? Have you got a minimum or maximum size? Have you got pallette in mind?
Have a look in your locality.
Go to a small gallery (often they are coffee shops too) and start working out what sort of things you like, and how much they cost. You don’t have to buy from the gallery then and there, you can browse.
Go to an art fair. Small or large you’ll find something that will at least help you hone your eye and make up your mind what you like.
Some art fairs are for galleries to show the work of artists they represent, others deal directly with the artist. Either way, its good to go and have a look. Collect plenty of flyers and cards so the you can look them up later.
Keep you eyes open in hospitals, hotels, restaurants - many artists are showcasing their work now in public places. They might not be for sale, but you’ll get a name to look up later.
Don’t be afraid of asking how much. Some galleries and some artists don’t put their prices on their work. I’m surprised by this, as it takes courage to ask. But have that courage. You don’t have to buy, just ask them. You don’t have to say anything after they’ve told you!
Have a look online - Artists and Illustrators, etsy, artists network, local arts groups (mine is Plain Arts Salisbury) - you’ll pick up lots of leads.
Most professional artists have their own websites, but you might not be able to find them based on a google search. Once you have a name go directly to the site.
Some artists have an online store, but many don’t; don’t be put off by this. You might be able to arrange a time to visit their studio.
If you make an appointment to see an artist in their studio, keep that appointment - they will have set aside time for you. Do not worry about buying straight away, Often artists anticipate visitors to their studio, might end up commissioning work rather than buying what’s already there. Often couples visit together, want to go away and think about it, then come back and buy.
If you have seen their website, or work elsewhere, and you like it; tell the artist you’d like to see something similar. If an artist is setting up for an exhibition, they may have far too much work to display in their studio, give them a chance to show you what you wanted to see.
If you feel unable to approach an artist to arrange your own appointment, then email them asking if they are doing any open studio events in the future. They’ll get back to you with date you can visit.
Try to have some alone time! I always try to leave any clients alone for a bit (I offer them a cup of tea and go off to make it) that way they can have a moment to get to grips with the work without pressure. Many artists do the same.
Ask them about their work.
Ask them about the medium they are working in.
Tell them where you’re thinking about putting the work - they might have a great idea for you. Discuss what you might want, even if you're still unsure. The artist will want to help you.
It’s probably not the best idea to be over critical to the artist, but you don’t need to give the false praise either. If you really don’t want to buy or commission anything, thank them for their time and leave politely.
If you want to buy; go for it! Artists who scrunch their noses up at smaller budgets are silly! Start with the work you like, if that’s too expensive ask if they have anything in your budget. Many savvy artists take the time to ensure they have a variety of works at different prices for this very reason.
You can ask the artist to buy on approval. Many artists will be willing to give you a refund if you don’t like the work, within a couple of weeks. You will of course have to return the work in pristine condition.
Some artists offer payment plans, but these tend to be for more expensive works.
If you commission a piece of work, artists tend to want a minimum of 20%-50% deposit and can ask for more. Make your mind up what you think is fair, and discuss this with the artist.
Some artists won’t be able to sell you work if their work is appearing at a gallery at that time. it depends on the contract they have with the gallery. Some artists don’t deal with galleries at all because of this restriction.
I’m not anti-gallery at all. I love them. Big ones, small ones, local ones, international ones. But there are times when artists get a raw deal in some galleries and it puts them off working with them. I love seeing galleries in every town and city and would honestly love to see more. But I need to explain to you what might be the circumstance for some artists in some galleries.
Galleries have huge overheads and often take 50% commission. If the gallery has big turnover they’ll have to add VAT as well taking their commission. (Some solo artists don’t have to charge VAT directly to the customer if their turnover is under £79,000). This means that for some artists, if a gallery sells their work for £400 the artist will only receive £120. When you consider the price of the raw materials and the hours it took to make the work, the artist might be paying themselves virtually nothing to produce the work!
So when you buy direct, artists are able to set their prices more realistically for you and for them.
It’s honestly a really lovely experience visiting an artists studio. I love welcoming people to mine and showing them my work and how I create it.
You’d be welcome...
I have just returned from an arty break in Paris. Despite several visits to Paris over the years, there was one particular museum that had escaped me, this time I had to make a visit; it was the Musee d’Orsay. Musee d'Orsay is open late on Thursday evenings and we decided this would be the best possible time to visit.
As we strolled along the banks of the Seine that Thursday evening watching the sunset in the distance, I couldn't help but feel myself become a French impressionist just by looking at the light in the sky. The thing that struck me most about that evening sunset was how pink it was! We sometimes have pink sunsets in England, maybe a hint of pink highlighting a cloud. But that evening the sky looked so pink and the light that was reflected off of the buildings looked golden. It felt truly magical to be walking by the river that evening.
I resisted the temptation to buy the entire shop then and there, and make my way to the gallery.
In the Musee D’ Orsay we headed straight for the impressionists. No postcard, no photograph, no book, no second hand image can do them justice. Monet’s sunset simply glowed, Renoir’s dappled light shimmered. Looking outside through the enormous clock window we could see Sacre Coeur in the distance bathed in the exact golden pinky glow that sat before us in so many paintings. These artists hadn’t exaggerated the light and colour, they had looked at it properly and made it sing.
I scrutinised the paintings focused entirely on colour.
Again and again I saw muted pinks, greys made from violets and yellow dancing gently over blue.
I would return to Aladin’s cave, and this time I knew exactly what I would buy.
Paris fashion week coincided with part of our visit. I have not returned home with any shoes, handbags or haute couture.
Pour moi - Haute couleur!
The wonderful paints are "Charvin - Maison de Haute Couleur".
I have paint, and inspiration and can’t wait to embark on making my next painting glow.
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