Tuesday, 28 May 2013

On the buyer's side

James Bland, Nettle Path, oil on canvas, 25x30 cm

I generally find that people buy paintings for two reasons:

1- that's the easy one, they have to decorate their house. Is there anything sadder than a house with bare walls ? I noticed often these cool "minimal" houses also come without books in sight and it seems to be a place for carcass hanging more than spending our days. Decorating a house is a very legitimate reason to buy art ( investment being the worst possible reason) !

2- They want "a piece of the artist". They like the vision, the world, the subject, the surface of the canvas, the colours, any or all of the above. They want to own something produced by her/him. They are even happy with a small work, one up from an autograph.

As a buyer I definitely belong to this second category and I am writing this post because there's nothing better than putting my money where my Facebook likes are. It's not a shot in the dark ( high res photos are very reliable) and it's not even that expensive if you go for smaller works or works on paper.

The main rule of the game is of course: don't try and bypass a gallery, if you found the artist through their website or have seen a show there. You'll put the artist in trouble and the gallery out of business, and God knows if we need them.

You can come across the work of an artist on a social network, at a friend's house, on a blog, on other artist's websites, in an article on a magazine. Don't be shy to write and ask for a price, some artists don't sell directly from the studio, but you never know.
It happened to me years ago that I asked prices from one of my idols and they were a little too high, I think now his paintings are three times as much and I still regret not making that little effort.

I have made a few purchases of paintings  over the internet and they are really very satisfying.
I started years ago with this painting by Caitlin Karolczak. Caitlin's work fascinates me and I follow her regularly.

More recently I approached other painters I have befriended on Facebook and I am now the lucky owner of two small landscapes by Harry Stooshinoff, bought from his Etsy page,


and a painting by James Bland that you can see at the top of the page.
I had to stalk James to make him sell me Nettle Path, it took a little to convince him but he finally gave in, just to get rid of me.

My most recent acquisition comes from across the pond. I bought a work by Sterling Shaw, a painter from Philadelphia.
I received it today and it's even more beautiful than I thought, the colour so subtle and the piece has such a strong presence ! Even my normally unimpressed brood has expressed a liking.
The Angel, acrylic 12x12 in
I saw Sterling's work via Facebook in the "friends" section of the Perceptual Painters page, a great hub on which I discovered many exceptional artists. Sterling has recently set up an page on Etsy from which I bought my piece. This is from his website

Sterling Shaw is a product of Philadelphia’s Public School System. He entered the Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts in the year 2000 receiving his certificate in 2004 and was the beneficiary of a Cresson Memorial Travel Scholarship. His work has been exhibited at The Painting Center New York, The Woodmere Art Museum, Smile Gallery Philadelphia, BlinkArt Gallery, Delaware Center For Contemporary Art, Rosenfeld Gallery, The Main Line Art Center, Seraphin Gallery and Artists House Gallery. Select prizes include: Woodmere Endowment Fund Memorial Prize 2012, The Betsy Meyer Memorial Prize 2006, William Emlen Cresson Memorial Travel Scholarship 2004. Work included in various private and public collections, including the permanent collection of The Woodmere Art Museum and the Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  He is currently working from a studio in Kensington, Philadelphia."

In the current art market great figurative paintings are being snubbed and can be bought for very reasonable prices, don't let be fooled by the price = value thing, and indulge in some art retail therapy !

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