Do you fancy treating yourself to some super art, but too afraid to take the plunge? Read on for my simple guide to getting the art you want without getting bamboozled.
Unless you're already an experienced art collector, the thought of buying an original piece of art might feel daunting, but with these tips you’ll have the confidence to choose art for your home, that suits your style and budget.
Why my packing will ensure your painting will arrive safe and sound when you order from me.
When I travel to exhibitions and art fairs, like many artists I use Stiffy bags. These are bagsmade from reinforced bubble wrap, they are reusable time and time again and they enable artists to quickly and safely move their paintings. I love them and use them all the time!
However when I'm packing my paintings to be transported by post I have to be significantly more careful. Postage and shipping can be a problem, but not for me!
Most of my paintings are oil on linen canvas. They are quite light. However they can be fragile the most common problem with transporting an oil painting will be a dent.
How many times have you ordered something on the Internet to find a significant dent in the side of the box? If there is a big book inside there is no problem but if there is a painting could be ruined. So here are the layers that go into making sure your painting will arrive without a dent or scratch regardless of how beaten up the box might look on the outside!
The very first layer in my painting-package-sandwich is a layer of archival tissue paper this ensures that the painting surface arrives in perfect condition. Archival tissue paper is acid free and feels soft to the touch.
The next layer is simply a layer of package film to keep the tissue paper in place.
The next layer is a layer of cardboard on either side of the canvas; this is essential to keep the canvas free from dents during transit. The inside layer of cardboard is cut to fit inside the frame keeping the campus really safe and secure.
Then I wrap the entire painting in a few layers of bubblewrap. I have a huge role on hand in my studio and I'm very generous with the bubblewrap! After a couple of layers I then cut another two pieces of cardboard. Remembering that the painting has now grown a little! Then I wrap another few layers of bubblewrap around the painting/ Remember the painting is now completely cosy with four layers of cardboard and about eight layers of bubblewrap.
Then I put my fully wrapped painting into a cardboard box. Sometimes I will have a box that fits as I will recycle the boxes that my canvases arrived. So in this instance a 60 cm canvas now fits perfectly in an 80 cm box. Finally I will tape up the box firmly with parcel tape and “fragile” tape
If I haven't got an appropriate sized box I can make one. I use a sturdy type of cardboard and plenty of gaffer tape and parcel tape will keep it in position.
Over the years I have used a variety of different carriers, it really depends on where you live! Thus far my packaging sandwich has worked extremely well as I have never had a customer faced with the horror of received in damaged painting.
So if you've been thinking about buying a painting from me online, but you're worried about how it will ever get to you; don't panic the packaging will make sure your painting arrives safe and sound.
If you sign up for my newsletter you'll get FREE POSTAGE AND PACKING on any order placed on 24-26th March.
Beautiful limited edition prints, ready mounted.
I often sell limited edition prints directly from my website. Sometimes people have already seen the original painting at an exhibition in Salisbury or at one of the art fairs I attend, and have decided to have a print of it. Other times they have simply seen my website and can't resist buying a print. It is a lot less scary to buy a print from a website than buying original art as the prints are significantly cheaper than originals, and they are also usually smaller!
My prints are sold with the mounts and backing board included. This means that the print is shipped to you flat. It also means the print is nicely protected. And in addition is much cheaper for you to frame it. I tend to get my prints made to fit standard size mounts, which also makes things a little cheaper for my customers.
I begin by making sure my work surface is completely clean. This might sound obvious but as an oil painter there are often wet paintings in the studio, so by far the simplest way of making sure I have a clean surface is to get some clean white mounting board as my surface to work on that way I can ensure that aren't any stray splatters of wet paint that would ruin the print. I also make sure I have all the things I need to hand, masking tape, craft knife scissors and glue.
My mounts, backing boards and cellphone wraps are prepared by my framers.
My prints are printed onto beautiful museum quality watercolour paper, and arrive from the printers wrapped in archival paper. I remove the print from the paper, sign it, number it and then it is ready to be mounted. I turn the print over and attach it to the inside window mount with masking tape. Masking tape is used because it is strong enough to hold the print in place but it is also easy to remove with out ruining the print itself. Next I apply a dab of glue to each corner of the inside of the window mount. This is to keep the backing board firmly in place. The glue does not touch the back of the print at any point to ensure that you are able to remount it at a later date if you want to without damaging the print itself. The backing board however does keep the print in good condition and can be used again if you buy a frame that fits the mount.
When I post my prints they are also placed in a sandwich of bubble wrap and between two sheets of thicker cardboard before being wrapped in brown paper and sent to my customer. To bigger the print the thicker the sandwich has to be!
I am looking into getting larger prints created of my work which would come with a white border but without a mount. And would be shipped in a cardboard tube. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on this.. Would you prefer an un-mounted print posted to you rolled up? Or do you prefer the ones that are already in a mount for you? I'd be interested to know.
Thus far this method has work as all of my customers have always been happy with them arriving in perfect condition.
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, so have a nice cuppa and slice of cake and start working out what sort of things you like, and how much they cost. You are allowed to browse.
In August I'll be exhibiting in Boston tea Party in Salisbury. In fact they have a different artist there every month.
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 your 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.
There are some surprising places to find great art works. This Summer I'll be at the New forest show with my Countryside companions collection and I'll be a BBC Countryfile live at Blenheim palace demonstrating oil painting techniques. There will be other artists and crafters there too. It's a great opportunity to find out more about art, as there are so many other things going on too, noone will expect you to be an expert on art. Simply rock up and enjoy yourself!
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 don’t be put off if they don't. 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 is already there. Often couples visit together, then they want to go away and think about it, then come back another day.
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.
If you want to buy; go for it! 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.
It’s honestly a really lovely experience visiting an artist's studio. I love welcoming people to mine and showing them my work and how I create it.
You’d be welcome...
Do you share your life with a creative?
Or have a son/daughter pursuing the arts?
Maybe your best friend has just jacked in her job to finally lead a truly creative life?
Can they be a right royal pain in the backside at times? Don't worry, you can make them happy very easily with my top tips - I guarantee they'll appreciate your efforts.
1. Creatives can be sensitive!
That doesn't mean shower them with false praise! But try to be gentle if criticising their work; it can be tough. However, in my experience creatives are very able to take criticism about other aspects of their business, so if you know a better printer, courier service or accountant, tell them - they'll want to know!
2. They're doing lots of things you can't see.
Creatives are often "one man bands" and do everything. I'd love it if every day was pure painting! But whatever it takes to keep business going, that's what they're doing. So if you feel you can't really talk about their art/photography/papiermache hats then talk about their business. They'll love it and again you might have some useful insight that they'd really appreciate.
3. Online is good, bad and everything in between. And it takes up time.
Creatives need to be online, and sell online, and know what their competitors are up to too. We need to have a presence online - and here's where you can really help the creative in your life:
Like, share, heart, retweet whenever you can!
Facebook business pages don't have the same reach personal profiles. So
everytime you click 'like' on my business page, it tells Facebook that my post is good and groovy and it extends the post reach to others.
Everytime you share or comment, it pushes it even further. All for free. And boy do I appreciate it. I really do. It's the same for retweeting on twitter, putting a heart by an instagram photo and re-pinning a picture on pinterest. And yes, most creatives are trying to manage all of these platforms because they're good for business.
4. Give them a testimonial.
Pop them an email with a nice quotable sentence.
I really appreciate the friends who have, over the years, bought work from me, attended my workshops, seen my exhibitions and visited my studio. And indeed, the new friends I've made by selling work or doing workshops. When they've written a little email with how much they enjoyed it, or how much they learnt, or how much they love my painting - it's worth its weight in gold. It not only helps me through the tough days ( and that alone is great) but it helps fill a folder of testimonials, that help other customers develop trust in me, my work and my business..
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for supporting me!
Last week I blogged about how the French have art in their homes and the Brits do not!
So this week’s blog is going to rectify the situation and give you confidence enough to go and buy some great art.
Remember, always look online for artists in your area first, then visit their studio. It's a great way to find out what you like without pressure. If you can't find an artist you like, in your area, the next plan is to visit a small gallery (nothing too intimidating) or go to an art fair. Again, you'll find something online, have a good look round the website first before you go. It will really help.
Once you've gone to the studio/artfair or gallery- here's my top ten rules to help you select art. You should really enjoy the process of buying yourself some gorgeous new art.
The absolute rule number one is - Only by art if you love it! You might have to compromise with your husband/wife or you might have to think a bit carefully about how much you love it but broadly speaking if you love the art you can't go far wrong.
Rule number two- Think about where it's going to go. You might have a plan when you walk into a gallery or an art fair that you're looking for a piece of work for the lounge. This is quite a good strategy if you're not sure what you're doing. As you can start to visualise where the work of art might go. However if you love something, even if it won't go in the room you planned, that’s still the best reason to buy.
Rule number three - Size matters! Broadly speaking it doesn't really matter if you have a large piece or a series of small pieces to start your collection. But if you have, for instance, wall lights in your home you might find that large artwork doesn't fit in the room in quite the same way you had planned. Having a maximum size is a good idea. If you don't want to pay for shipping or delivery having a clear idea of the largest painting that will fit in your car is a good plan too! Very often artists will be able to arrange shipping for you if you are buying a very large piece that simply won't fit in the car.
Rule number four - Colour. I think this can be an automatic. You might decide that a series of blues and yellows will fit in well in your home, but if you fall in love with the landscape with a load of red poppies in the foreground it will still work. Besides, your natural liking for a colour palette will come through anyway- you're going to be back with rule number one quite frankly!
Rule number five - Have a budget and stick to it. Again it really doesn't matter how much money you spend provided you spend what you can afford. People seem to think the art world is about tens of thousands of pounds or even millions of pounds. At most of the art fairs I attend, the starting price for an original work of art is £45! That will be quite a small painting, but it's original and it's unique and it's a great place to start. Broadly speaking at a lot of the art fairs I go to you could get a medium-sized work of art (less than 1 m²) for around £400 depending on the medium. Obviously some artists are more. But the point is you can walk away with stunning work for only few hundred pounds if you want to. That's really impressive actually.
Think about it; you might have spent over £10,000 redecorating your kitchen why finish it off with a cheap little print for 20 quid from B&Q when you can have original artwork for just a couple of hundred quid.
Rule number six- Try not to worry about investment. You might get lucky, you might find a new emerging artist, buy their work for only a couple of hundred pounds, and then in two years time discover that their work is going for 10 times the price! It really might happen. Lots of successful artists at very least find their prices going up after only a few years into their career. However when you're buying work for less than £1000 try not to worry about what it will be worth in a few years time. Just make sure that you're going to love it in your own home that will be enough.
Rule number seven - Quality. Quality is really key for you to carry on enjoying your art. Feel free to ask the artist anything about the quality of the materials they use. Find out about pigments, ask them about colourfastness. Okay so you might be able to hang a £300 work of art in 500 years time but you certainly don't want the colour to fade in less than 10 years.
Room number eight - Negotiate! Some artists will not negotiate at all. Some High Street galleries will not negotiate at all. Don't be offended if people say “The price is the price please don't ask for a discount”. However if you buy more than one work of art you may well find that artists have a little bit of wriggle room and might give you say a 10% discount because you're buying more than one piece. The worst they can do is say no, if they do say no please don't be offended smile sweetly and say “It was worth a try”!
Rule number nine - Look after your art! Recently I sold a very large piece to a couple and they said “Is it true I can’t hang this over a radiator?”
Well here's the deal; in my kitchen I have a very large oil painting of Stonehenge and it hangs directly over radiator, it's opposite the oven, it gets steam and heat and cold and sunshine on it the whole time. Six years of being in the spot and it still looks like new! However if I had a work of art that I've spent a lot of money on, or if I had an old work of art that might be a little more fragile I would not dream of putting it over a radiator- as a rule of thumb you have to be careful with extremes of heat. But broadly speaking new art, on sturdy canvas frames, painted in oil or acrylic, can take quite a beating in terms of conditions! I even have an oil painting in my bathroom! However watercolours are significantly more fragile and definitely not be placed in a steamy room. Also be very careful about direct sunlight. Okay in our climate we’re not exactly living in Greece, the sun really isn't so strong and it doesn't shine for that much of the year , but sun will fade out paint incredibly rapidly if given the chance. Just think about the fading on your curtains or fabrics in a sunny room - that’s what might happen to your painting so do be careful. If in any doubt at all ask the artist. And if you move the artwork to a new room, still feel free to email your artist years after you've bought it they will be happy to help - honestly we really will.
Room number ten- Don’t be scared of being a numpty! I think the single biggest reason people don't buy art directly from artist is that they are frightened of looking like an idiot! You are not an idiot! It's your money and it is your house and it's up to you how you decorate it. Tell the artist what you're looking for maybe even tell them what work of theirs you like and what else you might like to have. Artists will be helpful to you at art fairs. I've even recommended other artists to potential clients because I knew exactly what they wanted from their description and I knew where they needed to go to find it. Gallery owners will do the same, they will try to match you up with the kind of art that you want, that's part of what you're paying for, don't be bullied and don't worry- it's your money and your house, buy what you love!
My next art fair is Reading art fair 22-24 April. There are over 100 artists there, there is a huge range at very reasonable prices. Message me if you’d like Private view tickets or 2 for 1 tickets over the weekend. www.readingcontemporaryartfair.co.uk
Last week, whilst listening to Six Music in my studio, painting away without a care in the world, I heard the most interesting statistic I've ever heard about art.
Only 0.5% of British homes have original art hung on the walls. Half a percent. Seriously?
[I'm guessing this doesn't include the kids pictures on the fridge].
I was shocked. But this was only half the quote.
78% of French homes have original art adorning their walls.
It didn't surprise me to know that more French homes have original art in them than British homes. But those numbers- 0.5% versus 78%: that really did surprise me.
Why is this?
The French are known for their style and their élan. If there is a choice the French will more likely choose elegance over efficiency.
But are our French counterparts so steeped in culture that they feel original art, over a cheap mass produced print is in their DNA?
Let's think about this for a bit - The French have the Louvre, the Musee d'orsay, L'orangrie and that's only Paris...
But we have the National, the Royal Acdemy, Tates Britain and Modern, and that's just London.
The French have some of the worlds most famous artists to their flag; Monet, Seurat, Rodin. I know there are countless more, but the British have some heavyweights too; Constable, Turner, Henry Moore...
We are right up there with our artistic culture! And have been for centuries!
So, we're happy to pootle about famous galleries, look at the most famous, beautiful, valuable and important works of art the world has ever known, BUT we can't summon up the courage and the cash to buy original work.
Well worry no more.
You really can have stunning, original, professional art work in your home.
You won't be ripped off.
You won't be made to feel like a fool.
You won't be bullied into having something you don't like.
Next week I'm going to give you my top tips for how to buy art if you've never done it before. But in the meantime, here's something to get you started.
In order to buy well, you must buy something you love.
So you need to work out what your style and taste really is.
So get out more!
Loads of artists exhibit in bookstores, cafes, pubs, restaurants, and doctors' surgeries. Start looking out for the things that catch your eye.
Something you can live with.
Get online and find artists in your area. Most are willing to arrange a studio visit. You are not obliged to buy, tell them the truth - "I've seen your work online, I really like it but I wanted to see it in person before I think about buying any" Most artists will respect your honesty and arrange a visit with ease.
Remember that some small galleries have changed the name 'Private view' to 'Open evening' or 'Preview evening', deliberately to encourage new people to come. They are friendly, fun, usually drop of wine is involved, and folks freely talk about the art in front of them.
Think back to when you were a teenager, or your university bedroom. I bet the walls were festooned with images that reflected things about you, things you loved, things that were cool.
Now that those posters are long gone, don't you deserve something better than a cheap mass produced print?
Start finding what you want on your wall...
Next week I'll give you my top tips on how to buy art and why you'll absolutely love it when you do!
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